Contributed Articles

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Leveraging Open Source Software in Embedded Software Development

Open source software has become an entrenched component of embedded systems within the last decade. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and the key investor in LinkedIn, recently announced that "software is eating the world." There are more instances of embedded software in the world today than any other type of software combined. It is at the heart of transportation, safety, health care, food, agriculture, defense, entertainment and therefore virtually every sector of industry that one way or another touches our everyday lives.

Model-Based Design Reduces ASIC Development Time

Semtech, a leading supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, reduced their ASIC development time by adopting Model-Based Design (with MathWorks MATLAB and Simulink). Using system models for simulation and automatic HDL generation, Semtech engineers created FPGA prototypes 50% faster, reduced verification time from weeks to days, and shortened development time by 33% compared to their previous hand-coded VHDL methodology.

Best Practices Memory Management in C and C++

C and C++ programmers very often allocate and de-allocate memory on the heap without the proper understanding on how these low-level facilities work and what happens underneath. But these memory related problems becomes a great concern in the systems with shortage of almost all the resources including memory, like embedded real-time systems. This dynamic behavior tends to be non-deterministic and the failure is hard to contain. Similarly memory allocation failure on such systems can be fatal. Unlike a desktop application, most embedded systems do not have the opportunity to pop up a dialog and discuss options with the user. Often, resetting is the only option, which is unattractive. This technical paper attempts to discuss the strategies to achieve clean code and appropriate memory management.

Power Architecture Enabled Differentiated Solution for LTE

This article is intended to provide status on LTE as a key technology enabler that will have impact on the entire telecom supply chain. LTE impact affects semiconductor SoC, communications networking infrastructure, mobile devices, applications and quality services transforming means of communications to a new level higher speed, multimedia content and enriching personal experiences. The article will cover a number of important topics covering the needs for LTE, LTE market positioning and benefits, LTE market trends, deployment and applications, and LTE roadmap. The article will conclude with how Power Architecture technology is enabling differentiated solution for LTE.

Speeding FPGA Prototype Debug Process with Active Debug and Full Visibility

System integration continues to drive the semiconductor design market. This is most obvious when looking at the increased system integration associated with System on Chip (SoC) design over the last few years. Integrating complex hardware features with complex software applications onto one silicon device makes the validation process for today's SoC designs a tricky one to say the least.

Selecting the Right Computer on Module Vendor

Engineers have always been faced with the question of whether or not a Computer-on-Module (COM) company is the right vendor to partner with. To help with the decision, I have written an article to help engineers select the ideal COM partner. First, it is important to identify the applications for which a Computer-on-Module will be used for. Engineers have a range of applications and want to have the computer on module working across different applications.

Pair the Best GUI to the Lowest Cost Hardware with Graphical Code Generators

Product designers are faced with dilemmas every day. Experienced designers understand that there are some choices that are critical to the success of the product — and they often must be made at the project start, when the least is known about requirements. We've all seen the iPhone. The phrase game changing gets thrown around a lot, but this is one instance where it's truly applicable. It has put the Human Machine Interface (HMI) on the top of the list of major considerations in product marketing and development.

Twenty Test Cases for User Interface Testing

A test case in applications development is a set of conditions or variables under which a tester will determine whether an application or software system is working correctly or not. When testing user interfaces, it is easy to overlook test cases that would be helpful for a more thoroughly tested solution. The following list identifies twenty test cases that should be considered when testing user interfaces.

Intel ATOM Processor Technology for Embedded Designs

Shrinking product development cycles coupled with demanding product requirements and increasingly complex design implementations can overwhelm a design team. The technical risk of employing new, complex, high-speed processor technology can often deter engineers from incorporating new technology in product designs. Intel Corporation's ATOM processor and low power chipset solution is a technology choice which cannot be overlooked. The ATOM processor has the potential for wide application in deeply embedded, low power, fanless industrial, medical, communications, automotive, and consumer applications. The technology demands attention.

Direct Digital Synthesis Components

Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) is a method for generating arbitrary frequency sine waves with high accuracy and spectral purity. The ability to generate spectrally pure sine waves at programmable arbitrary frequencies is useful for instrumentation, communications products, and other applications. Today's Direct Digital Synthesis components (DDS) provide highly accurate, spectrally pure sine wave generation with reasonable power requirements. Modern DDS components have added communications features such as chirp programming, FM modulation, AM modulation, programmable gain settings, and the ability to generate period digital data strobes. All terrific features for an electronic engineer's bag of tricks.

