January Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

Happy New Years! The January issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Don’t miss this first issue of Circuit Cellar’s 2019 year. Enjoy pages and pages of great, in-depth embedded electronics articles produced and collected for you to enjoy.

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Here’s a sneak preview of January 2019 Circuit Cellar:

TRENDS & CHOICES IN EMBEDDED COMPUTING

Comms and Control for Drones
Consumer and commercial drones represent one of the most dynamic areas of embedded design today. Chip, board and system suppliers are offering improved ways for drones to do more processing on board the drone, while also providing solutions for implementing the control and communication subsystems in drones. This article by Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief Jeff Child looks at the technology and products available today that are advancing the capabilities of today’s drones.

Choosing an MPU/MCU for Industrial Design
As MCU performance and functionality improve, the traditional boundaries between MCUs and microprocessor units (MPUs) have become less clear. In this article, Microchip Technology’s Jacko Wilbrink examines the changing landscape in MPU vs. MCU capabilities, OS implications and the specifics of new SiP and SOM approaches for simplifying higher-performance computing requirements in industrial applications.

Product Focus: COM Express Boards
The COM Express architecture has found a solid and growing foothold in embedded systems. COM Express boards provide a complete computing core that can be upgraded when needed, leaving the application-specific I/O on the baseboard. This Product Focus section updates readers on this technology and provides a product album of representative COM Express products.

MICROCONTROLLERS ARE DOING EVERYTHING

Connecting USB to Simple MCUs
Sometimes you want to connect a USB device such as a flash drive to a simple microcontroller. Problem is most MCUs cannot function as a USB host. In this article, Stuart Ball steps through the technology and device choices that solve this challenge. He also puts the idea into action via a project that provides this functionality.

Vision System Enables Overlaid Images
In this project article, learn how these Cornell students Daniel Edens and Elise Weir designed a system to overlay images from a visible light camera and an infrared camera. They use software running on a PIC32 MCU to interface the two types of cameras. The MCU does the computation to create the overlaid images, and displays them on an LCD screen.

DATA ACQUISITION AND MEASUREMENT

Data Acquisition Alternatives
While the fundamentals of data acquisition remain the same, its interfacing technology keeps evolving and changing. USB and PCI Express brought data acquisition off the rack, and onto the lab bench top. Today solutions are emerging that leverage Mini PCIe, Thunderbolt and remote web interfacing. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, dives into the latest technology trends and product developments in data acquisition.

High-Side Current Sensing
Jeff Bachiochi says he likes being able to measure things—for example, being able to measure load current so he can predict how long a battery will last. With that in mind, he recently found a high-side current sensing device, Microchip’s EMC1701. In his article, Jeff takes you through the details of the device and how to make use of it in a battery-based system.

Power Analysis Capture with an MCU
Low-cost microcontrollers integrate many powerful peripherals in them. You can even perform data capture directly to internal memory. In his article, Colin O’Flynn uses the ChipWhisperer-Nano as a case study in how you might use such features which would otherwise require external programmable logic.

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR EMBEDDED SYSTEM DESIGN

Easing into the IoT Cloud (Part 2)
In Part 1 of this article series Brian Millier examined some of the technologies and services available today enabling you to ease into the IoT cloud. Now, in Part 2, he discusses the hardware features of the Particle IoT modules, as well as the circuitry and program code for the project. He also explores the integration of a Raspberry Pi solution with the Particle cloud infrastructure.

Hierarchical Menus for Touchscreens
In his December article, Aubrey Kagan discussed his efforts to build a display subsystem and GUI for embedded use based on a Noritake touchscreen display. This time he shares how he created a menu system within the constraints of the Noritake graphical display system. He explains how he made good use of Microsoft Excel worksheets as a tool for developing the menu system.

Real Schematics (Part 2)
The first part of this article series on the world of real schematics ended last month with wiring. At high frequencies PCBs suffer from the same parasitic effects as any other type of wiring. You can describe a transmission line as consisting of an infinite number of infinitesimal resistors, inductors and capacitors spread along its entire length. In this article George Novacek looks at real schematics from a transmission line perspective.

Internet of Things Security (Part 6)

Identifying Threats

In this final part of his Internet of Things Security article series, this time Bob returns to his efforts to craft a checklist to help us create more secure IoT devices. This time he looks at developing a checklist to evaluate the threats to an IoT device.

