27 Feb 2016

Embedded World 2016: news, trends, insight

Caroline Hayes reports on some of the trends and themes at this year Embedded World looking at how traditional strengths vie with IoT

In all, 38 countries were represented at the exhibition, exhibiting hardware and software for all areas of the industry. Notably, the M2M area hosted its largest number of exhibitors, 58, this year.

The phrase IoT (Internet of Things) was scaled back a little this year, although it was still very much in evidence. Distributor, Avnet Memec - Silica, for example, unveiled its Visible Things reference platform for the Internet of Things (IoT).

It is a collection of proven and integrated hardware and embedded software to connect smart sensors and embedded devices via gateway solutions or low-power, wide area networking (LPWAN) technologies to the cloud and enterprise software applications.

The company draws on its 70 supplier partners offering sensors, communication cores, analogue and power devices. As well as short-range connectivity to a gateway, and Wi-Fi-, 3G and 4G cellular communications to the cloud and enterprise software applications, the platform supports the SIGFOX and LoRaWAN IoT networks.

The company will add hardware and software technology options over time, including, the company teased, a chip that integrates a secure element for deployment in smart sensor edge devices.

Three reference-design starter kit boards are available now, each managed by ARM Cortex-based microcontrollers and with a choice of sensor boards and connectivity.

Embedded World 2016: Avnet Memec – Silica’s Invisible Things promises edge-to-enterprise IoT development

Avnet Memec – Silica’s Invisible Things promises edge-to-enterprise IoT development

Industrial automation was a strong theme, with many launches aimed at this sector. Notably, Microchip introduced six I/O controllers offering a mix of feature sets for cost-effective industrial applications and offering temperature and voltage monitoring. The SCH322X family is available in both commercial and industrial operating temperature modes and a choice of BGA packages (64-WFBGA 6 x 6mm, 84-WFBGA 7 x 7mm, 100-WFBGA 8 x 8mm, and 144-WFBGA 9 x 9mm) for space-sensitive designs.

Each contains a different feature set, combining serial ports, parallel port, and PS/2 with GPIO and temperature and voltage monitoring.

Microchip SCH322X family of I/O controllers at Embedded World 2016

SCH322X family of I/O controllers have a mix of features for industrial use

Industrial automation was also the target for Infineon’s XMC1400 microcontrollers, an extension of its XMC1000 family. The microcontrollers use the ARM Cortex-M0 processor and have a 48MHz clock cycle, exceeding the XMC1000 series operation at 32MHz. Elements of the controller peripherals, such as PWM timers and ADCs can also be operated at double, 96MHz, frequency.

Claimed to distinguish them amongst Cortex-M0-based products, the devices can carry out trigonometric calculations and division in real-time, using an integrated math co-processor working in parallel with the Cortex-M0 CPU.

Four central control unit timer modules provide up to 16 independent timers to regulate and control ignition, throttle, and injection pumps. For the control of electric motors, there are two interfaces for the connection of Hall sensors or optical encoders.

All models offer standard communications interfaces, and the XMC1403 and XMC1404 microcontrollers can also connect participants of two CAN buses, one of the most commonly used bus standards in automation technology.

Samples in all package variants are available as well as small evaluation boards.

Embedded World 2016: Infineon’s XMC1400

Infineon’s XMC1400 builds on the XMC1000 to add control to engines and motors in cost-sensitive industrial applications

Claimed to be the industry’s highest performing, low power, 8bit MCU, the ATtiny102/104 MCU was launched by Atmel. It has 1kbyte flash memory and runs up to 12MIPS. Self-programming for firmware upgrades, non-volatile data storage, and an internal oscillator for motor control, as well as serial communication with USART are features suitable for personal healthcare, small kitchen appliance and consumer products, says the company.

Engineering samples are available now, with mass production samples scheduled for May 2016.

Automotive design was also a focus for exhibitors, with Toshiba announcing a fourth generation image recognition processor, designed for entry-level advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

The TMPV7602XBG has 13 hardware-based image recognition accelerators and targets Euro NCAP 2018 camera requirements that will be introduced in 2018, including aautonomous emergency braking, traffic signal recognition, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, high beam assistance and forward collision warning. It also supports new applications, such as traffic light recognition (TLR) and night-time pedestrian detection.

Embedded World 2016: Toshiba TMPV7602XBG

The TMPV7602XBG integrates enhanced CoHOG (co-occurrence histograms of oriented gradients) accelerators]

Socionext was also focused on automotive with a Seeris graphics engine IP, with 2D graphics processing units, 2D/2.5D rendering, display engine, video capture engine for instrument clusters, multimedia and infotainment in vehicles as well as ADAS.

The company also generated a lot of interest with its 360° Wrap Around View System. This safety system combines images from multiple camera inputs to create a real-time 3D augmented reality, free of brightness gaps and superior to bird’s eye views which can make it difficult to recognize vehicles and pedestrians, says the company.

Of course, no visit to Embedded World would be complete without a mention of the IoT. Silicon Labs concentrated on this area, with the launch of a module and Gecko wireless SoCs.

The Wizard Gecko WGM110 Wi-Fi module has a 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n radio, integrated antenna, an EFM32 Gecko MCU, an embedded Wi-Fi stack and multiple internet protocols. It can add Wi-Fi to industrial, M2M systems, says the company, as well as to connected home devices, automotive infotainment, wireless sensors and fitness and medical equipment. At 14.4 x 21 x 2mm, says the company, it is 40% smaller than competing options.

The company also announced Wireless Gecko SoCs, with an ARM Cortex-M4 core and a 2.4GHz radio.

There are three versions, the Bluetooth Smart (Blue Gecko) family, a ZigBee and Thread connectivity version for mesh networks (Mighty Gecko) and the Flex Gecko family, with proprietary wireless protocol options.

Described as a one-stop-shop for multi-protocol IoT connectivity, the SoCs are supported by the Simplicity Studio for concurrent MCU and RF design.

Engineering samples are available now in 5 x 5mm QFN32 and 7 x 7mm QFN48 packages.

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About the author

Caroline Hayes has been a journalist , covering the electronics sector for over 20 years. She has worked on many titles, most recently the pan-European EPN. As editor of EPD, she created the e-Legacy Awards and also created EPN’s 40th Anniversary Forum at electronica. Now a freelance journalist, reporting news, writing features and conducting interviews/profiles for many top-line electronics journals, she also writes technical material for marketing departments and PR agencies.

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