Automated Testing Framework for Automation Success

This article discusses the key ingredients of an automated testing framework that can lead to test automation success. Even though many companies run their regression test cases manually, it may make more sense to automate regression test cases. It makes sense to automate test cases when engineers can no longer run the regression test cases on each build created. For example, if developers are doing daily or weekly builds of the code for quality assurance and they cannot quickly run the regression test cases with each build, then it is time to consider automating them.

Custom Industrial Controller or Programmable Logic Controller?

Designers use Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) extensively for industrial control applications. A PLC features a general processor architecture, a general input / output architecture, a general mechanical architecture, and a general software development architecture. Industrial designer engineers, factory automation engineers, and industrial controls developers can meet their needs with generalized solutions. However, there are times when the generalized architecture of a PLC is unsuitable.

The Secret to Choosing USB Devices for Industrial Applications

Thanks to its ease of use and versatility, Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the most popular interface in the IT industry today. In recent years, USB has also gained popularity in industrial applications as more and more devices support the interface. However, industrial operations are more demanding than the typical office application and require additional considerations. For example, a factory floor may be subject to extreme temperatures that are too hot for a consumer-grade USB hub to handle. Industrial applications also require a higher level of reliability because system downtime is not only costly, but potentially dangerous. To ensure that USB devices meet these demands, system engineers should consider several factors when selecting a USB device for industrial environments.

Single Board Computers

Single Board Computers (SBCs) have developed rapidly due to miniaturization technology, which implements more functionality in smaller spaces. The technological progression of "integrated circuit" (IC) technology, which has created the SBC by reducing sizes for the central processing unit (CPU), program memory and disk controller units, so they can be stored on smaller "large scale integration" (LSI) chips. The SBC has replaced multiple circuit boards with one single circuit board.

Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Project Manager

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen R. Covey) has helped millions of people establish great habits for achieving true interdependent effectiveness in their life and their jobs. This article, Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Project Manager, will discuss the seven habits and frame them for highly effective project managers.

QuiXilica V5 Architecture for Demanding I/O Processing

There is an insatiable demand for increased signal performance by military sensor data processing applications for communications, radar, and electronic warfare. More channels, increased processing capabilities, higher memory performance, and greater communications bandwidth are required continually by sensors. Advanced applications in radar, EW, ELINT, SIGINT, and telecom require the performance offered by the very latest component technologies of FPGAs, memories, communications standards, etc. To get the best out of these latest technologies, the TEK Microsystems’ QuiXilica V5 Architecture encompasses a holistic architectural philosophy — resulting in an advanced family of products that serves the needs of demanding sensor I/O applications.

Solid State Drive Trends and Forecasts for 2009

The worldwide outlook for 2009 is not a positive one. The global economic crisis has pushed forecasts down to very conservative figures for most industries — including the Solid State Drive Market. Recently, IDC adjusted its Worldwide 2008-2012 Solid State Drive Forecast Update to factor in the effects of the financial crisis that hit major economies in 2008. IDC expects continued slowdown of more economies in 2009. As the world feels the weight of this global recession, IT spending is expected to decrease and business road maps are also likely to extend.

Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Developer

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen R. Covey in 1989, has helped millions of people establish great habits for achieving true interdependent effectiveness in their life and their jobs. This article, Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Developer, will discuss the seven habits and frame them for highly effective developers.

Debugging Analog Mixed Signal Circuits

All levels of IC design have been impacted by increasing pressure on production costs and time to market. In this situation, one of the major challenges is to avoid silicon failure or yield loss. A widely accepted statistic today is that almost half of all designs fail at first silicon. Failure costs include new mask generations, additional engineering time, and the potential miss of a large part of the market window for a product. Therefore, first-pass silicon success and high design yield has become a fundamental requirement for IC designs, and is, quite naturally, driving an increasing need for integrated circuit verification and debugging solutions.

Software and the Art of Business Unusual

The semiconductor industry has been slowed by the current economic crisis. According to Gartner, worldwide semiconductor revenue growth in 2009 is expected to be 1%, down by approximately 7 percentage points from previous estimates. Even with the very weak economic environment, semiconductor growth was surprisingly strong until recently. However, the industry is changing this quarter. According to Gartner, there is strong evidence to suggest that the semiconductor industry will see negative growth starting in the fourth quarter of 2008, and that this will continue throughout most of 2009.

Rapid Prototyping in a Collaborative Environment

Large organizations often struggle with innovation. Developing prototypes in either hardware or software often needs to bring together design teams and system architects who can be spread out across the world, and making this a fast and efficient process can be a struggle. Now software configuration management (SCM) tools are being used to speed up the prototyping process dramatically.