By Bob Japenga

A number of years ago (there were woolly mammoths around if I remember correctly), I attended a conference on the Ada programming language. Ada was created for the United States’ Department of Defense to replace the myriad of programming languages that were deployed by the DoD at that time. The language was named after the first programmer, Augusta Ada King Lovelace, a colorful character in her own right and the only legitimate daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Ada is credited with publishing the first algorithm for use on a computing machine: Charles Babbage’s famous analytical engine.

At the conference I attended a breakout session on algorithms. In the conference room next door, a popular speaker, whose name I don’t remember, held another breakout session. About ten minutes into the session, we heard a deafening chant coming from the conference room next door that repeated over and over: “I don’t care.” The speaker was making a point that, as software designers, we should not care about everything. There are legitimate things for which we need to say: “I don’t care.” We need to identify them as not relevant to the task at hand and emphatically say: “I don’t care.”

Although I remember nothing from the breakout session on algorithms, I have never forgotten this principle: “There are some things that we just don’t care to address when designing embedded systems.” Certainly, there is much to be said for thoroughness in design, but when we—with well thought through analysis—determine that some aspect of a design is a “don’t care” we need to let it go.

In designing secure IoT devices this is a very important principle. The threats are diverse and difficult to number. The assets are important and of differing value. This month we will continue to build our checklist for IoT security. Last time we created a checklist to help you identify the assets that you want to protect. This month we will add to that checklist with some questions to help you identify and quantify the threats.

Identifying the Threats

We need to start with definitions. A good working definition for a threat would be: “a person or thing likely to cause damage or danger.” Although this is a good definition, for the purpose of building our checklist, I want to expand upon it a little. Here’s why: In most cases “I don’t care” who the threat is, nor do I care what their capabilities are. Keep in mind that, if there is a threat with very little capabilities, that threat could get passed on. They can always sell either their knowledge or their access to the device to someone who has the capabilities to create a security breach with the device. Let me illustrate that. Imagine there are two threats: One is a disgruntled former employee with little or no capability of reverse engineering your design in order to find a security flaw. The second is an organization with deep pockets and highly skilled hackers. If any of the assets that we identified in the first part of the checklist are worth a significant chunk of change, the former employee can always sell what they have to this other organization. With all that in mind, in general “I don’t care” about who the threat is.

But I do care about the activities of these threat agents. This is in line with the way the OWASP Top Ten IoT Security Threats is laid out. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a worldwide organization focused on improving the security of software. I introduced OWASP as a valuable resource in my August 2016 column (Circuit Cellar 313) when we discussed their list of the top ten security vulnerabilities. The list was updated in 2017 and worthwhile to review [1]. OWASP also provides what its calls the top ten threats to IoT devices. We will look at these a little later in this article. They agree with my assessment that we don’t care who it is or what their capability is. What we care about is the action that they can take.

Figure 1
Shown here are the five areas of threat I’ve identified for IoT devices.

When thinking about threats to the security of our IoT device, I would identify five areas of threat as shown in Figure 1: access to the physical device; access to the wireless services on the device; access to the network (LAN or WAN) the device is on; access to the cloud server used by the device; and access to the mobile app used by the device. Anyone who has access to one or more of these is a threat agent. So, the beginning of our checklist needs to analyze what harm could be done by such a threat agent who gained access to any of these five areas of threat. Not all of your IoT devices have all of these areas of threat but most have a majority of them. For each of the areas of threat we need to ask the question: What would be the potential cost if someone with a lot of time, highly skilled hackers and a lot of money got access to one of these areas of threat without permission?. …

Read the full article in the December 341 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.

PSoC MCU Variant is Purpose-Built for IoT Edge Processing

Cypress Semiconductor is expanding its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions portfolio with a new member of its ultra-low-power PSoC 6 microcontroller (MCU) family. The new PSoC 6 MCU is purpose-built to address the growing needs for computing, connectivity and storage in IoT edge devices. The new MCUs include expanded embedded memory with 2 MB Flash and 1 MB SRAM to support compute-intensive algorithms, connectivity stacks and data logging.

