IoT Platform Gets Thread Certification

Express Logic has announced that its Industrial Grade X-Ware IoT Platform is an official Thread Certified Product, and the only such solution from an independent RTOS provider. Created by the Thread Group, Thread is a reliable, low-power, secure, and scalable mesh networking solution that provides a foundation on which any application layer can run.

The X-Ware IoT Platform, powered by Express Logic’s high-performance ThreadX RTOS and NetX Duo dual IPv4/IPv6 TCP/IP stack, provides industrial-grade implementations of IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN), Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS).

According to Express Logic, Thread certification provides more than just protocol compliance. Rather than measuring against single reference implementations, Thread testing validates each device’s specification conformance against a blended network comprised of four reference stacks to ensure device interoperability and reduce risk and time to market. Compliance to the Thread certification protocols and standards is administered and regulated by UL a global, independent, safety and certification company with more than a century of expertise in implementing certification solutions and standards.

The X-Ware IoT Platform contains no open source, is high performance, and boasts an extremely small footprint. The X-Ware IoT Platform automatically scales to use only what is needed by the application, making it well suited for the smallest low-power IoT devices. In addition to the performance and size advantages of the X-Ware IoT Platform, ThreadX and NetX Duo have attained the highest level of safety certifications. They include IEC 61508 SIL 4, IEC 62304 Class C, ISO 26262 ASIL D, EN 50128 SW-SIL 4, UL 60730-1 Annex H, CSA E60730-1 Annex H, IEC 60730-1 Annex H, 60335-1 Annex R and IEC 60335-1 Annex R, 1998.

Thread certification will also allow developers to confidently leverage the entire X-Ware IoT Platform solution, including the safety-certified FileX, GUIX, and USBX solutions and technologies, knowing it will seamlessly connect to other Thread-certified devices.

Express Logic | www.rtos.com

Thread Group | www.threadgroup.org

Next Newsletter: Embedded Boards

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Embedded Boards newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter content focuses on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your Embedded Boards newsletter issue tomorrow.

Not a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber?
Don’t be left out! Sign up now:

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

January has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Displays and Graphics. (1/30) Display technology is where the user interacts with today’s modern embedded electronic devices This newsletter content examines the latest technology and product developments in displays along with the graphics ICs that drive those displays.

Analog & Power. (2/6) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AD-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Microcontroller Watch. (2/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

IoT Technology Focus. (2/20) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Protect IoT Designs with PUF Circuitry

Maxim-Chip-DNA As IoT designs proliferate, security is lagging. Hardware-based security using physically unclonable function (PUF) circuitry strongly protects connected products against invasive attacks. A cryptographic key is generated only when needed and isn’t stored on the secure IC. Even probing the chip impedes the attack.


 

Protect IoT Designs with Physically Unclonable Function Circuitry

By Ben Smith, Principal Member of the Technical Staff, Embedded Security, Maxim Integrated

While DNA connects us to every other human being on the planet, it also makes each of us unique. That uniqueness has proven to be useful as a means of positive identification. For example, DNA-based evidence has exonerated some from erroneous convictions and provided verification of guilt in other cases.

The DNA that we all carry as unique identification contrasts greatly with what happens in the technology world. In technology, it’s an imperative for every instance of a type of device to be identical, right down to the last micron, microvolt, and byte. Every device must look, feel, and act the same. After all, it’s important to deliver a consistent user experience. However, this sameness is not ideal when it comes to security.

Ensuring Authenticity Via Random Chip Properties

When every device is identical, how can we know whether messages that claim to come from a particular device actually do? It is possible that those messages might originate from an impersonator. For example, consider a door secured with an access keypad. The door actuator might receive a message from the keypad that the correct code had been entered, and that the door should be opened. But how can the actuator validate that the message is authentic?

For us humans, engaged in face-to-face communications, these questions are non-issues. We know the person we’re talking to because we know how they look and how they sound. In other words, we know the expressions in their physical characteristics of the DNA that makes each of us unique. Imagine the possibilities if our devices possessed that kind of uniqueness.

