Nissan Chooses Renesas Chips for Automatic-Parking Gear

Renesas Electronics has announced that its R-Car system-on-chip (SoC) for car infotainment and advanced driving assistant systems (ADAS) as well as its RH850 automotive control microcontroller have been adopted by Nissan for the ProPILOT Park, a full-fledged automated-parking system, of its new LEAF, Nissan’s new 100 percent electric vehicle.

The R-Car SoC adopted in the ProPILOT Park of the new Nissan LEAF recognizes spaces adequate for parking, verifies that there are no obstacles in the way, and handles 20170906-soc-mcu-automated-parkingthe role of issuing control commands for acceleration, braking, steering and shifting. The R-Car SoC includes Renesas’ exclusive parallel image processor (IMP) dedicated for image processing. The IMP takes the high-resolution images from the latest automotive CMOS digital cameras and performs high-speed, low-power signal processing. The RH850 MCU accepts the chassis control commands from the R-Car SoC and transmits these commands to the various electronic control units (ECUs) used. This enables the Nissan LEAF’s ProPILOT Park to achieve safe and reliable parking operation.

Based on the newly-launched Renesas autonomy, a new advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving platform, Renesas enables a safe, secure, and convenient driving experience by providing innovative solutions for next-generation car.

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

Embedded Analytics Firm Makes ‘Self-Aware Chip’ Push

UltraSoC has announced a significant global expansion to address the increasing demand for more sophisticated, ‘self-aware’ silicon chips in a range of electronic products, from lightweight sensors to the server farms that power the Internet. The company’s growth plans are centering on shifts in applications such as server optimization, the IoT, and UltraSoC_EmbeddedAnalyticsautomotive safety and security, all of which demand significant improvements in the intelligence embedded inside chips.

UltraSoC’s semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) simplifies development and provides valuable embedded analytic features for designers of SoCs (systems on chip). UltraSoC has developed its technology—originally designed as a chip development tool to help developers make better products—to now fulfill much wider, pressing needs in an array of applications: safety and security in the automotive industry, where the move towards autonomous vehicles is creating unprecedented change and risk; optimization in big data applications, from Internet search to data centers; and security for the Internet of Things.

These developments will be accelerated by the addition of a new facility in Bristol, UK, which will be home to an engineering and innovation team headed by Marcin Hlond, newly appointed as Director of System Engineering. Hlond will oversee UltraSoC’s embedded analytics and visualization products, and lead product development and innovation. He has over two decades of experience as system architect and developer, most recently at Blu Wireless, NVidia and Icera. He will focus on fulfilling customers’ needs for more capable analytics and rich information to enable more efficient development of SoCs, and to enhance the reliability and security of a broad range of electronic products. At the same time, the company will continue to expand engineering headcount at its headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

UltraSoC | www.ultrasoc.com

PC/104 Card Features DMP Vortex DX-3 SoC

WIN Enterprises has announced the MB-83310, a PC/104 module featuring the economical DMP Vortex86 DX3-9126 processor which is mounted onboard. Power consumption of the dual-core SoC is only approximately 6W. The unit supports multiple VGA-LVDS displays with a maximum resolution of 1920×1440 at 60Hz. Operating systems support includes Microsoft Windows and Linux. The device is ideal for IIoT domain gateways, home IoT gateways, thin clients, and NAT Routers.

WIN Enterprises MB-83310 Editors

The board meets the PC/104 Specification 2.6 and supports the PC/104+ and PC/104 connector onboard. On board memory includes 2 Gbytes of DDR3L 1333. Its dual LAN connector with 2×10 pin header (1 x GbE,1 x Fast Ethernet). I/O consists of 4x USB 2.0, 2x COM Port (COM2 Port is RS-232/422/485, COM1 (RS232 only). For mass storage, there is 1x SATA Port (1×7 Pin),1xM.2 Socket (2242 only). The board’s DC 5V Power input is AT/ATX mode select by jumper. Operating temperature ranges from -20° C to 70° C.

WIN Enterprises | www.win-ent.com

Dev Kit Enables Cars to Express Their Emotions

Renesas Electronics has announced that it has developed a development kit for its R-Car that takes advantage of “emotion engine”, an artificial sensibility and intelligence technology pioneered by cocoro SB Corp. The new development kit enables cars with the sensibility to read the driver’s emotions and optimally respond to the driver’s needs based on their emotional state.

