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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Five reasons why we won't see IBM's holographic display in five years - video

By Nick Flaherty

IBM has released its prediction of five key technologies for the next five years, and on the whole they are pretty sound: fuel cell batteries are here and making headway in a number of markets, the smart grid will take existing technologies and apply them to wide area power systems, sensors will be everywhere (absolutely!) and smart algorithms can take the pain out of commuting - so far, so good. But the one that IBM has chosen to headline is holographic phone calls (and mobile ones at that).

IBM says:
In the next five years, 3-D interfaces – like those in the movies – will let you interact with 3-D holograms of your friends in real time. Movies and TVs are already moving to 3-D, and as 3-D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturized to fit into cell phones, you will be able to interact with photos, browse the Web and chat with your friends in entirely new ways.

Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat - or "3-D telepresence." The technique uses light beams scattered from objects and reconstructs a picture of that object, a similar technique to the one human eyes use to visualize our surroundings.

This is nonsense for a number of reasons:

  1. Photonics doesn't scale. We haven't been able to make photonics scale like silicon - researchers have been trying for 20 years to make the photonic computer, and are still trying. It will take more than 5 years to make commercial, large scale photonic technology small enough for the home, let alone the mobile
  2. Photonics won't be cheap enough. As it doesn't scale, it's also going to be hard to make it cheap enough. There are LED projectors now but there's some large steps to take to make this a consumer product
  3. It's too power hungry for mobile. And not low cost enough. Or small enough. It won't make the home, let alone the mobile.
  4. Video calling is only just taking off. It has taken 20 years for the idea of 2D video calling to take off. A lack of standards and a social resistance is only just being overcome with Skype in the office (not in the living room even now) and Facetime on the Apple 4. There is still a lot of resistance to installing a projector in the home that will take a lot to overcome. 
  5. It's the face, stupid. Apple is driving video calling through the face - being able to see the other person's expression. That's not what the 3D system provides. 
That's not to say it won't be incredibly useful, just not in the home. The key is that the engineers at IBM Research are working on new ways to visualize 3-D data, working on technology that would allow engineers to step inside designs of everything from buildings to software programs, running simulations of how diseases spread across interactive 3-D globes, and visualizing trends happening around the world on Twitter – all in real time and with little to no distortion. 
This is where the technology will take off, where size, cost and power are less important than visualising large amounts of data. From there it make its way into the home office with new projectors, but this will take more than five years to happen.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

World's smallest Christmas card in nanotech

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have built what they claim is the world's smallest Christmas card etched on a piece of glass. 
"We decided that producing this Christmas card was a simple way to show just how accurate our technology is," said Professor David Cumming of the School of Engineering. "The process to manufacture the card only took 30 minutes. It was very straightforward to produce as the process is highly repeatable – the design of the card took far longer than the production of the card itself.
"The card is 200 micro-metres wide by 290 micro-metres tall. To put that into some sort of perspective, a micro-metre is a millionth of a metre; the width of a human hair is about 100 micro-metres. You could fit over half a million of them onto a standard A5 Christmas card – but signing them would prove to be a bit of a challenge."
The process used was plasmon resonance in a patterned aluminium film made in the University's James Watt Nanofabrication Centre.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

EU project to build a molecular computer

Nottingham University part of collaboration
By Nick Flaherty

The University of Nottingham is the UK's representative in a major new European project to build a computer that uses molecules as switches rather than transistors.
The four year AtMol project stats on the 1st January with ten research groups in Europe working together with the IMRE Institute from A*A*STAR inSingapore on atomic scale technologies, new quantum architectures with multi-scale interconnection and packaging techniques for a single molecule to compute and be packaged into a molecular chip.
However, the research builds the devices individually, and mass production will be needed to make molecular computers a reality.
AtMol had already established a detail process flow for fabricating  the molecular chip with a single calculating molecule unit connected  via external nano-electrodes to preserve its integrity down to the atomic level  even  after  its encapsulation.  On a surface,  the  required  logic functions  are embedded in a single molecule but can also be implanted within an atomic scale circuit. AtMol will explore and demonstrate how the combination of classical and quantum  information inside the same atomic scale circuit increases the computing power of the final  intramolecular logic circuit.
Atomic scale logics will be constructed using atom-by-atom manipulation, on-surface chemistry, and lab tested using a unique UHV transfer printing technology.
The AtMol research needs state-of-the-art UHV atomic scale interconnection machines comprising, a UHV surface preparation chamber, a UHV transfer printing device, an LTUHV-STM (or a UHV-NC-AFM) for atomic scale construction, a FIM atomic scale tip fabrication device and a multi-probe system with its companion SEM or optical navigation microscope. At the starting of AtMol, only three of such machines exist worldwide and they are each housed within  AtMol laboratories  (Toulouse, Krakow and Singapore).  They will be used  to interconnect molecule logic gates one-by-one in a planar atomic scale multi-pad approach on the top, atomically reconstructed, surface of the wafer. For this molecular chip, the back face of the wafer will incorporate nano-to-micro-scale interconnections using nanofabricated vias. The  AtMol patented  hybrid micro-nano back interconnect approach will enable the full packaging of the molecular chip preserving the surface atomic scale precision of the design.

