At the Design West – Embedded Systems Conference 2013 – Part 2

In this blog we will continue to provide a few more highlights from the suppliers we spoke to at the 2013 DESIGN WEST / Embedded Systems Conference that was held last week in San Jose.

Small Form Factor Motherboards: At the VersaLogic booth we were shown several of their new small form factor motherboards, including the EBX format Copperhead that is powered by an Intel i7 processor and can support up to 3 independent displays. We also saw their COM Express Mini format Falcon and EPIC format Iguana that are powered by Intel Atom processors. The Iguana boards have a Mini PCIe card socket that allows an OEM to round out its configuration with a wide array of connectivity, storage, and other options. All of the Versalogic products we saw at the show were designed for extremely high reliability in operating temperatures that extend from -40C to +85C, and many of them can be ordered in Class 3 assembly versions for mission critical applications.

Computers-on-Modules (COMs): At the congatec booth we saw the variety of COM product lines they offer including Qseven, COM Express, ETX, and XTX. If customers require high power COMs in passive cooling configurations, congatec has patented spring loaded heatspreader thermal interfaces that pull heat away from chipset components and transfer it to the edge of the module. Depending on the OEM application, many of the congatec Qseven products can be ordered with x86 processors from AMD and Intel or ARM processors from Freescale.

Development Platforms: At the ST Micro booth we visited with Ayla Networks who were demonstrating their proof-of-concept secure M2M cloud connectivity solutions with the STM32 F3 evaluation platformsrepresenting connectivity targets. We expect to hear more from Ayla in the future, and you will likely be reading about them in our blog. At the Texas Instruments booth we were shown the new BeagleBoardBlack open-source development platform. This impressive unit sells for only $45, and has a 1 GHz ARM A8 processor, 512MB of DDR3 RAM memory, and an on-board HDMI. The BeagleBoard can be expanded for multiple applications by using BeagleBone “capes”. There were multiple applications highlighted, including a remotely controlled electro-mechanical spider that had been fabricated using 3D printed parts.

Ultra Low Power MCUs: We noted that ST Micro had won an EE Times / EDN ACE Award for its Fully-Depleted Silicon-on-Insulator (FD-SOI) technology that allows devices to run using 20 – 50% less power. On a similar note, Renesas was demonstrating the power sipping ability of its RX111 group of MCUs that can wake up in 4.8us from a sleep mode, where it only consumes 350nA. In addition, the RX111 has 6 safety functions to verify/ensure that the device and supporting circuitry are working properly.

Industrial SATA III SSD: The VDC team met with Innodisc and learned about their new SATA III line of Flash Storage Products targeted at embedded applications in the industrial market.  These Innodisc products use arrays of lower-cost Multi-Layer Cell (MLC) memory chips to duplicate Single-Layer Cell performance and reliability at a significantly lower price point.

Embedded Certainty: At the XMOS booth we learned about their series of MCUs that were designed to remove uncertainty from critical applications. This means that programs can be developed where the signal timing is completely predictable. Roughly stated, the XMOS MCU have removed I/O layers and other elements that create signal latency or processing variables that can affect timing. There are many applications such as digital audio and collision avoidance that can benefit from MCUs with predictable timing.

Embedded Motherboards: As the VDC EHW team is currently in the midst of our supply-side coverage of the embedded motherboard market, we were particularly interested in seeing the two new SuperMicroX9DR products. Both of these units were extremely powerful and can be used in applications that require power-efficient processing of high volumes of data. SuperMicro also sells its products into the traditional IT space and, as such, has some system options that can be attractive to OEMs supporting mission critical applications. These include built in Uninterruptible Power Supply and automatic flash memory backup of system RAM and CPU processes in the event of a power outage.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we will wrap up our observations from the 2013 Design West show. 

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