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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Multicore move for GE Fanuc

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms is to use Freescale’s multicore QorIQ processors in forthcoming products. QorIQ processors feature up to eight cores for maximum performance, and allow GE Fanuc to develop new platforms that will be form-, fit- and function compatible with their PowerPC predecessors and enable existing customers to take advantage of exciting new levels of performance at minimal cost. These new platforms will also allow lower power consumption and heat dissipation per unit of performance.
The QorIQ technology will be used in GE Fanuc’s VME-based, 3U VPX-based, 6U VPX-based and 3U CompactPCI-based families of single board computers. Support for both the eight core P4080 QorIQ processor and the dual core P2020 processor is also planned. All products based on QorIQ technology will be available in five ruggedization levels – including full conduction cooling over the -40°C to +85°C range - to meet the demanding requirements of military customers.
“We have been developing Power Architecture products since the early 1990s,” said Peter Cavill, General Manager, Military & Aerospace Products, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms. “Since then, we have followed up with a growing family of Power Architecture platforms that have enabled our customers to take advantage of the latest processing technologies, keeping their systems at the leading edge of performance with minimum integration effort, and minimizing long term cost of ownership.”
“One of the QorIQ-based products we will introduce will be pin-compatible with the PPC2A – a product we announced in 1997,” he continued. “That’s a powerful demonstration of how we help protect our customers against obsolescence. We expect that this new generation of single board computers will also provide compelling price/performance advantages for new customers.”
The P4080 processor is rated at less than 30 watts and combines eight Power Architecture e500mc cores operating at frequencies up to 1.5 GHz. The P2020 core operates at up to 1.2GHz and Freescale believes this is ideal for applications that have tight thermal constraints.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Multicore TVs: LG signs ARM

LG Electronics, one of the world’s largest digital TV brands, has licensed multicore processor and graphics technology from ARM for its next generation of digital TVs.
LG will use the ARM11 MPCore multicore processor to target a range of platforms with the same architecture simply by implementing single or multiple SMP cores. It will also use ARM Mali-200 and Mali-400 MP graphics processors for 1080p resolution displays for home cinema experience that includes high-definition graphics, whilst vastly improving the browsing experience on DTV user interfaces.
This will also be used to support a full Web 2.0 experience from their DTVs with Adobe and Open source software platforms and the emergence of tru2way technology for interactive cable services, including video-on-demand, voting and polling, games, and e-commerce without the need for a separate set-top box. Additionally, manufacturers are striving to build intelligent AV processing and develop home devices that are more energy efficient.
“By licensing ARM technologies, LG Electronics will be able to offer a future-proofed premium-quality digital TV experience for today’s connected home,” said Seung-Jong Choi, research fellow of Digital TV Lab, LG Electronics. “The connected home relies on technology that is fully functional and that guarantees a high-quality, energy efficient multimedia experience. With Web 2.0 requirements moving into a connected and high definition home, LG Electronics has selected the ARM architecture to guarantee longevity for our own technology.”

The market proven ARM11 MPCore synthesizable multicore processor provides a scalable solution that addresses the requirements of multiple designs. Devices can be configured to contain between one and four processors delivering up to an aggregate 5000 Dhrystone MIPS of performance at 1GHz while providing existing software portability across single CPU and multi-CPU designs. The ARM11 MPCore processor provides the memory throughput required of data intensive applications while delivering greater performance at lower frequencies than comparable single processor designs, so offering significant cost savings to system designers. The ARM11 MPCore processor also simplifies otherwise complex multiprocessor design, reducing time-to-market and total design cost.
The Mali GPU family scales from Mali-55, the world’s smallest OpenGL ES graphics processor to Mali-400 MP, the highest-performance embedded multicore GPU IP on the market which supports complex applications at up to 1080p high-definition resolution, thereby addressing the widest range of performance points for all embedded graphics needs. This diverse offering enables ARM to lead in conformance to numerous open standards and confirms the company’s unique position as a world-class supplier of the complete range of hardware and software graphics IP, enabling application developers and device manufacturers to create competitive and cutting-edge designs.
Mali graphics processors deliver stunning 2D and 3D graphics providing 4x and 16x full scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) without any noticeable drop in performance. In addition to providing content developers with the state-of-the-art programmable features in OpenGL ES 2.0, Mali products also support 2D scalable vector graphics through OpenVG for improved text, navigation, UI and web-browsing experiences.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New LCD technology for dramatically lower power