The development kit includes cocoro SB’s emotion engine, which was developed leveraging its sensibility technology to recognize emotional states such as confidence or uncertainty based on the speech of the driver. The car’s response to the driver’s emotional state is displayed by a new driver-attentive user interface (UI) implemented in the Renesas R-Car system-on-chip (SoC). Since it is possible for the car to understand the driver’s words and emotional state, it can provide the appropriate response that ensures optimal driver safety.

20170719-verbal-emotion-recognition-engine-st

As this technology is linked to artificial intelligence (AI) based machine learning, it is possible for the car to learn from conversations with the driver, enabling it to transform into a car that is capable of providing the best response to the driver. Renesas plans to release the development kit later this year.

Renesas  demonstrated its connected car simulator incorporating the new development kit based on cocoro SB’s emotion engine at the SoftBank World 2017 event earlier this month in held by SoftBank at the Prince Park Tower Tokyo.

Renesas considers the driver’s emotional state, facial expression and eyesight direction as key information that combines with the driver’s vital signs to improve the car and driver interface, placing drivers closer to the era of self-driving cars. For example, if the car can recognize the driver is experiencing an uneasy emotional state, even if he or she has verbally accepted the switch to hands free autonomous-driving mode, it is possible for the car to ask the driver “would you prefer to continue driving and not switch to autonomous-driving mode for now?” Furthermore, understanding the driver’s emotions enables the car to control vehicle speed according to how the driver is feeling while driving at night in autonomous-driving mode. By providing carmakers and IT companies with the development kit that takes advantage of this emotion engine, Renesas hopes to expand the possibilities for this service model to the development of new interfaces between cars and drivers and other mobility markets that can take advantage of emotional state information. Based on the newly-launched Renesas autonomy, a new advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving platform, Renesas enables a safe, secure, and convenient driving experience by providing next-generation solutions for connected cars.

Renesas Electronics America | www.renesas.com

The Most Technical

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShotIt is truly a thrill and an honor for me to be joining the Circuit Cellar team as the magazine’s new Editor-in-Chief. And in this—my first editorial in my new role—I want to seize the opportunity to talk about Circuit Cellar. A lot of factors attracted me to this publication. But in a nutshell its position in the marketplace is compelling. It intersects with two converging trends happening in technology today.

First, there’s the phenomenon of the rich set of tools, chips, and information resources available today. They put more power into the hands of makers and electronics DIY experts than ever before. You’ve got hardware such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Open source software ranging from Linux to Eclipse make integrating and developing software easier than ever. And porting back and forth between open source software and commercial embedded software is no longer prohibitive now that commercial software vendors are in a “join them, not beat them” phase of their thinking. Easy access has even reached processors thanks to the emergence of RISC-V for example (click here for more). Meanwhile, powerful FPGA chips enable developers to use one chip where an entire board or box was previously required.

The second big trend is how system-level chip technologies—like SoC-style processors and the FPGAs I just mentioned—are enabling some of the most game-changing applications driving today’s markets: including commercial drones, driverless cars, Internet-of-Things (IoT), robotics, mobile devices and more. This means that exciting and interesting new markets are attracting not just big corporations looking for high volume play, but also small start-up vendors looking to find their own niche within those market areas. And there are a lot of compelling opportunities in those spaces. Ideas that start as small embedded systems projects can—and are—blossoming into lucrative new enterprises.

What’s so exciting is that Circuit Cellar readers are at the center of both those two trends. There’s a particular character this magazine has that separates it from other technology magazines. There are a variety of long-established publications that cover electronics and whose stated missions are to serve engineers. I’ve worked for some of them, and they all have their strengths. But you can tell just by looking at the features and columns of Circuit Cellar that we don’t hold back or curtail our stories when it comes to technical depth. We get right down to the bits and bytes and lines code. Our readers are engineers and academics who want to know not only the rich details of a microcontroller’s on-board peripherals, but also how other like-minded geeks applied that technology to their DIY or commercial project. They want to know if the DC-DC converter they are considering has a wide enough input voltage to serve their needs.

