Managed Linux and Zephyr Distros for IoT offer OTA and Container Tech

By Eric Brown

A Cambridge, UK based startup called Foundries.io, which is funded by Linaro, has launched a microPlatforms service with managed, subscription-based Linux and Zephyr distributions. The microPlatforms offering will target IoT, edge, and automotive applications, and provide continuous over-the-air (OTA) updates to improve security. Linaro CEO George Grey also serves as CEO of Foundries.io.

The distributions are designed to work with any private or public cloud platform, with the microPlatform cloud service acting as an intermediary. The microPlatforms packages include firmware, kernel, services, and applications, “delivered continuously from initial product design to end-of-life,” says Foundries.io.


Linux microPlatform architecture
(click image to enlarge)
Benefits from microPlatforms include improved security, lower development costs, and “faster time-to-market for products across a wide range of IoT connected devices,” says the company. There’s also a combined Linux/Zephyr offering that bridges both sides of the IoT architectural divide designed for projects that include both a Linux gateway/edge device and Zephyr controlled sensor devices.

Subscriptions range from $10 per month for evaluation and non-commercial use to $10,000 or $25,000 per year for professional Zephyr and Linux packages, respectfully. There are no per unit fees, and Foundries.io notes: “We regularly upstream our open source work; you can end your subscription any time and keep using the software.” There’s also a community website with forums and support services.

Linux microPlatforms

The Linux microPlatform (LmP) supports support Arm, Intel, and RISC-V based devices. The initial targets include the Raspberry Pi and several 96Boards (see farther below). LmP starts with a minimal Linux distro built with OpenEmbedded/Yocto and “a recent stable kernel.” The distribution is designed to be compact and resource efficient, with minimal attack surfaces.


Linux microPlatforms with containers
(click image to enlarge)
The Linux stack includes secure updatable firmware and a Docker container-based application runtime with reference container Dockerfiles and images. Source code is available, and you can also download binaries for supported target boards. The use of containers is optional, as you can also run LmP natively.

LmP also includes a cloud management service, which offers a “continuously tested and stabilized stream of updates,” says Foundries.io. The platform lets you “securely and remotely manage your product’s software” using standard tools such as Ansible and Kubernetes.

DragonBoard 820C

The initial LmP targets include:

Zephyr microPlatforms

The Zephyr microPlatform is the first downstream distribution for the Linux Foundation hosted, open source Zephyr RTOS. ZmP
builds on the Zephyr RTOS foundation with “MCUboot software, services, and reference applications to provide a continuously tested, secure, updatable, cross-architecture solution for microcontroller-based products,” says the startup.

 
Zephyr microPlatform architecture (left) and combined Linux and Zephyr microPlatform 
(click images to enlarge)
The Zephyr stack supports all the hardware listed by the Zephyr Project, including products from Nordic Semiconductor, NXP, and STMicroelectronics. This week, the Zephyr Project announced an expansion of support to 100 boards, including Arduino-compatible HiFive1 and Arduino Cinque boards, and the BBC Microbit and 96Boards Carbon. Supported SBCs that primarily run Linux but can also run Zephyr on their MCU companion chips include the MinnowBoard Max, Udoo Neo, and UP Squared.

Toradex and Linaro partnerships

Foundries.io’s launch partners are Toradex and Linaro — the open source code development organization backed by Arm and several of its major licensees. Linaro will offer microPlatforms support for its 96Boards SBCs. Toradex, whose Colibri iMX7 is a target platform, is “using the Linux microPlatform as a secure and updateable base for its upcoming software offering,” says Foundries.io. Toradex CTO Roman Schnarwiler adds: “Toradex will be announcing exciting news about our upcoming software offerings for our SoMs, based on the Foundries.io Linux microPlatform soon.”

Colibri iMX7

Also today, Toradex announced a software development partnership with The Qt Company. Toradex will provide the Qt development platform on its modules including Qt Device Creation. It will also Boot2Qt with Toradex Easy Installer.

OTA and containers in IoT

Continuous OTA updates are widely seen as one the best ways to improve IoT security. OTA is central to several recent IoT frameworks, including Google’s recently announced Cloud IoT Edge for devices equipped with its new Edge TPU machine learning co-processor chips. OTA is also central to Microsoft’s secure, Linux-based Azure Sphere IoT platform, which was further detailed today at the Hot Chips 2018conference.

