Emerging trends in embedded systems
A series of emerging equipment such as STB, home media center, portable media player, mobile DVD etc. are joining the embedded systems camp in the IIC-China and ESC-China this April. With the continuing convergence of communication and computing functions within devices, embedded systems are becoming more complex and thus creating demands for more powerful processors and peripherals.
Traditional CPU suppliers have become more active in launching embedded products. Last year, Intel Corp. launched an embedded processor aiming at the POS terminal and computing apps. Intel's Celeron CPU is extensively being applied to fresh IP STB. Furthermore, the company is developing chips for home media centers and portable media players.
Also eyeing the good prospect of the embedded market this year is PC-chip supplier Transmeta Corp., which has launched two processors called Crusoe TM5700 and TM5900. The package size for both processors is 21-by-21mm—a reduction by 54 percent compared to last-generation products, making it suitable for mobile and embedded design.
On the exhibit floor, big suppliers like Philips Semiconductor, Sharp Microelectronics, Netsilicon and Shanghai Brave Chips Micro Electronics Co. Ltd will showcase 16/32bit processors aiming at embedded applications. Philips will introduce its LPC2000 series MCU based on ARM7 kernel, which has flash memory, RAM, ADC, CAN and PWM channel and can be applied to automotive electronics, industry control and medical equipment. Meanwhile, Sharp Microelectronics will present its MCU series based on ARM7 and ARM9 processors targeted at low-cost, multimedia processing applications. Netsilicon has NET+ARM series processors, among which NS9775 is a 32bit, 200MHz microprocessor including four independent video channels. Each channel integrates hardware JBIG decompressing function and laser-engine port, providing color printer vendors with a single-chip controller solution. Netsilicon's other components aim at applications such as Ethernet.
Although the demand for processing capability in embedded systems is increasing, traditional 8bit MCU is still the mainstream product in low-cost applications. Atmel Corp., Microchip Technology Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, RDC Semiconductor Co. Ltd, Epson and other companies will feature their respective MCU products.
Microchip Technology has its PICMicro MCU devices based on different memory configurations, I/O and peripheral ports. Its latest product line is PIC18, aimed at low-power consumption and connection application that provides four serial ports, two synchronous serial ports (I²C and SPI) and two asynchronous serial ports. Also, they contain plenty of RAMs used as caches and flash memories used to store programs, which are suitable for instrument panel, embedded application supporting TCP/IP, industry control and monitoring application.
Infineon's latest 8bit MCU product family has flash memory and other peripherals designed for engine control and automotive application. As the world's second leading 16bit MCU supplier, Infineon's series adapts C166SV2 kernel. The company says that it will launch 12 products to meet customers' different requirements on the strength of optimal price/performance this year.
New players like Shanghai IPCore Technologies and Beijing Sigma Microelectronics Inc. will also be present in the event and plan to offer OEMs customized MCU design services. As embedded processors continue to play a crucial role in system design, FPGA suppliers will not be left behind in offering support for customers. Targeted at the consumer electronics field, Altera has launched the Nios series 32bit embedded processors that it says can help customers accelerate programmable design for displays, digital cameras, DVD players, STBs, computer peripherals etc.
To meet the requirements of Chinese engineers for embedded software and OS, Wind River System Inc., Beijing CoreTek Systems Inc. and Beijing Microtech Research Corp. will feature their products or agent products.
Wind River's VxWorks 6.0 OS offers memory protection, error checking/report and transparent interprocess communication, which can be applied to communications, consumer electronics, industry controls, automotive electronics and aerospace/national defense. Moreover, Wind River will bring to the conference its Integrate Development Environment Workbench 2.2 based on Eclipse. It supports multimission, multithread, multiprocess, multiprocessor, multiboard debugging and operates using VxWorks or Linux OS.
CoreTek's DeltaOS is a real-time operating system that can be embedded in any equipment using a 32bit CPU as its kernel. It allows applications to be executed under a multimission environment and can meet basic requirements such as real-time response to external events, storage management and network demands of designers while developing electronic equipment.
As development cycles continue to shorten, reliance to proprietary operating systems is becoming a trend. This is good news to Wind River and CoreTek.
Microtech Research Corp. will market MontaVista's embedded Linux to Chinese engineers. This operating system supports eight series of CPUs and over 100 hardware boards, and can be applied to network equipment, mobile computers, communication equipment, network household appliances, Internet equipment, instrument control, smart phones etc. Microtec will also introduce other agent products, such as IAR's EW C/EC++ cross compiler and debugger, Abatron's BDI JTAG emulator, Trolltech's QT/E embedded-Linux graphic system and Qtopia's smart phone accessories.
If you want to register for the conference or exhibition, please link to www.iicexpo.com.
- Abbon Yan
Electronic Engineering Times—China
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