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Embedded COTS Vendors Issue Joint Statement on Open Standards Model and VSO

Several leading COTS embedded board, subsystem and backplane and enclosure vendors, including Curtiss-Wright Controls, Elma Electronic, Carlo Gavazzi and X-ES Inc. have issued a joint statement of support for the proven open standard approach to the development of bus and board system architectures. The companies wish to reiterate and reinforce the importance of maintaining the integrity and openness of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO), an arm of the trade association of which each of the companies is a member.

The companies jointly issued the following statement:

“The cooperative work of the members of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO) resulted in the creation and evolution of VME, for over 25 years the de facto board architecture of choice for the aerospace and defense market, and, more recently, VPX (VITA 46/48), a higher performance, more flexible enhancement to VME. The spirit of ‘coopetition’ and openness that brought VSO’s members, including competing vendors and users, together for the common good of the industry reflects and embodies the standards body’s basic principles that ensure fairness, inclusion and consensus for all participants. These principles have fostered and guided the success of VITA since its inception in 1984, then under the stewardship of VITA’s founding director Lyman C. Hevle, and the VSO, one of the electronics industry’s most respected standards body, since its formation in 1993.

“We recognize the importance of defining an open specification for system-level VPX interoperability, but we also believe that this work is best done within the existing, proven model of the VSO Working Group system. The open forum provided by VITA is the right and best place for the industry to cooperatively develop the critical new VPX initiatives destined for use by important customers such as the U.S. military.

“We recommend the formation of a VSO Working Group on VPX interoperability for VITA 46 (VPX) to help resolve issues and speed the development of a common VPX backplane architecture while ensuring that no single company or selective group of companies is able to exert undo influence on the specification and unfairly benefit from the cooperative work of all the member companies who have contributed resources and efforts over many years to the standard’s development.”

The VSO’s fundamental principle, as stated on VITA’s Web site is: “Within the VSO no one individual holds the power to decide what technology may become a standard—that power belongs solely to the membership.” The joint statement above is made in the spirit of this principle.

BittWare Adopts VITA 57 FPGA Mezzanine Card Standard

BittWare has announced it has adopted the VITA 57 FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) standard on their new “S4” family of board-level signal processing solutions. FMC provides an industry standard for expanding processing or I/O via mezzanine cards that connect to FPGA(s) on the carrier card. Electrically, the FMC connector supports high-speed serial (SerDes) ports, LVDS, clocks and single ended signaling, providing a wide range of options and flexibility to the user. 

Similarly, the mechanical format of the FMC supports a variety of standard carrier board formats including AdvancedMC (AMC), VME, VXS and VPX, and can be air-cooled or conduction-cooled. 

The addition of an FMC site on BittWare’s S4 family of FPGA boards, based on Altera Corporation’s 40nm Stratix IV FPGAs, allows customers to support an extremely broad range of applications simply by adding specific I/O or processing via various FMCs. Coupled with BittWare’s ATLANTiS FrameWork (AFW) for FPGAs, the FMCs also facilitate design reuse of FPGA implementations that will decrease time-to-market, while also lowering costs across multiple programs. In addition to supporting VITA 57 on their S4 family of signal processing hardware, BittWare will also be releasing their own family of FMCs for I/O and processing expansion.

At the heart of the S4 family of signal processing hardware is an Altera Stratix IV GX FPGA, which provides unparalleled performance and flexibility. Each onboard FPGA supports 530K equivalent logic elements, 20.3 Mbits of RAM and 1,024 embedded multipliers. Onboard connections to the FPGA also provide up to 27 full-duplex, multi-gigabit transceivers—24 of which support data rate speeds of 8.5 Gbits/s. The FPGA supports a number of protocols, including PCI Express Gen1 and Gen2 and Serial RapidIO. 

CP-TA Releases New Standard Interoperability Guidelines for ATCA

The Communications Platforms Trade Association (CP-TA), an association of communications platform and building block providers, has announced the release of its new interoperability documents, the Interoperability Compliance Document (ICD) 3.0 and the Test Procedure Manual (TPM) 3.0. The documents outline industry-standard interoperability criteria and testing procedures for AdvancedTCA (ATCA) building blocks. The new versions are mapped directly to the PICMG 3.0 Revision 3.0 ATCA Base Specification, which was completed last year.

CP-TA completed a proof-of-concept demonstration using the TPM and ICD documents and corresponding test tools to integrate building blocks for an IPTV system in one-quarter the time it took to integrate non-tested building blocks for the same system configuration. Among the many enhancements, the documents have been simplified to structure test procedures on a one-to-one basis directly with the structure of the PICMG 3.0 Revision 3.0 specification. Additionally, requirements that are not found in the governing specification have been removed, and several requirements that were previously ambiguous have been clarified. The included mandatory test cases will help system integrators identify what they must do in order to pass an integration project for interoperability. Each test procedure is described in detail and mapped with the requirement numbers in the PICMG specification.