At the same time, Cypress has announced two new development kits for the PSoC 6 family, enabling developers to immediately leverage the industry’s lowest power, most flexible dual-core MCU with hardware-based security—to prolong battery life, deliver efficient processing and sensing, and protect sensitive user data. PSoC 6 is empowering millions of IoT products today, providing the most secure and low-power processing available.
Developers can evaluate the new PSoC 6 MCUs with expanded embedded memory using Cypress’ new PSoC 6 Wi-Fi BT Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-062-4343W) (shown). This $30 kit features peripheral modules including Cypress’ industry-leading CapSense capacitive-sensing technology, PDM-PCM microphones, and memory expansion modules, enabling quick evaluation and easy development. The kit is supported by Cypress’ ModusToolbox software suite that provides easy-to-use tools for application development in a familiar MCU integrated development environment (IDE).

To streamline development of products with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.0 connectivity, Cypress has introduced the PSoC 6 BLE Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-063-BLE). This $20 kit features a fully-certified CYBLE-416045-02 BLE module—a turnkey solution that includes a PSoC 63 MCU, onboard crystal oscillators, trace antenna and passive components.

Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCUs are production qualified today and are in-stock at authorized distributors. The new PSoC 6 MCUs with expanded embedded memory are currently sampling and are expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2019. The PSoC 6 Wi-Fi BT Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-062-4343W) is available for $30 and the PSoC 6 BLE Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-063-BLE) is available for $20.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.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.

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

IoT Technology Focus. (12/18) 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.(12/24) (Monday) 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. (1/2) (Wednesday) 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.

Cypress Semi Teams with Arm for Secure IoT MCU Solution

Cypress Semiconductor has expanded its collaboration with Arm to provide management of IoT edge nodes. The solution integrates the Arm Pelion IoT Platform with Cypress’ low power, dual-core PSoC 6 microcontrollers (MCUs) and CYW4343W Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo radios. PSoC 6 provides Arm v7-M hardware-based security that adheres to the highest level of device protection defined by the Arm Platform Security Architecture (PSA).
Cypress and Arm demonstrated hardware-secured onboarding and communication through the integration of the dual-core PSoC 6 MCU and Pelion IoT Platform in the Arm booth at Arm TechCon last month. In the demo, the PSoC 6 was running Arm’s PSA-defined Secure Partition Manager to be supported in Arm Mbed OS version 5.11 open-source embedded operating system, which will be available this December. Embedded systems developers can leverage the private key storage and hardware-accelerated cryptography in the PSoC 6 MCU for cryptographically-secured lifecycle management functions, such as over-the-air firmware updates, mutual authentication and device attestation and revocation. According to the company, Cypress is making a strategic push to integrate security into its compute, connect and store portfolio for the IoT.

The PSoC 6 architecture is built on ultra-low-power 40-nm process technology, and the MCUs feature low-power design techniques to extend battery life up to a full week for wearables. The dual-core Arm Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ architecture lets designers optimize for power and performance simultaneously. Using its dual cores combined with configurable memory and peripheral protection units, the PSoC 6 MCU delivers the highest level of protection defined by the Platform Security Architecture (PSA) from Arm.

Designers can use the MCU’s software-defined peripherals to create custom analog front-ends (AFEs) or digital interfaces for innovative system components such as electronic-ink displays. The PSoC 6 MCU features the latest generation of Cypress’ industry-leading CapSense capacitive-sensing technology, enabling modern touch and gesture-based interfaces that are robust and reliable.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

Three Firms Team Up for Industrial IoT Security Effort

IAR Systems, Secure Thingz and Renesas Electronics have announced their collaboration to secure Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications. As part of this collaboration, the companies will develop new solutions that combine IAR Systems’ software development technology, Secure Thingz’ expertise in advanced IoT security, and Renesas Electronics’ secure semiconductor technologies.

Security is an inherent risk when it comes to connected devices. In the Industrial IoT, incoming threats and system vulnerabilities can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations. Therefore, embedded applications in this area require very strong features for security and reliability. To meet these requirements, Secure Thingz’ Embedded Trust, which is a security development environment that leverages the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE from IAR Systems, will support Renesas microcontrollers (MCUs) when Embedded Trust is launched to the broader market in 2019. This new hardware and software solution will enable organizations to secure their systems, intellectual property (IP) and data.

“Despite legislation and new security standards mandating greater protection, the news stories of hacking, theft and counterfeiting still persist. It is now a question of when, and not if, you will be compromised,” says Haydn Povey, CEO, Secure Thingz. “At Secure Thingz, we are collaborating with trusted industry friends to secure the connected world and inhibit these compromises. The collaboration between Secure Thingz, IAR Systems and Renesas will help organizations conquer the security challenges of today and tomorrow.”