Sharp has developed a new LCD screen that is claims reduces power consumption by 130 times by adding memory to the column drivers.
The Memory LCD black and white screen is based on the company's proprietary Continuous Grain Silicon technology. Each pixel is equipped with memory circuitry to save the image information uploaded to the display so the image information has to be rewritten only in the pixels whereas the content has changed in comparison to the previous picture frame.
With common LCDs the microcontroller has to rewrite the complete screen content from frame to frame at a rate of 50 to 60 Hz even though most of the image content remains the same. The 1.35in Memory LCD consumes about 15 µW in operation whereas a standard LCD of comparable size needs about 2 mW to render an image.
This new type of LCD als does not need polarisers, as it uses a special liquid crystal material where the image is generated by the status of the pixel just changing from black to white with a reflectivity of 50%.
Due to the low power consumption, small solar cells can provide enough electricity to drive Memory LCDs. The new type of display is therefore an ideal solution for small size portable applications such as wrist watches, pulse meter and other fitness devices, price tags, etc. Such systems can even be designed as no-battery applications using solar cells as power supply.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Touch screen chip maker licenses ARM M0

Melfas, a Korean chipmaker, has licensed ARM's Coretex M-0 32bit core to upgrade from its 8bit 8051 core in a capacitive-sensing touch input chip.
Melfas has many years’ expertise in designing turnkey touch screen module solutions including controller IC, circuitry, driver software, and patterned ITO panel with window lens and test system. It has shipped over 40 million controller ICs since 2006. According to market research firm, DisplaySearch, the total touch screen module market will grow from $3.6 billion in 2008 to $9 billion by 2015, with a CAGR of 14 per cent.
"Our engineers were already familiar with the Keil software development tools, which support both 8051 and ARM Cortex-M0 processor-based devices," said D.J. Min, VP Engineering, Melfas. "We were able to quickly and easily evaluate the new processor using our existing 8051 code base. The results demonstrated that we could halve the flash memory requirement using the Cortex-M0 processor, and reduce the MHz requirement by 5x, saving power.”

The deal is a good one for ARM as it drives high volume royalties.
“The use of touch screen controllers in products ranging from mobile phones, personal media players, digital cameras, navigation devices, to home appliances is rapidly increasing. The Cortex-M0 processor’s energy efficiency and small size make it particularly suited for these applications,” said Eric Schorn, VP marketing, Processor Division, ARM. “The agreement with Melfas is a further endorsement of the Cortex-M family of low power processors and ARM physical IP, and demonstrates ARM’s low power leadership.”

The Cortex-M0 processor is the lowest power and smallest 32-bit ARM processor. It offers an optimal blend of ultra low-power, energy efficiency and low gate count, with binary upwards compatibility with the higher performance ARM Cortex-M3. This makes it an ideal next step for embedded applications that outgrow legacy 8-bit microcontrollers, skipping the need for 16-bit devices.
Based in Seoul, Korea, Melfas was set up in 2000 with a mission to make electronics friendly and smart. Melfas developed its first semiconductor fingerprint sensor in 2003 and its first touch sensor chip in 2005, and early this year announced it had shipped 40 million touch sensor chips.

Satellite M2M from Digi deal

Digi International has entered the market for satellite machine-to-machine (M2M) links with the $3m acquistion of the assets of Indian company MobiApps.
MobiApps employs 63 people in India, Singapore, and the US with a vast majority based in its India headquarters in Bangalore with a strong technology and product position using the Orbcomm satellite system.
"Our wireless M2M customers are increasingly asking for satellite as a communications option to complete their coverage model," said Joe Dunsmore, Chairman, President, and CEO of Digi. "We’re looking forward to moving MobiApps products into Digi’s strong global sales and distribution network. We believe satellite M2M will be a high growth opportunity for the foreseeable future."

MobiApps recently introduced a new generation of products based on its own custom designed and patented mixed signal ASIC chip, which dramatically reduces the complexity and improves performance of satellite M2M system solutions such as fleet management, marine vessel tracking, container tracking, agricultural monitoring, energy management, and remote field service applications.
Digi expects to immediately functionally integrate MobiApps with current MobiApps CEO Taroon Kamdar facilitating the integration process with the Digi management team over the next several months.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

USB3.0 shipment starts

NEC Electronics starts shipping the industry's first Universal Serial Bus (USB) host controller (part number µPD720200) for the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard (see TI below, which ships at the end of the year).
The µPD720200 device is a host controller for PCs and other digital devices, and is based on the new version of the SuperSpeed USB standard that supports transfer speeds of up to 5Gbit/s. This aims the part not only at PCs but also digital TVs and DVD recorders, transferring 25 GBytes of video content on a blu-ray disc in 70s, compared to 14 minutes to transfer the same content when using the high-speed USB 2.0 with 480 Mbit/s transfer.
Perhaps surprisingly, NEC has been leading in USB chips, shipping the world's first USB 2.0-compliant host controller in 2000.
NEC Electronics expects the market for USB 3.0 to begin a rapid expansion, with monthly production expected to reach approximately 1,000,000 units in September 2009. It intends to market the $15 µPD720200 controller aggressively, and to offer a range of related products by incorporating USB 3.0 communications as an IP (intellectual property) core function in various application specific ICs.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Intel buys Wind River