Another cool thing for me about Circuit Cellar is the magazine’s origin story. Back when I was in high school and in my early days studying Computer Science in college, Steve Ciarcia had a popular column called Circuit Cellar in BYTE magazine. I was a huge fan of BYTE. I would take my issue and bring it to a coffee shop and read it intently. (Mind you this was pre-Internet. Coffee shops didn’t have Wi-Fi.) What I appreciated most about BYTE was that it had far more technical depth than the likes of PC World and PC Computing. I felt like it was aimed at a person with a technical bent like myself. When Steve later went on to found this magazine—nearly 30 years ago—he gave it the Circuit Cellar name but he also maintained that unique level of technical depth that entices engineers.

With all that in mind, I plan to uphold the stature and legacy in the electronics industry that I and all of you have long admired about Circuit Cellar. We will work to continue being the Most Technical information resource for professional engineers, academics, and other electronics specialists world-wide. Meanwhile, you can look forward to expanded coverage of those exciting market-spaces I discussed earlier. Those new applications really exemplify how embedded computing technology is changing the world. Let’s have some fun.

Bluetooth 5 Low Power SoC with Integrated Microphone Interface

Dialog Semiconductor recently announced the next generation in its SmartBond family. The DA14586 SoC is the company’s first standalone device qualified to support the latest Bluetooth 5.0 specification. It delivers the lowest power consumption and unrivaled functionality for advanced use cases.DialogDA14586

The DA14586’s features, specs, and benefits:

  • Bluetooth 5 qualified
  • An integrated microphone interface allows manufacturers to add intuitive intelligent voice control to any cloud connected product that has a microphone and speaker
  • Enhancements include an advanced power management setup with both buck and boost converters, which enable support of most primary cell battery types.
  • Double the memory of its predecessor for user applications, making it ideal for adding Bluetooth low energy to proximity tags, beacons, connected medical devices, and smart home applications.
  • Advanced features allow for mesh-based networked applications to be simply supported.
  • Supported by a complete development environment and Dialog’s SmartSnippets software to help engineers optimize software for power consumption.

Source: Dialog Semiconductor

New Development Tool for Bluetooth 5

Nordic Semiconductor’s Bluetooth 5 developer solution for its nRF52840 SoC comprises the Nordic S140 v5.0 multi-role, concurrent protocol stack that brings Bluetooth 5’s long range and high throughput modes for immediate use to developers on the Nordic nRF52840 SoC. The Nordic nRF5 SDK offers application examples that implement this new long-range, high-throughput functionality. The existing Nordic nRF52832 SoC is also complemented with a Bluetooth 5 protocol stack.NordicBluetooth5Board

Bluetooth 5’s high throughput mode offers not only new use cases for wearables and other applications, but also significantly improves user experience with Bluetooth products. Time on air is reduced and thus leads to faster more robust communication as well as reduced overall power consumption. In addition, with 2 Mbps, the prospect of audio over Bluetooth low energy is possible.

The new Preview Development Kit (nRF52840-PDK) is a versatile, single-board development tool for Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth low energy, ANT, 802.15.4m, and 2.4-GHz proprietary applications using the nRF52840 SoC. The kit is hardware compatible with the Arduino Uno Revision 3 standard, making it possible to use third-party-compatible shields. An NFC antenna can be connected to enable NFC tag functionality. The kit gives access to all I/O and interfaces via connectors and has four LEDs and four buttons which are user-programmable.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor

Aurora Software for Evaluation of ArcticPro eFPGA IP

QuickLogic Corp. recently announced the release of its new Aurora software, which enables SoC developers to evaluate the integration of embedded FPGA (eFPGA) IP into devices designed for different Global Foundries process nodes. The Aurora eFPGA development tool supports design implementation from RTL through place and route. It enables SoC developers to determine the amount of eFPGA resources needed to support a design (including logic cell count, clock network requirements, and routing utilization) and also provide the estimated eFPGA die area associated with those resources. The current version of the tool supports GF’s 40-nm node. Support for the 65-nm node and 22FDX (FD-SOI) platform will be released in the future.

Source: QuickLogic Corp.

Smart Home Reference Designs for IoT Device Development

Silicon Labs recently launched two new wireless occupancy sensor and smart outlet reference designs for the home automation. FCC and UL-precertified, the reference designs comprise hardware, firmware, and software tools that enable you to develop Internet of Things (IoT) systems based on Silicon Labs’s ZigBee “Golden Unit” Home Automation (HA 1.2) software stack and multiprotocol Wireless Gecko SoC portfolio. Both reference designs include Silicon Labs’s EFR32MG Mighty Gecko SoC.SiliconLabs Ref Design

 

The occupancy sensor reference design is a precertified ZigBee HA 1.2 solution featuring a wirelessly connected passive IR sensor along with ambient light and temperature/relative humidity sensors from Silicon Labs. The compact occupancy sensor’s battery-powered design provides up to five years of operation. The sensor’s detection range extends up to approximately 40′ with a 90° viewing window.