“To really deliver on the promise of the IoT, embedded applications will need to include security from start, both in hardware and software,” says Stefan Skarin, CEO, IAR Systems. “IAR Systems’ long-standing collaboration with Renesas has resulted in a number of successful activities and solutions. Now with connected IoT devices all around us and ongoing security threats, we as suppliers need to help our customers in the best way we can. IAR Systems and Secure Thingz are working together to make superior security available for all, and we are pleased to have Renesas with us on this journey.”

“With increased connectivity come greater security risks, and the growing number of connected industrial devices requires a stronger focus on security from the early stages of chip design to protect both the silicon solution and the application from potential security issues,” says Yoshikazu Yokota, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “For the past 30 years, our collaboration with IAR Systems has introduced reliable and high-performance solutions that have enabled the creation of innovative embedded designs, and with the addition of Secure Thingz moving forward, we are poised to support the next generation of Industrial IoT design with the security it needs.”

IAR Systems | www.iar.com

Secure Thingz | www.securethingz.com

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

 

 

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Analog & Power newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including ADCs, DACs, DC-DC converters, AD-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

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

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You’ll get your Analog & Power newsletter issue tomorrow.

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

Microcontroller Watch. (12/11) 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. (12/18) 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.(12/24) 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.

IoT Door Security System Uses Wi-Fi

Control Via App or Web

Discover how these Cornell students built an Internet-connected door security system with wireless monitoring and control through web and mobile applications. The article discusses the interfacing of a Microchip PIC32 MCU with the Internet, and the application of IoT to a door security system.

By Norman Chen, Ram Vellanki and Giacomo Di Liberto

The idea for an Internet of Things (IoT) door security system came from our desire to grant people remote access to and control over their security system. Connecting the system with the Internet not only improves safety by enabling users to monitor a given entryway remotely, but also allows the system to transmit information about the traffic of the door to the Internet. With these motivations, we designed our system using a Microchip Technology PIC32 microcontroller (MCU) and an Espressif ESP8266 Wi-Fi module to interface a door sensor with the Internet, which gives the user full control over the system via mobile and web applications.

The entire system works in the following way. To start, the PIC32 tells the Wi-Fi module to establish a connection to a TCP socket, which provides fast and reliable communication with the security system’s web server. Once a connection has been established, the PIC32 enters a loop to analyze the distance sensor reading to detect motion in the door. Upon any detection of motion, the PIC32 commands the Wi-Fi module to signal the event to the web server. Each motion detection is saved in memory, and simultaneously the data are sent to the website, which graphs the number of motion detections per unit time. If the security system was armed at the time of motion detection, then the PIC32 will sound the alarm via a piezoelectric speaker from CUI. The alarm system is disarmed at default, so each motion detection is logged in the web application but no sound is played. From both the web and mobile application, the user can arm, disarm and sound the alarm immediately in the case of an emergency.

DESIGN

The PIC32 acts as the hub of the whole system. As shown in Figure 1, each piece of hardware is connected to the MCU, as it detects motion by analyzing distance sensor readings, generates sound for the piezoelectric speaker and commands the Wi-Fi module for actions that pertain to the web server. The distance sensor used in our system is rated to accurately measure distances of only 10 to 80 cm [1]. That’s because motion detection requires us only to measure large changes in distances instead of exact distances, the sensor was sufficient for our needs.

Figure 1
The schematic of the security system. Note that the door sensor runs on 5  V, whereas the rest of the components run on 3.3 V

In our design, the sensor is facing down from the top of the doorway, so the nearest object to the sensor is the floor at idle times, when there is no movement through the door. For an average height of a door, about 200 cm, the sensor outputs a miniscule amount of voltage of less than 0.5 V. If a human of average height, about 160 cm, passes through the doorway, then according to the datasheet [1], the distance sensor will output a sudden spike of about 1.5 V. The code on the PIC32 constantly analyzes the distance sensor readings for such spikes, and interprets an increase and subsequent decrease in voltage as motion through the door. The alarm sound is generated by having the PIC32 repeatedly output a 1,500 Hz wave to the piezoelectric speaker through a DAC. We used the DMA feature on the PIC32 for playing the alarm sound, to allow the MCU to signal the alarm without using an interrupt-service-routine. The alarm sound output therefore, did not interfere with motion detection and receiving commands from the web server.