The AtMol partners are dominated by centres in Germany and Spain, as well as the state-funded French research institutes:

  • CEMES-CNRS (Toulouse, France), 
  • LETI-CEA (Grenoble, France),  
  • Phantoms Foundation (Madrid, Spain), 
  • ICIQ (Tarragona, Spain), 
  • CSIC (Barcelona, Spain), 
  • Fritz Haber Institute (Berlin, Germany), 
  • Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany), 
  • Dresden Technical University (Dresden, Germany), 
  • Nottingham University (Nottingham, UK),  
  • Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), 
  • IMRE A*STAR (Singapore)

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First video of working invisibility cloak

R&D project demonstration
By Nick Flaherty

A video by Fractal Antenna Systems of Waltham, Massachusets (just down the road from Analog Devices) is showing that the 'invisibility cloak' is becoming a realistic project.
The company has been working on the system for two years using fractal antennas and resonators to make an 'object', or wearer, disappear into the background.
"The invisibility cloak we have has unique characteristics that have not been achieved by others, because others have not used our fractal approach," said Nathan Cohen, CEO at Fractal Antenna Systems. "Our invisibility cloak DOES allow the object to look to the outside, is wideband, and has minimal shadow and scattering. There is NO mirror of any kind. And there is no power needed to make it work. So we meet that heady requirement of making something slip into the background but also let that something ‘see out’ at the same time. This is exactly what the world sees as exciting about invisibility cloak research. Not new attempts at fun-house mirrors.”
The firm's approach was first reported in March 2009 and since then key measurements of scattering, reproducibility, bandwidth and fidelity, as well as ability to 'see-out' have been quantified on the fractal invisibility cloak, which operates at a wide range of microwave frequencies, including those used by cell phones.
"We have an invisibility cloak, wideband at microwaves, you can see out of and melds into the background. We made careful measurements of the invisibility cloak against controls for a comparison, as any thorough experiment requires. The results are compelling and irrefutable," said Cohen, mentioning that the results will be published and that the fractal invisibility cloak is an R&D device, not a practical application. “I am not going around wearing one to hide from microwaves, but this does show that it is feasible. It also shows a path to visual light versions, which have more serious fabrication challenges than the longer wavelength microwaves. I’d give Harry Potter 30 more years of waiting for a visual light invisibility cloak. But at least, from a technology standpoint, he can now put the order in.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top five postings on The Embedded Blog

By Nick Flaherty

As we approach the end of the year, it's time to look back on what have been the most popular stories on The Embedded Blog in 2010.

  1. True gesture multitouch for large LCDs
  2. Open Android API to drive NFC 
  3. TI's 1GHz Cortex A8
  4. The battle of names with iPad and iNemo
  5. USB3 moving into digital cameras

But there has to be a mention of a story from 2009 that is still in the chart this year, with Atmel's 34cent RFID chip.

Happy New Year!

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Nottingham researchers etch the periodic table on a hair - video

By Nick Flaherty

Not strictly an embedded story but great nonetheless - researchers at the Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Center have etched a tiny periodic table onto a hair belonging to chemistry Professor Martyn Poliakoff. This is part of their collection of Periodic tables at  The Periodoc Table of Videos.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Moving multicore to embedded is key to US competitiveness

By Nick Flaherty

The rapid advances in information technology that drive many sectors of the US economy could stall unless there is significant fundamental research and development of parallel computing, says a new report by the National Research Council -- which will drive the move to embedded multicore systems.
Better options for managing power consumption in computers will also be essential for continued improvements in IT performance.
Advances in single-processor, sequential computer microprocessors have enabled computing performance to increase dramatically -- on the order of 10,000 times in the last 20 years but power management and other technological limitations have made it impractical to continue improving computer performance in this way much longer. Parallel computing, therefore, is the only known alternative for improving computer performance without significantly increasing costs and energy usage, the report says.
"The societal and economic impact of computer technology is undeniable, increasing productivity and efficiency and fostering innovation in medicine, defense, entertainment, and communications," said Samuel Fuller, chief technology officer and vice president of research and development for Analog Devices and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "To ensure that computing systems continue to double in performance every few years, we need to make significant changes in computer software and hardware. Investing in research and development of parallel computing offers a clear path forward."
Despite some mainstream successes in parallel computing -- such as the MapReduce programming framework used by Google to process large data sets using thousands of computers -- most parallel computing in use now is limited to comparatively narrow scientific and engineering applications. To enable parallel computing for broader use, new algorithms, programming models, operating systems, and computer architectures will be required, the report says, and research and development in these areas should be pursued.
In particular, advances are necessary to develop new parallel programming methods and supporting computing systems. Although computing hardware such as semiconductor chips that contain eight or more microprocessors have already been developed, software that can keep that many or more processors busy in parallel is not available for most computing applications.
Research and development should also focus on making computer systems more energy efficient, the report says. Power constraints now affect systems ranging from handheld devices to the largest computing data centres. Most computer chips are designed with silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. While the number of devices per CMOS chip continues to double every few years, the technology has essentially reached its limits with regard to power efficiency. Even as new parallel computing models and solutions are found, most future performance will ultimately be limited by energy constraints, the report notes.
It cautions that while parallel computing is the best alternative for improving future performance, there is no guarantee that it will bring rapid advances like those experienced in recent decades, and a number of uncertainties still need to be addressed. Therefore, research and development should also explore fundamentally different alternatives to today's CMOS technology.
The report also recommends developing open interface standards for parallel programming to promote cooperation and innovation in the industry, designing tools and methods for transferring today's sequential computing to parallel applications, and emphasizing parallel computing as part of computer science education.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Google multi-source deal drives down cost of 100G optical transceivers