Intel is making a serious play into the truly embedded market with a $884m deal to buy real time operating system (RTOS) company Wind River Systems.
The board of directors of Wind River has unanimously approved the transaction which is expected to close this summer and then Wind River will report into Intel's Software and Services Group, headed by Renee James.
This is a key part of Intel's strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices, and Wind River is already a close partner with Intel, making use of its hardware virtualisation technology.
Wind River will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel and continue with its current business model.
"This acquisition will bring us complementary, market-leading software assets and an incredibly talented group of people to help us continue to grow our embedded systems and mobile device capabilities," said James at Intel. "Wind River has thousands of customers in a wide range of markets, and now both companies will be better positioned to meet growth opportunities in these areas."
"As a wholly owned subsidiary, Wind River will more tightly align its software expertise to Intel's platforms to speed the pace of progress and software innovation," said Ken Klein, Wind River Chairman, president and CEO. "We remain committed to continuing to provide leading solutions across multiple hardware architectures and delivering the same world-class support to which our customers have grown accustomed."
The acquisition will deliver to Intel robust software capabilities in embedded systems and mobile devices, from in-car "info-tainment" systems and other automotive areas, networking equipment, aerospace and defence to energy and thousands of other devices.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Netbooks - the next generation

Freescale has been working on new form factors for the next generation of netbooks - story and more pictures at The PortableMultiMedia blog

Android moves into home equipment

MIPS Technologies has ported Google's Android operating system to its processor cores, aiming to drive the software, and Web applications, into more areas such as digital TV and set top boxes.
With Android and the open source development community around it, developers can easily and quickly create new applications and OEMs can leverage the growing set of applications for their devices, says MIPS. With the MIPS ecosystem around Android, OEMs will be able to quickly optimize Android for their specific platforms.
"In the future, almost every consumer device will be connected to the Internet and its wide array of content," said Rich Wawrzyniak, senior analyst for ASIC and SoC at Semico Research Corporation. "Leveraging Android to quickly and easily bring new and innovative applications and user interfaces to devices beyond the mobile phone is a very appealing proposition for consumers. Android also removes applications from their ties to specific hardware systems and opens the market for companies like MIPS Technologies to move into new market segments. I can understand why MIPS’ partners and licensees are excited about Android on MIPS. It is a potential game changer."

MIPS Technologies is establishing development tools and system integration partnerships with service providers to help its licensees with porting, integration, and testing. Partnerships initially include those with Embedded Alley and Viosoft.
Embedded Alley, a leading provider of embedded Linux solutions, is offering support for SoC implementations from MIPS Technologies’ licensees. The Embedded Alley Development System for Android-based Devices includes processor and board support as well as a version of the Android Dalvik virtual machine (VM) optimized for the MIPS instruction set and CPU cores; extending the Android bionic library, linker and other software infrastructure for the MIPS architecture; and providing integration and testing board support industry-specific device drivers, CODECs and other middleware. Embedded Alley is already enabling Android on devices built with the Alchemy Processor family from RMI—providing an Android-ready Linux kernel for RMI Au1250 and the Embedded Alley Development System for Alchemy reference platforms.
“Embedded Alley and MIPS Technologies have been working closely to deliver value to our mutual customers,” said Matthew Locke, COO, Embedded Alley. “Following the success of Android in the mobile phone market, many companies have been looking at the potential of Android beyond mobile handsets, but it just wasn’t clear how to make Android a reality for other types of devices. Embedded Alley, together with MIPS -- a strong leader in the digital home marketplace -- has determined what it will take, and we are making it happen. We are enabling OEMs and developers to create new Android-based designs."

Viosoft Corporation is a key partner for MIPS based software development tools. Viosoft’s Arriba tools deliver comprehensive support for single and multi-core platforms. The tools support Android, and are available today.
“The MIPS architecture has consistently delivered high-performance Linux platforms with low power consumption, making it ideal for VM-based environments such as Android,” said Art Lee, vice president of business development, Viosoft Corporation. “To enable the porting, debugging and deployment of the Android platform on MIPS, Viosoft provides a set of unique and very powerful tools that dramatically reduce development time, risk and costs. Working closely with MIPS Technologies, we are focused on helping OEMs quickly and easily bring their Android platforms to market.”