The smart outlet reference design is a precertified solution for a wirelessly controlled outlet plug. You can use it to power and control a wide variety of home and building automation products. Powered by an AC main-voltage line, the smart outlet communicates wirelessly to ZigBee mesh networks. It features the following: built-in diagnostics and metering with a user-friendly web interface; an AC voltage range of 110 to 240 V for global use along with a robust 15-A load current; and integrated high-accuracy sensors (ambient light and temperature/humidity).

 

Silicon Labs’s occupancy sensor and smart outlet reference designs are currently available. The RD-0078-0201 occupancy sensor reference design costs $49. The RD-0051-0201 smart outlet reference design costs $119. (All prices USD MSRP.)

Source: Silicon Labs

New Bluetooth 5-Ready SoC Offers Increased Range, Bandwidth, & Security

Nordic Semiconductor’s new Bluetooth 5-ready nRF52840 SoC is well suited for smart home, advanced wearables, and industrial IoT applications. In addition to supporting 802.15.4, it’s capable of delivering Bluetooth low energy (BLE) wireless connectivity with up to 4× the range or 2× the raw data bandwidth (2 Mbps) compared with the BLE implementation of Bluetooth 4.2Nordic nRF52840

The nRF52840 SoC’s features, specs, and benefits:

  • Features a 64-MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex M4F processor employed on Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC
  • A new radio architecture with on-chip PA boosting output power considerably, and extending the link budget for “whole house” applications, a doubling of flash memory to 1 MB, and a quadrupling of RAM memory to 256 KB
  • Support for Bluetooth 5, 802.15.4, ANT, and proprietary 2.4-GHz wireless technologies
  • A full-speed USB 2.0 controller
  • A host of new peripherals (many with EasyDMA) including a quad-SPI
  • Operates from power supplies above 5 V  (e.g., rechargeable battery power sources)
  • Incorporates the ARM CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator offering best-in-class security for Cortex-M based SoCs. Extensive crypto ciphers and key generation and storage options are also available.

Nordic released the S140 SoftDevice and associated nRF5 SDK with support for Bluetooth 5 longer range and high throughput modes in December 2016. Engineering samples and development kits are now available. Production variants of the nRF52840 will be available in Q4 2017.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor 

Simplified Smart Home Device Creation with New Apple HomeKit Bluetooth Dev Kit

Dialog Semicondcutor’s new offering is the first SoC on the market with dedicated hardware acceleration for HomeKit security operations which ensures end-to-end application encryption, safeguarding personal information in transit. With the recent introduction of iOS 10, Apple HomeKit is now an integral part of iOS, including its dedicated app that creates an enhanced user experience. The Apple Home app is compatible not just with iPhone, but is also optimized for iPad and the Apple Watch running watchOS 3. With the app, an Apple TV or iPad can easily act as a smart home hub, enabling home control from anywhere.DialogSemi HomeKit521211

The SmartBond DA14681 supports Bluetooth 4.2 to provide seamless connectivity, and smartly balances power efficiency and performance, with an integrated ARM Cortex M0 processor and expandable flash memory. A Power Management Unit (PMU) provides three independent power rails, in addition to an on-chip charger and fuel gauge, allowing DA14681 to recharge batteries over a USB interface.

Its integrated topology streamlines development, minimizes BOM cost and enables the kit to consume less than five µA on standby. The development kit maximizes application space and flexibility, using a mere 170 KB of flash memory and provides 64 KB of RAM for apps to utilize, even allowing user defined profiles to further customize applications on top of pre-configured HomeKit profiles.

To give developers all of the tools they need to create next-generation IoT applications, the DA14681 development kit consists of the HomeKit SDK, Basic and Pro versions of the kit, and a flexible add-on board to interface with the separately available MFi chip. The new HomeKit development kit and add-on board are now available from Avnet, Digi-Key and Mouser.