New Life for Aging Electronic Products

Many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM's) struggle to continue shipping aging or obsolete electronic products. Electronic products designed five to ten years ago are still relevant in the marketplace. Often these venerable old products have gained particular acceptance amongst a select group of customers. In many cases these old products fulfill a need in a unique manner. Examples include: designs that are grandfathered into an application due to regulatory considerations; designs having unique form-fit-and-function; designs running special software; designs subject to contractual support and service requirements; designs in which a new contract stipulates delivery of older gear as part of a larger system offering. Any one or all of these reasons can lead an OEM to continue the production of electronic equipment well into its end of useful component life.

From Quality Assurance to Total Quality Management: the Future of Automated Test Standardization

Design verification and quality assurance processes are the backbone of successful product development. Whatever the product, the ultimate goals are the same: to reduce development costs and accelerate time to market without affecting product quality.

Linux Kernel Tuning for IP Version 6 Networking

This paper describes the procedure for enhancing the Linux operating system with Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) networking feature. This paper also describes the linux kernel with IPV6 networking support, booting linux desktop machines with new IPV6 network supportive kernel, and its graphical representation. This paper lists the procedure to test the IPv6 enabled linux desktop kernel. The resultant IPv6 enabled linux kernels scale over Internet Protocol version 4 linux kernels in terms of built-in security support (IPSEC), efficient routing, address auto configuration, automated network (router) renumbering, and built in mobility support(MIPv6).

Functional Test Automation without Programming

The need for functional test automation is increasing. Many companies have developed 'homegrown' software solutions to meet their automation requirements. Over time, these solutions have expanded to include additional features like data aggregation, analysis, reporting, monitoring, etc. In addition, a number of commercial test automation tools are available. Until recently, there was no single solution that addressed the totality of manufacturers' needs.

Porting Linux Kernel on PPC Target Boards

This paper describes the procedure for porting embedded Linux to PPC based custom boards, which means making the operating system work on unfamiliar hardware. This paper also describes the procedure for setting up the development environment on host PC, obtaining kernel source, configuring the Linux kernel, how to cross compile Linux kernel, and how to load and run linux kernel on PPC based custom boards. The resulting embedded systems are used as application-specific computers that interact with the physical world.

Device Testing Slows Product Innovation

Constant product innovation has contributed to a thriving equipment-manufacturing industry over the last two decades. The enabler for innovation has been a steady stream of new tools and technologies that help software developers work faster and smarter. Developers have been empowered to be more productive, but QA groups have not been given the tools they need to keep up. No matter how quickly features are developed, products cannot be released before they are tested. As a result, testing is quickly becoming a barrier to innovation, threatening the pace of feature advancements.

Solid State Disks Creating Buzz One Notebook at a Time

The release of Apple's MacBook Air, Lenovo Thinkpad, and Dell Latitude Notebooks — all equipped with solid state disks — have created a strong buzz in the computing industry. Debates of whether or not the era of SSDs has finally arrived have stimulated activity in quite a number of forums. The advantages of solid state disks over conventional hard drives have been highlighted with the stream of products being introduced to both consumer and enterprise markets.

ZigBee Mesh Networking Radio Comes of Age?

ZigBee has been a bit of a buzz word among engineers looking for wireless solutions over the past eighteen months or more. ZigBee low power mesh networking radio technology is its more accurate — if somewhat cumbersome — description for those who have yet to encounter it. But despite being a prominent topic of conversation among engineers looking for a robust wireless solution across a wide cross section of markets and applications, there has been a perception that up till now, ZigBee has been "unfinished" and not yet ready for use in the real world environment.

SCADE 6: Requirements Driven, Model Based, Safety Focused

Avionic, railway, and high-end automotive systems have become too complex to develop and coordinate without the assistance of a design environment that connects all of the developers through their participation in the execution of the engineering process. The more efficient solution in this case is to use a model-based design tool. The adoption of Model-Based Design brings several benefits such as...

Integrated Recovery Solutions Make Sense for Both the Manufacturer and the Customer

When mishaps, malfunctions, failures and crashes take down a computer system, the potential for lost data and increased calls for Technical Support assistance can cause a "digital disaster" that affects both computer system builders and end users alike. For the system builder, warranty period obligations can lead to a high volume of tech support calls. For end users, PC configurations are always changing, as users constantly create and save new files and install or update software. Any changes that were not previously backed up are at risk for loss without a good back-up recovery system in place.