The Wi-Fi module we used to connect the PIC32 to the Internet is the ESP8266, which has several variations on the market. We chose model number ESP8266-01 for its low cost and small form factor. This model was not breadboard-compatible, but we designed a mount for the device so that it could be plugged into the breadboard without the need for header wires. Figure 2 shows how the device is attached to the breadboard, along with how the rest of the system is connected.

Figure 2
The full system is wired up on a breadboard. The door sensor is at the bottom of the photo, and is attached facing down from the top of a doorway when in use. The device at the top of the figure is the PIC32 MCU mounted on a development board.

The module can boot into two different modes, programming or normal, by configuring the GPIO pins during startup. To boot into programming mode, GPIO0 must be pulled to low, while GPIO2 must be pulled high. To boot into normal mode, both GPIO0 and GPIO2 must be pulled high. Programming mode is used for flashing new firmware onto the device, whereas normal mode enables AT commands over UART on the ESP8266. Because we only needed to enable the AT commands on the module, we kept GPIO0 and GPIO2 floating, which safely and consistently booted the module into normal mode.

SENDING COMMANDS

Before interfacing the PIC32 with the Wi-Fi module, we used a USB-to-TTL serial cable to connect the module to a computer, and tested the functionality of its AT commands by sending it commands from a serial terminal. …

Read the full article in the December 341 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.

IIoT Evolution: An Approach To Reuse And Scale Your IIoT Technology Investment

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Get your copy – here

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:

Analog & Power. (12/4) 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 (12/11) 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. (12/18) 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.

SBC Showcases Qualcomm’s 10 nm, Octa-core QCS605 IoT SoC

By Eric Brown

In April, Qualcomm announced its QCS605 SoC, calling it “the first 10nm FinFET fabricated SoC purpose built for the Internet of Things.” The octa-core Arm SoC is available in an Intrinsyc Open-Q 605 SBC with full development kit with a 12V power supply is open for pre-orders at $429. The products will ship in early December.

 
Open-Q 605, front and back
(click images to enlarge)
The fact that Qualcomm is billing the high-end QCS605 as an IoT SoC reveals how demand for vision and AI processing on the edge is broadening the IoT definition to encompass a much higher range of embedded technology. The IoT focus is also reinforced by the lack of the usual Snapdragon branding. The QCS605 is accompanied by the Qualcomm Vision Intelligence Platform, a set of mostly software components that includes the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK and camera processing software, as well as the company’s 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and security technologies.

The QCS605 can run Linux or Android, but Intrinsyc supports its Open-Q 605 board only with Android 8.1.

Intrinsyc also recently launched an Open-Q 624A Development Kit based on a new Open-Q 624A SOM (see farther below).

Qualcomm QCS605 and Vision Intelligence Platform

The QCS605 SoC features 8x Kryo 300 CPU cores, two of which are 2.5GHz “gold” cores that are equivalent to Cortex-A75. The other six are 1.7GHz “silver” cores like the Cortex-A55 — Arm’s more powerful follow-on to Cortex-A53.

The QCS605 also integrates an Adreno 615 GPU, a Hexagon 685 DSP with Hexagon vector extensions (“HVX”), and a Spectra 270 ISP that supports dual 16-megapixel image sensors. Qualcomm also sells a QCS603 model that is identical except that it offers only 2x of the 1.7GHz “Silver” cores instead of six.

Qualcomm sells the QCS605 as part of a Vision Intelligence Platform — a combination of software and hardware starting with a Qualcomm AI Engine built around the Qualcomm Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (NPE) software framework. The NPE provides analysis, optimization, and debugging tools for developing with Tensorflow, Caffe, and Caffe2 frameworks. The AI Engine also includes the Open Neural Network Exchange interchange format, the Android Neural Networks API, and the Qualcomm Hexagon Neural Network library, which together enable the porting of trained networks.

The Vision Intelligence Platform running on the QCS605 delivers up to 2.1 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of compute performance for deep neural network inferences, claims Qualcomm. The platform also supports up to 4K60 resolution or 5.7K at 30fps and supports multiple concurrent video streams at lower resolutions.

Other features include “staggered” HDR to prevent ghost effects in high-dynamic range video. You also get advanced electronic image stabilization, de-warp, de-noise, chromatic aberration correction, and motion compensated temporal filters in hardware.