Source: Dialog Semiconductor 

Battery-Free, Energy-Harvesting BLE Module Features nRF51822 SoC

EnOcean recently selected Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy SoC for its Dolphin PTM 215B pushbutton transmitter module, which is well suited for use in smart lighting applications. Using a miniaturize electro-dynamic energy transducer to convert motion, light, or temperature differences into electrical energy, the module is an excellent option for engineers designing flexible, energy-efficiency in smart building and IoT lighting applications.nordic nRF51822 EnOcean Dolphin

The nRF51822 was selected because harvested energy is sufficient to power wireless control of Bluetooth low energy peripherals such as smart light bulbs. A powerful multiprotocol SoC, nRF51822 is  built around a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 CPU with 256/128 KB flash and 32/16 KB RAM. The embedded 2.4-GHz transceiver is fully compliant with Bluetooth 4.2.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor

Open-Source Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Nordic Semiconductor recently announced the availability on Kickstarter of a Nordic nRF52832 SoC-based Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacon intended for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. You can program the Puck.js wirelessly from a website using a graphical editor or JavaScript instead of C or C++, which are traditionally used by Bluetooth low energy beacon developers.NS_PUCK Nordic

The open-source Puck.js supports both the iBeacon and Eddystone beacon formats and comes with firmware updates for the upcoming Bluetooth v5.0 specification. The circular 35-mm Puck.js has a silicone rubber cover and plastic base. Powered from a CR2032 coin cell battery, the Puck.js includes a magnetometer (digital compass), user-assignable tactile button, and four LEDs (red, green, blue, and infrared).

The Puck.js features an nRF52832 SoC, which means it benefits from a powerful ARM Cortex-M4F processor, 64-MHz clock speed, 64 KB of RAM, 512 KB of flash memory, built-in NFC, over-the-air firmware updates, a 12-bit ADC, timers, an SPI, a temperature sensor, and more.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor

Industry’s First Open-Source SoC Platforms

SiFive recently introduced the Freedom family of system on a chip (SoC) platforms that are built around the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture, which was developed by the company’s founders at the University of California, Berkeley.

Features and specs:

  • Freedom U500 Series: The Freedom Unleashed (U) family features a fully Linux-capable embedded application processor featuring the world’s most advanced, multi-core RISC-V CPUs, running at a speed of 1.6 GHz or higher with support for accelerators and cache coherency. Designed in TSMC 28 nm, the Freedom U500 platform is well suited for machine learning, storage, and networking applications. The platform also supports standard high-speed peripherals including PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and DDR3/DDR4.
  • Freedom E300 Series: The Freedom Everywhere (E) family is designed for embedded microcontroller, IoT, and wearables markets. Designed in TSMC 180 nm and architected to have minimal area and power, the Freedom E300 platform features efficient RISC-V cores with support for RISC-V compressed instructions that have been shown to reduce code size by up to 30%.

Full FPGA models of each SoC are now available. Visit dev.sifive.com for more information.

Source: SiFive

Arduino Primo Features Nordic Semiconductor SoC

Nordic Semiconductor recently announced that Arduino’s new Arduino Primo features its nRF52832 Bluetooth low energy SoC. The IoT-targeted Arduino Primo PCB features native Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity and includes Near Field Communication (NFC), Wi-Fi, and infrared (IR) technologies. In addition to being able to wirelessly connect to a wide array of Bluetooth low energy sensors, the Arduino Primo uses the nRF52832 SoC’s integrated NFC for secure authentication and Touch-to-Pair (a simple BLE pairing function requiring no user interaction), and has embedded IR for traditional remote control. Nordic_Arduino_Primo_PRINT

The Nordic nRF52832 SoC’s ARM processor has ample computational overhead to manage the Arduino Primo’s on-board accelerometer, temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors. The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832’s features and specs include:

  • 64-MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F processor
  • 2.4-GHz multiprotocol radio that’s fully compatible with the Bluetooth 4.2 specification and features –96-dB RX sensitivity and 5.5-mA peak RX/TX currents
  • 512-KB flash memory and 64-KB RAM, and a fully-automatic power management system to optimize power consumption.

You can program via the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) programming interface. If you want to access the Arduino Prio’s most advanced features and functionality, you can use any Nordic nRF52 Series-compatible Software Development Kit (SDK) or programming tools. For example, the nRF5 SDK for IoT enables you to develop IPv6 over Bluetooth low energy applications on the nRF52832 SoC.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor