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Freescale LS1021A-IOTA IoT Gateway Reference Design Powered by QorIQ LS1021A Dual ARM Cortex A7 SoC

October 6th, 2014 2 comments

Freescale has just launched a an IoT gateway reference design powered by their QorIQ LS1021A communication processors running Linux/OpenWRT, designed in partnership with TechNexion, and targeting various IoT applications such as building/home management, smart cities, networked industrial services, etc… Beside the dual core Cortex A7 QoirIQ processor, the board features six Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a SATA 3 port, two mini PCIe connector, an LVDS interface, HDMI output, Arduino UNO compatible headers, and various others expansions headers.

IoT Gateway Reference Design Board (Click to Enlarge)

IoT Gateway Reference Design Board (Click to Enlarge)

LS1021A-IOTA IoT gateway Specifications:

LS1021A IoT Gateway Enclosure (Click to Enlarge)

LS1021A IoT Gateway Enclosure (Click to Enlarge)

  • SoC – Freescale QorIQ LS1021A dual core Cortex A7 communication processor @ 1 GHz (5,000 coremarks)
  • MCU – Freescale Kinetis K20 Cortex M micro-controller
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 1 Gb QSPI NOR Flash, SDHC slot (up to 32 GB) populated with a 4GB SD card, 1x mSATA 3 slot
  • Connectivity – 6x Gigabit ports via SGMII (Serial Gigabit Media Independent Interface) and RGMII (Reduced Gigabit Media Independent Interface) interfaces
  • Display I/F
    • 24-bit LVDS LCD interface muxed with QE UART (QUICCEngine UART) to header for PROFIBUS or RS485 (external transceiver required)
    • HDMI connector
  • Audio I/F – Audio in and out
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2 mini port, and USB signals via mini PCIe interfaces
  • Expansions and I/Os:
    • Arduino UNO compatible headers with I2C, SPI, Analog in, etc..
    • 1x Terminal (USB to UART)
    • Header with 1x Four wire LP-UART to Arduino connector (ZigBee), SPI, and ADC
    • GPIO expansion header
    • GPIO, Flextimer, and CAN header
    • 2x mini PCIe (x1) slots
    • 6x Interrupts
    • 1x SPI, 2x I2C
    • 13x GPIO or 8x FTM (PWM)
  • Sensors – MMA8451Q 3-axis MEMS sensor
  • Certification – FCC Class B and CE
  • Power Supply – 12V. MC32VR500 regulator. Under 3 watts typical power consumption.
  • Dimensions – 20.3 x 17.8 x 6.4 cm (full system with enclosure)

The full kit include the board, a metallic enclosure, a 12V/5A power supply, a micro USB cable, and HDMI cables, and SD card with software and documentation. The company provide Linux and OpenWRT for the board, reference design files (schematics, layout, and BOM), as well as an hardware quick start guide and a user guide.

IoT Gateway Block Diagram

LSIoT Gateway Block Diagram

The reference design is “production ready” so that OEMs can bring products based on this design faster market, and a lesser load on their R&D teams. Freescale’s QorIQ LS1021A IoT gateway is available for order from Freescale for $429 (USD). Further details are available on LS1012A-IoT product page, including a video with an overview of the kit with a better look at the various ports, and a demo using MQTT protocol with two Freescale Freedom boards, and uploading data to IBM Cloud services. It also shows how the gateway is programmed with Node-RED JavaScript graphical environment.

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CALAO Systems Introduces PInBALL Industrial Board Based on Raspberry Pi Compute Module

October 1st, 2014 No comments

CALAO Systems has just launched an industrial single board computer (SBC) for professional Raspberry Pi developers called PiNBALL or, if you prefer, PAC-1210-S200-B2835-EXX…. The board is powered by the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, features interfaces such as two mini PCIe slots (for USB, I2C, GPIOs,…), fast Ethernet, HDMI, opto-isolated inputs and outputs, etc., +6 to +36V power input, and can operate in -20°C to +70°C temperature range.