Blending Asymmetric and Symmetric Multiprocessing with a Single OS on ARM11 MPCore

ARM11 MPCore is an excellent multicore processor, appropriate for both SMP and AMP. Many embedded system designs already uses AMP model, either on chip or off chips, so unforeseen design challenges are limited for software developers using AMP model with MPCore. On the other hand, the increasingly demanding application requires more and more CPU power, and now the utilization of SMP is soon to become a necessity. However, SMP brings new design issues along with its advantages. The first half of this article is dedicated to discussing the issues and pros and cons of AMP/SMP, including throughput, concurrency, realtime determinism, reuse of existing software, programming model, and debug/analysis. The later half introduces eSOL's eT-Kernel Multi-Core Edition RTOS and eBinder tools, and how the issues can be put under control with its unique blending technology.

Universal Graphics-on-Module Standard (UGM)

Developers of applications with sophisticated graphics (for example: medical and industrial imaging, gaming and entertainment machines, POS/POI terminals, commercial outdoor broadcasting, public facilities and high-end residential gateways) have always had a problem with graphics. If they were looking for powerful graphics cards with long-term availability for their embedded designs they found that such cards simply do not exist. Standard cards from Asus or MSI are often discontinued after just a few months, this being the typical lifecycle for standard computer boards intended for the consumer market. And that is just the beginning of the problems associated with using consumer graphics cards. If OEMs rely on products from the mass market, they will incur significant expenditure during the products' lifecycle: frequent driver updates, extremely high energy use (sometimes up to 150W), and in some cases limited MTBF due to fan failures. Additionally, the proportions of the consumer cards and their cooling designs often conflict with the embedded principles of compact dimensions, simplified cooling, and standardized form factors.

Debunking Misconceptions in SSD Longevity

Aside from flash memory prices, the write endurance limitation of flash memory is probably one of the remaining impediments to the widespread application of non-volatile solid-state storage in the enterprise. Flash SSD critics have long harped on this apparent "weakness" that remains a thorn on the side of SSD manufacturers despite the development of advanced error correcting codes and wear leveling techniques utilized in their products.

Flash Drives to Cache in on Windows Vista

The launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft's latest OS, in the last quarter of this year may change the computing landscape. One of its intriguing features called ReadyDrive requires the use of hybrid drives. Strictly speaking, this technology centaur is half hard disk drive (HDD), and half solid state disk (SSD) drive. Aiming to exploit the best of both worlds, hybrid drives consists of a rotating magnetic platter for storage, and a non-volatile flash memory chip for caching.

Size Drives Solid-State Flash Disks

Next to price, capacity has been among the top issues that level out solid-state flash disk with magnetic hard drives. If not for those two factors, solid-state disks would be the runaway winner offering ruggedness, speed and small footprints. However, recent developments are starting to change the conditions.

How to Debug Linux Kernel and Applications

The increasing popularity of high-speed 32-bit ARM based microcontrollers allowed Linux to enter the world of embedded devices. That is why the need for debugging its kernel and applications have become essential. Since Linux is a true multi-process operating system, it utilizes a Memory Management Unit (MMU) to give each process a separate memory space. The MMU is also responsible for the protection of each process's memory space against each other. The switching among different processes complicates the debugging, so the aticle will show you how to debug Linux kernel and applications.

Flash SSDs Go Beyond the Battlefield

Flash solid state disks (SSDs) have undoubtedly gained a strong foothold in the military and enterprise markets. Its capacity to withstand extreme conditions made it fit for on and off ground military operations while speed has been its passport to the enterprise market. Right now, SSDs are moving past these two markets to capture a slice of the consumer electronics market. Judging by the way things are going, there is no doubt that flash SSD deployment in consumer electronics is inevitable. Market data by Gartner Dataquest Inc. shows the NAND flash market can hit $16.2 billion in terms of revenues for 2006, up 42% over 2005.

Developing Better Communications Systems with Noise Reduction and Echo Cancellation

It is estimated that over a third of the world's population spend time talking on mobile phones. The quality of that communication experience very much depends on the clarity of the voice that is heard at each end of the conversation. In an increasingly noisy world, it is easy to see that noise reduction and echo cancellation play a major role in helping mobile phone developers meet the expectations of this massive and demanding customer base. Even away from this huge consumer driven market, people such as the emergency services and Formula 1 drivers depend on communication systems that can delivery clear voice communication even in the most extreme environments. This article discusses some of the issues faced by communication equipment developers and a few of the solutions that are applied to help them deliver a noise and echo free world.