By Nick Flaherty

10X10 Multi-Source Agreement established to encourage broad adoption of 100G networks based on 10G signaling specifications

Google has teamed up with leading suppliers Brocade, JDSU and Santur to form a Multi-Source Agreement (the 10X10 MSA) for low cost, low power, pluggable 100G optical transceivers based on 10 optical lanes at 10G.
“The 10X10 MSA is exciting because it provides a roadmap for cost reduction of 100G optical interconnects. Using parallel optics that runs at the same rate as electrical lanes avoids the excess cost and power associated with gearbox devices and brings significant cost relief to 100G equipment.”
The 2km reach goal of the 10X10 MSA bridges the gap between 100m multi-mode and 10km single-mode solutions enabling the roll-out of new networks capable of delivering exponentially higher bandwidth at a significantly lower cost per bit. Unlike 100m multi-mode based on ribbons of fiber, this solution operates on a conventional Single Mode Fibre (SMF) enabling extended reach of 2Km. Compared with other single-mode 100G implementations, this approach does not require 25G electronics such as gearbox ICs to convert 10G data streams to intermediate 25G lanes.
The purpose of the 10X10 MSA is to deliver the industry’s lowest cost 100G solution over 2Km SMF. The 10X10 MSA enables 100G implementation today in modules compliant to the published CFP MSA specifications. Other 10X10 MSA implementations will leverage existing 10G electronics and optics to deliver higher density 100G modules.
“The 10X10 MSA is ready to define a new price and performance trajectory for 100GbE that will significantly accelerate the adoption and economics of 100G deployment," said Scott Kipp, Brocade standards representative and Chair of the 10X10 MSA. "Leveraging 10G technology helps the 10X10 MSA provide the lowest cost solution in terms of bandwidth per meter and bandwidth per Watt.”
“The 10X10 MSA is exciting because it provides a roadmap for cost reduction of 100G optical interconnects. Using parallel optics that runs at the same rate as electrical lanes avoids the excess cost and power associated with gearbox devices and brings significant cost relief to 100G equipment,” said Santur CTO Milind Gokhale.
Users and developers who are interested in joining the 10X10 MSA are encouraged to contact MSA members at

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NFC Forum Publishes Four Technical Specifications; Brings Total Number of Available Specifications to 15 | Business Wire

NFC Forum Publishes Four Technical Specifications; Brings Total Number of Available Specifications to 15 | Business Wire: "NFC Forum Publishes Four Technical Specifications; Brings Total Number of Available Specifications to 15"

By Nick Flaherty

Renesas and green Hills team up for virtualisation for real time control

By Nick Flaherty

Renesas Electronics and Green Hills Software are to jointly develop basic software supporting CPU virtualisation technology for real-time control applications as well as a software development environment.
Through the collaboration, Renesas Electronics will develop added functions necessary for the efficient operation of virtualization software enabling high-speed real-time control and improving the usability of the software development environment, incorporating these functions into microcontrollers (MCUs) with V850 CPU core.
Green Hills Software will port the MULTI Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which includes components such as a compiler and a debugger that already support Renesas Electronics’ V850 core. The new CPU virtualisation technology will provide support for software that enables multiple applications to run independently and simultaneously on a single CPU, such as the INTEGRITY real time operating system (RTOS).
The Green Hills IDE will generate compact and high-speed instruction code optimized for the CPU virtualization technology provided by Renesas Electronics’ V850 core. When combined with virtualization software such as INTEGRITY Secure Virtualization, which support safety standards such as IEC 61508, the software development environment will deliver the means to develop and implement with high efficiency applications with excellent functional safety. There are also plans to include support for the emerging ISO 26262 functional safety standard.
Renesas Electronics has been developing CPU virtualisation technology for the V850 architecture to enable control of multiple systems with a single CPU core without mutual interference, allowing high-speed and composite control in fields such as industrial machinery and automotive systems, where real-time control is essential.
Green Hills Software has made a contribution to facilitating design procedures in virtualised environments through its virtualization software and the software development environment.
Renesas Electronics considers a full-fledged software development environment incorporating basic software that allows efficient use of virtualization technology to be essential.
The software development environment will be available through Green Hills Software as part of the MULTI product family.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Marvell takes ARM into the enterprise cloud with quad core chip

