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6th ESC-Taiwan gathers world's leading embedded tool vendors

Posted: 16 Aug 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Christine Telesforo? Embedded Systems Conference-Taiwan? ESC-Taiwan? SoC? CPU?

Design engineers in Taiwan will be treated to an array of leading-edge technologies as the world's major embedded tool suppliers gather to showcase their products at the 6th Embedded Systems Conference-Taiwan (ESC-Taiwan). Collocated with the EDA & Test-Taiwan Conference & Exhibition, the event runs August 17-18 at the Taipei International Convention Center.

Taiwan's design industry has developed into a regional powerhouse in recent years. Going beyond PCs and computer peripherals, the industry is now edging into the CE market, with particular interest in handheld devices and PDAs. In developing these increasingly complex applications, engineers must contend with a number of embedded design issues that affect cycle time and cost. And to address these challenges, designers look to embedded tool vendors for innovative solutions.

ESC-Taiwan will provide a venue for embedded systems designers to find tools, such as user interfaces and displays, CPU architectures, compilers and assemblers, debuggers and emulators, and test solutions, and to interact firsthand with suppliers. Participating vendors will also host seminars on the latest design trends, demonstrating how their products meet the demands of today's cutting-edge designs and ease the development process while keeping costs at bay. Aside from showcasing new technologies, the event will also feature summits that tackle current industry trends in embedded systems design.

SoC focus
In embedded systems where integration, low cost and reduced power consumption are essential, SoCs are an obvious solution. For SoC developers, Taiwan-based SoC provider SOCLE-TECH will showcase an SoC hardware development platform, the Platform, and an SoC implementation platform, the SoC-ImP. Platform provides system solutions for SoC development, while SoC-ImP focuses on 0.18m, 0.13m and 90nm process-neutral implementation technology and service solutions. The company will also present its total solutions, including embedded processors ARM926EJ/ARM7EJ, connectivity IPs, multimedia IPs, SoC peripherals and storage IPs. It will also display its testing and packaging service.

Today's digital consumer electronics are powered by DSP cores. CEVA will feature its CEVA-VoP, CEVA-Audio and CEVA-Mobile-Media application platforms powered by the company's DSP cores. CEVA-VoP is targeted at VoIP residential and consumer markets. The company will demonstrate a complete end-to-end IP call using two CEVA-VoP reference design boards acting as two terminals connected over Ethernet. Visitors to the company's booth will be able to establish VoIP calls from one terminal to the other. Meanwhile, CEVA-Audio is targeted at mobile and home audio markets, promising high-quality audio to portable audio players, smartphones and home theater systems such as DTVs and STBs.

Embedded computers
DMP Electronics will feature its ultracompact native x86 platform optimized for highly complex embedded applications. Designed with VIA Eden processors, eBox devices operate in fanless mode with ultralow power consumption. It features an MPEG-2 accelerator for smooth DVD playback, a 256/512Mbyte DDR RAM soldered-on memory, high data transfer speed ATA/133 IDE, and one X-PCI slot for expansionall in a 170-by-120mm package, making it suitable for commercial and industrial applications with space limitations, such as thin clients, mini-PCs and POS terminals.

Germany-based Kontron will display Intel and AMD ETX/microETXexpress embedded-module platforms. The ETX-CM is an Embedded Technology eXtended (ETX) form factor computer-on-module that combines the performance of Intel Pentium M Processor (up to 1Mbyte L2 cache, FC-PGA package) with the high integration of Intel 855GME and I/O controller hub ICH4. Meanwhile, ETX-LX is an ETX form factor computer-on-module that combines the low power consumption and high performance of AMD LX 800 processor with integrated northbridge and AMD CS5536 companion device. The ETXexpress-CD module is based on the Intel Core Duo processor, Core Solo processor and 945GM chipset.

Test and measurement solutions comprise a significant part of embedded design tools. As designs become more complex, there is a need for simple-to-use test and measurement solutions to ensure the application's reliability without sacrificing cycle time. Measurement specialist Agilent Technologies, an exhibitor targeting customers working on PLDs, will present its FPGA dynamic probe that promises to accelerate debugging and design of FPGA chipsets in embedded circuitry. Agilent said it has cooperated with FPGA maker Xilinx to develop this probe for engineers who validate designs incorporating Virtex FPGAs.