Calao Systems PInBall Board with R-Pi Module (Click to Enlarge)

Calao Systems PInBall Board with R-Pi Module (Click to Enlarge)

PInBALL industrial SBC specifications (Items marker with ‘*’ are optional, and depend on model):

  • SoC / Memory / Storage  – Via Raspberry Pi Compute Module – Broadcom BCM2835, 512MB RAM, 4GB eMMC Flash.
  • Other Storage – 1x 2Kb I²C EEPROM with EUI-48 MAC Address & 128 bit Serial Number (AT24MAC402).
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI Out, 1x CVBS Out (BCM2835)
  • Audio Output – 1x HDMI, 2x S/PDIF Out / Optical & RCA (WM8804),
  • Connectivity – 1x Fast Ethernet (LAN9514), 1x Micro-SIM Socket
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 Host (LAN9514), 1x USB Device,
  • Serial Ports – 2x TTL Serial Ports (BCM2835), 2x TTL Serial Ports (MAX3109)*
  • Other I/Os
    • 1x CAN Bus (MCP2515)*
    • 2x MiPi DSI*
    • 2x MiPi CSI*
    • 3x Industrial Inputs (Téléinfo, Interface S0 or Standard Opto-isolated , 24VDC Output)*
    • 3x Industrial Outputs (1x Relay COM / NO or NC, 2x Isolated Outputs, 24VDC Input)*
  • Sensors – 1x Humidity & Temperature Sensor (Si7020)*
  • Expansions
    • 1x Mini PCIe Slot (USB 2.0 only, no PCIe)*
    • 1x Mini PCIe Slot (I2C, SPI, UART, USB & GPIOs)*
    • x KNX BAOS 820 module (KNX/TP1)*
  • Debugging – 1x JTAG port for BCM2835 (ARM11 or VideoCore GPU)
  • Misc – 1x RTC (DS3232) with BR1632A lithium battery, power/reset/user push buttons & LEDs,
  • Power Supply
    • Main: 12VDC / 2A (9-36 VAC/VDC),
    • Auxiliary Power Input: 9-36 VAC/VDC for 2nd power supply or external battery charger system,
  • Temperature Range – -20°C to +70°C
  • Dimensions – 100 x 120 mm
PInBALL SBC Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

PInBALL SBC Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

There will be three solutions/version based on PInBALL board:

  • CoreAccess – For “multipurpose application”, the variant will less options (No MiPi, no industrial I/Os…). Lacks all options marked with *
  • Home and Building Automation (HaBA) – Includes Industrial I/Os and a base of a Scada OPC UA software. All options listed in the specs above are supported
  • Industrial Automation and Robotics (IAaR) – Same as HaBA minus KNX module, and a “Open HAB Smart home” software is provided.

You can check the PInBall Selection Guide (PDF) for a side-by-side comparison of the three boards. Once you choose a board, you can simply order the carrier board only, a “pre-assembled” computer with the carrier board and the compute module, or an “Embedded System” adding a black anodized aluminum enclosure with mounting brackets.

CoreAccess module comes pre-loaded with XBian (XBMC), and the two others with Raspbian, the Debian distribution for the Raspberry Pi. The company also claims to provide an “open source SW package integrating a BSP maintained in main-line, a Linux Kernel, and then depending of the version, a Java virtual machine, OSGI framework, device abstraction, network and connectivity management”. The software Wiki currently makes use of code on Raspberry Pi github account.

CALAO Systems PinBALL will be sold via Element14/Farnell and CALAO on-line shop in Q4 2014, starting at 325 Euros per unit for the CoreAccess version. The company will also showcase their latest solution at Booth 482 at SEMICON Europa, in Grenoble, France on October 7-9, 2014. Further information is available on PInBALLboard.org.

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Emcraft Systems Introduces IoT Devkit with LCD Display Powered by Freescale Vybrid VF6 SoC

August 7th, 2014 No comments

Emcraft Systems has launched a IoT development kit based on on their Freescale Vybrid VF6 SoM featuring MVF61 SoC with a Cortex A5 MPU and a Cortex M4 MCU, and connected to a baseboard (IOT-BSB-EXT) with various connectors (USB, Ethernet, …) as well as a 4.3″ LCD (480×272 resolution) with touchscreen. The kit targets IoT gateway applications where a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and/or HMI (Human Machine Interface) are required.

Emcraft_IoT_LCD_Devkit

LCD Side

Vybrid IoT devkit specifications:

  • SoC/Memory/Storage – Via Vybrid VF6 SoM with Freescale MVF61NN151CMK50 (No Security), or Freescale MVF61NS151CMK50 (with Security),  128 MB DDR3, Up to 512 MB NAND Flash, and 32 MBytes dual QSPI Flash
  • Storage on Baseboard – micro SD card slot
  • Display – 4.3″ 480×272 LCD with touch panel connected to the back side of the baseboard.
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 2x micro USB OTG ports, 1x micro USB for debugging and/or power
  • Debugging – 20-pin JTAG interface, USB UART interface connected to UART port of the Vybrid VF6 (can also be used to power the kit)
  • Misc – “Power good” LED, User LEDs, Reset push button
  • Dimensions – 100 x 70 mm
IoT Baseboard and Vybrid VF6 SoM

IoT Baseboard and Vybrid VF6 SoM

The kit includes a VF6 System-on-Module (SOM), the IOT-BSB-EXT baseboard, the IOT-LCD board and 4.3″ 480×272 LCD with touch panel connected to the baseboard, a mini USB Y cable for UART and power interface, an Ethernet cable, and a  USB OTG cable.

Emcraft Vybrid IoT Starter Kit (KIT-VF6-IOT) supports both Linux for the ARM Cortex A5 core and Freescale MQX RTOS for the Cortex M4 core. The kit comes pre-loaded with U-Boot and a sample Linux configuration “demonstrating fast boot to the GUI, sophisticated GUI interfaces using Qt as well as various wired and wireless connectivity interfaces”. Documentation and software/hardware resources specific to the IoT devkit includes a Starter Kit Guide, VF6 SOM Software Development Environment, prebuilt Linux/MQX image ready to be loaded to the VF6 SOM, NAND Firmware configuration block image ready for installation onto the VF6 SOM, as well as schematics (PDF) and BoM the the baseboard and LCD board. Some resources are available publicly, and some require a login only available to those who purchased the kit.

Vybrid IOT Starter Kit is available now (2 weeks lead time) for $229. You can find more information on Emcraft IoT Kit page, as well as links to documentation and software/hardware files via the Release and Hardware tabs.

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ARM TechCon 2014 Schedule – 64-Bit, IoT, Optimization & Debugging, Security and More

July 23rd, 2014 No comments

ARM Technology Conference (TechCon) 2014 will take place on October 1 – 3, 2014, in Santa Clara, and as every year, there will be a conference with various sessions for suitable engineers and managers, as well as an exposition where companies showcase their latest ARM based products and solutions. The detailed schedule for the conference has just been made available. Last year,  there were 90 sessions organized into 15 tracks, but this year, despite received 300 applications,  the organizers decided to scale it down a bit, and there will be 75 session in the following 11 tracks:ARM_TechCon_2014

  • Chip Implementation
  • Debugging
  • Graphics
  • Heterogeneous Compute
  • New Frontiers
  • Power Efficiency
  • Safety and Security
  • Software Development and Optimization
  • Software Optimization for Infrastructure and Cloud
  • System Design
  • Verification

There are also some paid workshops that take all day with topics such as “Android (NDK) and ARM overview”, “ARM and the Internet of Things”, or “ARM Accredited Engineer Programs”.

As usual, I’ve gone through the schedule builder, and come up with some interesting sessions with my virtual schedule during the 3-day event:

Wednesday – 1st of October

In this session, Dr. Saied Tehrani will discuss how Spansion’s approach to utilize the ARM Cortex-R line of processors to deliver energy efficient solutions for the automotive MCU market has led the company to become a vital part of the movement toward connectivity in cars. Beginning with an overview of the auto industry’s innovation and growth in connected car features, he will explain how these systems require high performance processing to give drivers the fluid experience they expect. Highlights in security and reliability with ARM Cortex-R, including Spansion’s Traveo Family of MCU’s will also be presented.

