Busy-ness As Usual At Embedded World
There were flurries of snow and more than a flurry of activity at this year’s Embedded World, reports Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor.
Companies working together and a drive to make everything connected, secure were the major themes at this year’s Embedded World 2016, in Nuremberg, Germany.
More companies than ever packed the five halls that hosted Embedded World 2016, in Nuremberg, Germany (February 23-25). Messe Nuremberg reported a four per cent increase, with a total of 939 companies this year, up from 902 in 2015. Visitor numbers increased by 17% on last year, exceeding 30,000 (30,063).
Among the leading news stories was the launch by ARM of the ARM Cortex-A32. James McNiven, General Manager of the ARM CPU group, explains how the 32-bit processor addresses some of the major challenges of industrial and embedded applications. “It is 10% more energy efficient than the Cortex-A35 and 25% more efficient than the Cortex-A7,” he said. With the IoT, devices need to be connected, but design needs to look beyond the power budget of the battery. “There is also cost, packaging, form factor, reliability and heat,” he points out. Based on the ARMv8-A architecture, the processor can also address scalability and security, as it runs TrustZone technology and can also run NEON, the 128-bit single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) architecture extension to accelerate multimedia applications.
It was hard to escape ARM around the halls as several companies announced support or collaboration. One was LDRA which announced that its Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) conformance tools were integrated into the ARM DS-5 Development Studio tool suite. Adding the MISRA checking capability to the TUV-certified ARM compiler and safety qualification kit allows the tool suite to be used to develop ARM-based products in such safety-critical sectors as healthcare, automotive and industrial automation.
Jim McElroy, LDRA, explains that this is a stronger functional safety message, as code can be checked in DS-5 to check maintainability and which is available for immediate evaluation using the ARM tool suite.
The LDRAlite MISRA checker automates the analysis of code to save time, cost and energy compared with manual inspection. The MISRA conformance tools are TUV-certified according to IEC 61508, ISO 26262, IEC 62304, IEC 60880 and EN 50128, while LDRAlite supports all current MISRA guidelines, including MISRA-C:1998/2004/2012 and auto-generated code from model-based design flows (MISRA-AC).
LDRAlite will be included with DS-5 (from version 5.24) as a 30-day evaluation and can be converted to a full license through LDRA.
The company also announced update to its LDRA tool suite. Version 10 has a set of static and dynamic analysis capabilities to detect, analyze and eliminate software vulnerabilities in security-critical embedded applications. Figure 2 shows the higher level of abstraction possible with a call graph to analyse and access data. The static component analyzes code more efficiently, says McElroy. He goes on to explain that looking at constituent parts and, by breaking them up and looking at the test vectors of the individual component, produces an automated, robust test structure.
Another collaboration was between IAR Systems and Renesas. The microcontroller company’s Synergy platform is now integrated with IAR Embedded Workbench, as EWARM-RS. The message from the Swedish company was that the embedded market is ready for change, and advocates strategic alliances, such as this, and those that it announced with Cypress Semiconductor and Express Logic at the show.
Express Logic and IAR Systems announced the formation of an IoT Development Partnership to provide an ecosystem for IoT development. Integrating IAR Embedded Workbench and the ThreadX RTOS brings features such as MISRA-compliance, C/C++ source code, single-click integration of the X-SPY Debugger, with TraceX from Express Logic and its RTOS.
The collaboration with Cypress Semiconductor was to announce Embedded Workbench for ARM support for the PSoC 4 L chips which have an ARM Cortex-M0 core. The integrated, 32-bit chips are targeted at industrial and consumer applications using the company’s CapSense, capacitive touch-sensing technology.
The international show was also a platform for some acquisition news, as Symtavision was acquired by Luxoft, just before the show. Dr Kai Richter, CTO, Symtavision was upbeat, emphasiszing the synergy between the German company and the Swiss company which acquired it, as he demonstrated the company’s latest release, SymTA/S 3.8 with end-to-end timing analysis to support heterogeneous event and time-triggered applications and architectures for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
At ADLINK, the company’s acquisition of PrismTech (December 2015) brings Vortex, the intelligent data sharing platform, to its intelligent platforms. Real time data sharing is device-to-device, device-to-cloud and device-to-device-via-the-cloud for business-critical IoT applications. It can help system integrators, OEMs and device vendors deliver smart solutions for vertical markets, from IT and networks, healthcare, energy and transportation, to smart cities, industrial automation, finance and government, and security and safety.
The British company’s data distribution service is built on open standards, said Dirk Finstel, CEO European operations, ADLINK. “It pushes the protocol to the virtualized data space—it is not solely on a device,” he explains. The software is mature, he went on, and offers low latency and high throughput. “It will be a core part of the hardware over time,” he added, with an IoT roadmap to be released mid-2016.
IoT, IoT and More IoT
One game played by editors covering Embedded World 2016 was to try and spot stands that did not have a mention of Internet of Things (IoT) in its signage. One of the most active booths was that of AMD (Figure 4), where gaming machines were scattered amongst the tables and chairs. The choice of stand furniture was not accidental. The company launched three additions to its G-Series processor family.
The third-generation AMD Embedded G-Series SoCs increases the compute and graphics performance, compared with the earlier versions. Colin Cureton, Director of Marketing and Product Management, AMD, put the SoCs into perspective, describing them as for graphical uses, such as casino gaming, digital signage, TV, IP set-top boxes, as well as industrial control and automation, communications networks and thin clients.
He identifies trends of perception computing, whereby a digital sign can detect, and react to, people observing it, and surround computing, both of which need high-performance graphics. “At the moment, many applications do not have the algorithms needed to disseminate accents, for example,” he told me, “By leveraging high performance GPUs to implement image processing and to scale down to the IoT device, that device can be made intelligent and drive applications like immersive multimedia and gaming.”
Launched at the show, the Brown Falcon and Prairie Falcon SoCs (Figure 5) have one or two Excavator x86 CPU cores, AMD Radeon graphics and up to four third-generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) graphics compute units and support for OpenGL ES, OpenXL, DirectX 12 and EGL, the rendering interface. They are pin-compatible with the R-Series SoCs, launches at the end of last year.
There is also 4K x 2K H.265 decode—10-bit compatibility for the Prairie Falcon—as well as multi-format encode and decode. The low-power SoCs have a thermal design power of 6 to 15W and a planned longevity of 10 years.
The Embedded G-Series LX is the third SoC announcement. It has two Jaguar x86 cores, Radeon GCN graphics, multi-format encode and decode, the same thermal design power as the Falcons and is designed for HDMI 2.0, DP 12 and eDP 1.4 display technologies.
Another stand that arrested visitors’ attention was NXP’s. There was a great big truck in the middle of the hall that doubled as more exhibition space (Figure 6).
It was only in December 2015, that NXP bought Freescale and the acquisition has been a happy one, with the new SCM-i.MX, based on the latter’s proprietary microprocessors and the QoIQ LS1012A processor, which will be sampling in Q2 and in full production in Q4, 2016. This networking processor brings the security of an ARM Cortex-A53 core with the Trust Architecture of earlier QorIQ LS devices. It runs at up to 800MHz and has a hardware packet forwarding engine for line-rate networking, with a typical power dissipation of just 1W. It is available in a 9.6 x 9.6mm package and sampling now. It brings security for networking, says Gordon Padkin, Regional Marketing, Kinetis MCUs, Security & Connectivity Group, NXP Semiconductors, citing uses in home gateways, industrial and data storage.
A peek inside the ‘tour bus’ was enlightening too. There were examples of various technologies available from the company, with some demos and product examples in sections for ‘Automotive’ and ‘Secure, Mobile, Medical and Wearables.’
What caught my eye, were some chocolate boxes (Figure 7), but these were examples of packaging and tracking. The RFID technology could also be used for security and for consumers to identify ingredients that may be harmful.