Container technology, meanwhile, is seen as a way to ease embedded Linux remote management and automated updates. For example, Resin.io provides an embedded Linux container technology with its OTA-enabled ResinOS. Canonical’s Ubuntu Corealso uses a container-like scheme to provide transactional updates.

Further information

The Foundries.io microPlatforms subscriptions are now available, ranging from $10 per month for evaluation and non-commercial use to $10,000 or $25,000 per year for professional Zephyr and Linux packages, respectfully. Downloads of microPlatforms source code, binaries, and documentation are available at the Foundries.io website.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on August 21.

Foundries.io | foundries.io

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Embedded Boards.(10/23) 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.

October has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Digital Signage (10/30)  Digital signage ranks among the most dynamic areas of today’s embedded computing space. Makers of digital signage players, board-level products and other technologies continue to roll out new solutions for implementing powerful digital signage systems. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in digital signage.

Analog & Power. (11/6) 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 (11/13) 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.

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IoT Technology Focus. (10/16) 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.(10/23) 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.

October has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Digital Signage (10/30)  Digital signage ranks among the most dynamic areas of today’s embedded computing space. Makers of digital signage players, board-level products and other technologies continue to roll out new solutions for implementing powerful digital signage systems. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in digital signage.

Analog & Power. (11/6) 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.

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IoT Technology Focus. (10/16) 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.(10/23) 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.

October has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Digital Signage (10/30)  Digital signage ranks among the most dynamic areas of today’s embedded computing space. Makers of digital signage players, board-level products and other technologies continue to roll out new solutions for implementing powerful digital signage systems. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in digital signage.

Raspberry Pi I/O Add-On Targets Aquaponics and Hydroponics

By Eric Brown

We knew it was only a matter of time before we covered a board from Luxembourg, and that time has come. Rodange, Luxembourg based Upsilon Engineering, which is led by embedded engineer Yann Leidwanger, has gone to Kickstarter to launch its BioControle add-on board for the Raspberry Pi 3. The board can be used as a general purpose I/O and DAQ add-on but is specifically designed as a control board for aquaponics and hydroponics gardening.

 
BioControle prototype with Raspberry Pi 3 (left) and bare PCB on its own
(click images to enlarge)
The BioControle, which we spotted on Geeky Gadgets is available for 76 Euros ($89) through Oct. 17. Assuming Upsilon can raise another $7,000, shipments are expected in November.


BioControle controlling aquaponics system
(click image to enlarge)
The BioControle is a more general purpose offering than the recent Autogrow OpenMinder root zone monitor HAT for the Raspberry Pi, which includes software that helps manage water, pH, and nutrient usage in hydroponic farming. The proof of concept was developed for an aquaponics project at the Thilab FabLab based in Thionville, France. Leidwanger then built a prototype with additional features that also supports hydroponics and other projects that need a mix of servos, sensors, relays, and I/Os.

 
BioControle detail views
(click images to enlarge)
Specifications listed for the BioControle include:

  • 4x power relays outputs
  • 2x inputs/outputs for temperature and humidity sensors
  • 2x logical inputs and 2x logical outputs
  • Real Time Clock
  • EEPROM
  • 12-bit ADC
  • 12-bit DAC
  • 2x power servomotor outputs

All interfaces are said to be protected against reverse polarity, undervoltage, and overvoltage. It also offers “full protection between your application and your Raspberry Pi” with the help of buffers, level shifters, protection diodes, and serial protection resistance,” says Upsilon. The board provides 5 V and 3.3 V power supply supervisors “connected on LED and Raspberry Pi input,” and can run on a standard 230VAC adapter.

The design includes a cutout that enables easy access to the Raspberry Pi 3’s MIPI-CSI and DSI headers. The open source BioControle is available with schematics, pinout, and Python example codes

 
BioControle block diagram (left) and upcoming v2.0 design
(click images to enlarge)
The prototype has been thoroughly bug-tested, but Upsilon needs funding to build a v2.0 model that improves the servomotor headers, which are designed to dispense fish food on aquaponics systems. It also removes a second power supply header and several capacitors.

Further information

The BioControle is available on Kickstarter for 76 Euros ($89) through Oct. 17. Volume discounts are available, and assuming the project is funded, shipments are expected in November. More information may be found on the BioControle Kickstarter page and the Upsilon Engineering website.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on September 18.

