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Systems Design

Stephen Evanczuk
Contributing Editor
A 50,000-foot view of system technological advancements, design tips and news that will give designers solid technical advice and information for robust system-level designs. This site also covers the latest board-level embedded hardware, development tools, and related software.

Fast and effective embedded systems design: Applying the ARM mbed, Part 1

Specialists and beginners alike can quickly engage in successful embedded system design thanks to user-friendly and sophisticated building blocks. In this book excerpt, the authors walk developers through the key elements of embedded system design through the use of one such building block - the ARM mbed. Read More...

Testing the performance of your motion controller

A poorly tuned regulator can result in wasted energy, wasted material or an unstable system, so it's important to evaluate speed and position controller performance at many different speed and load operating points. Read More...

ARM Cortex-M4F MCU targets smart meters

The TMPM411F20XBG MCU facilitates electric power calculation and communication in smart meters, as well as sensing and communications in other measurement devices. Read More...

Starter kits speed up code safety standard compliance

Embedded Office's latest Cert-Kits support IEC62304, IEC61508 and EN50128 in standard-compliant development. Read More...

Static analysis tool extends coverage of C++'11 code

The QA++ Version 3.2 static analysis tool for C++ environments incorporates extensive new functionality. Read More...

Meter-on-chip for portable device applications offers 16-bit precision

The AduCM350 is a complete, coin cell powered, high precision, meter-on-chip for portable device applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and body-worn devices for monitoring vital signs. Read More...

Design software for SoC FPGAs speeds run-times

Libero SoC v11.4 offers runtime improvements of up to 35% and productivity enhancements enabled by improved SERDES design wizards, I/O editors and scripting tools. Read More...

ULP wireless: over-the-air software upgrades

Revising an ultra low power (ULP) wireless chip’s software in the field has been difficult. But new technology will make it routine - to developers’ and consumers’ benefit alike Read More...

Reference design for industrial remote I/O devices supports etherCAT

Renesas Electronics' Remote I/O Trial Kit is a complete hardware and software reference for development of Remote I/O devices typically used for I/O monitoring, communication and industrial process control. Read More...

Bluetooth development kit for PIC 32 users

Microchip's PIC32 Bluetooth starter kit integrates a PIC32 MCU with LEDs, analogue sensors, user-defined push buttons, USB and I2S/SPI connectivity and mTouch capacitive touch sensing. Read More...

Synchronized RF transceiver rapid prototyping kit for software defined radio

Analog Devices claims to offer the industry's first SDR rapid prototyping kit with dual 2 x 2 AD9361 RF transceivers, to simplify and rapidly prototype 4 x 4 MIMO wireless transceiver applications on the XilinxZynq7000 All Programmable SoC development platforms. Read More...

MCU starter kits target web applications

These fully integrated kits are intended to shorten time to market for streaming media, Internet of Things and other connected devices. Read More...

Thermal test chips streamline system development

You don’t need to wait for final silicon to test and characterize the performance of your system’s thermal design. Read More...

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3 pins, 3 LEDs, 3 buttons

This LED multiplexing scheme allows for switches in the matrix too. Read More...

Facilitate oscilloscope debug of small microcontroller systems

A probe-to-the-metal approach is often the best way to debug a small µC system, and here’s some code to help out. Read More...

LabVIEW real-time seismic alert system

National Instrument’s LabVIEW has uses beyond instrument control, as demonstrated by this Web app. Read More...

Zener level-shifter drives high-side switch

Simplify a high-side driver by replacing a transistor with a Zener diode. Read More...

Replace a rotary switch with a potentiometer

Why use an expensive rotary switch with your microcontroller when you can use a cheap pot instead? Read More...

One wire brings power & data to LCD module

If you need to connect a small remote LCD display, or your µC has run out of I/O pins, here’s a good, cheap solution. Read More...

Single-cycle logarithms & antilogs

Here are some very fast log (and antilog) blocks well-suited to FPGA implementation. Read More...

Double-speed interpolation

Low-end micros can still benefit from little coding tricks. This one lets you "pan" between two signals or values more quickly than an explicit solution. Read More...

Adaptive rotary encoder distinguishes fine from coarse

Need a rotary panel control that automatically switches between fine and coarse adjustment? It's here. Read More...

Microcontroller drives piezoelectric buzzer at high voltage through one pin

If you're short on I/O pins, this circuit might solve your problem. Read More...

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ARM Cortex-M4F MCU targets smart meters

The TMPM411F20XBG MCU facilitates electric power calculation and communication in smart meters, as well as sensing and communications in other measurement devices. Read More...

Meter-on-chip for portable device applications offers 16-bit precision

The AduCM350 is a complete, coin cell powered, high precision, meter-on-chip for portable device applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and body-worn devices for monitoring vital signs. Read More...

IP enables noise-resilient audio CODEC for automotive infotainment SoCs

Dolphin Integration has an audio CODEC targeting automotive infotainment applications, sCODS100-N.11-Xenon, providing optimal voice command and in-cabin phone conversation performances for high-end listening sound system. Read More...