Indeed, even with devices, there is a way, and that way can be found in physically unclonable function (PUF) technology. While each device may function in an identical way, devices with PUF technology contain an element that makes each of them unique. Deep inside devices equipped with this technology is a circuit element that measures certain physical characteristics of the chip itself. These physical characteristics are stable over time, but they do vary from device to device. The PUF technology logic uses these device-specific variations to compute a value that remains the same every time it’s computed, but that is unique to the particular instance of the device. This value serves as each device’s unique identifier, in the same way that your DNA uniquely identifies you.

The importance of sender identity and message integrity can be illustrated via this simple scenario. Consider a sensor at a remote location that sends a message that there’s a problem. Is the message truly authentic? You have a few options involving secrets and keys:

Option one: a shared secret

Before deploying the sensor, you could program in a secret, like a password. When the sensor sends a message, it would incorporate this password into the message in some agreed-upon way. Once you’ve received the message, you could check to ensure that the password was sent correctly before accepting the message.

Trouble arises when that same password is used for all such sensors. This scenario would make it easy for a cybercriminal to reverse-engineer the device in order to steal the password. Then, the hacker is free to impersonate messages from any device of that type. An even scarier situation happens when the password is sent without cryptographic protection. Then, a cybercriminal can simply eavesdrop on a conversation in order to steal the password. No need to touch the device at all. They could then impersonate any sensor anywhere they are deployed. Clearly, shared secret schemes are too vulnerable to attack.

Option two: public-key cryptography

By programming a private key into your device, your device can digitally sign messages with the private key that can be verified using a corresponding public key. This approach enables messages to be authenticated with near certainty. It is practically impossible to modify or forge a signed message. In other words, there is no known way to impersonate a signer in any reasonable amount of time without the signer’s private key.

The vulnerability in this approach lies in the fact that the secret, private key has to live somewhere in the memory space of the target device. And if an attacker can slip in malware, it’s easy for the malware to leak the private key. Once the malware is developed, firmware update mechanisms can be used to propagate the malware. Before you know, a large set of the affected devices could be compromised.

Option three: PUF technology

PUF technology represents the most secure option because its private key is never disclosed, not even to its owner. The private key is only generated when needed (when a message is ready to be signed), and it is never stored (it is immediately destroyed when no longer needed).  The computed value never appears in the microcontroller’s memory map.

There are various ways in which you can use PUF technology. For instance, before a device manufacturer deploys an internet of things (IoT) device, it can command the hardware containing PUF technology to compute a public key that corresponds to the PUF technology value – the private key. The actual PUF technology value is never disclosed. The device manufacturer then signs the public key with their own corporate private key to create a certificate that they then write back to the device. That certificate can later prove that the public key that the device presents is the same one that was computed at the factory, because nobody can create a valid certificate without the corporate private key. Once deployed, when the IoT device wants to send a message, it can sign the message by recomputing the PUF technology value, using that value as the private key. If the message receiver has the public key for that device, it can verify, with a high degree of assurance, that the message is authentic, unmodified, and came from that particular device.

Now, we’ve got millions (and growing) of IoT devices in the wild. There really isn’t a single database that tracks the public key belonging to every IoT device. Anyone receiving a message from an IoT device probably doesn’t have that particular device’s public key. However, they can request the device’s public key certificate from the device itself. When the device sends the certificate, the receiver can check the validity of the certificate via a two-step process. First, the receiver can verify the certificate’s signature using the signer’s public key. Second, assuming the certificate has proven valid, the receiver can test the validity of the device’s message by using the public key contained in the certificate. This entire process takes less than a second.

You Can’t Steal a Key that Isn’t There

So, you might be wondering, is PUF technology secure enough? The answer to this question lies in the fact that the private key doesn’t even exist until the physical properties of the chip are measured. Even then, the private key is destroyed when it is no longer needed. The private key can’t be discovered by using rogue firmware because the private key only exists in secured, walled-off hardware, not in the actual memory space of the microcontroller. Probing the chip itself will change the characteristics that are measured to determine the PUF technology value, further impeding this type of attack.

Maxim-ChipDNA-diagram

Figure 1: Block diagram of ChipDNA physically unclonable function (PUF) technology, which provides strong protection against invasive attacks.

Maxim’s PUF circuitry takes advantage of the naturally occurring random analog characteristics of fundamental MOSFET devices to produce cryptographic keys. The solution, called ChipDNA technology (Figure 1), ensures that the unique binary value generated by each PUF circuit is guaranteed to be repeatable over temperature and voltage and as the device ages. ChipDNA technology is available in the DS28E38 DeepCover secure authenticator. To learn more about how ChipDNA works, you can read the white paper, “How Unclonable, Turnkey Embedded Security Protects Designs from the Ground Up;” watch a video; and see use cases by visiting the ChipDNA webpage.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

Sponsored by: Maxim Integrated

February (issue #331) Circuit Cellar Article Materials

Click here for the Circuit Cellar article code FTP archive

p. 6: Video Gaming Console Uses PIC32: Object Oriented Design,
By Dongze Yue and Yixiao Zhang

References:
[1] BBC, GameBoy mini-games take top prize.
[2] Jasio, Lucio D., Programming 32-bit Microcontrollers in C: Exploring the PIC32.  Burlington, MA:  Elsevier Inc.
[3] Land, Bruce R., NTSC video generation on PIC32.
[4] Bresenham’s line algorithm.
[5] Bezier curve

Here’s a demo video of our project:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRAvcRDEY0g&feature=youtu.be

And here’s our project website. PICGAME

Adafruit | www.adafruit.com
Mathworks | www.mathworks.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com

p 14: Building a VR Arm Tracker: Sensor Fusion in Action, By Emma Wang, Daryl Sew and Zachary Zimmerman

References:
[1] “Digital Tri-axis Gyroscope/ Tri-axis Accelerometer Specifications”, Kionix, 2017.
[2] D. Caulley, N. Nehoran, S. Zhao, “Self Balancing Robot”, Fall 2016.
[3] D. Sew, E. Wang, Z. Zimmerman, “Pose: An Arm Tracking System”, Fall 2017

E.W. Weisstein, “Quaternion.” MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource.
P. Jan, “Reading an IMU without Kalman: The Complementary Filter”. pieter-jan.com.
Apr 26, 2013.
M. Looney, “A Simple Calibration for MEMS Gyroscopes”, Analog Devices. July 2010.

Kionix | www.kionix.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com
NumPy | www.numpy.org
Panda3D | www.panda3d.org

p. 20 : Designing a Home Cleaning Robot (Part 3): Mechanical Design,
By Nishant Mittal

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com
Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

p. 26: Programmable Ad Hoc Mesh Network: Meshed-Up PICs,
By Raghava Kumar, Brian Clark and Alex Wong

References:
[1] Perkins; Ad hoc On-Demand Distance Vector (AODV) Routing; IEFT; 2003

Mahbub, Syed Tahmid; Tahmid’s blog; http://tahmidmc.blogspot.com/; 12/16/2016
Jon; PIC Tutorials; ; 7/11/2013

NORDIC Semiconductor; nRF24L01+ Preliminary Product Specification v1.0; ;   3/2008

Bruce Land; ECE 4760 Course Website; ; 1/2017

P. Vijayakumar, P. Ganeshkumar, and M. Anandaraj; Review on Routing Algorithms in  Wireless Mesh Networks; International Journal of Computer Science and Telecommunications; Volume 3, Issue 5; May 2012

Microchip | www.microchip.com
Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Bill of Materials:

Item

Quantity

Cost

Total Cost

Perfboard

4

$1

$4

PIC32 Microcontroller

4

$5

$20

NRF24L01+ Radio

4

$1

$4

3.3v Voltage Regulator

3

$1

$3

Battery Holder

3

$1

$3

AA Batteries

9

$0.25

$2.25

Socket Headers

160

$0.05

$8

CP2102 UART to USB Bridge

1

$7

$7

Through-hole LEDs

5

$0.04

$0.2

TFT LCD Display

3

$15

$45

p. 34: Electronics Propel Driverless Vehicle Designs Forward: From Assist to Autonomous, By Jeff Child

Analog Devices | www.analog.com
Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com
Infineon Technologies | www.infineon.com
Microchip | www.microchip.com
NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com
Renesas Electronics America | www.renasas.com
ST Microelectronics | www.st.com
Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

p. 40: Non-Standard SBCs put Function Over Form: Compact, Low-Power Solutions, By Jeff Child

