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Circuit Cellar's editorial team comprises professional engineers, technical editors, and digital media specialists. You can reach the Editorial Department at editorial@circuitcellar.com, @circuitcellar, and facebook.com/circuitcellar

New Embedded Computing Solutions Designed with the Intel Atom x5-E8000 Processor

ADLINK Technology recently released four embedded computing solutions designed with the Intel Atom x5-E8000 processor. The newly-updated COM Express cExpress-BW, SMARC LEC-BW, Qseven Q7-BW modules, and the AmITX-BW-I thin Mini-ITX embedded board offer improved cost-performance ratios.

The latest Intel Atom SoC features 64-bit quad-core processing that is well suited for multitasking applications. The processor offers a configurable TDP (cTDP) of 5 W at 1.04 GHz, enabled by its 14-nm core transistors. With the new processor, ADLINK embedded boards and modules support up to 8 GB of dual-channel DDR3L 1600-MHz memory and up to three independent displays with Intel HD graphics.Adlink

The new COM modules and Mini-ITX board run graphics processing on a base frequency of 320 MHz with eDP/DP/HDMI interfaces for up to three display ports, which is an increase in the number of ports over previous COM Express modules. In addition to 4K resolution, Intel Gen9 Iris Graphics offer excellent 2D/3D hardware acceleration with decoding support for HEVC H.265, MPEG2, MVC, VC-1, WMV9, JPEG, and VP8, and encoding support for HEVC H.265 MVC, and JPEG. Graphics support also includes Open GL for graphics rendering, Intel Quick Sync Video for fast conversion to mobile format, and Intel clear Video HD Technology for better quality video.

ADLINK embedded boards and modules are equipped with ADLINK’s Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA), which provides detailed device-level system data including but not limited to temperature, voltage, and power consumption. With access to system activities, you can identify inefficiencies and malfunctions in real-time, thus preventing failures and minimizing downtime. ADLINK’s SEMA-equipped devices connect seamlessly to the SEMA Cloud for remote monitoring. Collected data, including sensor measurements and management commands, are accessible from anywhere at any time via an encrypted connection.

Source: ADLINK Technology

10-Gb LAN with Power Over Ethernet

Würth Elektronik has expanded its portfolio of Ethernet modules with LAN transformers for speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The new transformers support Power over Ethernet (PoE) up to 100 W and currents up to 1 A per channel. Wurth 749053010

WE-LAN 10G has a bandwidth of up to 500 MHz and thus conforms to the IEEE Standard 802.3 with a bandwidth 3.5× larger than comparable gigabit Ethernet products. Thus, the transformers are well suited for applications involving large data volumes or requiring a swift transmission of data (e.g., the transmission of HD video data). In addition, the extended temperature range makes the modules a good option for industrial applications.

Free samples are available on request.

Source: Würth Elektronik

ARM Tools with Extended Static Analysis and Flash Breakpoints

IAR Systems recently announced an updated version of its C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain for developing ARM-based embedded applications. IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM Version 7.60 adds flash breakpoints functionality and extended static analysis in C-STAT, which performs an analysis on the source code level. In addition to helping developers in ensuring the code quality early in the development cycle, it also detects defects, bugs, and security vulnerabilities as defined by CERT C/C++ and the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE). It also helps keep code compliant to coding standards such as  MISRA C:2004, MISRA C++:2008, and MISRA C:2012.

C-STAT is fully integrated in the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE. The new update extends the tool with approximately 150 new checks, including 90 new MISRA C:2012 checks and two new packages of checks. Furthermore, there are new options for enabling or disabling the false-positives elimination phase of the analysis and excluding files from the analysis.

The flash breakpoints enable developers to set an unlimited number of breakpoints when debugging the flash memory. With the C-SPY Debugger in IAR Embedded Workbench, you can set various types of breakpoints in the applications you’re debugging. If you use IAR Embedded Workbench with IAR’s I-jet debug probe, you can add an unlimited number of flash breakpoints for selected ARM Cortex-M devices. By setting breakpoints, investigating the status of an application and speeding up the debugging phase is straightforward.

IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM is a handy tool that incorporates a compiler, an assembler, a linker and a debugger into one easy-to-use IDE. It provides advanced and highly efficient optimization features and is tightly integrated with hardware, RTOS products, and middleware. C-STAT is available as an add-on product.

Source: IAR Systems

New 22/40-V Input Power Modules

Exar Corp. recently announced additions to its family of synchronous step-down power modules with input voltage up to 40 V: XR79103, XR79106, XR79203, and XR79206. The XR79103 and XR79106 operate from a 4.5-to-22-V input supply, delivering a regulated output adjustable between 0.6  and 5.5 V. With a 40-V maximum input voltage, the XR79203 and XR79206 add the ability to convert from loosely regulated 24 VDC, rectified 18 VAC and 24 VAC sources. The output voltage can be set from 0.6 to 13.2 V.Exar EX064-1

With Exar’s emulated current mode constant on-time (COT) control, the power modules have fast transient response of conventional COT control loops and provide excellent line and load regulation performance. The modules offer a host of supervisory and protection features for proper sequencing, safe operation under abnormal operating conditions, and light load operation. The combination of wide input voltage range, a thermally efficient package, tight regulation accuracy, and small size makes the power modules well suited for communications, drones, remote vehicles, and a variety of other applications.

The XR79103 (6 mm × 6 mm × 4 mm), XR79106 (8 mm × 8 mm × 4 mm), XR79203 (8 mm × 8 mm × 4 mm) and XR79206 (10 mm × 10 mm × 4 mm) are available in RoHS-compliant, green/halogen free, space-saving QFN packages. Prices start at $4.25, $5.40, $8.50n and $9.95, respectively, in quantities of 1,000.

Source: Exar Corp.

Infineon Embedded Security Selected for Lenovo ThinkPad

Lenovo will use Infineon Technologies OPTIGA Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips in the new ThinkPad notebooks in an effort to combat security risks. The OPTIGA TPM SLB 9670 chip is designed to increase the data security of laptops and tablet PCs. Sensitive data (e.g., security keys and passwords) can be stored in the TPM chip separately from the main processor.  Infineon - OPTIGA

According to Infineon, the company also supplies embedded security solutions other companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Samsung. The OPTIGA product family provides different levels of security for products as diverse as multiple-server IT infrastructures and MP3 players.

Source: Infineon

Buying Electronics at Lamington Road, Mumbai

Want to see what it’s like buying electronics (e.g., Arduino, displays, and general components) in Mumbai? Circuit Cellar correspondent and videographer Wisse Hettinga joins engineer Nishant Mittal on a tour of Lamington Road, Mumbai, India. This street is famous for the many electronics shops. You can find virtually any component you can think of.


 

“Together with Nishan Mittal, we go inside Lamington Road and discover one of the biggest electronics markets in the world,” Hettinga says. In this video they search for a good price on an Arduino.
 

Check out a free sample issue of Circuit Cellar magazine. If you like what you read, use the link in the sample for a discount subscription — 25% off!

April Engineering Challenge: Find the Schematic Error

The April Electrical Engineering Challenge (sponsored by Technologic Systems) is now live! Review the schematic on the challenge webpage and find the error for a chance to win prizes, such as a TS-7250-V2 High-Performance Embedded Computer or a Circuit Cellar Digital Subscription.

Click to enlarge. Find the error in this schematic and submit your answer by the 20th of the month.

Click to take the Challenge. Find the error in this schematic and submit your answer by the 20th of the month.

Circuit Cellar’s technical editors purposely inserted an error in the schematic diagram. It could be a design error, symbol-related error, value error (e.g., 10k vs 100k), incorrect part usage, or some other problem that negatively affects the electronics. Find the error and submit your answer via the online form by the deadline (2 PM EST on the 20th of the month).

TS7250-V2

Technologic Systems TS-7250-V2

Circuit Cellar will randomly select winners from the pool of respondents who submit the correct answer. For more information, read the Rules, Terms, & Conditions.

