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.(2/27 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.

Analog & Power. (3/6) 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 (3/13) 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.

Compact Power Regulator Targets FPGAs, GPUs and ASICs

Analog Devices has announced the Power by Linear LTM4646, a dual 10 A or single 20 A output, step-down µModule point-of-load regulator from 5V or 12V input supply rails. The LTM4646 includes the inductors, MOSFETs, a DC/DC controller and supporting components and is housed in a 11.25 mm x 15 mm x 5.01 mm BGA package. Compared to the prior 2 x single 10 A output module solutions, the LTM4646 reduces the solution size of more than 25%.
With its dual regulator design, small package size, and precise voltage regulation, the LTM4646 meets the PCB area constraints of densely populated system boards to power low voltage and high current devices such as FPGAs, ASICs, microprocessors and GPUs. Applications include PCIe boards, communication infrastructure, cloud computing-based systems, as well as medical, industrial, and test and measurement equipment.

Total output voltage DC accuracy is guaranteed at ±1.5% over line, load and temperature (–40°C to 125°C). Moreover, the onboard remote sense amplifiers on both outputs compensate for voltage drop caused by trace impedance of the PC board due to large load currents. The LTM4646 has selectable internal or external feedback loop compensation, enabling users to optimize loop stability and transient performance while minimizing the number of output capacitors. The peak efficiency at 12 VIN to 1.0 VOUT is 86%. With 200LFM air flow, the LTM4646 delivers a full 20A  continuously up to 85°C ambient. The current mode architecture allows multiphase parallel operation to increase output current with very good current sharing.

Standalone, the LTM4646 operates from 4.5 V to 20 V input range. When 5 V external bias is available, the device can operate from 2.375 V. The output voltages are adjustable from 0.6 V to 5.5 V, enabling the device to generate not only low voltage for digital devices but also 2.5 V, 3.3 V and  5V, which are commonly needed in system bus voltages. The switching frequency can be programmed from 250 kHz to 1.3 MHz with one resistor, and can also be synchronized to an external clock ranging from 300 kHz to 1 MHz for noise-sensitive applications. Additionally, it features overvoltage and overcurrent protection. The LTM4646 operates from –40°C to 125°C.

Summary of Features: LTM4646

  •     Dual 10A or Single 20A Output
  •     Wide Input Voltage Range: 4.5V to 20V
  •     2.375VMIN with CPWR Bias
  •     Output Voltage Range: 0.6V to 5.5V
  •     ±1.5% Maximum Total DC Output Error
  •     Multiphase Current Sharing
  •     Differential Remote Sense Amplifier, Each Channel
  •     Internal or External Compensation
  •     11.25mm x 15mm x 5.01mm BGA Package
  •     BGA Ball Finishes Available: SAC305 (RoHS), SnPb (63/37)

 

Linear Technology | www.linear.com

Wireless MCUs are Bluetooth Mesh Certified

Cypress Semiconductor has announced its single-chip solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) are Bluetooth mesh connectivity certified by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to a consumer product. LEDVANCE announced the market’s first Bluetooth mesh qualified LED lighting products, which leverage Cypress’ Bluetooth mesh technology. Three Cypress wireless combo chips and the latest version of its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) software development kit (SDK) support Bluetooth connectivity with mesh networking capability. Cypress’ solutions enable a low-cost, low-power mesh network of devices that can communicate with each other–and with smartphones, tablets and voice-controlled home assistants–via simple, secure and ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity.

Previously, users needed to be in the immediate vicinity of a Bluetooth device to control it without an added hub. With Bluetooth mesh networking technology, the devices within the network can communicate with each other to easily provide coverage throughout even the largest homes, allowing users to conveniently control all of the devices via apps on their smartphones and tablets.

