embedded world is (still mostly) a man's world
The embedded world Exhibition&Conference 2012 entered its tenth round with a new record. The event from 28 February to 1 March 2012 had a record number of 872 international exhibitors, up more than nine per cent over the previous event. A delighted Alexander Mattausch, Exhibition Manager of the embedded world Exhibition&Conference at NürnbergMesse said: “The growth in the number of exhibitors and the further increase in internationality (46 per cent) show that this exhibition and conference is the established get-together for the sector."
The exhibition covered a trend in the industry with its focus on communication. On the one hand the wireless networking of individual devices (Machine-to-Machine Communication, M2M), on the other cloud computing, which is playing a growing role in the embedded sector. This opens up new ways for embedded system developers. By coupling a number of components, previously unknown features can be achieved that extend the scope of functions of single components. Both themes are extensively presented at the exhibition. Several exhibitors showed cost-effective solutions that make network connectivity more affordable.
Arrow BeMicro RTE development platform
Arrow (www.arroweurope.com/bemicrorte) showed a new low-cost development platform in USB stick form factor for real-time Ethernet slave designs. Featuring an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA and an on-board USB Blaster, the BeMicro RTE integrates into both the Quartus II FPGA design framework and the NIOS II GNU-based development environment. In addition to the FPGA, the board contains voltage regulators, memory, a clock generator, user LEDs, plus PHYs and connectors for a Real Time Ethernet daisy chain.
xPico, a chip-sized networking module for Ethernet connectivity
Another company that aims to make network connectivity easier is Lantronix (www.lantronix.com). Their approach is to reduce development cost by providing an alternative to chip solutions. The xPico introduced at embeddedworld is designed for quick integration with minimal engineering effort. xPico, with a footprint of only 24mm x 16.5mm, is a compact and complete networking solution that enables Ethernet connectivity on virtually any device with a serial interface. With its embedded device server application, Web server, and full IP stack, xPico allows remote access to device data - simplifying the design integration process and providing robust connectivity.
Digi's John Schwartz demonstrates the iDigi Device Cloud solution
Out-of-the-box cloud connectivity is the promise of a collaboration between Freescale (www.freescale.com) and Digi (www.idigi.com) to integrate the iDigi Device Cloud solution into Freescale’s Kinetis and ColdFire microcontroller platforms. Using the iDigi Connector, an open interface for any type of device, Kinetis and ColdFire customers now have immediate access to both a web and mobile applications development platform and device management functionality. Designed to be scalable and secure, iDigi is a complete cloud infrastructure for remote device management and cloud-based information exchange. “Freescale customers across all markets now have immediate access to the benefits of cloud connectivity right out of the box. The scalable and reliable architecture of iDigi provides instant cloud connectivity to network-connected devices everywhere on the globe.”, said Larry Kraft, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Digi International.
These and similar developments will have an impact on Industrial Ethernet and automation networks. Although many of the new solutions are designed with the consumer, smart grid and telecom markets in mind, they bring down the hardware and engineering costs for network connectivity, making Ethernet ever more affordable and ubiquitous in discrete automation and process control. Welcome to an ever more networked world.
The shape of things to come?
Remember the Sercos automatic guitar from our
Windows EtherCAT real-time platform
On display at acontis were EtherCAT implementations for nearly a dozen real-time operating systems, including EC-Win for Windows systems. Core component of EC-Win ist the EC-Master Stack which was specifically optimized to match with the proven acontis Windows Hypervisor and real-time technology, respectively. Also integrated into the EC-Win hypervisor platform is the option to synchronize EtherCAT slaves with the real-time application; the local PC timer will run synchronously with the EtherCAT slaves that are using Distributed Clocks. EC-Win is complemented with the EC-Lyser diagnosis and monitoring tool.
Microsoft Visual Studio is used as integrated development and debug environment for both, the Windows part as well as the real-time/EtherCAT part of the application.
acontis CEO Christoph Widmann
Real-time systems for EtherCAT and ProfiNet
With the new product family of the x-ARTS series, ADDI-DATA offers robust systems for measurement, control and automation applications with different real-time requirements. The x-ARTS are available for EtherCAT (EC-ARTS), Profinet (PN-ARTS) and VARAN (V-ARTS). They are equipped with numerous protective circuits, comply with the degree of protection IP 65 and can be used in the extended temperature range from -40 °C to +85 °C. Thus, they are suitable for applications directly in the field. The x-ARTS complete the existing real-time PAC systems MSX-Box, which are based on Ethernet.
x-ARTS are available for EtherCAT, Profinet and VARAN
Bluetooth 4.0 Single Mode Module
The BluegigaBLE112 Bluetooth 4.0 module is a single mode device targeted for low power sensors and accessories. BLE112 offers all Bluetooth low energy features: radio, stack, profiles and application space for customer applications, so external processor is not needed. The module also provides flexible hardware interfaces to connect sensors, simple user interfaces or even displays directly to the module.
