Electronics & Computers

Multi-Cores: The Gateway to Next-Gen SBCs and Blades

With the introduction of Intel Core microarchitecture into embedded systems, history could very well repeat itself. The company that invented the microprocessor in 1971 and created the very first micro-controller in 1976 is about to revolutionize the embedded space once again. By bringing the power of parallel processing to embedded developers in an open-standards-based building block architecture, Intel is hoping to break down the cost barriers while taking embedded systems performance to new levels that once were reserved only for expensive computer systems specifically designed for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), while also accomplishing unrivaled levels of efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software
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Beamforming System Eases Crowded Wireless Spectrum

Beamforming is critical to enable initiatives by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase spectrum capacity and provide additional cellular service and coverage through satellite and terrestrial systems. The key technology for this application is beamforming, which electronically steers data streams to and from a satellite via a combination of an array of antennas on the satellite and very sophisticated, ground-based computational engines.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Telecommunications, Waveguides, Satellites
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SOA in Practice: Model-Driven Repositories Fill the Gap Between Concept and Implementation

In the past, network-based applications were pretty simple. A networked server ran a monolithic application that users accessed via a basic GUI (graphical user interface). Today, organizations struggle to develop feature-rich, network-based applications while also facing business pressure to minimize timescales, maximize quality, and work with legacy systems hosted on different platforms.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Human machine interface (HMI)
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How to Design an Embedded RDBMS Search

As the cost of micro-disk and NAND Flash continue to drop, devices are storing more and more data. It is common now for a person's MP3 player to have more storage than their laptop. But this increase in storage capacity has not been matched with advances in the user interface. Typically, users still wrestle with a folder-based interface to find the data they want, searching by a few vendor-defined categories such as artist, album, and genre. But a new class of embedded database manage- ment systems (DBMS) is emerging to allow end users to search the way people think, rather than in this stat- ic manner. With a RAM footprint ranging from a few tens to a few hundred kilobytes, these products enable developers to deliver this sophisti- cated search on mobile devices. So how do they work? How do you write an embedded application to use a relational DBMS (RDBMS)? While there are a few kinds of DBMS, the relational model has tri- umphed over all the others, largely because it abstracts the data struc- tures so that applications don't have to know them. A relational database management system offers a standard, high-level query language that allows access to data by content, not by pointer or location and offset.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Human machine interface (HMI), Data management
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Front-End Mixed-Signal Receiver on a Chip

A mixed-signal receiver on a chip (RoC) now undergoing development is intended to be a prototype of the front ends of lightweight, compact, low-power, relatively inexpensive heterodyne radio receivers for future phased array radar systems. [As used here, "mixed-signal" refers to a design for utilization of both analog and digital signals, and "front end" signifies the portion of a heterodyne receiver that processes the raw radio-frequency (RF) input to produce an output at an intermediate frequency (IF) that is the difference between the RF and the frequency of a local oscillator (LO).] The RoC will include two integrated circuits, denoted IC1 and IC2 respectively, that comprise integrated chipsets designed and fabricated on the basis of the International Business Machines 7HP generation of SiGe bipolar complementary oxide/semiconductor (BiCMOS) technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Radar, Radio equipment
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Microwave Sources Utilizing Linear Induction Accelerators

Progress has been reported in a continuing effort to develop pulsed, high-power microwave signal sources based on (1) oscillators in the form of relativistic magnetrons containing transparent cathodes, and (2) hybrid antenna/ amplifiers powered via electronbeam generators. The underlying concept is that a compact, high-power microwave source could be constructed by integrating an electron-beam accelerator with a radiating antenna and an electrodynamic-interaction space.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Antennas
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Accomplishments of the Microwave Power Research Initiative

Research performed under the auspices of the Microwave Power Research Initiative (MiPRI) between May 1, 2005 and April 30, 2006 has been reported. [The MiPRI is a congressionally mandated Air Force program to advance the science of high-power electron- beam-driven microwave and millimeter- wave signal sources.] The reported research was performed by a consortium of three universities led by the University of New Mexico and including the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The research pertains to two signal sources of current interest to the Air Force: a relativistic Lband magnetron and a W-band source.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Telecommunications, Research and development, Technical reference, Radiation
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Microstrip Patch Antennas Containing Multi-PBG Structures

Microstrip patch antennas of a proposed type would contain photonic- bandgap (PBG) structures characterized by multiple bandgaps. In a given antenna, the PBG structure(s) could be one or more periodic dielectric and/or metal structures that could be embedded in the dielectric substrate of the antenna and/or formed on either or both faces of the dielectric substrate. As explained below, the incorporation of PBG structures would facilitate the design of a smaller antenna capable of providing a given amount of gain at a given frequency.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Architecture, Insulation
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Assembly of Nanowire-Based Computing Systems

A program to develop ultra-dense integrated digital data-processing systems and circuits based on nanowires involves utilization of hybrid top-down and bottom-up assembly techniques to implement designs representative of a highly reliable defect- and fault-tolerant architecture. This program has included fabrication and assembly of molecular- scale logic blocks based on arrays of overlapping semiconducting nanowires, using novel wafer-scale assembly techniques. On the basis of breakthrough addressing techniques, these logic blocks have been connected to ultradense memory blocks and to external complementary oxide/semiconductor (CMOS)-process lithographic interfaces for testing. One of the main underlying ideas is to construct highly reliable components out of high-defect-density logic and memory elements, using recently developed sublithographic-scale programmable- logic-array architectures that incorporate novel reliable-circuit concepts and higher-level redundancy mechanisms. Using state-of-the-art modeling techniques and computational simulations, test designs have been optimized, various defect-tolerance approaches have been developed, and development and optimization of larger systems are continuing.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Semiconductor devices, Nanotechnology
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Compensating for Parasitic Effects in Low-Pass Filters

Techniques to compensate for the effects of parasitic inductances and capacitances have been developed as part of an effort to improve the performances of low-pass filters in electronic power circuits. As used here, "parasitic" refers to departure from an ideal inductive or capacitive characteristic. No inductor, capacitor, or other electronic component is ideal: wherever a current loop exists, there is inductance, and wherever two conductors are near each other, there is a capacitance between them. Parasitic capacitances in inductors and parasitic inductances in capacitors degrade the performances of low-pass filters, especially at high frequencies.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Capacitors, Power electronics, Performance upgrades
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