IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Design West / ESC Show Highlights - Part 2

In this blog I will continue to explore some of the VDC Embedded Hardware team experience at the Design West ESC show. We saw a lot of great product demonstrations along with some excellent detailed briefings and meetings so it’s difficult to boil it all down to a reasonable size blog but here we go:

AMD: We saw a number of embedded computer products from multiple manufactures that featured AMD processors. Many of these would be great for scalable edge node applications. Heard a bit more about the latest Opteron 3200 series of processors which will likely find many cloud based applications. While at AMD we visited partner Xi3 they have some really nifty looking cube type computers that can be deployed in array like structures. The concept they were showing was a datacenter on wheels.

Atmel: Was showing some new products that seemed really great for embedded M2M type connectivity but, according to the press material I received, the details are embargoed for another week or two.

Digi-International: Digi was a company we covered in the Migrating to the Embedded Cloud report that published this week so we really wanted to stop by and see if there was anything new going on.  What we saw didn’t disappoint as there was a lot of evidence about the partnerships we talk about in the report. Digi and Wind River were announcing a collaboration to deliver M2M wireless connectivity solutions using Intel processors. This is on the heels of a similar partnership that Digi has with Freescale. We saw that Digi was using another company’s embedded computer hardware products as part of the cloud connectivity demonstration but, as that partnership is not announced; I can’t write more about that now.

Integrated Device Technology (IDT): In this booth there was a very impressive demonstration of  serial RapidIO technology being deployed in a number of different companies’ products. This is very important in cellular 3G and 4G deployments. Despite being handled by different protocols, hardware and connection methods the data travelled end-to-end efficiently and, most importantly without being corrupted.

Imagination Technologies:  We saw some really great examples of their IP used in mobile devices and applications. As people become more ingrained with mobile devices, high resolution videos, and larger screen sizes, it takes some pretty complex systems on chip to make it work. The difficult thing is getting the needed performance while not sucking the mobile equipments battery dry.

Inside Secure: As the market for M2M is growing there needs to be ways to ensure of the identity of the machines and people being connected. Inside Secure gave us a briefing on several of their security technologies that can be embedded into products to address these issues.

Lantronix: As an OEM is making design decisions on new products or looking to update older ones adding wired and/or wireless connectivity can be a problem. Lantronix briefed us on several of their products where the connective capability can be added to new designs or even old ones on an as needed basis. Almost as a proof of concept, Lantronix produced xPrintServer using technology they usually sell to OEMs to allow Apple devices to directly connect to existing legacy printers using a downloadable app.

Microchip: The VDC Embedded SW and HW teams had several meetings with Microchip and we were particularly happy to have an opportunity for a great discussion their President and CEO Steve Sanghi. As this blog looks to be running a little long, I will give the special focus to topics we covered with Mr. Sanghi in a blog next week. The hardware team learned a lot about some of the new Microchip MCUs that are adding analog circuitry such as ADCs, DACs, Op-Amps, and Comparators.  This puts more functionality into a single package while, at the same time often reduces device pin count.

Micron: I saw a detailed briefing on the latest about the Micron memory cube product. The through hole vias on the semiconductor dies that make this design possible are interesting in themselves.

National Instruments: This was another company that is covered in the Embedded Cloud report and, we saw that the Compact Rio product has some new, even more compact, product lines extensions. In the booth there was also a mock-up of a Siemens smart grid transmission line breaker module. The N/I Compact Rio was part of the design in that it could capture and transmit events that happened on the transmission lines. One of the neat things is Siemens/NI project is that the breaker can be reset remotely.

Netronome: If you ever want to see a place where powerful embedded processors are used in large quantities in high volume applications, a network flow processor is a good place to look. These impressive units we saw inspect packets and move internet traffic at extremely high rates. An interesting talk with one of the Directors at the IBM booth to learn more about this organization that unifies standards among its members around the Power Architecture technology with a goal of making sure that processors and communications products work efficiently as the scale of connectivity grow ever increasingly higher.

Silex: We saw some product briefings on their connectivity modules. With respect to M2M connectivity this is pretty interesting if for example you are a product designer supporting a legacy product that you want to add M2M services to or, in other cases, you are worried that a particular standard fall out of favor, and you want the product you are designing to be future proof.

SuperMicro: They have a very large line of products and the MicroCloud product was particularly interesting to us because of the embedded cloud report where we had profiled SuperMicro.  The MicroCloud product impressed us with its ability to scale up as a cloud service and/or the amount of machines being supported in an edge node application grows.

Texas Instruments: TI had a lot to show us with all types of embedded hardware products adding GPS and motion sensing as well as Wi-Fi and other connectivity. Anyone that has taken a portable device with GPS applications into a building, large city, or tunnel will realize that these types of products have a waiting market.  We also got briefings on some new process intensive DSP products that are becoming increasingly important to many markets. This is one of the topics I will expand on in the next installment of this blog series.

Next week, I’ll give a few last high level takeaways about things we saw and discussed at the show.