Upsilon Engineering | www.upsilon-engineering.lu

Next Newsletter: Embedded Boards

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Analog & Power. (10/2) 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 (10/9) 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. (10/16) 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.

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.

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Embedded Boards.(9/25) 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. (10/2) 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 (10/9) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

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Embedded Boards.(9/25) 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. (10/2) 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.

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.

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Microcontroller Watch. (9/11) 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. (9/18) 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.(9/25) 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.

Raspberry Pi’s PoE HAT Ships for $20, Tosses in a Free Fan

By Eric Brown

Raspberry Pi Trading has launched a $20 Power-over-Ethernet HAT board for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that delivers up to 15W and ships with a small fan. The Power-over-Ethernet HAT that was promised with the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ SBC has arrived. The $20, 802.3af-compliant “Raspberry Pi PoE HAT” allows delivery of up to 15W over the RPi 3 B+’s USB-based GbE port without reducing the port’s up to 300Mbps bandwidth.


 
Raspberry Pi PoE HAT alone (left) and fitted on Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
(click images to enlarge)

We’ve seen an increase in the use of PoE in embedded equipment over the last year, perhaps due to the growth in IoT applications in which embedded gear must be placed in remote locations. It’s cheaper and easier to run Ethernet cable to a remote device than to extend electrical lines.

With the help of the RPi 3 B+’s improved PXE boot function, which enables network booting, “you can now dispense with not only the power supply but also the SD Card, making deployment even cheaper for a Raspberry Pi based system in your factory or workplace,” writes Roger Thornton in the Raspberry Pi blog announcement.

The Raspberry Pi PoE HAT features a fully isolated switched-mode power supply with 37-57V DC, Class 2 input and 5V/2.5A DC output. The HAT connects to both the 40-pin header and a new PoE-specific 4-pin header introduced with the B+ located near the USB ports. To enable PoE, you need power sourcing equipment, which is either “provided by your network switch or with power injectors on an Ethernet cable,” writes Thornton.


 
Raspberry Pi PoE HAT with RPi 3 B+ (left) and close-up of 4-pin header on B+ between the USB ports and the 40-pin GPIO header
(click images to enlarge)

The PoE HAT ships with a 25 x 25mm brushless fan for cooling the Broadcom SoC. This does not appear to be due to any additional heat generated by PoE. Instead: “We see the product as a useful component for people building systems that may be in tougher environments,” writes Thornton.

The fan is connected via I2C and controlled with an Atmel MCU chip. This setup turns on the fan automatically when the SBC hits a certain temperature threshold, a trick that requires the latest sudo rpi-update firmware.

You can add another HAT board on top of the fan with the help of some pass-through headers for the 40-pin GPIO and the 4-way header to expose the pins on the other side of the PoE HAT. Raspberry Pi Trading recommends the 2×20 pin header from Pimoroni and 4-way risers from RS and element14.

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ won LinuxGizmos’ reader survey of 116 Linux/Android hacker boards. The community-backed SBC builds upon the RPi 3 Model B design with a faster, up to 1.4GHz quad-core Broadcom SoC, as well as faster Ethernet (GbE). You also get various power management improvements and faster dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2, which comes in a pre-certified, shielded module.

Further information

The Raspberry Pi PoE HAT is available now for $20 at a variety of resellers. The blog announcement may be found here. The product page with links to resellers is here.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on August 25.

Raspberry Pi Foundation | www.raspberrypi.org

Next Newsletter: Embedded Boards

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Analog & Power. (9/4) 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 (9/11) 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. (9/18) 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.

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.

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Embedded Boards.(9/25) 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. (10/2) 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 (10/9) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

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IoT Technology Focus. (8/21) 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.(8/28) 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. (9/4) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

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IoT Technology Focus. (9/18) 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.(9/25) 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.

Bonus Newsletter Tomorrow: PCB Design

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: July has a 5th Tuesday . That’s means there’s an extra Newsletter this month! The bonus topic is PCB Design. The process of PCB design is always facing new complexities. Rules-based autorouting, chips with higher lead counts and higher speed interconnections are just a few of the challenges forcing PCB design software to keep pace. This newsletter updates you on the latest happenings in this area.

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Analog & Power. (8/7) 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. (8/14) 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. 8/21) 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. (8/28) This 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.