Market research firm ABI Research forecasts there will be more than 57 million Bluetooth smart lightbulbs by 2021. Cypress’ CYW20719, CYW20706, and CYW20735 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) combo solutions and CYW43569 and CYW43570 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo solutions offer fully compliant Bluetooth mesh. Cypress also offers Bluetooth mesh certified modules and an evaluation kit. The solutions share a common, widely-deployed Bluetooth stack and are supported in version 6.1 of Cypress’ all-inclusive WICED SDK, which streamlines the integration of wireless technologies for developers of smart home lighting and appliances, as well as healthcare applications.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. And we’ve got a healthy serving of embedded electronics articles for you. Here’s a sneak peak.

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

 

Here’s a sneak preview of March 2018 Circuit Cellar:

TECHNOLOGY FOR THE INTERNET-OF-THINGS

IoT: From Device to Gateway
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most dynamic areas of embedded systems design today. This feature focuses on the technologies and products from edge IoT devices up to IoT gateways. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines the wireless technologies, sensors, edge devices and IoT gateway technologies at the center of this phenomenon.

Texting and IoT Embedded Devices
Texting has become a huge part of our daily lives. But can texting be leveraged for use in IoT Wi-Fi devices? Jeff Bachiochi lays the groundwork for describing a project that will involve texting. In this part, he gets into out the details for getting started with a look at Espressif System’s ESP8266EX SoC.

Exploring the ESP32’s Peripheral Blocks
What makes an embedded processor suitable as an IoT or home control device? Wi-Fi support is just part of the picture. Brian Millier has done some Wi-Fi projects using the ESP32, so here he shares his insights about the peripherals on the ESP32 and why they’re so powerful.

MICROCONTROLLERS HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE

Designing a Home Cleaning Robot (Part 4)
In this final part of his four-part article series about building a home cleaning robot, Nishant Mittal discusses the firmware part of the system and gets into the system’s actual operation. The robot is based on Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC microcontroller.

Apartment Entry System Uses PIC32
Learn how a Cornell undergraduate built a system that enables an apartment resident to enter when keys are lost or to grant access to a guest when there’s no one home. The system consists of a microphone connected to a Microchip PIC32 MCU that controls a push solenoid to actuate the unlock button.

Posture Corrector Leverages Bluetooth
Learn how these Cornell students built a posture corrector that helps remind you to sit up straight. Using vibration and visual cues, this wearable device is paired with a phone app and makes use of Bluetooth and Microchip PIC32 technology.

INTERACTING WITH THE ANALOG WORLD

Product Focus: ADCs and DACs
Makers of analog ICs are constantly evolving their DAC and ADC chips pushing the barriers of resolution and speeds. This new Product Focus section updates readers on this technology and provides a product album of representative ADC and DAC products.

Stepper Motor Waveforms
Using inexpensive microcontrollers, motor drivers, stepper motors and other hardware, columnist Ed Nisley built himself a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines. In this article Ed examines how the CNC’s stepper motors perform, then pushes one well beyond its normal limits.

Measuring Acceleration
Sensors are a fundamental part of what make smart machines smart. And accelerometers are one of the most important of these. In this article, George Novacek examines the principles behind accelerometers and how the technology works.

SOFTWARE TOOLS AND PROTOTYPING

Trace and Code Coverage Tools
Today it’s not uncommon for embedded devices to have millions of lines of software code. Trace and code coverage tools have kept pace with these demands making it easier for embedded developers to analyze, debug and verify complex embedded software. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in trace and code coverage tools.

Manual Pick-n-Place Assembly Helper
Prototyping embedded systems is an important part of the development cycle. In this article, Colin O’Flynn presents an open-source tool that helps you assemble prototype devices by making the placement process even easier.

March (issue #332) 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

TRACE32 Extends embOS Awareness to the Renesas RH850

Lauterbach has announced that it has extended the kernel awareness for the embOS RTOS from SEGGER Microcontroller to the RH850 Family of microprocessors from Renesas Electronics. TRACE32, the class leading debug tools from Lauterbach, already supports embOS on ARM, PowerPC, RX, SH and NIOS-II families and this tried and tested technology has now been extended to include RH850.

The embOS awareness plugin for TRACE32 allows the developer to visualise RTOS resources and objects such as task lists, mailboxes, timers and semaphores. Developers are free to investigate interrupt routines, drivers and application code all from within the familiar environment of TRACE32. When the awareness is configured, extra features become available, for instance the setting of task aware breakpoints.

All MPUs of the RH850 Family provide dedicated counter registers which can be accessed non-intrusively by the TRACE32 debugger. These can be configured to display minimum, maximum and mean runtimes for a user marked block of code or the runtimes of various tasks in the embOS system. If the target provides off-chip trace capabilities, TRACE32 can record processor cycles and can be configured to collect data on task switches. Using this information, a detailed analysis of the program history, including task switches, can be viewed.

All features of the TRACE32 awareness for embOS do not require any additional target configuration or any hooks or patches within the RTOS itself. The philosophy of TRACE32 is for the application to behave exactly the same in the debug environment as on the final product; only this way can 100% certainty of testing be achieved.

Lauterbach | www.lauterbach.com

New England’s Largest Embedded Systems Conference Returns!

 

Plus! Our lowest rates on conference passes. Save big when you register now.

New England’s Largest Embedded
Systems Conference Returns!

Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Boston is back! It’s your once-a-year opportunity to explore the latest innovations, learn from renowned industry experts, and connect with the peers and partners that can advance your projects – and your career. Get your free expo pass today for the nation’s largest embedded systems event.

PLUS! Use promo code KCK when you register to save 20% on an ESC Boston Conference pass. From embedded hardware/software to IoT and connected devices, get up to speed with the strategies and techniques that turn concepts into competitive products.

Register Now
Top Suppliers, In-Depth Education, Unmatched Networking

Source Solutions

Leading suppliers including Rhode & Schwarz, Green Hills Software, and Express Logic will showcase the latest in design tools, sensors, and more. Source everything needed to work faster, smarter, and cheaper.

Deepen Expertise

Take your know-how to the next level with highly immersive education over two-days and four-tracks. Topics include embedded hardware/software, connected devices and IoT, and new technologies.

Make Connections

From casual chats on the floor to swapping tips at networking events, make new contacts, fast. Plus, get paired up with the suppliers you need most at the new Attendee-to-Exhibitor Matchmaking event!

Three Leading Shows. One Powerful Event.

Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Boston takes place alongside Design & Manufacturing New England and BIOMEDevice Boston, to create one end-to-end advanced design and manufacturing showcase. More than 450 suppliers and 4,500 industry professionals on one show floor. Your expo pass gives you access to it all – for free.

Register Now
UBM
Facebook Twitter
LinkedIn
#ESCbostonESC Boston c/o UBM
2901 28th St. #100
Santa Monica, CA 90405

esc-boston.com
© UBM 2018. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy

30 A Encapsulated Digital Power Modules

Renesas Electronics has announced two new fully encapsulated digital DC/DC PMBus power modules that board high power density and efficiency. The dual ISL8274M operates from a 5 V or 12 V power rail, provides two 30 A outputs and up to 95.5% peak efficiency in a compact 18 mm x 23 mm2 footprint. The new ZL9024M operates from a 3.3V rail and outputs 33 A of power in a 17 mm x19 mm2 footprint. They deliver point-of-load (POL) conversions for advanced FPGAs, DSPs, ASICs and memory used in servers, telecom, datacom, optical networking and storage equipment. Both devices are easy-to-use, PMBus-configurable power supplies that include a controller, MOSFETs, inductor and passives encapsulated inside a module that increases available board space and reduces bill of materials (BOM).

The ISL8274M and ZL9024M digital power modules leverage Renesas’ patented ChargeMode control architecture, which provides the highest efficiencies with better than 90% on most conversions. The power modules also provide a single clock cycle fast transient response to output current load steps common in FPGAs and DSPs that process power bursts. Their compensation-free design keeps the modules stable regardless of output capacitor changes due to temperature, variation or aging. Eliminating the need for an external discrete compensation network also saves board space and additional BOM cost. The ISL8274M supports input voltages from 4.5 V to 1 4V, while the ZL9024M accepts input voltages from 2.75 V to 4 V. Both modules offer adjustable output voltages as low as 0.6 V.

The encapsulated modules use Renesas’ proprietary High Density Array (HDA) package, which offers unmatched electrical and thermal performance through a single-layer conductive substrate that reduces lead inductance and dissipates heat primarily through the system board. The HDA’s copper lead-frame structure allows the modules to operate at full load over a wide temperature range with no airflow or heatsinks. The ISL8274M and ZL9024M also provide several protection features that ensure safe operations under abnormal operating conditions, further enhancing their robustness and reliability.

Key Features of the ISL8274M Digital Power Module include:

  • 30 A dual digital switch mode power supply with input voltage range from 4.5 V to 14 V and programmable Vout from 0.6 V to 5 V
  • PMBus-enabled solution for full system configuration, telemetry and monitoring of all conversions and operating parameters
  • Programmable Vout, soft-start, soft-stop, sequencing, margining and under-voltage, over-voltage, under-current, over-current, under temperature and over-temperature
  • Monitors Vin, Vout, Iout, temperature, duty cycle, switching frequency, and faults
  • Power good indicator, and ±1.2% Vout accuracy over line, load, and temperature
  • Pin-strap mode using external resistors for standard settings
  • Internal nonvolatile memory saves module configuration parameters and fault logging

Key Features of the ZL9024M Digital Power Module include:

  • 33 A digital switch mode power supply with input voltage range from 2.75 V to 4 V and programmable Vout from 0.6 V to 1.5 V
  • PMBus-enabled solution for full system configuration, telemetry and monitoring of all conversions and operating parameters
  • Programmable Vout, soft-start, soft-stop, sequencing, margining and under-voltage, over-voltage, under-current, over-current, under temperature and over-temperature
  • Monitors Vin, Vout, Iout, temperature, duty cycle, switching frequency and faults
  • Power good indicator, and ±1.2% Vout accuracy over line, load, and temperature
  • Pin-strap mode using external resistors for standard settings
  • Internal nonvolatile memory saves module configuration parameters and fault logging

 

The ISL8274M is available now in a thermally enhanced 18 mm x 23 mm x 7.5 mm HDA package, and is priced at $39 (1,000). An ISL8274MEVAL1Z evaluation board is available for $150.

The ZL9024M is available now in a thermally enhanced 17 mm x 19 mm x 3.5 mm HDA package, and is priced at $29 (1,000s). The ZL9024MEVAL1Z evaluation board is available for $95.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

Two Graphics Industry Leaders Join AMD RTG

AMD has announced the appointment of Mike Rayfield as senior vice president and general manager of AMD Radeon Technologies Group (RTG), and David Wang as senior vice president of engineering for RTG. Both will report to President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su. Rayfield will be responsible for all aspects of strategy and business management for AMD’s graphics business including consumer graphics, professional graphics and semi-custom products. Wang will be responsible for all aspects of graphics engineering, including the technical strategy, architecture, hardware and software for AMD graphics products and technologies.

Rayfield brings to AMD more than 30 years of technology industry experience focused on growth, building deep customer relationships, and driving results. Rayfield joins AMD from Micron Technology, where he was senior vice president and general manager of the Mobile Business Unit. Under Rayfield’s leadership, Micron’s mobile business achieved significant revenue growth and improved profitability. Prior to Micron, Rayfield served as general manager of the Mobile Business Unit at Nvidia, where he led the team that created Tegra.

With more than 25 years of graphics and silicon development experience, Wang brings deep technical expertise and an excellent track record in managing complex silicon development to AMD. Wang rejoins AMD from Synaptics, where he was senior vice president of Systems Silicon Engineering responsible for silicon systems development of Synaptics products. Under Wang’s leadership, Synaptics more than quadrupled its design team through acquisition and organic growth. Prior to joining Synaptics, Wang was corporate vice president at AMD responsible for SoC development of AMD processor products, including GPUs, CPUs and APUs. Previously, Wang held various technical and management positions at ATI, ArtX, SGI, Axil Workstations and LSI Logic.

AMD | www.amd.com

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Microcontroller Watch newsletter. Tomorrow’s 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.

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 Microcontroller Watch 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:

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.

Embedded Boards.(2/27) 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.

Analog & Power. (3/6) 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.

Plessey Demos MicroLEDs for VR Displays

Plessey Semiconductors has successfully demonstrated how its monolithic microLED technology can be used to deliver the next-generation of Head-Up Displays (HUDs), enabling new AR and VR applications. According to the company, MicroLEDs are emerging as the only technology that can provide high luminance in a small format. All leading manufacturers of wearable technologies are currently pursuing manufactures that can deliver an ideal microLED solution. With this demonstrator, Plessey has confirmed it is ready to enable its partners to move into production of a monolithic display based on microLEDs using the company’s proprietary GaN-on-Silicon approach.

The demonstrator, which has been produced in collaboration with Artemis Optical, combines Plessey’s monolithic display, based on an array of microLEDs integrated alongside an active matrix backplane, with the patented film technology and a single lens arrangement from Artemis. The combination of technologies removes ambient light in the wavelength matching the microLED display output, resulting in a HUD that delivers very high display brightness with low power consumption, in a format that is considerably smaller than existing HUD designs, yet still offers significant cost savings.

During CES 2018, Plessey Semiconductor and Artemis Optical presented the demonstrator to many leading companies developing VR and AR electronics. Headsets and eyewear outfitted for AR and VR applications are set for record sales this year of $1.2 billion in the US market alone, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Plessey Semiconductor | www.plesseysemiconductors.com

24 V Buck Regulator Boasts 20 A Output

Vicor has announced a 20 A version of its Cool-Power ZVS Buck, PI3325-00-LGIZ. It represents the highest current output ZVS buck to date for 24 V / 28 V applications, providing a regulated 5 V output at up to 20 A. Packaged within a 10 mm x 14 mm x 2.5 mm LGA SiP package, the PI3325-00-LGIZ addresses the continued need for high power density across a growing spectrum of applications. It also offers pin-for-pin compatibility to a 48V input version ZVS buck, the PI3525-00-LGIZ, enabling designs to be quickly ported from 24 VIN capability to 48 VIN.

The PI3325-00-LGIZ requires only an output inductor and minimal passives for a complete, cost-effective, compact design that consumes less than 740 mm2 of PCB real estate. Higher current is also achievable by parallel operation of the regulator. The PI3325-00-LGIZ represents one regulator within a new portfolio of higher current 24V ZVS bucks already or soon to be released.

According to Vicor, Cool-Power ZVS regulators deliver more power at higher temperatures than competitive devices, without sacrificing power density or efficiency. Key attributes to the Cool-Power ZVS regulators’ high performance include zero-voltage switching topology, high silicon integration, and high density LGA SiP packaging. These high performance regulators are also simple to use.

Vicor | www.vicorpower.com

HDMI TFT Modules Simplify Connectivity

HDMI TFT module product line that greatly simplifies the process of connecting to the display. Rather than juggling an FPC ribbon cable with a middle-man controller board, you can connect an HDMI cable from your desired board or computer right into the TFT module. This makes it easy to interface with your display from the development and prototyping stages, all the way into final application production.

The ease-of-use of these new products follows through into touch panel integration as well. For both the resistive and capacitive (PCAP) touch panel options, USB-HID driver recognition is installed. Each of the touch panel modules are also each pre-calibrated in-house to the display they’re mounted on. This means that a simple USB to micro-USB cable just needs to be connected from your board with touch interaction output (such as Raspberry Pi) to the module and your touch interactivity is ready to go immediately.

Non-Standard SBCs Put Function Over Form

Compact, Low-Power Solutions

A rich set of single board computer products fall into the non-standards-based category. These SBCs offer complete embedded computing solutions suited for applications were reducing size, weight and power are the priorities.

By Jeff Child,  Editor-in-Chief

While standard form factor embedded computers provide a lot of value, many applications demand that form take priority over function. The majority of non-standard boards tend to be extremely compact, and well suited for size-constrained system designs. Although there’s little doubt that standard open-architecture board form factors continue to thrive across numerous embedded system applications, non-standard form factors free designers from the size and cost overheads associated with including a standard bus or interconnect architecture.

In very small systems, often the size and volume of the board takes precedence over the need for standards. Instead the priority is on cramming as much functionality and compute density onto a single board solution. And because they tend to be literately “single board” solutions, there’s often no need to be compatible with multiple companion I/O boards. These non-standard boards seem to be targeting very different applications areas—areas where slot-card backplane or PC/104 stacks wouldn’t be practical.

Non-standard boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some follow de facto industry standard sizes like 3.5 inches, while others take a twist on existing standards—such as ATX, ITX or PC/104—to produce a “one off” implementation that takes some of the benefits of a standard form factor. There are also some company-specific “standard” form factors that offer an innovative new approach. The focus in this article is on commercial SBCs for professional applications, not modules for hobbyist projects.

ARM-Based Boards

In terms of sheer numbers of SBC products, Intel processor-based solutions tend to dominate. But in recent years, non-standard SBCs based on ARM embedded processors are increasing mindshare in the industry. In a recent example of an ARM-based solution, Technologic Systems in December starting shipping its newest SBC, the TS-7553-V2 (Photo 1). The board is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, a high-performance processor family featuring an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to  696 MHz. While able to support a wide range of embedded applications, the TS-7553-V2 was specifically designed to target the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

Photo 1
TS-7553-V2 is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to 696 MHz. The board specifically targets the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

The TS-7553-V2 was designed with connectivity in mind. An on-board Xbee interface, capable of supporting Xbee or NimbleLink, provides a simple path to adding a variety of wireless interfaces. An Xbee radio can be used to link in with a local
2.4 GHz or sub 1 GHz mesh networks, allowing for gateway or node deployments. Both Digi and NimbleLink offer cellular radios for this socket, providing cellular connectivity for applications such as remote equipment monitoring and control. There is also the option for a cellular modem via a daughter card. This allows transmission of serial data via TCP, UDP or SMS over the cellular network. The TS-7553-V2 also includes an on board WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 option, providing even more connectivity.

Design-To-Order SBCs

As a provider of design-to-order embedded boards, Gumstix comes at non-standard SBCs from a different perspective than traditional off-the-shelf SBC vendors. Gumstix’s latest ARM-related focus was its announcement in October about its adding the NXP Semiconductor SCM-i.MX 6Quad/6Dual Single Chip System Module (SCM) to the Geppetto D2O design library and the Gumstix Cobalt MC (Media Center) development board (Photo 2). The NXP SCM-i.MX 6D/Q [Dual, Quad] Core SCM combines the i.MX 6 quad- or dual-core applications processor, NXP MMPF0100 power management system, integrated flash memory, over 100 passives and up to 2 GB DDR2 Package-on-Package RAM into a single-chip solution.

Photo 2 — The Gumstix Cobalt MC single board computer shows off some of the best multimedia features of the NXP SCM with CSI2 camera, native HDMI, and audio, and connects over Gbit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Using Gumstix’s services, embedded systems developers can, in minutes, design and order SCM-powered hardware combining their choices of network connection, communication bus, and hardware features. During the design process, users can compare alternatives for features and costs, create multiple projects and receive complete custom BSPs and free automated documentation. Designers can go straight from a design to an order in one session with no engineering required.

Read the full article in the February 331 issue of Circuit Cellar

Don’t miss out on upcoming issues of Circuit Cellar. Subscribe today!
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.