HEVC and VP9 are the latest video compression standards that significantly improves compression ratio compared to its widely used predecessors H.264 and VP8 standard. In this session the following will be discussed:

  • The market need for GPU accelerated HEVC and VP9 decoders
  • Challenges involved in offloading video decoding algorithms to a GPU, and how Mali GPU is well suited to tackle them
  • Improvement in power consumption and performance of Mali GPU accelerated decoder
  • big.LITTLE architecture and CCI/CCN’s complementing roles in improving the GPU accelerated video decoder’s power consumption

ARM’s Cortex-M family of embedded processors are delivering energy-efficient, highly responsive solutions in a wide variety of application areas right from the lowest-power, general-purpose microcontrollers to specialised devices in advanced SoC designs. This talk will examine how ARM plans to grow the ARM Cortex-M processor family to provide high performance together with flexible memory systems, whilst still maintaining the low-power, low-latency characteristics of ARM’s architecture v7M.

IoT devices as embedded systems cover a large range of devices from low-power, low-performance sensors to high-end gateways. This presentation will highlight the elements an embedded engineer needs to analyse before selecting the MCU for his design. Software is fundamental in IoT: from networking to power management, from vertical market protocols to IoT Cloud protocols and services, from programming languages to remote firmware update, these are all design criteria influencing an IoT device design. Several challenges specific to IoT design will be addressed:

  • Code size and RAM requirements for the major networking stacks
  • Optimizing TCP/IP resources versus performance
  • Using Java from Oracle or from other vendors versus C
  • WiFi (radio only or integrated module)
  • Bluetooth (Classis versus LE) IoT protocols

Thursday – 2nd of October

Amongst ARM’s IP portfolio we have CPUs, GPUs, video engines and display processors, together with fabric interconnect and POP IP, all co-designed, co-verified and co-optimized to produce energy-efficient implementations. In this talk, we will present some of the innovations ARM has introduced to reduce memory bandwidth and system power, both in the IP blocks themselves and the interactions between them, and how this strategy now extends to the new ARM Mali display processors.

Designing a system that has to run on coin cells? There’s little accurate information available about how these batteries behave in systems that spend most of their time sleeping. This class will give design guidance on the batteries, plus examine the many other places power leakages occur, and offer some mitigation strategies.

64-bit is the “new black” across the electronics industry, from server to mobile devices. So if you are building or considering building an ARMv8-A SoC, you shall attend this talk to either check that you know everything or find out what you shall know! Using the ARMv8 Juno ARM Development Platform (ADP) as reference, this session will cover:

  • The ARMv8-A hardware compute subsystem architecture for Cortex-A57, Cortex-A53 & Mali based SoC
  • The associated ARMv8-A software stack
  • The resources available to 64-bit software developers
  • Demonstration of the Android Open Source Project for ARMv8 running on Juno.

Rapid prototyping platforms have become a standard path to develop initial design concepts. They provide an easy-to-use interface with a minimal learning curve and allow ideas to flourish and quickly become reality. Transitioning from a simple, easy-to-use rapid prototyping system can be daunting, but shouldn’t be. This session presents options for starting with mbed as a prototyping environment and moving to full production with the use of development hardware, the open-source mbed SDK and HDK, and the rich ARM ecosystem of hardware and software tools.Attendees will learn how to move from the mbed online prototyping environment to full production software, including:

  • Exporting from mbed to a professional IDE
  • Full run-time control with debugging capabilities
  • Leveraging an expanded SDK with a wider range of integration points
  • Portability of applications from an mbed-enabled HDK to your custom hardware

Statistics is often perceived as scary and dull… but not when you apply it to optimizing your code! You can learn so much about your system and your application by using relatively simple techniques that there’s no excuse not to know them.This presentation will use no slides but will step through a fun and engaging demo of progressively optimizing OpenCL applications on a ARM-powered Chromebook using IPython. Highlights will include analyzing performance counters using radar diagrams, reducing performance variability by optimizing for caches and predicting which program transformations will make a real difference before actually implementing them.

Friday – 3rd of October

The proliferation of mobile devices has led to the need of squeezing every last micro-amp-hour out of batteries. Minimizing the energy profile of a micro-controller is not always straight forward. A combination of sleep modes, peripheral control and other techniques can be used to maximize battery life. In this session, strategies for optimizing micro-controller energy profiles will be examined which will extend battery life while maintaining the integrity of the system. The techniques will be demonstrated on an ARM Cortex-M processor, and include a combination of power modes, software architecture design techniques and various tips and tricks that reduce the energy profile.

One of the obstacles to IoT market growth is guaranteeing interoperability between devices and services . Today, most solutions address applications requirements for specific verticals in isolation from others. Overcoming this shortcoming requires adoption of open standards for data communication, security and device management. Economics, scalability and usability demand a platform that can be used across multiple applications and verticals. This talk covers some of the key standards like constrained application protocol (CoAP), OMA Lightweight M2M and 6LoWPAN. The key features of these standards like Caching Proxy, Eventing, Grouping, Security and Web Resource Model for creating efficient, secure, and open standards based IoT systems will also be discussed.

Virtual Prototypes are gaining widespread acceptance as a strategy for developing and debugging software removing the dependence on the availability of hardware. In this session we will explore how a virtual prototype can be used productively for software debug. We will explain the interfaces that exist for debugging and tracing activity in the virtual prototype, how these are used to attach debug and analysis tools and how these differ from (and improve upon) equivalent hardware capabilities. We will look in depth at strategies for debug and trace and how to leverage the advantages that the virtual environment offers. The presentation will further explore how the virtual prototype connects to hardware simulators to provide cross-domain (hardware and software) debug. The techniques will be illustrated through case studies garnered from experiences working with partners on projects over the last few years.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to set up a Virtual Prototype for debug and trace
  • Connecting debuggers and other analysis tools.
  • Strategies for productive debug of software in a virtual prototype.
  • How to setup trace on a virtual platform, and analysing the results.
  • Hardware in the loop: cross domain debug.
  • Use of Python to control the simulation and trace interfaces for a virtual platform.
  • 14:30 – 15:20 – GPGPU on ARM Systems by Michael Anderson, Chief Scientist, The PTR Group, Inc.

ARM platforms are increasingly coupled with high-performance Graphics Processor Units (GPUs). However the GPU can do more than just render graphics, Today’s GPUs are highly-integrated multi-core processors in their own right and are capable of much more than updating the display. In this session, we will discuss the rationale for harnessing GPUs as compute engines and their implementations. We’ll examine Nvidia’s CUDA, OpenCL and RenderScript as a means to incorporate high-performance computing into low power draw platforms. This session will include some demonstrations of various applications that can leverage the general-purpose GPU compute approach.

Abstract currently not available.

That’s 14 sessions out of the 75 available, and you can make your own schedule depending on your interests with the schedule builder.

In order to attend ARM TechCon 2014, you can register online, although you could always show up and pay the regular on-site, but it will cost you, or your company, extra.

Super Early Bird Rare
Ended June 27
Early Bird Rate
Ends August 8
Advanced Rate
Ends September 19
Regular Rate
VIP $999 $1,299 $1,499 $1,699
All-Access $799 $999 $1,199 $1,399
General Admission $699 $899 $1,099 $1,299
AAE Training $249 $299 $349 $399
Software Developers Workshop $99 $149 $199 $249
Expo FREE FREE $29 $59

There are more types of pass this year, but the 2-day and 1-day pass have gone out of the window. The expo pass used to be free at any time, but this year, you need to register before August 8. VIP and All-access provides access to all events, General Admission excludes AAE workshops and software developer workshops, AAE Training and Software Developers Workshop passes give access to the expo plus specific workshops. Further discounts are available for groups, up to 30% discount.

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Amptek iCon is an ARM Cortex M3 Board for IoT Running uCLinux (Crowdfunding)

June 28th, 2014 1 comment

Up until now, the only company I ever heard running Linux on ARM Cortex M3/M4 was EmCraft Systems with their system-on-modules and development kits based on Freescale Kinetis, STMicro STM32 and Actel Smartfusion micro-controllers. But there’s now another option thanks to Ampek Technologies, a Canadian based company funded in 2002, and their iCon (Internet Connectivity) board featuring NXP LPC1788 Cortex M3 connected to 64MB RAM which is plenty enough to run uCLinux. The board can be used for applications such as industrial control systems, wireless sensors, or smart home appliances.

iCon_Linux_Board

The iCon board specifications are as follows:

  • MCU – NXP LPC1788 ARM Cortex-M3 MCU @ 120MHz with 512 KB flash memory, and 96 KB SRAM
  • System Memory – 64MB SDRAM (external chip)
  • Storage – 32MB flash for firmware
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0. Ethernet is supported via an add-on module
  • USB – USB 2.0 host port, mini-USB debug port
  • Other ports and headers:
    • CAN port (+5V ground connector)
    • RS-485 port (+5V ground connector)
    • JTAG interface
    • 2x expansion headers at the back of the board with access to I2C, SPI, UART, RMII, PWM, GPIO, 10-bit DAC, 12-bit ADC, and 16-bit RGB LCD interface.
  • Misc -RTC with battery backup
  • Power – 5V DC
  • Power Consumption @ 5V – 260mA after boot (idle), 390mA with WiFi 802.11g, 400mA with WiFi 802.11g and Bluetooth
  • Dimensions – 86 x 54mm
iCon Boards and LCD Modules

iCon Boards and LCD Modules

The company can also provides 4.3″ (480×272) and 7″ (800×480) TFT LCD modules with a resistive touchscreen. The board runs uClinux 2.6.33-ARM1, and includes support for BlueZ, TCP/IP, WPA, Boa web server, and Inadyn DDNS client. There’s no word about documentation and source code.

The board appears to be fully developed, and the company has made a demo with OWI-535 robotic arm controlled wirelessly by a web interface running on the iCon.

Amptek iCon is now on Kickstarter, and you can pledge $109 CAD (~$102 USD) to get the board, and up to $199 CAD for iCon + the 7″ touchscreen LCD display. The Ethernet add-on board shown in the demo is not available in any perks.

With 7 days to go and only, around $3,500 CAD pledged out of a $55,000 CAD, it seems unlikely the crowdfunding campaign will succeed, but the boards will certainly be available (in quantities) afterwards. You can find more details on Amptek Technologies website.

Via LinuxGizmos

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Advantech UTX-3115 Rugged Fanless Computer Powered by Intel Atom E3826 SoC Supports Intel Intelligent Systems Framework

June 20th, 2014 No comments

Advantech UTX-3115 is a rugged low power fanless computer powered by Intel Atom “Bay Trail-I” E3826 dual core processor and lots of various ports that can be used as a digital signage, for machine or factory automation, & “smart IoT gateway”, and that happens to be supported by Intel’s Intelligent Systems Framework (ISF).
Advantech_UTX-3115
Before checking out Intel ISF, let’s go Advantech UTX-3115 hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom E3826 dual core processor @ 1.46 GHz with 1MB L2 cache and Intel HD graphics.
  • System Memory – 2 x 204-pin SO-DIMM DDR3 1333/1066MHz, up to 16GB
  • Storage – 2.5″ bay for HDD or SSD storage
  • Video Output
    • 1x HDMI up to 1080p60
    • 1x micro HDMI up to 1080p60
    • 1x VGA up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz
    • Dual channel LVDS up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz (shared with micro HDMI)
  • Connectivity – Dual Gigabit LAN (LAN1: Intel I210AT, LAN2: Realtek RTL8111G), optional Wi-Fi module
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB 2.0
  • Serial Ports – 1x RS-232 with 5v/12v, 1x RS-422/485
  • Expansion slot
    • 1x Half size Mini PCIe expansion slot for Wi-Fi module (shared with SIM card)
    • 1x Full size Mini PCIe expansion slot for mSATA storage
  • Power – 12V/3A
  • Dimensions – 138.5(W) x 35.98(H) x 116.4(D) mm
  • Operating Temperature Range – -20 ~ 60° C
  • Relative Humidity – 95% @ 40° C (non-condensing)

This computer supports Windows 7/8, as well as some embedded operating systems, and ships with a 36W power adapter, a CD with drivers and documentation, and extra documentations for CCC and RoHS. Power cables, and VESA or DIN-Rail wall mounts are also available as options.