The Future of IoT Security

With the onset of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, an enormous number of devices are now accessible via the Internet and are therefore vulnerable to cyberattack. Society is still adjusting to the fact that devices that people used to trust can now betray them in unexpected ways. Your television may expose your conversations, your printer may divulge your documents, and your fitness monitor may reveal your health information. All of these attacks become possible in the presence of IoT devices which are not designed with security in mind. System designers are trained to evaluate system design options in terms of their impact on system characteristics such as power, performance, and time-to-market, but security is a property which is less well understood. Designers of IoT devices need to have the ability to consider, both qualitatively and quantitatively, how design alternatives affect the security of the system. To do that, designers must understand the essential aspects of common cyberattacks.

The nature of cyberattacks is broad and ever-changing as attackers alter their techniques over time. However, there are a number of attack themes which are fundamental to many cyberattacks and change only infrequently. Designers need to understand these important attack themes and how to defend against them. A good example is a vulnerability to a buffer overflow attack which is usually a result of weak coding practices, such as neglecting to verify that the amount of data written into a buffer is not greater than the size of the buffer. Defense against buffer overflow can likely be achieved through static code analysis and proper testing techniques, without the need to include any security components in the IoT device.

Another attack against IoT devices is a battery draining attack which consumes power by exploiting features of the network communication protocol being used by the device. Different protocols, and their interface controllers, have different degrees of vulnerability to such attacks, and the system designer needs to be aware of this when selecting a communication protocol.

This essay appears in Circuit Cellar 309, April 2016. Subscribe to Circuit Cellar to read project articles, essays, interviews, and tutorials every month!

 
Defending against some attacks will require the use of software and hardware components which are dedicated to security-related tasks. Such components incur overheads which must be considered by the designer. A common example is whether or not to use encryption, what type of encryption, and whether that encryption should be implemented in hardware or software. Besides the power and cost trade-offs involved, the designer will need to be able to estimate how well each type of encryption protects the system from, for example, a man-in-the-middle attack which intercepts communications with other devices.

IoT security is clearly an important design property which must be considered by designers who understand the complexities of cybersecurity. A problem for the field of IoT is that there is a shortage of IoT designers who understand cybersecurity. There is a range of possible solutions to address the shortage problem which vary based on who takes responsibility to find a solution. One alternative is education or training to ensure that designers are aware of the complexities of the security problem and can address them during the design process. Individual IoT designers may take responsibility for their own training, which means that the designer will individually seek out learning materials and possibly courses. As a professor I feel that individuals should always take responsibility for their own education, but in practice this is difficult and may not consistently result in the best outcome for all concerned. An individual who is not familiar with security will have a hard time determining what is important to learn and what is not, so they may waste time and money on education with no real value. In my role as Vice Chair of Undergraduate Studies, I am frequently asked about what a student needs to learn to be productive in industry, but if an individual cannot find an appropriate mentor to provide them with some direction, then their attempts at education may not be fruitful.

Another alternative is to place the responsibility for the development of secure IoT devices on the companies which employ the designers and sell the IoT devices. For this to happen, company managers must first accept that security costs money and that security is worth some expenditure. As long as security is seen as an overhead with no direct financial benefit, industry is not be motivated to make the necessary changes to build secure systems. Too often, security is largely ignored until a successful cyberattack against a company is publicized and the company suffers in terms of reputation and possible lawsuits. Industry needs to accept the importance of security upfront to avoid the more significant costs of dealing with successful attacks.

Companies can take several different approaches to ensuring security including guaranteeing that their designers are appropriately knowledgeable about IoT security. A salary premium for security experts could motivate employees to take responsibility for their own security education. In-house corporate training can be provided to employees whose job responsibilities necessitate an understanding of security. Employers can outsource and pay for education at local or online schools. When a project is particularly security-sensitive requiring more expertise than is available internally, a contractor with the appropriate security expertise can be brought in. All of these options incur different costs which would need to be justified by the need for security in the market where the IoT devices will be used.