Inside the Open-Q 605 SBC

Along with the Snapdragon 600 based Open-Q 600, the Open-Q 605 is the only Open-Q development board that Intrinsyc refers to as an SBC. Most Open-Q kits are compute modules or sandwich-style carrier board starter kits based on Intrinsyc modules equipped with Snapdragon SoCs, such as the recent, Snapdragon 670 based Open-Q 670 HDK.


Open-Q 605 
(click image to enlarge)
The 68 x 50mm Open-Q 605 ships with an eMCP package with 4GB LPDDR4x RAM and 32GB eMMC flash, and additional storage is available via a microSD slot. Networking depends on the 802.11ac (WiFi 5) and Bluetooth 5.x radios. There’s also a Qualcomm GNSS receiver for location and 3x U.FL connectors.

The only real-world coastline port is a USB Type-C that supports DisplayPort 1.4 with 4K@30fps support. If you’d rather use the Type-C port for USB or charging a user-supplied Li-Ion battery, you can turn to an HD-ready MIPI DSI interface with touch support. You also get 2x MIPI-CSI for dual cameras, as well as 2x analog audio.

The Open-Q 605 has a 76-pin expansion header for other interfaces, including an I2S/SLIMBus digital audio interface. The board runs on a 5-15V DC input and offers an extended -25 to 60°C operating range.

Specifications listed for the Open-Q 605 SBC include:

  • Processor — Qualcomm QCS605 with Vision Intelligence Platform (2x up to 2.5GHz and 6x up to 1.7GHz Krait 300 cores); Adreno 615 GPU; Hexagon 685 DSP; Spectra 270 ISP; Qualcomm AI Engine and other VIP components
  • Memory/storage — 4GB LPDDR4X and 32GB eMMC flash in combo eMCP package; microSD slot.
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2×2 dual-band WiFi (Qualcomm WCN3990) with planned FCC/IC/CE certification
    • Bluetooth 5.x
    • Qualcomm GNSS (SDR660G) receiver with Qualcomm Location Suite Gen9 VT
    • U.FL antenna connectors for WiFi, BT, GNSS
  • Media I/O:
    • DisplayPort 1.4 via USB Type-C up to 4K@30 with USB data concurrency (USB and power)
    • MIPI DSI (4-lane) with I2C touch interface on flex cable connector for up to 1080p30
    • 2x MIPI-CSI (4-lane) with micro-camera module connectors
    • 2x analog mic I/Ps, speaker O/P, headset I/O
    • I2S/SLIMBus digital audio interface with 2x DMIC ports (via 76-pin expansion header)
  • Expansion — 76-pin header (multiple SPI, I2C, UART, GPIO, and sensor I/O; digital and analog audio I/O, LED flash O/P, haptic O/P, power output rails
  • Other features — 3x LEDs; 4x mounting holes; optional dev kit with quick start guide, docs, SW updates
  • Operating temperature — -25 to 60°C
  • Power — 5-15V DC jack and support for user-supplied Li-Ion battery with USB Type-C charging; PM670 + PM670L PMIC; 12V supply with dev kit
  • Dimensions — 68 x 50 x 13mm
  • Operating system — Android 8.1 Oreo

Open-Q 624A
Development Kit

Open-Q 624A Development Kit

Back in May, Google preannounced the Open-Q 624A Development Kit as an official Android Things 1.0 development board along with Intrinsyc’s Snapdragon 212 based Open-Q 212A, Innocomm’s i.MX8M based WB10-AT, and a MediaTek MT8516 development platform. Now, Intrinsyc is pitching the Open-Q 624A Development Kit, as well as the Open-Q 624A SOM module it’s based on, as an Android 8.0 platform aimed at the home hub market. There is no longer any mention of Android Things.

The Open-Q 624A SOM offers 2GB RAM, 4GB eMMC, WiFi-ac, BT 4.2, and an octa-core -A53 Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 SoC based on the Snapdragon 625. The kit is equipped with a USB 3.0 Type-C port, 2x USB host ports, micro-USB client and debug ports, MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI interfaces, sensor expansion and haptic output, and an optional GPS receiver. You also get extensive audio features, including I2S/SLIMBUS headers.

Available for $595, the sandwich style kit will ship in mid-December. For more details, see our earlier Android Things development board report.