Intel’s Intelligent Systems Framework appears to be comprised both of software packages for things, Intel calls them “Intelligent Systems“, and cloud based solutions to manage them securely over the network. You can learn a bit more by watching this 24-minute presentation below focusing on generalities rather than specificities. The session is divided into four parts, first with an IoT overview and its challenges (big data processing, costs, security), followed by Intel ISF overview, the IoT gateway stack (Intelligent Device Platform) provided by Wind River for ISF, and finally an overview of their UTX-3115 rugged computer.

Advantech UTX-3115 has been mass-produced since March 2014, but the company has not disclosed pricing. You can get more details on Advantech UTX-3115 product page.

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Texas Instruments Tiva C Series Connected LaunchPad Unboxing and Quick Start Guide

March 28th, 2014 No comments

Texas Instruments Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected LaunchPad is an evaluation kit for the Internet of things with a Cortex-M4 MCU (Tiva TM4C1294), an Ethernet port, and USB interfaces for power and debugging. At $19.99 including shipping via Fedex, it’s one of the cheapest ways to get devices online. I’ve purchased one via TI e-Store, and already received it. I’ll post some pictures of the kit, go through the Quick Start Guide, and provides links to resources to go further.

EK-TM4C1294XL Connected LaunchPad Unboxing

I’ve received the kit in the package below with feature a QR Code linking to http://www.ti.com/launchpad, as well basic specifications (refer to my previous post for specs), list of tools (Code composer studio, Tivaware, Keil, IAR…) and package content.

Tiva_C_Series_Connected_Launchpad_Package
In the box we’ve got the board itself, a retractable Ethernet cable, a USB to micro USB cable for power and debugging, and Connect LaunchPad Quick Start Guide.

Board, Ethernet & USB Cables, and Quick Start Guide

Board, Ethernet & USB Cables, and Quick Start Guide

The Quick Start Guide describes the boards, the different pin on header, and how to get started. You can find both sides of the document here and here.

Top of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Top of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

A closer look at the board shows the Ethernet port, a micro USB port, two user’s buttons as well as wake & reset button on the left, the MCU is in the middle, and the debug part on the right of the board with another micro USB port. Close to the MCU, you also have several jumpers to select the power source (ICDI (In-Circuit Debug Interface), OTG, and Boosterpack), as well as some selections for CAN and UART.  At the bottom you’ve got a breadboard area, and there are also 4 Boosterpack headers (male) on the board.

Bottom of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the back of the board we’ve got the female headers for the BoosterPacks and description, as well as the MAC Address.

TI_Connected_Launchpad_vs_Arduino_LeonardoThe first time I open the box, I felt the board to be larger than I expected. The above photo shows the Connected LaunchPad next to an Arduino Leonardo clone.

You could also watch the unboxing video.

Getting Started with Tiva C Series (EK-TM4C1294XL) Connected LaunchPad

The board is preloaded with an application that connected to a Cloud based platform called Exosite. The very first thing you need to do is to register your board via ti.exosite.com. This requires registration, and you can also use you Google+ or Yahoo account for this process. After login, go to Click here to add a new device to your portal, click “Select a supported device below”, and “EK-TM4C1429XL Connected LaunchPad”.

Click continue to enter the MAC Address (found at the back of the board), a device name, and the device location as shown on the screenshot below.

Connected_launchpad_device_setupClick Continue and confirm at the next step. The device setup is completed at this stage.

This following step is optional to get started, but if you want to access the serial console, you’ll need to install drivers. It appears many of the tools are available for Windows and Linux (CCS and TivaWare), but the Quick Start Guide mentions a Windows PC is required, so that’s what I used. You’ll need to download Stellaris ICDI Drivers and extract spmc06.zip yo your computer.

Then connect the Ethernet cable between your board and your hub/router, and the micro USB to USB cable between the board and your Windows PC, which should then detect a new hardware. Select to install your own drivers, and select the path “spmc016\stellaris_icdi_drivers”. This will install “Stellaris Virtual Serial Port“. After this is complete, Windows will still detect a new hardware again, twice, repeat the steps above to install “Stellaris ICDI DFU Device” and “Stellaris ICDI JTAG/SWD Device“. If case you have issues, you can check the full instructions (PDF).

Now you can go to the Device Manager, to check installation is complete, and the serial port number, COM7 in my case.