Eventually, a mixture of these approaches should be employed to achieve the best, and most secure, results. Individual designers need to make every effort to learn about security issues, and employers need to motivate them with appropriate salaries and facilitate their efforts by providing opportunities for education. The lack of security of current IoT devices has been used as an argument against their adoption, but there seems to be no stopping the growing use of the IoT. At the same time, cyberattacks are also growing in number, sophistication, and financial impact. Security needs to be a first-class design consideration for IoT systems, on par with cost, power, and the other constraints that embedded designers have always dealt with.

Associate Professor Ian G. Harris earned a BS in Computer Science at MIT and MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University of California San Diego. He is currently Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education in the Computer Science Department at the University of California Irvine. His research group focuses on the security and verification of Internet of Things systems. He also teaches an IoT specialization entitled “An Introduction to Programming the Internet of Things.”

Synchronous Step-Down Regulator with Ultralow DCR Current Sensing

Linear Technology Corp. recently introduced the LTC7130, which is a constant frequency peak current mode synchronous step-down DC/DC converter with temperature-compensated ultralow DCR current sensing and clock synchronization. According to Linear Technology, the LTC7130 “offers the ability to directly parallel multiple ICs for higher current capability” and “also enhances the signal-to-noise ratio of the current sense signal, enabling the use of a very low DC resistance power inductor to maximize efficiency in high current applications.”Linear LTC7130

The LTC7130’s features and specifications:

  • A wide VIN Range of 4.5 to 20 V
  • High efficiency (up to 95%)
  • Proprietary current mode architecture
  • High current parallel operation
  • Ultralow DCR current sensing with temperature compensation
  • Programmable output current limit
  • High-speed differential remote sense amplifier
  • ±0.5% Output voltage regulation accuracy
  • Output short-circuit protection with soft recovery
  • Programmable and synchronizable fixed frequency from 250 to 770 kHz
  • EXTVCC for reduced power dissipation
  • Fault Indicator for output UV/OV conditions

The LTC7130 is available in a thermally enhanced 6.25 mm × 7.5 mm × 2.22 mm BGA package (RoHS lead-free and leaded SnPb (63/37) finishes). The E-and I-grades are guaranteed in the 40°C to 125°C operating junction temperature range. The 1,000-piece price starts at $7.95 each for the E grade.

Source: Linear Technology

Compact NFC Security Module for Smart Wearables

Infineon Technologies is collaborating with Beijing-based Mobile Payment Solutions Co. Ltd. (MPS) on a new plug-and-play NFC security module. The smallest module in the series measures only 4 mm × 4 mm, making it a good fit for wearable electronics.Infineon_NFC

The MPS Boosted NFC security module series is well suited for wearable applications. At the core of the module is Infineon’s Boosted NFC Secure Element, which eliminates the need for the separate NFC controller that’s typically required with conventional solutions to utilize card emulation functionality in a device. The NFC antenna and antenna-matching components are included in the package, which reduces the PCB footprint by more than 75% percent (when you are using the smallest module of the series).

Running on a standard Java security card operating system, the Boosted NFC security module allows for the flexible loading of multiple Java-based applications (applets) on smart devices. While the Boosted NFC security module is an excellent option for new product designs, you could easily integrate it into existing designs to extend functionality to include secure payment.

The NFC security module’s main component is Infineon’s SLE78 security chip, which combines highest security performance with a storage capacity of more than 1 MB. This provides sufficient memory to securely store user credentials and run multiple applications, enabling a single device to replace a variety of cards (e.g., payment cards and public transportation tickets).

Source: Infineon Technologies

New Digitally Controlled Programmable Attenuators for Frequencies Up to 40 GHz

Fairview Microwave recently released a new family of digitally controlled programmable attenuators with performance up to 40 GHz and up to 60 dB attenuation range with 0.03 dB minimum step size. The digitally controlled attenuators adjust the amplitude of signal levels in a variety of applications (e.g., electronic warfare, aerospace communication systems, and test/measurement systems). The designs utilize PIN diode semiconductor technology that generates extremely fast switching performance between attenuation states over wide frequency bands.  Fairview-Attenuators-SQ

Features and specifications:

  • The integrated TTL driver logic control bit circuitry ranges from 5 to 10 binary bits.
  • The command control interface is via a 15-pin female Micro-D socket or USB connector.
  • The circuits are enclosed in environmentally sealed metal packages with epoxy paint finish with either stainless steel SMA or 2.92-mm connectors.
  • Guaranteed operating performance covers a temperature range of –50°C to 85°C.