By Nick Flaherty

While attention has been focussed on startup SmoothStone for enterprise computing on the ARM chip platform, Marvell has done its usual job of working away quietly and then coming up with a key device.
It has launched a quad-core processing, enterprise-class cloud computing platform based on its own spin of the the ARM architecture. At 1.6GHz  the ARMADA XP is the fastest ARM processor available on the market today for enterprise class applications and integrates four Marvell designed ARM compliant 1.6GHz CPU cores along with a range of I/O peripherals and is aiming at delivering the best performance per watt to empower emerging cloud computing applications ranging from high performance networking and web servers to high volume home server products like Network Attached Storage (NAS) and media servers.
Using ARM for the cloud is a smart move as the low power tackles on e of the key problems of the datacentre - heat dissipation. But it also avoids the problem of operating system - the cloud doesn't really care as long as it can run the application, and many of these are Linux-based.
"Marvell's introduction of a powerful solution for enterprise-class cloud computing applications is a very important milestone in the mobile Internet revolution—cloud computing mobile servers like those powered by the ARMADA XP are the key link in what I envision to be a seamless, unified ecosystem of mobile connected devices, information appliances and smart 'furnishings,'" said Weili Dai, Co-Founder of Marvell. "Marvell's leadership in mobility, consumer, storage, enterprise networking and Wi-Fi products completes the circuit, delivering a powerful end-to-end total solution to anyone connected to the new global mesh, from consumers to small business and the enterprise."
The ARMADA XP supplements the Marvell Plug Computer initiative by enabling a new class of mobile servers to serve the growing performance demands of connected consumer devices like smartphones and tablets.
The ARMADA XP is based on Marvell-designed ARM v7 MP compatible CPU offering 1.6GHz processing per core performance, delivering 16,600 DMIPS to make high performance computing affordable for mainstream applications. It integrates 2 MB of L2 cache and supports 64-bit DDR3 memory interface with ECC at 800MHz clock rate to enable a high throughput memory sub-system design. The ARMADA XP is a highly integrated System-on-a-Chip (SoC) that combines quad x4 PCI-express (PCI-e) interfaces, multiple USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet ports, SATA ports, security engine and other I/O peripherals to make system designs simple and economical. With ARMADA XP's advanced power management architecture, it offers the industry's best performance per watt to alleviate the challenges of energy and cooling costs faced by enterprise and server class systems.

Key Features
  • Industry's first quad-core ARM processor for enterprise applications
  • Up to 1.6GHz processing performance for each ARM v7 compliant core
  • 16,600 DMIPS performance at less than 10 watts
  • "Heterogeneous multiprocessing" (SMP/AMP/Mixed) with "hardware-based Cache Coherence"
  • Up to 2MB system level two cache
  • Supplements the ARMADA family of single, dual-core and tri-core processors for easy software porting
  • 64-bit DDR2/DDR3/DDR3L memory interface with ECC support at up to 800MHz clock rates
  • 4 PCI-e Gen 2.0 units
  • 4 enterprise class Gigabit networking ports
  • Up to 16 high speed Marvell SERDES lanes with multi functionality (PCI-e, SATA, SGMII, QSGMII)
  • Multiple USB ports
  • Ultra low power consumption with advanced power management capabilities

Marvell offers complete development platforms for the ARMADA XP enabling customers to start system development without waiting for hardware. Development platforms are available including software drivers and board support package.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shipments of Silicon to Jump 23.6 Percent in 2010