Broadcom BCM2055 802.11n WiFi Radio

The BCM2055 is Broadcom's fifth-generation WiFi radio and the first RF solution in the Intensi-fi family of draft 802.11n solutions. It integrates multiple 2.4 and 5 GHz radios to support simultaneous spatial streams, enabling products to deliver performance and more reliable coverage. Built on an all-CMOS architecture, the BCM2055 also provides manufacturers with a highly-integrated solution that offers smaller die size, lower power consumption, and lower phase noise and error vector magnitude (EVM) than competing products. Chipworks offers thorough analysis of select areas of this industry leading device.

Instant Positioning Anytime with Assisted GPS and AssistNow

Assisted GPS, or A-GPS, is a service that enables immediate positioning on demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It uses mobile phone networks to access assistance data, which consists of satellite constellation (also known as Almanac), precise satellite position (called Ephemeris) and time data. The instant availability of this data enables the receiver to compute a position fix within seconds. Assisted GPS services enable applications that provide on the go, accurate and reliable location information with minimal maintenance. The range of applications that require, or greatly benefit from, instant positioning is very broad. From enhanced personal navigation services that can be consulted on the fly from a PDA or a mobile phone for instance, to complex, multi-user/terminal management systems, the ability to provide instant location information has significantly widened the spectrum of GPS-enabled applications.

Using DSP Technology to Optimize Speech Recognition Performance

It might be, that in 50 years time, we'll have a family android who will converse with us about the weather or even our favorite sport team's mid-season performance. If this is the case, then an important component of this icon of the future will be its ability to recognize speech the same way as humans. For the moment though, 'speech recognition' is an important emerging technology that is playing a key role in automotive telematics, mobile phone technology, conferencing systems and similar telecom applications. This article discusses some of the obstacles that such systems need to overcome in order to move forward, towards a human level of performance, and how DSP noise reduction can help optimize the performance of such systems.

Iridium: Developing Satellite Software Using Simics

Over time, portions of each Iridium satellite became outdated or damaged. The constellation was still working well, but Iridium Satellite needed a cost effective and efficient method to test and debug the flight software before it was uploaded to the satellite system. In addition, Iridium Satellite did have all of the basic hardware that were used to develop and construct the flight software that operated the satellites. By deploying Virtutech Simics, Iridium Satellite was able to debug software with the highest quality standards before it was uploaded to the spacecraft, without the need for actual hardware.

Hard Real-Time with Windows XP

With its new Soft PLC, Phoenix Contact is offering the convenience of the Windows® XP interface on the user side, while at the same time providing hard real-time by utilizing the Windows® CE real-time operating system - all running on a single Intel XXX based computer. These two operating systems are bridged by KUKA Controls' CeWin® software. The article explains in greater detail the advantages of Soft PLC over the standard embedded control PLC, and the criteria used by Phoenix Contact when implementing PC WORX.

Embedded Filtering Tips for Unified Threat Management (UTM) Solutions

Unified Threat Management (UTM) suites and appliances are increasingly popular with users and with good reason. They enable security through a single administrative interface, making management and upgrades easier and lowering the cost of ownership. They can also offer more comprehensive protection, integrating anti-spam, anti-virus and anti-spyware as well as comprehensive content security and firewalling. This author takes a look at the two main methods for identifying and filtering web content that are available to UTM vendors a URL database approach and dynamic content analysis. This article assesses the pros and cons of each in terms of effectiveness, ease of deployment and responsiveness to new and emerging threats.

EADS CASA MTAD Refueling Application Case Study

EADS CASA required a programming environment that combined the highest levels of safety with development speed and flexibility. The complex nature of the system required RTCA DO-178B level A safety certification, while the foundation operating system needed to be ARINC 653 compliant. To meet these needs the MTAD project team chose a combination of AdaCore's GNAT Pro development environment with Wind River's Platform for Safety Critical ARINC 653 to control the tail boom system. Working in partnership, this solution provides a fully integrated platform that meets stringent safety certification while retaining flexibility and ease of development. Since the tail boom project began in 2003, development has been remarkably fast with a demonstration prototype now flying. EADS CASA believes that much of this progress has been due to its previous experience of Ada and the flexibility and support of AdaCore.