All the models available in-stock and ready for immediate shipment.

Source: Fairview Microwave

mbOS for MicroEJ Opens Embedded Systems to Java

SEGGER recently announced that its embOS real-time operating system now supports MicroEJ’s platform, thereby giving Java developers the ability to work on ARM Cortex-M based embedded applications. You get a complete Java platform with a virtual machine, which is a 32-bit processor that manages Java threads. It is executed as a task controlled by SEGGER’s embOS kernel . Thus, you get all the benefits of both ANSI-C and Java in a single embedded target.

Developers can focus on their Java applications and do not need to have any deeper knowledge of ANSI-C. For more information about embOS’s support for the MicroEJ Platform, visit www.segger.com/embos-microej.html.

Source: SEGGER

New Low-Power Embedded Wi-Fi Solutions for the IoT

Microchip Technology recently launched four low-power, highly integrated solutions that enable Wi-Fi and networking capability to be embedded into a wide variety of devices, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications. These four modules provide complete solutions for 802.11b/g/n and are industry-certified in a variety of countries.Microcontroller  MRF24

The new RN1810 and RN1810E are stand-alone, surface-mount WiFly radio modules that include a TCP/IP stack, cryptographic accelerator, power management subsystem, 2.4-GHz 802.11b/g/n-compliant transceivers, and 2.4 RF power amplifier. You can pair them with any microcontroller and configure them using simple ASCII commands. WiFly provides a simple data pipe for sending data over a Wi-Fi network, requiring no prior Wi-Fi experience to get a product connected. Once configured, the device automatically accesses a Wi-Fi network and sends and receives serial data. The RN1810 features an integrated PCB antenna. The RN1810E supports an external antenna.

The new MRF24WN0MA and MRF24WN0MB are Wi-Fi modules that interface with Microchip’s PIC32 microcontrollers and support Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony integrated software framework with a TCP/IP stack that can be downloaded for free at www.microchip.com/harmony. The modules connect to the microcontroller via a four-wire SPI. They area an ideal solution for low-power, low-data-rate Wi-Fi sensor networks, home automation, building automation, and consumer applications. In addition, an MRF24WN0MA has an integrated PCB antenna, while the MRF24WN0MB supports an external antenna.

The RN1810/E and MRF24WN0MA/B are now available and start at $13.05 each in 1,000-unit quantities. Also available is the $34.95 MRF24WN0MA Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board, a demonstration board for evaluating Wi-Fi connectivity using PIC microcontrollers and the MRF24WN0MA module (part # AC164153). In addition, a $49.95 RN1810 Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board is available today with a fully integrated TCP/IP stack and USB interface for easy plug-and-play development with a PC (part # RN-1810-PICTAIL).

Source: Microchip Technology

Adaptive Coded Modulation Added to Wireless Data Modem

CML Microcircuits recently announced that it added Adaptive Coded Modulation (ACM) capabilities to its CMX7164 multimode wireless data modem, QAM modulation suite. ACM features enable the modulation type and block format to change on the fly to dynamically select data block size, coding rate, and CRC size. Over-air commands enable a Tx host to select an optimum modulation type and coding per burst to suit application message size and link channel quality. In addition, they can relax required Rx host parsing speed. SPI Thru-Port macros speed serial slave control for shorter Tx/Rx mode transitions.CML CMX7164The CMX7164 covers constant envelope and linear modulation schemes, including GMSK/GFSK, 2/4/8/16-level FSK, 4/16/32/64-QAM, and V.23 to provide the ideal platform for customer-specific modulation schemes. Together these features make the CMX7164 a universal wireless data modem solution.

The DE9941 demonstrator/evaluation board is available and enables the CMX7164, CMX994E Direct Conversion Receiver, and CMX998 Cartesian Feedback Loop Transmitter to be demonstrated. The CMX7164 is currently available, offering low-power,  3.3-V operation in small VQFN/LQFP packaging.

Source: CML Microcircuits