By Nick Flaherty
Global silicon shipments in terms of square inches will rise to record levels in 2010, according to semiconductor manufacturing market research firm iSuppli.
Shipments of silicon for semiconductor manufacturing in 2010 will grow by 23.6 percent year-over-year, reaching 8.9 billion total square inches, up from 7.2 billion square inches in 2009, iSuppli forecasts. By 2014, 12.4 billion total square inches of silicon will be shipped.
However, while this is good news for filling fabs, it doesn't necessarily follow through to the average selling price (ASP) and the health of the industry. There is a fine balance between demand for silicon and production - too much silicon, low prices; too much demand and not enough siliocn - high prices. 
“Following the recession of late 2008 and 2009, chip manufacturers spent the first half of 2010 striving to reverse the damage they had suffered,” said Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst for semiconductor manufacturing and supply at iSuppli. “Visibility in the second half of 2010 remains limited even as the all-important holiday season inches closer. The good news is that barring any new collapse, silicon suppliers will have sufficient orders on the books to carry them through the third and fourth quarters. And while growth in 2011 won’t match the high expansion rate seen in 2010, iSuppli anticipates that the semiconductor industry will require additional increases in silicon shipments of about 13 percent compared to 2010 shipment rates to meet the projected development.”
Outperforming the industry
The demand for silicon in 12-inch wafers continues to rise at a rate that will outperform the industry average for silicon through 2014. In order to maintain growth, however, silicon suppliers must continue to expand 12-inch wafer manufacturing.
Beyond 2010, iSuppli expects to see a greater emphasis on shifting to even more 12-inch wafer manufacturing. Specifically, mixed signal and other technologies will be moving to 12-inch wafers as a result of older 12-inch tools no longer being cost effective for the manufacturing of leading-edge technology products.
Over the next five years, the availability of additional mature manufacturing capacity and tools will accelerate the conversion to 12-inch wafer manufacturing for products such as analog and mixed signal devices.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Freescale to drive industrial connectivity with i.MX28 family of processors

Industrial-Focused Processors With On-Chip Connectivity and Analogue Features at Less Than 0.5 Watts

By Nick Flaherty

Freescale Semiconductor has launched two new families of processors for low-power, cost-sensitive industrial applications. Consuming less than half a watt and priced starting at less than $6, these devices are aimed at a wide range of applications, including appliances, portable and diagnostic medical devices, energy distribution equipment, meters, human machine interfaces, motor control and industrial controllers. These applications can benefit from the processors’ on-chip connectivity and analogue features, which reduce system-level discrete components, power consumption, board size, development effort and system cost.
The MCF5441x ColdFire family provides customer benefits tailored for motor control, and the i.MX28x offers benefits for display applications. These two processor families introduce an embedded three-port Layer 2 switch that can replace up to $4 (USD) of external component cost. Applications such as elevator and assembly line controllers may use this feature to eliminate network equipment and reduce cable costs by daisy-chaining between Ethernet-connected nodes. In addition, both processor families integrate popular cores with dual 10/100 Ethernet ports containing IEEE 1588 hardware timestamp support for accurate clock synchronization of networked devices. These features are combined with many other industry-standard connectivity options, such as multiple UARTs, controller area network (CAN) controllers and USB interfaces to provide system design flexibility. “Industrial customers typically design systems without cooling fans,” said Bruno Baylac, Freescale’s director of global industrial segment marketing. “With all features running at maximum performance, the i.MX28x and MCF5441x families consume less than half a watt of power across the industrial temperature range of -40C to +85C. These highly integrated devices give design engineers a low-cost, ultra-low-power solution for a broad range of industrial designs.”

i.MX28x: Less than 0.5 watts powers 500 MIPS processors
The i.MX28x applications processor family is based on a 454 MHz (500 MIPS) ARM9 core and integrates a rich feature set including: an on-chip display controller with touchscreen for a rich user interface; a power management unit to power sequence the device and external components in the system; two USB modules with PHYs; analogue to digital converters (ADC); low-power modes for low standby current and secure boot.
The i.MX28x is suppported by Freescale’s i.MX28 evaluation kit, multimedia codecs and complete board support packages for Linux and Windows Embedded CE. In addition, integrated development environments and tool chains, industrial network protocols, additional operating systems, development boards and System on Modules are supported by a vast i.MX ecosystem. The i.MX28x is featured in Freescale’s recently announced Home Energy Gateway reference platform to support the growing smart energy market.

MCF5441x: Offering MCU peripherals with MPU performance
The MCF5441x ColdFire microprocessor family integrates a ColdFire V4 core that offers a high level of connectivity with up to 10 serial ports. Serial connectivity provides designers increased flexibility to meet current and future development needs.
These devices allow designers to reduce system costs with multiple analog peripherals built in to simplify system architecture. Analog features include high-speed precision pulse width modulators and dual high-speed ADCs.
The MCF5441x is supported with a powerful suite of enablement software developed by Freescale, including a board support package for Linux®, Freescale’s complimentary full-featured MQX™ 3.6 real-time operating system, and Eclipse™ based CodeWarrior 10.0 IDE. The MCF5441x Freescale Tower System for rapid prototyping completes the offering by providing nearly unlimited quick prototyping capabilities to help eliminate months of development time.
Availability and pricing
The MCF5441x ColdFire family suggested resale pricing starts at $4.99 in 10,000-unit quantities. Evaluation and demonstration systems for the MCF5441x family are available now. The TWR-MCF5441X 32-bit MPU module is available at a suggested resale price of $139. The TWR-MCF5441X-KIT is available at a suggested resale price of $259

The i.MX28x family suggested resale pricing starts at $5.27 in 10,000-unit quantities. Evaluation and demonstration systems for the i.MX28x family are available now. The MCIMX28EVK evaluation kit is available at a suggested resale price of $399, with the optional LCD module add-on for $199

The MCF5441x and i.MX28x devices are part of the Freescale Product Longevity program, with 15 years of assured supply. For terms and conditions, please see:

Adeneo Embedded

“Adeneo Embedded is very excited to extend its collaboration with Freescale Semiconductor to the new i.MX28 processor, through our support to device makers in the integration of Windows Embedded CE and Embedded Linux on i.MX based architectures,” said Yannick Chammings, CEO of Adeneo Embedded. “Our collaboration with Freescale for the distribution, maintenance and support of the i.MX28-based Home Energy Gateway reference design leverages further our expertise with i.MX architecture as well as our leading position helping OEMs from the industrial market releasing high performing product at most optimized cost and time-to-market.”
AllGo Systems
“The i.MX28 family of processors is a great follow-on series to the popular i.MX23 and i.MX25 family from Freescale. The integration of power management, dual USB ports, Ethernet and LCD controller make this a very interesting platform for consumer and industrial markets,” said K. Srinivasan, CEO, AllGo Systems. “AllGo plans to port Android to i.MX28 as well as offer our Smart Home Energy Gateway software on top of i.MX283 running Linux.”
"CodeSourcery is pleased to provide professional C/C++ development tools for i.MX28 developers targeting bare-metal, RTOS and Linux platforms," said Mark Mitchell, chief sourcerer of CodeSourcery. "The debugger in Sourcery G++ fully supports popular low-cost JTAG emulators, and Sourcery G++ offers excellent source code development tools and build management for a simple yet powerful solution to development on Freescale's exciting new i.MX28 processor."
Innovate Solutions
“Innovate Software Solutions Pvt Ltd is excited to collaborate with Freescale on the i.MX28 processor family and is announcing its Swiftboard, a user-friendly, low-power and low cost development board,” said Manjunath P, managing director of Innovate Solutions. “Swiftboard’s flexible, open embedded, small, 10x12-cm form factor can be directly used for industrial or consumer product deployment. Enabled with multiple expansion and interface options Swiftboard allows users to create end-use applications such test and measurement systems with advanced Human Machine Interface and Portable Medical applications. Additionally, the Swiftboard supports Linux and comes with an interface for a 3G Module, SDIO based WI-FI and BT, RS-485, keypad, and 4.3" TFT/LCD touchscreen.”
“Freescale already offers the most comprehensive line of processors that are enabled with IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol hardware-assisted time stamping, and IXXAT is now adding its PTP support to the i.MX28 and MCF5441x families of applications processors,” said Bill Seitz, managing director of IXXAT, Inc. “The i.MX28 and MCF5441x address a full range of IEEE 1588 PTP applications in Telecom, Ethernet AVB, Smart Grid, Automotive, Industrial Automation and Test and Measurement.”
Karo Electronics
“The i.MX28 is the ideal enhancement to the i.MX25, the basis of Ka-Ro’s TX25 module,” said Ekkheard Meurers, CFO of Karo Electronics. “Due to its memory integration with improved speed plus the integration of RTC, the Ethernet switch with 2 ports, power management and 2 CAN interfaces, the i.MX28 is especially interesting as it is very closely positioned to the area of remote control units and remote control home automation applications. The longevity program helps ensure long-term availability which in turn serves as the basis of Ka-Ro’s 7 year long-term availability for all TX modules.”
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Monday, August 23, 2010

World's smallest USB drive

By Nick Flaherty

The SuperTalent Pico C is claiming the crown for the world's smallest USB drive, weighing less than 6 grams but that doesn’t prevent it from holding up to 32 GB of data. The 4 GB version comes in at £9.45 while the larger 32 GB edition costs £35.45.
This flash drive is speedy too, “the I/O performance results are amazing when it comes to the Super Talent Pico C.” explained Tom’s Hardware reviewer Patrick Schmid. However the Pico suffers from slower write speeds. Patrick went on to say “the flash-based thumb drive is great for file storage, but not for intensive access.”
Measuring just 1.5”x0.5”, it’s possible to attach the Pico USB drive to a key ring. This means there is no need to worry about losing it.
There is still a need for physical storage though as USB drives deliver much greater data transfer rates when compared with standard Internet connections. This looks to remain true for the next few years with the first USB 3.0 compatible hardware going on sale earlier this year, featuring up to 6 times the transfer speed of USB 2.0 connections.
The Pico USB drive is also shock and water resistant, meaning a few bumps aren’t going to cause it to lose any data. The Pico C USB Flash Drive is available now.

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USB3 drives fastest in Digital Cameras and Camcorders

7m Set top boxes with USB3 by 2014

By Nick Flaherty

USB has been extremely successful in the digital still camera and digital camcorder markets because most users want to download images to PCs to store video recordings and still pictures or to print pictures. But, given Intel's reluctant backing of USB3 (shipments of chips not until 2012), other segments are set to take advantage of the technology.
As picture file sizes increase with camera resolution, and as camcorders move from standard-definition (SD) to high-definition (HD), the desirability of SuperSpeed USB becomes even more apparent, according to In-Stat ( As a result, adoption of SuperSpeed USB into digital cameras and camcorders will be much more rapid than other CE device segments, with penetration levels reaching 50% and 60% respectively, by 2014.
“SuperSpeed USB can move 25GB of data in 70 seconds, the same amount of data would take nearly 14 minutes using high-speed USB,” says Brian O’Rourke, Principal Analyst. “This dramatic leap in download times makes the adoption of SuperSpeed USB into digital camcorders and cameras a natural migration. We expect to see the first SuperSpeed USB camcorders hit the market in the second half of 2011.”
In-Stat found that:
  • Nearly 160 million digital TVs will ship with USB in 2014.
  • By 2014 nearly 7 million set top boxes will be have integrated SuperSpeed USB
  • SuperSpeed USB will reach 40% penetration in the portable digital media player market in five years.
  • 225 million SuperSpeed USB flash drives will ship in 2014, representing a CAGR of 791.8% from 2009 to 2014.
  • More than 3 billion USB-enabled devices shipped in 2009; over 4 billion will ship in 2012.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Intel updates Atom processor for storage with DDR3

DDR3 for higher speed transfers marks shift in embedded market

By Nick Flaherty

Two new processors for embedded data storage are marking the shift to DDR3.  
Since launching the D410 and D510 Atom processors into the home networking space in March, Intel has updated the chip to be faster with the 1.8GHz D425 single-core and D525 dual-core devices that now support DDR3 for Network Attached Storage (NAS).
Intel says leading storage manufacturers, including Acer, Cisco, LaCie, LG Electronics, NETGEAR, QNAP, Super Micro, Synology and Thecus have announced products based on the Atom.
The new processors will support the new memory technology, double-data-rate three small outline dual in-line memory modules, also known as DDR3 SODIMM. The new Intel Atom processors (D425 and D525) are paired with the Intel 82801 IR I/O Controller that delivers the input/output (I/O) connectivity to satisfy the growing throughput demands of leading storage vendors. Both additions to the storage platform offer the flexibility to support Microsoft Windows Home Server and open source Linux operating systems.
“Networked storage appliances based on the Intel Atom processor platform enable consumers and businesses to organize, manage, protect and share documents, photos, videos and music throughout the home or office,” said Dinesh Rao, product line manager, Intel Storage Group. “The versatile Atom processor, which is at the heart of a growing variety of small, innovative, Internet-connected devices, makes it possible for storage vendors to develop low-power appliances that can innocuously sit on a desk or shelf while keeping digital content safe and available anytime, anywhere.”
Since March, storage manufacturers have adopted the Intel Atom processor D410 single-core and D510 dual-core, each paired with the Intel 82801 IR I/O Controller, to power these affordable network-attached storage (NAS) appliances for the home and small business. Storage vendor products featuring the Intel Atom processor-based platform are currently available and additional devices will be released later this year.
“LaCie recently introduced two storage servers that leverage Intel’s Atom processor technology to deliver enterprise-level storage capabilities to small and medium businesses that were previously only experienced in large, corporate environments,” said Erwan Girard, LaCie Solutions business unit manager. “The new servers include the perfect mix of corporate-grade features and intuitive management software, enclosed in an award-winning 5big design for your desktop, allowing these products to fit seamlessly into any business environment.”
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TI's 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 DaVinci chip to replace OMAP3

DM37x combines 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 and 800MHz C64x+ DSP for 720p HD video
Hardware offers 50% boost in ARM performance, 40% in DSP, double the graphics performance with 40% less power consumption over OMAP3530 device
By Nick Flaherty
TI is targetting its own OMAP3 processors with a new Da Vinci video processor family, the DM 37x. The DM3730 and DM3725 with their ARM Cortex-A8 and C64x+™ DSP core, imaging and video accelerator (IVA), PowerVR 3D graphics processor in the DM3730 and high-performance peripherals (USB 2.0, SD/MMC) integrated on a single system-on-chip (SoC), are suitable for applications requiring HD video processing or a large amount of data processing. These applications include navigation systems, media players, medical patient monitoring devices, industrial test and measurement devices, industrial vision and portable communications.
The DM37x processors are software compatible with the OMAP35x generation of processors and pin-to-pin compatible with the low end Sitara AM37x devices allowing for an easy product migration strategy to higher performing options. Customers moving to the DM3730 from the OMAP3530 can look forward to a 50 percent increase in ARM performance, a 40 percent increase in DSP performance, double the graphics performance and uses approximately 40 percent less power.
The 800MHz C64x+ DSP and hardware video accelerator enable audio and HD 720p video decoding and encoding (audio and video codecs included) independent of the ARM processor. This allows additional expansion on the ARM processor to run more high-level applications and a rich, responsive 2D or 3D graphical user interface, for applications such as an industrial personal digital assistant (PDA).
The DSP engine is programmable, allowing multiple general signal processing tasks such as digital filtering, math functions and image processing and analysis. For example, in a camera-enabled industrial application, the DSP can run an edge-detection algorithm on the video coming from a camera to detect the presence or absence of people or objects.
Key features and benefits:
  • DM3730 and DM3725 are pin-compatible and software compatible with each other, as well as with Sitara AM3715 and AM3703 processors. Each device can be configured to operate at multiple operating points enabling low power or high performance modes.
  • Up to 800MHz TMS320C64x+ DSP with 720p 30 frames per second (fps) HD video encoding and decoding
  • Allows intensive signal analysis and processing and seamless HD video decoding for multi-mediaapplications
  • DM3730 has a PowerVR 200MHz graphics accelerator, supports OpenGL ES 2.0 and renders 20 million polygons per second, coupled with the advanced display subsystem
  • Enables developers to create a user interface enabling stunning 3D graphics navigation with life-like effects
  • 20 percent increase in LPDDR controller performance and 100 percent increase in L1 cache compared to OMAP3530 (increased memory bandwidth)
  • Provides increased multi processor performance and reduces latency
Software and support
Helping make development easier, customers can start developing their designs today with the TMDXEVM3730 EVM, which includes a TI Bluetooth WiFi module. The SDK includes Linux kernel 2.6.32 board support package complete with graphical user interface, graphics, applications, demonstrations and development utilities. The SDK also offers a royalty-free library of DSP-optimized signal processing algorithms accessible from the ARM processor through a set of easy-to-use application programming interfaces (APIs). The DSP library contains more than 80 algorithms, including multi-media decoders and encoders, math functions, digital filtering including Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), and image processing including image filtering and analysis.
Support for the Linux and Android operating systems is available today. Windows CE™ support will be available in 4Q10.
Pricing and availability:
Customers can begin designing by downloading the DM3730 software for use on the DM3730 evaluation module, TMDXEVM3730, available for $1,495 USD from TI. Customers may also develop on the BeagleBoard-xM, a low-cost, open-source community board equipped with the DM3730 available for $179 from Digi-Key. The DM3730 will be available for purchase starting at $25.60 in 1,000 unit quantities (1ku) at

Sundance ships 12 core development system

Customer shipment three months after launch

By Nick Flaherty

Sundance Multiprocessor Technology in Chesham, outside London, has started shipping its flagship multiprocessor development system to a customer three months after adding the system to its website. 
The EVP6472-941 (left) is directly targeted at the new breed of high intensity processing applications where performance and energy efficiency are critical.  Early adopter applications include digital recording, software defined radio (SDR), software reconfigurable applications in signals intelligence (SIGINT) and military communications (MILCOM) platforms.
The US$5,995 system uses two Texas Instruments (TI) TMS320C6472 multicore DSPs with twelve TMS320C64x+™ processor cores clocked at 500MHz for real time processing tasks.  A Xilinx Virtex-5 FX30T FPGA provides the co-processor, with an embedded PowerPC440 processor core and a quad channel 14-bit ADC sampling at up to 250 MSPS.  The EVP6472-941 offers two DDR2 SDRAM memory banks of 256MB assessable by each C6472 processor.
The EVP6472-941 is supplied with a complete board support package including the USB drivers, software functions and API for Windows.  Essential tools are TI’s Code Composer Studio 4.x that is supplied free of charge with the XDS100 USB JTAG Emulator for the C6472 DSP processor.  Xilinx ISE development software can be downloaded from to target the Virtex-5 FX30T FPGA.
A range of third party design tools for TI DSP and Xilinx’s FPGA also support the EVP6472-941; including 3L’s Diamond Multiprocessor Tool-Suite, RTW-EC and HDLCoder from The MathWorks™, comprehensive VHDL and Verilog support from EDA vendors, and Co-Developer and a growing range of IP-Cores from Impulse.
Extensive general purpose input/output (GPIO) connectors are available with the EVP6472-941.  Sundance Local Bus (SLB) interface to customize input/output (I/O) signals, four RS-232 ports, Gigabit Ethernet connection, LVTTL lines for synchronization, MicroSD Flash socket as an extension of the on-board Flash memories and JTAG headers to enable DSP and FPGA debugging.

"As we continue to see an uptick in business confidence and design starts, the launch of the EVP6472-941 signals a new generation of high intensity platform solutions architected around the C6472,"” said Flemming Christensen, Managing Director of Sundance Multiprocessor Technology Ltd.  “"Development of the EVP6472-941 reflects the strength of our collaboration with TI.  As we roll out the new family of Multicore Developer Platforms (MDPs), customers will have even greater flexibility to configure a platform solution that fits their power, performance and cost budgets.”"

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