Leveraging VxWin Technology into Next Generation IndraLogic V Soft PLC

The software element of a system has considerable impact on a project's total cost. The most effective way of reducing development costs is to standardize on industry standard commercial off-the-shelf software platforms rather than proprietary solutions. Rexroth standardized on the KUKA Controls VxWin platform, which combines the industry standard Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system with the Windows XP desktop operating system on a single system. This article presents how Rexroth successfully leveraged VxWin technology to provide superior functionality and reliability while simultaneously reducing hardware costs when developing their next generation IndraLogic V Soft PLC.

Another One Bites the Dust

The quest for faster processing capabilities gave birth to solid-state disks (SSDs). By solving the problem of latency with its ingenious use of solid-state memory, SSDs have narrowed the CPU-storage performance gap, providing networks with faster transactions and increased productivity overall.

Intelligent Device Management

Intelligent Device Management (IDM) has become an ever-increasing necessity as more systems and devices are connected to the network. Intelligent Device Management solutions lower the cost of maintenance and improve the performance of networked systems and devices. Service organizations and systems integrators can benefit from an IDM program, leveraging standards and device management solutions that this article introduces.

Top 10 Must Have Features in O/R Mapping Tools

O/R mapping tools are becoming more popular each day and people are realizing the productivity gain they provide to developers. Yet, many people don't know enough about O/R mapping to consider using these tools and many others are weary of using any code generators (including O/R mapping tools). In this article, the author will present the important features that a good O/R mapping tool should provide and how it can be beneficial. The article will not discuss any particular O/R mapping tool, but rather all tools in general.

Verification of Mixed-Signal Systems

Because real systems are mixed-signal, functional verification always requires the interaction between the different methodologies needed to verify the digital elements and the analogue ones. YOGITECH's proposed approach combines digital and analogue verification, providing verification engineers with a methodology and a set of intellectual properties to interface Specman Elite with a mixed-signal (multi language) simulator that results in a mixed signal verification environment able to manage high level models and spice level net-list.

New PCL/CNC Uses New Software Technology to Closely Link Motion Control to a PC-based Control System

Offering the utmost in terms of flexibility, PC-based Motion Control systems provide a level of flexibility unknown in conventional solutions. By means of theVxWin technology deployed worldwide in over 70,000 real-time systems, Schleicher control systems can exploit all advantages offered by PC technology. Thanks to the familiar Windows interface, operators can integrate their own application expertise quickly and seamlessly. PC-based control systems also offer remote diagnosis and maintenance facilities and permit the installation of tools from the various drive manufacturers. The pre-configured Schleicher ProNumeric not only couples the CNC control system to a PLC in accordance with IEC 61131, but it also assures system flexibility and optimized high performance, clearly delivering a technically superior innovation in motion control.

Getting More Bang for the Storage Buck

The objective of this article is to examine the benefits of utilizing flash SSD-enabled storage system as cache storage in an enterprise environment. A comparison will be made between conventional storage systems (featuring HDDs) and solid-state disk-based network storage in terms of performance and overall cost per IOPS.

War of the Disks: A Close-in Analysis of the Hard Disk Drive vs. the Solid State Disk

Much has been written about solid state disks (SSDs) becoming the next big thing1 in the IT industry. But as to whether or not we have enough knowledge of how it will revolutionize the industry is a different question. The purpose of this article is to give readers a clearer picture of what an SSD is, its usage as well as its difference when pitted against the predominant data storage device at present - the hard disk drive (HDD). More than its non-volatility, this article will reveal how much potential SSDs have in optimizing the performance of the computing system.

Configurable Application-Specific Signal Processors Speed Design and Development

As digital signal processing applications continue to grow in complexity, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to reduce a new product's time to market. Indeed, managing complexity is imperative in the product design and development cycle. Configurable application-specific signal processors (ASSPs) provide an excellent way to reduce the complexity of DSP-based product design and development. They enable equipment designers to leverage the computing power and flexibility of today's DSP chips without spending the time and resources that are typical of custom DSP programming.

Using Solid State Flash Disks as Cure-All for Medical Storage Systems

The medical equipment industry has always remained at the cutting edge of technology to enhance or complement the skills of medical personnel in saving lives. Millions of dollars, and sometimes billions, have been spent by hospitals, medical units and clinics in acquiring the latest equipment. The question is, why does the medical sector invest so much in these equipment? The answer is clear: the medical industry is all about saving lives. Medical equipment are mission critical devices that must not fail under any circumstance despite being deployed in pretty harsh conditions such as ambulances and mobile transportation units. In addition, advances in imaging and data processing have automated diagnostic evaluation, reflecting the need for a storage device that can ensure the high-performance and reliability of such systems.