Machine Vision to Increase Productivity and Lower Costs of Solar Cells

Dalsa Corporation, which specializes in machine vision technology, has announced its entrance into the solar cell inspection market. The company’s experience in area scan, line scan and embedded processing for inspection in the flat-panel display industry are now being applied to solar cell inspection, resulting in high-quality, yet cost-effective inspection capabilities for the solar cell industry. Machine vision is used for three general purposes by solar cell manufacturers: product inspection, identification and tracking, and lastly, product assembly. Dalsa’s cameras and hardware are used in the initial part of the quality inspection process to verify patterns and edges, inspect coatings and to check for micro-cracks. The precision of the image capture and processing technology contributes to the immediate and accurate detection of defects in this critical stage of the manufacturing process.
Solar cell manufacturers are under pressure to drive down costs in order to achieve “grid parity,” the point at which the cost of solar energy is roughly equivalent to the cost of conventional power distributed on electric grids. Analysts forecast that this may occur in 2011 as module prices continue to drop.

Dalsa’s new capabilities in line scan, area scan and embedded processing include time delay integration (TDI) technology that is accurate in identifying defects and efficient in delivering fast image capture (110 KHz), resulting in improved yields and reduced costs. In addition, CMOS sensor technology enables 62 frames per second with 4 megapixel resolution, for greater system throughput along with a higher resolution with a camera that allows image capture of a solar cell down to 40um with one shot by utilizing its 22 megapixels, with low dark current, low noise and higher dynamic range than any competitive product.

RTS and RadiSys Partner on Integration of Real-Time Hypervisor for Multicore

RadiSys and Real-Time Systems have entered into an OEM agreement under which they will jointly develop and integrate solutions for RadiSys embedded system products using Real-Time Systems’ Hypervisor, which will be used to improve performance supporting Microware OS-9 as well as other RTOSs and Linux and Windows XP.
The RTS Hypervisor leverages Intel’s Virtualization Technology (VT) by partitioning processor resources—core, memory and I/O devices into what amount to individual, independent computers on a single multicore device. The RTC Hypervisor concentrates on reducing system overhead to maintain real-time performance of the RTOS running on one core while Windows XP or Linux run on another core in parallel. The Hypervisor also facilitates data communication between the two OSs without compromising the real-time performance of the RTOS. It is also possible to execute multiple copies of the same or different operating systems, such as multiple copies of an RTOS along with a single copy of a general-purpose operating system, depending on the number of cores available.

RTI and Tresys Partner to Enable Highly Secure Data Distribution

Real-Time Innovations (RTI) and Tresys Technology have announced a partnership to offer integrated technologies and services for incorporating security into high-performance distributed applications. The partnership implements a reference security policy to demonstrate using Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) to protect distributed applications that use RTI Data Distribution Service for integration or inter-process communication. Due to the unique and highly customized nature of distributed architectures, the companies have combined their expertise to offer a joint Security Architecture Assessment for tailoring the profile to specific system requirements.

The joint Security Architecture Assessment extends both companies’ prior, independent offerings. Tresys provides strategic guidance to assist system architects, developers and integrators in choosing and applying the latest security technologies. Similarly, RTI offers an architecture study that provides a RTI expert that works with the development team to identify its application requirements and use cases, then helps design a suitable architecture to best meet the objectives and performance requirements of the distributed system. The new combined service addresses the design of distributed real-time systems with security technology designed from the start.

AMC Boards Driven by ATCA Today, MicroTCA in 2011

Merchant AMC boards revenues are expected to nearly double during the next three years according to a recent research report released on the xTCA market by VDC Research Group. Growth of the merchant AMC board market is projected to be relatively flat through 2010, before significant growth is expected in 2011 and 2012.

In the report, VDC identifies that so far AMC board shipments have been driven primarily by the consumption of AMC boards as mezzanines in ATCA systems. The development of the MicroTCA market—the original proposed driver of AMC—is projected to be delayed by the current global recession. However, it is expected that the MicroTCA market will grow at a healthy clip following the downturn, with significant revenue shipments of MicroTCA systems being achieved in the 2011-2012 timeframe. At that time it is projected that a significant portion of the AMC board consumption will be as blades in MicroTCA systems.

The study also revealed that although significant volume growth was not expected in 2009, evaluation activity—including OEMs analyzing AMC displacement of existing merchant and custom solutions in a number of applications—was picking up. Indeed, 2009 evaluation and pilot performance may be a material indicator of 2010 and 2011 shipment revenue.