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Linux Update

January 20, 2009 6:19 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

A view of Linux from several perspectives will help embedded-system designers better understand how they can use this open-source operating system. Experts at Eurotech, Texas Instruments, and Rowebots share their approaches. "Contrary to what some engineers might think, Linux provides a mature operating system," said Arlen Nipper, president and CTO at Eurotech. "You can obtain best-in-class security, TCP/IP stacks, and support for wireless networking, for example. The associated code drops into Linux and works right away."

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Semiconductor Highlight: Standards for Embedded Microcontrollers

January 20, 2009 6:00 am | by Reinhard Keil, ARM | Comments

Typically, industries use standards to improve product quality and enable component sharing across projects. In practice, such standards achieve wide acceptance since the synergistic effects provide significant benefits to the user community. The hardware and software industry is full of such standards, but there is an exception

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Industry Focus: Automotive Electronics

January 20, 2009 5:14 am | by Akio Nezu, Fujitsu Microelectronics America | Comments

Despite recent economic challenges facing the auto industry, many leaders are moving forward with new and innovative systems for in-vehicle entertainment, and sophisticated audio-video capabilities.  Industry analysts such as iSuppli Corporation have cited significant consumer demand for audio-video connectivity and networking in the vehicle, noting that the industry is at a point where A/V connectivity clearly influences sales.

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Looking forward

January 20, 2009 4:49 am | by Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

By the time you read this column, Barak Obama will be the President of the United States of America. Politics aside, I think that this is a positive thing for many reasons, the most predominant being that this is a President that understands technology. He was in High School when the first generation of computers arrived, and came of age...

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Security is All in Vein

January 16, 2009 10:09 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

We’ve seen biometric scanning devices so often in movies and television shows that many people feel that they are commonplace. You even have a choice of notebook computers that have fingerprint scanners built in as a security device to limit access to the computer’s contents.

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Cover Story: Distributed Power Goes from Utilities Down to ICs

January 14, 2009 6:12 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Distributed power means different things to engineers. Some think of it only as the distribution of different DC voltages on a circuit board or in a rack of equipment. But good power-distribution engineering starts at the power company's connection to a building's wiring and goes all the way down to IC power inputs.

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Auld Lang Syne

December 23, 2008 12:06 pm | by Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

As we head into the New Year, looking towards the future, our minds are always drawn to the past. “Auld Lang Syne” means roughly ‘long times past”. Our ruminations on the past vary from individual to individual; one may look back nostalgic, another regretful, and the third satisfied. The most important thing to remember is that the past is past, and we must embrace the future or face the consequences.

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Sensor Zone: January 2009

December 23, 2008 11:59 am | by Valerie Rothermel-Nelson, Honeywell Sensing & Control | Comments

When considering a relative humidity sensor for one’s application, the selection process involves a series of choices to meet application requirements and key parameters while, at the same time, insuring that the product selected delivers the lowest total cost solution. Despite the diversity in humidity sensor applications and specifications, the desire

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Embedded Systems: Ethernet Modules Act Like SBCs

December 23, 2008 8:45 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Manufacturers offer a variety of small modules that let engineers easily add an Ethernet port to a design. They may need only a UART or I2C port in a main system to communicate with and control one of these modules. But if engineers stop there they will miss many other capabilities offered by these modules--actually single-board computers (SBCs).

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Industry Focus: Planning for End-of-Life in Mil-Aero Markets

December 23, 2008 6:06 am | by George Karalias, Rochester Electronics, LLC | Comments

Although the ramifications of end of life (EOL) announcements have long been an issue for OEMs in the mil/aero marketplace, many still fail to put a workable plan in place to face this reality. As a result of the increase in end-product programs for these industries, long-term support requirements can sometimes extend for decades, leaving customers in a difficult position as they source components for ongoing production, maintenance and repair.

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FPGAs Offer More Flexible, Affordable Embedded System Solutions

December 23, 2008 5:51 am | by Stephen Cunha, MEN Micro, Inc. | Comments

Potential solutions for providing application-specific functionality in embedded systems typically come with trade-offs in terms of cost and time to market. With few projects having the lead-time, budget or high-volume payback potential to tool-up for custom chip or hardware production runs, the best answers often revolve around "modular" solutions.

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Semiconductor Highlight: ZigBee Radios and ICs Gain Momentum in Industrial Control Applications

December 23, 2008 4:52 am | by Rich Howell, California Eastern Laboratories | Comments

Riding an elevator is typically a mundane exercise - you push a button, you wait, you get off at your floor. Few give any thought to the workings outside the metal box you’re riding. But behind the scenes a lot of technical communication takes place between the elevator car, the controller at the top of the elevator shaft, and the call button you’re patiently pushing in the lobby. Today that communication is typically conducted over high-grade RS-485 twisted pair serial cable.

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Design Talk: Batteries

December 22, 2008 11:34 am | Comments

Portable electronics are evolving so quickly that one can barely keep up with the new devices available to end-users. Regardless of the system, consumers expect more functionality in a smaller device that operates for a longer period of time between charges.

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Brainstorm: Advanced Technology Vehicles

December 22, 2008 9:08 am | Comments

How can Advanced Technology Vehicles penetrate the mainstream automotive market?

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Cover Story: The PXI Bus Hits its Stride

December 18, 2008 7:23 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

As you might guess from its name, the PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation bus, or PXI bus, takes advantage of the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) technology developed for personal computers. Just as the original PCI bus lets users add cards to a PC motherboard, the PXI bus lets instrument-system developers connect measurement and control modules through a standard backplane.

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