Further information

The Open-Q 605 SBC is available for pre-order in the full Development Kit version, which costs $429 and ships in early December. The SBC will also be sold on its own at an undisclosed price. More information may be found in Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 605 announcement, as well as the product page and shopping page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on November 14.

Intrinsyc | www.intrinsyc.com

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.

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

Embedded Boards.(11/27) 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. (12/4) 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 (12/11) 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.

December Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The December issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Don’t miss this last issue of Circuit Cellar in 2018. Pages and pages of great, in-depth embedded electronics articles prepared for you to enjoy.

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

AI, FPGAs and EMBEDDED SUPERCOMPUTING

Embedded Supercomputing
Gone are the days when supercomputing levels of processing required a huge, rack-based systems in an air-conditioned room. Today, embedded processors, FPGAs and GPUs are able to do AI and machine learning kinds of operation, enable new types of local decision making in embedded systems. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at these technology and trends driving embedded supercomputing.

Convolutional Neural Networks in FPGAs
Deep learning using convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can offer a robust solution across a wide range of applications and market segments. In this article written for Microsemi, Ted Marena illustrates that, while GPUs can be used to implement CNNs, a better approach, especially in edge applications, is to use FPGAs that are aligned with the application’s specific accuracy and performance requirements as well as the available size, cost and power budget.

NOT-TO-BE-OVERLOOKED ENGINEERING ISSUES AND CHOICES

DC-DC Converters
DC-DC conversion products must juggle a lot of masters to push the limits in power density, voltage range and advanced filtering. Issues like the need to accommodate multi-voltage electronics, operate at wide temperature ranges and serve distributed system requirements all add up to some daunting design challenges. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative DC-DC converters.

Real Schematics (Part 1)
Our magazine readers know that each issue of Circuit Cellar has several circuit schematics replete with lots of resistors, capacitors, inductors and wiring. But those passive components don’t behave as expected under all circumstances. In this article, George Novacek takes a deep look at the way these components behave with respect to their operating frequency.

Do you speak JTAG?
While most engineers have heard of JTAG or have even used JTAG, there’s some interesting background and capabilities that are so well know. Robert Lacoste examines the history of JTAG and looks at clever ways to use it, for example, using a cheap JTAG probe to toggle pins on your design, or to read the status of a given I/O without writing a single line of code.

PUTTING THE INTERNET-OF-THINGS TO WORK

Industrial IoT Systems
The Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) is a segment of IoT technology where more severe conditions change the game. Rugged gateways and IIoT edge modules comprise these systems where the extreme temperatures and high vibrations of the factory floor make for a demanding environment. Here, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at key technology and product drives in the IIoT space.

Internet of Things Security (Part 6)
Continuing on with his article series on IoT security, this time Bob Japenga returns to his efforts to craft a checklist to help us create more secure IoT devices. This time he looks at developing a checklist to evaluate the threats to an IoT device.

Applying WebRTC to the IoT
Web Real-time Communications (WebRTC) is an open-source project created by Google that facilitates peer-to-peer communication directly in the web browser and through mobile applications using application programming interfaces. In her article, Callstats.io’s Allie Mellen shows how IoT device communication can be made easy by using WebRTC. With WebRTC, developers can easily enable devices to communicate securely and reliably through video, audio or data transfer.

WI-FI AND BLUETOOTH IN ACTION

IoT Door Security System Uses Wi-Fi
Learn how three Cornell students, Norman Chen, Ram Vellanki and Giacomo Di Liberto, built an Internet connected door security system that grants the user wireless monitoring and control over the system through a web and mobile application. The article discusses the interfacing of a Microchip PIC32 MCU with the Internet and the application of IoT to a door security system.

Self-Navigating Robots Use BLE
Navigating indoors is a difficult but interesting problem. Learn how these two Cornell students, Jane Du and Jacob Glueck, used Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4.0 chips to enable wheeled, mobile robots to navigate towards a stationary base station. The robot detects its proximity to the station based on the strength of the signal and moves towards what it believes to be the signal source.

IN-DEPTH PROJECT ARTICLES WITH ALL THE DETAILS

Sun Tracking Project
Most solar panel arrays are either fixed-position, or have a limited field of movement. In this project article, Jeff Bachiochi set out to tackle the challenge of a sun tracking system that can move your solar array to wherever the sun is coming from. Jeff’s project is a closed-loop system using severs, opto encoders and the Microchip PIC18 microcontroller.