Taiwan's ICP DAS will feature its programmable automation controllers (PAC), which are said to combine the best features of the programmable logic controller (PLC) and the best PC features to offer open-industry standards, a common development platform and advanced capabilities. The company said its high-quality RISC-based SBCs powered by embedded RTOSWindows CE, .NET or Linuxprovide customers with successful field applications. ICP DAS will introduce new hardware and software platforms to enable PLC-style I/O functionality, PC flexibility, fancy peripherals and deterministic RTOSall needed to build a PAC.

Storage solutions
The quest for the most efficient and cost-effective storage solution continues, especially as designs become more space-intensive. Storage solutions provider ACARD Technologies will demonstrate its ARC772 single-chip solution for serial/parallel ATA translation. The device bridges between a legacy IDE storage device and a serial ATA host, or between a serial ATA storage device and a traditional IDE host. With a maximum data rate of 200MBps in ultra DMA host mode (parallel ATA) and 3Gbps in SATA mode, along with its 0.18m CMOS process and 64-pin TQFP/QFN package, ARC772 promises power-saving and cost-effective applications with SATA/ATA/ATAPI devices.

Memory module maker PQI will showcase its 2.5-inch SATA/IDE DiskOnModule (DOM) featuring 64Gbytes of storage capacity. The company's DOM is a viable solution for rugged industrial applications, given the tapering prices of solid-state disk (SSD) products and their proven advantages over HDDs, including their shock-, vibration-proof makeup and low power consumption. By providing SATA connection, the device supports latest-generation motherboards that have reduced sizes by eliminating the bulky IDE connectors. SATA connections promise greater transfer bandwidth, higher signal integrity over long distances and minimal cable space requirements.

Personal storage solutions specialist mysystems will exhibit the mDOC embedded flash drive (EFD) for mobile handsets and CE devices; the mSSD rugged SSDs for mission-critical applications; and the mModule modular flash storage for embedded systems. mDOC is a next-generation EFD based on DiskOnChip architecture. The device has been selected for the PortalPlayer PMP development platform, TI's high-speed encode and playback solution for car audio applications, and NAND flash-based storage and boot solution for portable terminals. mysystem will demonstrate the reference design of a Centrality Communications and Sony GPS platform at its booth. mSSD provides rugged, high-performance data storage that could withstand extreme temperatures, shock and vibration even in harsh conditions. Considered a drop-in replacement for SATA, IDE and SCSI mechanical HDDs, the device eliminates potential failures associated with conventional rotating magnetic media.

Interfaces have become a major concern among developers as more highly integrated designs emerge. Entrovision, an innovator in digital video solutions and CE, will feature its AnyUSB technology, an interface solution for embedded products supporting PC-Link. AnyUSB provides a special USB port on any embedded system product, which enables simplified software development with SFIO SDK, driver-free operation, plug-and-play and other benefits that promise the best user experience.

Likewise, UK-based Future Technology Devices International will display its Vinculum family of embedded USB host controllers. These devices not only handle the USB host interface and data-transfer functions, but also encapsulate USB device classes through its built-in MCU and embedded flash memory. Vinculum is a new cost-effective solution for providing USB host capability in products that previously did not have the required hardware resources.

OS solutions
Most embedded systems also require operating systems. Oslo-based Trolltech's QtopiaR is an award-winning application platform GUI for the efficient creation of virtually any type of embedded Linux devices. On view at the company's booth will be the latest devices built with Qtopia, including Wistron NeWeb's Wi-Fi-GSM phone, Accton VoIP-Wi-Fi phone, Leadtek Videophone, Motorola's latest smart phones A1200 and ROKR E2, and Kangaroo TV offered by Sprint as NASCAR NEXTEL FanViewTM. Trolltech's David Almstrom, sales and operations director for Asia, will hold a presentation on "Evaluating the requirements for an embedded software platform supporting multicore SoC" during the Multicore SoCs summit on August 18.

Advantech will highlight its design-to-order services, which include a full range of customization capabilities, providing a one-stop solution for customizing board and system platforms. These customization services include the Module I/O Solution, which provides customized I/O expansion for compact single-board computers for a competitive system solution; the Small Modification Services, which enables customers to choose a standard single-board computer (SBC) that closely fits their needs and make changes to components, connectors and features; the SOM Design-in Service, which lets customers to reduce traditional customized CPU board-development time and costs by up to 80 percent; and ODM Customization, which allows customers and Advantech to bring together their knowledge, ideas and experience into the development process.

- Christine Telesforo
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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