BLE112 can be powered directly with a standard 3V coin cell battery
Industrial 5+1 Port Switch with M12 Front Panel Connectors
Available as 3U CompactPCI peripheral board, the CL2-BRASS from EKF Elektronikis a powerful Gigabit Ethernet switch. Its 8HP front panel is provided with five M12-style Gigabit Ethernet circular connectors. As an option, a sixth GbE channel is reserved for CompactPCI® backplane communication. The CL2-BRASS is equipped with the Marvell® 88E6350R switch, which has a rich feature set, including latest 802.1 Audio Video Bridging (AVB) standards.
The CL2-BRASS may be operated either as stand-alone card or as a CompactPCI peripheral board
Embedded platform for communication solutions
With the new CANblue II IXXAT offers a CAN module that is connected to the PC wirelessly via Bluetooth. It is designed for servicing and accessing CAN systems that are otherwise difficult to access. Depending on the space limitations, the maximum distance between the CANblue II and the PC/notebook can be up to 1000 m. In bridge mode the user to can set up a CAN-Bluetooth-CAN bridge by using two CANblue II devices. Message exchange occurs on layer 2 and is transparent. The device can also be used in systems with CANopen, DeviceNet or customer-specific protocols. CAN-ID filters can be set for data exchange via Bluetooth. Using more than 2 CANblue devices, multiple busses can be linked with each other.
CANBlue II features an integrated antenna and offers a transmission range of up to 1000m
MCUs offer combination of low price, low power and low pin-count packages
Microchip presented several new microcontrollers, including the 16-bit PIC24 Lite MCU family that combines Low Power (XLP) technology, low price and low pin-count packages for the most cost-sensitive applications. The PIC24F “KL” family features typical sleep currents of 30 nA at 25°C, and typical run currents of 150 microA/MHz at 1.8V. In order to optimise low-cost applications, these products include flexible peripherals, such as the Master Synchronous Serial Port (MSSP), which enables designers to configure either an I2C or Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI), as well as the Enhanced Capture/Compare/PWM (ECCP) peripheral that allows designers to customise for multiple PWM and input-capture configurations. The “KL” family of products is available in 14-, 20- and 28-pin packages.
The PIC24 “KL” MCUs is designed as an entry-level 16-bit solution for applications with lower I/O and memory requirements,
Precise timekeeping computer
Moxa announces the DA-683, a new x86-based embedded computer. The DA-683 is designed for power automation and power substation applications thanks to IEC 61850-3, IEEE 1613, and IEEE 1588 version 2 support. It features an Intel Dual Core Atom CPU running at 1.66 GHz, in a fanless design that improves reliability. In typical conditions, the system consumes only 40 watts of power under full load (with two modules inserted) and is therefore a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution. The IEEE 1588 v.2 precision time protocol gives automation systems highly precise time accuracy for event logging.
The DA-683 features a modular design for system integration and flexibility
New low-power microcontrollers
One of the many new microcontrollers launched by Renesas is the RL78/L12 group of ultimate-low-power microcontrollers (MCUs), claimed to reduce current consumption by approximately 30 percent compared to earlier Renesas products. The new 16-bit MCUs are designed for improved power-efficient systems that incorporate enhanced human-machine interfaces, e.g. in building management systems and industrial applications. The new MCUs combine LCD control technology from Renesas with the low power consumption and high performance of the RL78 Family of 16-bit MCUs. The RL78/L12 Group consists of 18 product versions with pin count ranging from 32- to 64-pins, and on-chip flash memory capacities ranging from 8 kilobytes (KB) to 32 KB.
The RL78/L12 devices consume as little as 66 µA/MHz
Wireless module for process automation
Softing’s WirelessHART Module WD-H is designed for integrating wireless data transmission into existing field devices, allowing manufacturers to develop a new WirelessHART field device that covers all requirements of today’s process automation market.
The WD-H teams proven hardware, based on standard components, with a fully tested protocol stack. The small form-factor enables device vendors to integrate the module into the majority of field devices available today. This module enables companies to avoid the high costs of developing a wireless field device by relying on this proven design.
The WD-H offers a bundle of beneficial functionality to users. This includes very low power consumption as well as data transmission over long distances. Furthermore, its rugged design with an appropriate ATEX certification allows the module to be used in hazardous environments.
Rugged design and ATEX certification allows the WD-H to be used in hazardous environments