Designing a Display System for Embedded Use
In this project article, Aubrey Kagan takes us through the process of developing an embedded system user interface subsystem—including everything from display selection to GUI development to MCU control. For the project he chose a 7” Noritake GT800 LCD color display and a Cypress Semiconductor PSoC5LP MCU.

Benchmarks for the IoT

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

I remember quite vividly back in 1997 when Marcus Levy founded the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium, better known as EEMBC. It was big deal at the time because, while benchmarks where common in the consumer computing world of desktop/laptop processors, no one had ever crafted any serious benchmarks for embedded processors. I was an editor covering embedded systems technology at the time, and Marcus, as an editor with EDN Magazine back then, traveled in the same circles as I did. On both the editorial side and on the processor vendor side, he had enormous respect in the industry—making him an ideal person to spin up an effort like EEMBC.

Creating benchmarks for embedded processors was more complicated than for general purpose processors, but EEMBC was up the challenge. Fast forward to today, and EEEBC now boasts a rich list of performance benchmarks for the hardware and software used in a variety of applications including autonomous driving, mobile imaging, mobile devices and many others. In recent years, the group has taken on the complex challenge of developing benchmarks for the Internet-of-Things (IoT).

I recently had the chance to talk with EEMBC’s current president, Peter Torelli, about the consortium’s latest effort: its IoTMark-BLE benchmark. It’s part of the EEMBC’s IoTMark benchmarking suite for measuring the combined energy consumption of an edge node’s sensor interface, processor and radio interface. IoTMark-BLE focuses on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices. In late September, EEMBC announced that the IoTMark-BLE benchmark is available for licensing.

The IoTMark-BLE benchmark profile models a real IoT edge node consisting of an I²C sensor and a BLE radio through sleep, advertise and connected-mode operation. The benchmark measures the energy required to power the edge node platform and to run the tests fed by the benchmark. At the center of the benchmark is the IoTConnect framework, a low-cost benchmarking harness used by multiple EEMBC benchmarks. The framework provides an external sensor emulator (the I/O Manager), a BLE gateway (the radio manager) and an Energy Monitor.

Benchmark users interact with the DUT via an interface with which they can set a number of tightly defined parameters, such as connection interval, I²C speed, BLE transmission power and more. Default values are provided to enable direct comparisons between DUTs, or users can change them to analyze a design’s sensitivity to each parameter. IoTMark-BLE’s IoTConnect framework supports microcontrollers (MCUs) and radio modules from any vendor, and it is compatible with any embedded OS, software stack or OEM hardware.

It makes sense that IoT benchmarks focus on power and energy use. IoT edge devices need to work in remote locations near the sensors they’re linked with. With that in mind, Peter Torelli says that the benchmark measures everything inside an IoT system-on-chip (SoC)—including the peripheral I/O reading from the I2C sensor, the transmit and receive amplifiers in the BLE radio—everything except the sensor itself. Torelli says it was important to not use intelligent sensors for the benchmark, the idea being that its important that the MCU’s role performing communication be part of the measurement. Interestingly, in developing the benchmark, it was found that even the software stacks on IoT SoCs have a big impact on performance. “Some are very efficient when they’re in advertise mode or in active mode, and then go to sleep,” says Torelli, “And there are others that remain active for much longer times and burn a lot of power.”

Shifting gears, I want to take moment to praise long time columnist and member of the Circuit Cellar family, Ed Nisley. Over 30 years ago, Steve Ciarcia asked Ed to write a regular column for the brand-new Circuit Cellar INK magazine. After an even 200 articles, Ed decided to make his September column his last. Thank you, Ed, for your many years of insightful, quality work in the pages of this magazine. You’ll be missed. Readers can follow Ed’s continuing series of shop notes, projects and curiosities on his blog at softsolder.com.

Let me welcome Brian Millier as our newest Circuit Cellar columnist—his column Pickup Up Mixed Signals begins this issue. Brian is no stranger to the magazine, penning over 50 guest features in the magazine since the mid-90s on a variety of topics including guitar amplifier electronics, IoT system design, LCDs and many others. I’m thrilled to have Brian joining our team. With his help, we promise to continue fulfilling Circuit Cellar’s role as the leading media platform aimed at inspiring the evolution of embedded system design.

This appears in the November 340 issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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