5/6/2004 - Renishaw plc uses Blue Chip Technology's custom design in its probe controller interface - a 1 GHz, PC104+ board prototype produced within a ten week development cycle. Today we measure everything - waistlines and heart beats, atoms and light-years. Measurements shape our world and our lives; equipped with the latest computer technology, we can now capture data with amazing degrees of accuracy.
Renishaw is in the business of measurement and its application in the control of manufacturing processes. Used in conjunction with factory CMMs (Co-ordinate Measuring Machines), Renishaw's probes have long been the industry choice for rapid and accurate post-process inspection of components, enabling measurement typically to a resolution of one millionth of a millimetre. To complete the picture you have a computer control system, which manages the communications between the CMMs and probes. Typically, a CMM may interface with three or more different probes, each interface needing a unique computer controller device – three systems to manage, three installations, three potential system failure points.
Renishaw has radically improved this situation by developing a universal controller which can manage its probe range as well as providing an interface a broad range of third party products. Bringing together multiple probe control into one system box required a step improvement in processing power. Working with Blue Chip Technology, Renishaw specified a high speed PC104+ custom board, with QNX, I/O expansion and an operating temperature range of 0 C to +70 C. Blue Chip delivered a successful prototype within ten weeks.
The custom module incorporates the new generation VIA C3TM processor with Nehemiah core, the 2D/3D graphics rich Twister Chipset, 133MHz Front Side Bus and 133MHz SDRAM support.
“With three BGA devices and associated connectors to place, we were working with nearly 480 assorted discrete devices”, explained Trevor Hollins, Blue Chip's Senior Design Engineer, “10% of which were resistor packs, together with 20 power and logic devices - not forgetting the usual complement of crystals”.
The trick was packing this much punch into a true PC104 90mm x 96mm footprint. We already see the answer in the skyscrapers and subways of our crowded cityscapes – go vertical. This is the principle behind cutting edge, blind and buried PCB via technology. Blue Chip used a complex network of submerged solder channels in a 12 layer PCB, making it possible to parallel mount a BGA on each board side.
“Product longevity and continuity are of key importance to us. Our equipment may be in the field for up to 20 years so we need absolute confidence that our supplier is committed for the duration”, commented Andy Jones, Renishaw's Principle Technical Buyer - “Blue Chip met all our quality expectations whilst offering a competitive package”.
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