AAEON | www.aaeon.com
Advantech | www.advantech.com
Axiomtek | www.axiomtek.com
COMMELL | www.commell.com
Diamond Systems | www.diamondsystems.com
Digilent | www.digilent.com
Gateworks | www.gateworks.com
Gumstix | www.gumstix.com
MYIR Tech Limited | www.myirtech.com
Technologic Systems | www.embeddedarm.com

50:  Internet of Things Security (Part 1): Command Injection, By Bob Japenga

The Art of Software Testing by Glenford J. Myers; J. Wiley and Sons; 1979
Here are three test cases I missed:
Do you have a test case in which all sides are zero (0, 0, 0)? [Particularly germane with the recent WPA2
Do you have at least one test case specifying the wrong number of values (two rather than three integers, for example)?
Do you have a test case in which one side has a negative value? Do you have a test case in which one side has a negative value?

Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT)
This is a good resource for finding out about threats but also recommended practices for safe design.

Common Weakness Enumeration Database – See this a great resource from Mitre

54:  Modulation Fundamentals, By George Novacek

David M. Beams Modulation
George Novacek, WWVB Clock Revisited, Circuit Cellar #288
Modulation & Demodulation using PLL

58: Shannon and Noise: Putting the Theorem to Work, By Robert Lacoste

“A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, Claude R. Shannon, 1948, Bell System Technical Journal volume 27

“An Introduction to Information Theory – Symbols, Signals and Noise”
John R. Pierce, California Institute of Technology
Dover Publications Inc, Second edition, ISBN 978-0-486-24061-9

Noisy-channel coding theorem

Shannon–Hartley theorem

Channel Capacity & Shannon’s theorem – demystified

p. 66 : Money Sorting Machines (Part 3), By Jeff Bachiochi

Reference:
[1] National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA): Multi Drop Bus version 4-2

www.uscurrency.gov/security/100-security-features-2013-present

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

Inductor for Automotive PoC Circuits

Murata Manufacturing has introduced the LQW32FT series for automotive power over coax (PoC) circuits. This inductor provides high impedance in a wide band, with inductance of 47µH in the 1210-inch size (3.2 mm x 2.5mm). Mass production was already started in November 2017.

1207_img0001PoC is increasingly used with SerDes equipment in automotive applications in order to reduce weight, with a single coax cable transferring power and image data for an on-board camera. In former PoC implementations, large and small impedance several inductors were needed to handle the broadband signal at the circuit processor and to maintain high impedance in a wide band to separate the signal and power.

The LQW32FT series allows a single inductor to replace the multiple components that were formerly necessary. This supports efforts to save space and reduce the overall size of a system, and to lower total DC resistance. This component also provides a 125℃ maximum for the usage environment temperature, making it suitable for automotive circuits. The LQW32FT series is expected to be further expanded to support the high-speed signal transmissions needed by the market.

Murata Manufacturing | www.murata.com

Rad-Hard MCU Family Meets Space Needs

A new microcontroller that combines specified radiation performance with low-cost development associated with Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) devices is now available from Microchip Technology. Developing radiation-hardened systems for space applications has a history of long lead times and high costs to achieve the highest level of reliability for multi-year missions in a harsh environment. Today, space and other critical aerospace applications require faster development and reduced costs.

The ATmegaS64M1 is the second 8-bit megaAVR MCU from Microchip that uses a development approach called COTS-to-radiation-tolerant. This approach takes a proven automotive-qualified device, the ATmega64M1 in this case, and creates pinout compatible versions in both high-reliability plastic and space-grade ceramic packages. The devices are designed to meet radiation tolerances with the following targeted performances:

  • Fully immune from Single-Event Latchup (SEL) up to 62 MeV.cm²/mg
  • No Single-Event Functional Interrupts (SEFI) which secure memory integrity
  • Accumulated Total Ionizing Dose (TID) between 20 to 50 Krad(Si)
  • Single Event Upset (SEU) characterization for all functional blocks

The new device joins the ATmegaS128, a radiation-tolerant MCU that has already been designed into several critical space missions including a Mars exploration plus a megaconstellation of several hundred Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

The ATmega64M1 COTS device, along with its full development toolchain including development kits and code configurator, can be used to begin development of hardware, firmware and software. When the final system is ready for the prototype phase or production, the COTS device can be replaced with a pin-out compatible, radiation-tolerant version in a 32-lead ceramic package (QFP32) with the same functionality as the original device. This leads to significant cost savings while also reducing development time and risk.