Stellaris_ICDI_Driver_Device_Manager
You can now start Putty or Hyperterminal, and setup a 115,200 baud 8N1 connection on your COM port to access the serial port.

Let’s go back to ti.exosite.com. Under “Device List”, click on your device to connect to it, and interact with  the dashboard.

Tiva_Connected_LaunchPad_ExositeIt will show the Junction temperature, update counters when you press the user’s buttons, and turn on and off two LEDs on your board. The response time was very slow when I tested it maybe 5 to 10 seconds. My Internet connection might be in cause, or the refresh rate of the dashboard.

The portal will also show a map with other Connected LaunchPad around the world (over 300 at the time of my connection), and a game of Tic-Tac-Toe using you board (which I haven’t tried). You can check the full website screenshot.

When you start the board for the first time, and connect to Exosite you can see the following log.

Connected_LaunchPad_SerialAnd if you type “stats”, you’ll basically get what you can see from the Exosite dashboard.
Connected_LaunchPad_Serial_StatsThat’s all for the first steps with Tiva Connected LaunchPad. Texas Instruments also has uploaded a 5-minute video showing the Quick Start Guide steps.

Going further

Texas Instruments redirect developers to www.ti.com/tool/ek-tm4c1294xl  to access the software, drivers, and documentation, to start with “Project 0″ at www.ti.com/tiva-c-launchpad which for this board is Hello Blinky. The project requires the use of Code Composer Studio (SW-EK-TM4C1294XL-CCS), TivaWare (SW-EK-TM4C1294XL), and the ICDI drivers installed previously which you can get via http://www.ti.com/tool/sw-ek-tm4c1294xl. Please note that the download will require you to go through a ridiculous “U.S. Government export approval” form, but I got accepted immediately after application. During installation of CCS you may want to select a custom install, selecting “Tiva C Series ARM MCUs” only to avoid a large download and installation. I haven’t gone further for now due to lack of time. Beside CCS, Keil, Mentor Embedded and IAR Systems IDEs can support the board, and TI Tiva C Series MCUs.

It may also be worthwhile going through “Creating IoT Solutions with the TM4C1294XL Connected LaunchPad Workshop” with provides an introduction of CCS, TivaWare, and should go through all the MCU peripherals via sample code.

There are at least two other third party software tools:

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802.11ah Wi-Fi (900 MHz) to Provide Low Power, Long Range Connectivity for the Internet of Things

February 21st, 2014 3 comments

Most devices now feature Wi-Fi modules capable of handling 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 Ghz (and 5 GHz for dual band Wi-Fi), and newer devices and routers boast 802.11ac connectivity @ 5GHz with increased bandwidth (up to 1.2 Gbit/s in theory, maybe around 400 Mbit/s in practive), and in some case increased range with  beam-forming. But thanks to an article on EETimes, I’ve learned there’s another upcoming Wi-Fi standard called 802.11ah operating in the 900MHz range, with data rates from 150 Kbit/s with a 1 MHz band to as much as 40 Mbit/s over an 8 MHz band, lower power consumption, and a least double of the range of a typical 802.11n device,capable of covering an area of about 1 km2. The target applications are sensors networks, backhaul networks for sensor and meter, and extended range Wi-Fi, as the standard allows long range and more clients at low bitrates.

Smart Grid with 802.11ah - Source:

Smart Grid with 802.11ah – Source: Seoul National Univeristy

This new Wi-Fi standard will compete with other sub 1GHz wireless standard such as Zigbee, and Z-Wave, and it seems to have similar applications as Wi-Fi 802.11af standard operating in the TV white band. Companies such as Broadcom, CSR, Huawei, Intel, LG, Marvell, NEC, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE are participating in IEEE 802.11ah standard which is expected to get ratified by the end of 2015. If you want to learn more about technical details, you could read a publications entitled IEEE 802.11ah: A Long Range 802.11 WLAN at Sub 1 GHz by the Department of ECE and INMC from Seoul National University.

802.11ah_specturmA Greek company, Antcor, will demonstrate its 802.11ah DSP block supporting 4×4 MIMO for home gateways and industrial automation networks at Mobile World Congress 2014, and the first 802.11ah SoCs should hit the market before the end of this year, using the draft specifications.

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