Are Flash Solid-State Disk Drives Ready for the Enterprise?

Increasing reliability and performance requirements in military, industrial and enterprise applications are pushing data storage standards to unprecedented levels. High bandwidth, mobility, and "zero downtime" are becoming common IT must haves. As magnetic hard disk drives reach performance limitations, Flash-SSDs are expected to play a critical role in meeting industry demand for fast, reliable yet economical data storage due to their impressive line up of inherent and built-in characteristics, as well as the continuous down spiraling cost of Flash memory.

Spotlight on Carrier Grade Linux: Open Standards, Solutions, and Compliance

In telecommunications and networking, market forces have changed proprietary approaches in carrier grade systems design to an approach based on standardized, commercial off the shelf (COTS) single-board computers, data collection, and interface boards. The increasing reliance on COTS has also led to changes in buyer, supplier, and competitor relationships, making them more collaborative, where each brings their core competencies to enhance the value of the offering provided by others. This collaboration helps drive standardization efforts across the entire ecosystem, thus ensuring that the COTS movement maintains momentum and continues to deliver lower costs in future systems.

Solid-State Disks: Pushing the Envelope in Blade Server Design

Flash SSDs are high-performance, rugged plug-and-play storage devices that contain no moving parts. Using flash memory chips for storage, these devices are available in the same industry-standard form factors (2.5-inch, 3.5-inch and PMC) and interfaces (Fibre Channel, SCSI, ATA/IDE) as hard disk drives, but instead use flash memory chips in lieu of rotational magnetic disks to store data. This article seeks to explain and illustrate how flash SSDs stack up against other storage devices in blade server applications.

Custom Design - Why Would You Not Outsource?

The rise of off the shelf solutions means that there is a vast choice of PC/104, Compact PCI & EBX form factor products on the market, but despite this there are also many applications where cost, space, shape or functionality conflicts mean that these standard form factor products are not suitable. The sensible choice for an OEM faced with this dilemma would be to outsource this to a custom design specialist. Yet too many companies fall into the trap of attempting the design themselves in the mistaken belief that it is more cost effective than using a design house. The article explores these issues, and looks at the benefits to be had from outsourcing customer design.

Going Beyond the Linux Kernel

As with any technology element, subsequent product generations typically yield performance, size, integration or cost advantages. This is often driven by the silicon devices used to define the product. Key to leveraging the advances in silicon has been the equal advances in embedded software. A leading element is the ongoing growth and maturity of Linux as a fully functional and flexible operating system environment as well as a configurable environment for embedded systems. This article will demonstrate why the performance and integrated benefits of contemporary silicon devices coupled with the functionality and cost benefits of Linux are providing embedded developers with options never before available.

Enabling Media Services in a VoIP Network

Voice over IP has finally evolved and matured from niche applications such as rate arbitrage and low-cost PC-based voice calls over the Internet to applications that will drive future service provider revenues. These applications include traditional residential phone services now being offered by RBOCs, ILECs and cable TV providers; IP Centrex services; voice conferencing services and voice response/automated customer service applications - just to name a few. The market opportunity for IP-based enhanced voice services is significant. For example, the current market for interactive voice response applications alone is estimated to be in excess of $1.2B annually, growing to $17B by 2008. Much of this growth will be driven by the introduction of interactive voice response (IVR) applications deployed in IP networks. This article focuses on the media processing functions that enable media services in a VoIP network. These functions will be described in detail, and their importance to key media services will be explained.

XML Search Without an Index

Imagine you have a customer who has hired you to put together a solution for managing a huge quantity of XML information. The firm's team is using XML because it gives them flexibility in how the data is structured. They like the fact that they do not need to specify a given record structure up front, and they can change the XML structure of records whenever they need to. Still, the question remains, "How do you manage and search for records?"

Using GEL File for Parallel Development and Testing of DSP Applications

With Texas Instruments Code Composer Studio, there is a GEL (General Extension Language) file that can emulate the function of the processor command interface. The DSP engineers can be independent of processor team in debugging their algorithms. The use of GEL file in CCS environment to emulate an EHPI interface is presented in this application note. There are lots of other capabilities that the GEL file can offer and this will also be briefly discussed. An example of a typical MCU-DSP system employing DSP/BIOS running on TMS320C5402 DSK is used to illustrate the concept.

Extending the Bandwidth of NarrowBand Speech Using Cepstral Linear Prediction

In this paper, the authors propose a new post processing technique to recover the missing high band frequency components lost during low pass filtering in band-limited narrow band speech signals. The approach taken is based on linear prediction of cepstral coefficients from narrow band speech and an excitation function to estimate the high band spectral envelope of the original wideband speech signal. The method presented here improves both subjective and objective quality of bandlimited speech at the receiver side of a communication system.