The ATmegaS64M1 meets the high operating temperature range of -55°C to +125°C. It is the first COTS-to-radiation-tolerant MCU to combine a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and motor control capabilities. These features make it ideal for a variety of subsystems like remote terminal controllers and data handling functions for satellites, constellations, launchers or critical avionic applications.

To ease the design process and accelerate time to market, Microchip offers the STK 600 complete development board for the ATmegaS64M1, giving designers a quick start to develop code with advanced features for prototyping and testing new designs. The device is supported by Atmel Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing, debugging and software libraries.

Microchip Technology | www.microchip.com

Designing a Home Cleaning Robot (Part 2)

Part 2: Mechanical Design

Continuing with this four-part article series about building a home cleaning robot, Nishant and Jesudasan discuss the mechanical aspects of the design.

By Nishant Mittal and Jesudasan Moses
Cypress Semiconductor

In part one (Circuit Cellar 329, December 2017) of this home cleaning robot article series, I discussed the introduction to the concepts of cleaning robots and the crucial design elements that are part of a skeleton design. Apart from that I discussed various selection criteria of the components. In this part, with the help of my colleague Jesudasan Moses, I’ll explore the mechanical aspects of the design. This includes selecting materials, aligning all the components on base, designing the pulleys for optimal performance, selecting motors and so on. The mechanical design for such a system can be very challenging because it’s a moving system and that adds complexity to the process. While this part is focused on mechanical issues and making the base ready, all this paves the way for when we add the “brains” into the system in part three.

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Figure 1 shows the block diagram of the mechanical design for this project. The overall structure of this design requires a base that is strong, but not too heavy. Using a metal base isn’t a good option for this type of system because it would increase the overall weight. Such an increase might mean that a higher torque motor would be required. The next elements are the motors and wheels. We chose to include motors only in the back. Using a front motor would probably be an overdesign for such a system. If you examine professionally designed home cleaning robots—like those I covered in part one—all of them had only the back motors for movement.

Figure 1
Mechanical arrangement of the home cleaning robot

On the front side of the unit, only rollers are added. This gives the system a complete 360-degree freedom of movement. The most important parts of the system are the cleaner and the roller. These are placed toward the center of the system and are controlled using an arrangement of motors and pulleys. In the front of the system, side brushes are added that again are controlled using motors. Now let’s look at the selection of each of the design elements.

Selection of the base shape: The base shape selection is very important because it defines how efficiently your home cleaning robot can clean at corners. A circular base shape is the most recommended option. A circular base enables the robot to move around corners and thereby cover each and every part of the house. That said, for a hobby project like this one, a rectangular base means no advanced tools are needed to cut and shape the base. With that in mind, we chose to use an acrylic material in a square shape for the base.

Motor selection: For our design, we opted for two movement motors on the back of the unit and another motor at the back for the roller pulley. On the front, there are two more motors to move the side brushes. We’ll save the more technical discussion about motor selection in part three. Choice of motor size depends upon the total weight that the front and back need to handle. The total weight should be equalized, otherwise the system won’t remain stable when the robot is moving fast. The placement of the two movement motors should be aligned to their center of axis. That ensures that when the robot is moving straight, it won’t divert its direction. It’s also important to buy those two motors from the same vendor to make sure they share the same mechanical properties.

Wheel Selection: It’s very important to decide on the net height of the system early on. Wheel selection is the deciding factor for the net height. .

Read the full article in the January 330 issue of Circuit Cellar

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

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Mouser Inks Distribution Deal with Onion

Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with Onion, a global provider of integrated wireless microprocessor modules and IoT development kits. Through the agreement, Mouser will distribute the Omega2+ device, kits, and accessories, ideal for applications such as home automation, coding education, Wi-Fi media servers, robotics and networking.

The Onion product line, available from Mouser Electronics, revolves around the Omega2+, (shown) an easy-to-use, expandable IoT computer packed with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a MicroSD card slot, and a powerful 580 MHz MIPS processor. Though just a fraction of the size of other single board computers, the Omega2+ is a full computer with a Linux operating system, 128 MB of DDR2 memory and 32 MB of flash storage. The device also offers 15 general-purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO), two PWM and two UART interfaces.

Mouser also now stocks a variety of docks and expansion boards, which provide additional functionality to the Omega2+ board. The Expansion Dock powers the Omega2+ and breaks out the GPIOs. The dock also allows engineers to expand their Omega2+ with expansion modules like OLED, relay, and servo. Additionally, engineers can use the Arduino Dock R2 and add the Omega2+ to existing Arduino-based projects. The Arduino Dock R2 is a full Arduino Uno that allows the Omega2 to control the Arduino’s ATmega microcontroller through a serial connection.

The Omega2 Starter Kit and Omega2 Maker Kit both include an Omega2+ board, expansion dock, breadboard, and a variety of components to help engineers quickly get started building circuits. The Maker Kit includes the same components as the Starter Kit and adds two servos, a DC motor, H-bridge chip, buzzer and three expansion boards.

Mouser Electronics | www.mouser.com/onion

Tuesday’s Newsletter: IoT Tech Focus

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s IoT Technology Focus newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your IoT Technology Focus newsletter issue tomorrow.

Not a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber?
Don’t be left out! Sign up now:

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

Embedded Boards.(1/23 Wednesday) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

January has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Displays and Graphics. (1/30) Display technology is where the user interacts with today’s modern embedded electronic devices This newsletter content examines the latest technology and product developments in displays along with the graphics ICs that drive those displays.

Analog & Power. (2/6) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AD-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Microcontroller Watch (2/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

Skylake-Based SBC Runs on 15 Watts

VersaLogic has released the Condor—a high-performance embedded computer that measures only 95 mm x 95 mm x 37 mm and is built around Intel’s 6th generation “Skylake” Core processor. The Condor provides up to six times the processing power of Intel’s Bay Trail processors, while keeping power consumption as low as 15 Watts.The Condor’s on-board TPM security chip can lock out unauthorized hardware and software access. It provides a secure “Root of Trust.” Additional security is provided through built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) instructions.

PR_EPU-4460_HICondor is the latest addition to VersaLogic’s line of EPU (Embedded Processing Unit) format computers. EPUs are designed around COM Express form factors, but are complete board-level computers. They provide all the future flexibility of separate CPU and I/O modules, and are delivered as complete fully assembled and tested units (including heat plate), ready to bolt into a system.

On-board I/O includes two Gbit Ethernet ports with network boot capability, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 host ports and two serial ports. One SATA III interface supports high-capacity rotating or solid-state drives. Eight digital I/O lines, I2C and SPI are also available. Two Mini PCIe sockets (one with mSATA capabilities) provide flexible solid-state drive (SSD) options. Systems can be easily enhanced by leveraging the Mini PCIe sockets with plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, Firewire and other mini cards.

The Condor is designed and tested for industrial temperature (-40° to +85°C) operation and meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. For additional reliability, the Condor includes on-board power conditioning which accepts an input of 8 to 30 volts to greatly simplify system power supply design. For additional protection, the conditioner includes Reverse Voltage Protection (RVP) and Over Voltage Protection (OVP) functions.

The Condor, part number VL-EPU-4460, is in stock now. OEM quantity pricing for starts at $1,304 for the Core i3 model with 8 GB RAM.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com

Voltage Regulator Has Low Quiescent Current

Diodes Incorporated has introduced the AP7381. Operating from a wide input voltage spanning 3.3 V to 40 V, this positive voltage regulator offers ultra-low quiescent current and high accuracy, making it well-suited for use in a variety of applications ranging from USB and portable devices to energy meters and home automation.

MFG_AP7381_SOT89The AP7381 is offered with fixed output voltages of 3.3 V or 5 V to power standard logic device supplies and I/O levels and can operate from an input voltage between 3.3 V and 40 V, which covers most common system power rails. The device provides excellent line and load regulation and features a low dropout voltage of typically 1,000 mV for a 3.3 V output device operating at an output current of 100 mA. An internal voltage reference ensures output accuracy at room temperature is maintained within ±2%.

A low quiescent current of just 2.5 µA minimizes standby power in low-power systems and extends the life of battery-operated products. The AP7381 has a built-in current limit and an over-temperature protection (OTP) function and also features over-current protection, provided by an internal current limit circuit. The AP7381 is available in a SOT89 package (on tape and reel) and in a TO92 package (ammo packed).