PC/104: The Embedded PC Mezzanine

The rapid growth of embedded PCs used for industrial applications demanded a way to expand SBC features without a large cost or space penalty. Sometimes the changing demands of an application, the end customer, or a designer's own marketing department dictated that another serial channel, instrument interface, display panel, switch closure, network interface, etc. be added to the system. Often this happens at the most inopportune moment with strict guidelines on limiting cost, space and time to implement the change. The solution to the problem is a mezzanine board, which — as its name suggests — mounts directly on top of another board.

Why Choose Linux for Embedded Development Projects?

As a supplier of embedded processor boards, SBS Technologies provides Linux support for CompactPCI and VME platforms used in communications, military, aerospace, and industrial automation applications. With more than 200 different vendors offering solutions based on different kernel releases, Linux is somewhat of a moving operating system (OS) target. Nevertheless, SBS has found that many developers are still selecting Linux over other operating system alternatives for embedded development projects, especially as complex network-edge devices increasingly come under the purview of network administrators. But why, you ask?

Mapping Mainframe Modernization

Utilizing a roadmap to modernize applications, companies can increase their agility and response to prevailing business challenges. Successful modernization programs include a detailed analysis and assessment of existing applications, insight into complex processes at the root of your business, a target architecture aligned with the overall needs of your organization and an accurate assessment of the amount of resources necessary to implement each of the plans options. This article describes the proven methodology of a successful application modernization roadmap in order to effectively handle the urgent need to reduce management costs of legacy applications and increase your ability to meet new challenges.

Echo Cancellation Demystified

Today it is easy to implement echo cancellation on DSPs and this is what engineers are doing in their devices. However, many of them face certain difficulties with achieving echo cancellation because of incomplete understanding of the echo cancellation principles and not meeting the requirements imposed by the echo cancellers. The purpose of this article is to demystify the topic of the echo cancellation by explaining its basics and providing useful information for those engineers, who need to implement the echo cancellation in their devices. We shall see where the echoes come from, how to fight them and what the known problems with the echo cancellation are.

An Approach to Embedded Communication Design

Embedded Communications is a new era for embedded processors to achieve Internet connectivity for both voice and data transmission. By defining and addressing this era, there is a need to provide enabling technology products and services to help companies harness the power of DSPs and other embedded processors." Embedded communications is about maximizing the performance of products with embedded DSPs, microprocessors and microcontrollers. As the performance of silicon continues to improve and the cost continues to decline rapidly, more and more companies will be looking to harness the power of embedded processors to distinguish their products in the market.

PIKACHU - A Real-time Operating System

The authors have created a real-time operating system which provides solution for flow control in pipelines. No other solution exists in this domain. The report not only describes the system but also provides a simple solution for this problem. The authors hope that others can also understand and implement in a larger scale the solution which they have pioneered.

High-Availability Standards Key to Success for Telecoms

The communications paradigm shift from traditional voice services provided on proprietary, circuit switched technology to standard, off-the-shelf IP based general purpose, multi-channel services is more than just a technological step in a specific industry, in particular if combined with the trend to mobility. Many industry segments and market segments are affected by this technology change.

The Compelling Case for Open Source Embedded Tools

This paper presents a case that mature, reliable Open Source Software (OSS) embedded development tools, popularly know as GNU Tools, are ready to be widely adopted as a business strategy and a solution to software tools obsolescence, vendor lock-in, and vanishing manufacturing sources as applied to embedded systems in complex, long lifecycle embedded computer systems that are typical of high-end commercial Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and Department of Defense (DoD) systems.

Solid Distributed Data Management Platform - A Solid White Paper

In an application environment that is becoming increasingly distributed, developers need to consider adopting a distributed data management platform like Solid that: (1) Reduces time to market while enhancing application value, (2) Provides an application migration path, (3) Requires no local administration, (4) Embeds into device-hosted applications, (5) Provides a variety of options for delivering the level of reliability required by the application, and (6) Utilizes familiar data management standards and APIs.

Improving the Robustness of the MPEG4 Wavelet Transform Image Coder

The paper proposes schemes to improve the robustness of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Recommended MPEG-4 still image (wavelet) coder, particularly for operation in wireless mobile environments. Combined source and channel coding is used to selectively protect error sensitive bits in the encoded bitstream.

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