Diodes Incorporated | www.diodes.com

Technology and Test Solutions for 5G

Next-Gen Communications

As carriers worldwide prepare for 5G communications, chip suppliers and test equipment vendors are evolving their products to meet the challenges of the 5G era.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

The technologies that are enabling 5G communications are creating new challenges for embedded system developers. Faster mobile broadband data rates, massive amounts of machine-to-machine network interfacing and daunting low latency constraints all add to the complexity of 5G system design. Feeding those needs, chip vendors over the past 12 months have been releasing building blocks like modem chips and wideband mixers supporting 5G. And test equipment vendors are keeping pace with test gear designed to work with 5G technology.

With standards expected to reach finalization around 2020, 5G isn’t here yet, But efforts worldwide are laying the groundwork to deploy it. For its part, the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) released a report in October 2017 entitled “Evolution from LTE to 5G.” According to the report, there is a frenzy of testing of 5G technology and concepts worldwide. The GSA has identified 103 operators in 49 countries that are investing in 5G technology in the form of demos, lab trials or field tests that are either under way or planned. Operators are sharing their intentions in terms of launch timetables for 5G, or prestandards 5G. The earliest launch dates currently planned are by operators in Italy and the US. Those early launches are necessarily limited in scope to either specific applications, or in limited geographic areas where they will function as extended commercial trials. Figure 1 shows the countries and the current planned dates for the earliest 5G launches in those countries.

FIGURE 1
Here is a map of pre-standards and standards-based 5G network plans announced. It shows the countries and current planned dates for the earliest 5G launches in those countries. (Source: Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA)).

THE BIG PLAYERS

Intel and Qualcomm have been the big players to watch for 5G enabling technologies. In October 2017, Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, hit a significant milestone successfully achieving a 5G data connection on a 5G modem chipset for mobile devices. The Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset achieved speeds and a data connection in the 28 GHz mmWave radio frequency band. The solution is expected to accelerate the delivery of 5G new radio (5G NR) enabled mobile devices to consumers. Along with the chip set demo Qualcomm Technologies previewed its first 5G smartphone reference design for the testing and optimization of 5G technology within the power and form-factor constraints of a smartphone.

The 5G data connection demonstration showed the chip set achieving Gigabit/s download speeds, using several 100 MHz 5G carriers and demonstrated a data connection in the 28 GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. In addition to the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset, the demonstration also used the SDR051 mmWave RF transceiver IC. The demonstration made use of Keysight Technologies’ new 5G Protocol R&D Toolset and UXM 5G Wireless Test Platform. Qualcomm Technologies was the first company to announce a 5G modem chipset in 2016. The Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem family is expected to support commercial launches of 5G smartphones and networks in the first half of 2019. …

Read the full article in the January 330 issue of Circuit Cellar

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Qseven Card Sports Renesas RZ/G1M

iWave has announced a System-On-Module (SOM) based on Renesas RZ/G1M embedded processr. RZ/G1M SOM is Qseven R2.0 compatible industrial grade CPU module. Called the iW-RainboW-G20M, this SOM module supports 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 4 GB eMMC Flash and 2 MB SPI NOR Flash. Expandable memory is optional. The module also includes on SOM Gigabit Ethernet PHY, Micro SD slot and USB HUB.

renesas-rz-g1-mpu-embedded-boardRenesas’s RZG1M processor supports dual cortex A15 core operating at 1.5 GHz core and includes 64-bit DDR3 interface at 800 MHz. These features provide higher performance for applications such as image processing of multiple video streams and video sensing. The high-speed on-chip integrated USB 3.0, PCIe, Gbit Ethernet and SATA peripherals allows easy expansion of functionality without the need for external components. The RZ/G1M processor supports full HD hardware encode and decode processing up to 1,080 at 60 frames/s, dual display and three channel video input ports. The built-in PowerVR SGX544MP2 Graphics core at 520 MHz allows the user to develop highly effective user interfaces.

The RZ/G1M SOM is supported Linux 3.10 LTSI with Android BSP support to come. To enable quick prototyping of RZG1M SOM, iWave systems supports RZ/G1M development kit with comprehensive peripheral support. This will help customers to save up to 60% of new product development cycle using the RZ-G1M MPU.

iWave Systems Technologies | www.iwavesystems.com