Keithley power supply measures, too

The 2280S Precision Measurement, Low Noise, Programmable DC Power Supplies provide power, measure output current and voltage and, can graph them. Read More...

28nm IP portfolio debuts for multimedia SoCs

Dolphin Integration has released its 28 nm offering for TSMC's HPM process, with a broad range of products to address the challenges of multimedia SoCs. Read More...

1.5-V PCI Express clock buffers cut power drain

IDT describes its ultra-low-power PCIe buffers as "SoC-friendly" - they use the same 1.5V rail as today's SoCs, reducing system complexity, size, and power. Read More...

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Teardown Preview: Inside the Apple iPhone 5

Until we can lay our hands on a real iPhone 5 and do a real teardown, let's take a look at what others are saying and render an opinion on the reliability of their comments. Read More...

Teardown: High-voltage Li-ion battery stack management - the drive for safe power

At the heart of the Chevrolet Volt, a sophisticated Li-ion battery stack management system ensures the safety and reliability of a multi-cell Li-ion battery stack capable of delivering power on demand to the Chevy Volt drive system. Read More...

Teardown: iPhone 5s

Go inside the iPhone 5s to see the tech, the parts, what's better, and what's the same, as iFixit tears it down. Read More...

Teardown: The power inverter - from sunlight to power grid

This teardown of a solar inverter card traces the path of harvested DC power from the photovoltaic panel, through boost conversion, power inverter and massive filtering of the created AC power signal required by the power grid. Surrounded by monitoring and microcontroller magic along with safety standard adherence, we uncover the mysteries of solar energy harvesting electronics. Read More...

Teardown: Analog rules over digital in noise-canceling headphones

Dig deeper into these headphones that deliver decent audio at relatively low cost and better yet, effective active noise reduction. Read More...

A closer look at LSI’s MegaRAID SAS 9260CV-4i controller

The MegaRAID controller's innovative use of CacheVault technology solves the problem of system reliability during power outages with a greener solution that uses existing power instead of batteries. Read More...

Integration amassed: analyzing a NAS

This hands-on project showcases the second generation of Western Digital's My Book World Edition NAS (network-attached storage) device, so named because it is potentially accessible by a user from anywhere in the world. Read More...

Tiny computer holds embedded treasure

The Waysmall series from Gumstix offers designers a line of Linux-based computer systems that easily fit into the palm of your hand. Housed in an 83×36×15-mm plastic case, these miniature systems provide XScale processing power along with an MMC (MultiMedia Card) slot, two serial ports, one USB client port, a power interface, and general-purpose I/O pins. Read More...

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Fast and effective embedded systems design: Applying the ARM mbed, Part 1

Specialists and beginners alike can quickly engage in successful embedded system design thanks to user-friendly and sophisticated building blocks. In this book excerpt, the authors walk developers through the key elements of embedded system design through the use of one such building block - the ARM mbed. Read More...

Handling metastability in bistable circuits

Bistable circuits exhibit three possible states: two stables states and one metastable state. Proper design requires a clear understanding of metastability and the techniques to remove it. Read More...

Simplifying SoC IO timing closure

Several factors contribute to the current complexity of SoC IO timing closure for embedded systems but designers have multiple alternatives for reducing this complexity. Read More...

The Automata Processor - Practical processing in memory, Pt 2

Following up on Part 1 of this series, this article examines the architecture and programming model of the Automata Processor -- one of a new class of computing architectures that challenges decades-old concepts about the relationship between processors and memory. Read More...

In-memory database systems, NVDIMMs and data durability

The emergence of non-volatile dual in-line memory modules, or NVDIMMs, adds a new tool for in-memory database durability. Read More...

Validating and using the I2C protocol

I2C is a two wire, clock synchronized protocol with a bi-directional data line and a uni-directional clock line. Its simplicity lies in its use of only two lines for communication and its complexity lies in the fact that these lines are shared among all the devices on the bus. Read More...

A robust scan insertion methodology

Designers face multiple challenges in stitching the flops in SoCs to enable robust scan across all process voltage temperature corners. Read More...

Two Views of the Post PC World - Automata Processor and TOMI Celeste, Part 3: Ray Kurzweil's Crazy Dream

Ray Kurzweil may be barking at the moon, but questions of sanity aside, Kurzweil sees the future in 3D 4K HighDef clarity -- and he's not the only mad scientist racing headlong into a brave new post-PC world. Read More...

Enhanced timing closure using latches

Latches are generally used in scan timing paths to provide robustness with respect to variations. Theoretically, latches can also be inserted in functional paths provided certain design conditions are ensured. Read More...

Efficiency and memory footprint of Xilkernel for the Microblaze soft processor

The use of a real-time multitasking kernel simplifies the design process of embedded software, but the kernel requires some portion of system's resources. This paper describes results of research work performed to determine overheads incurred by Xilkernel, a real-time multitasking kernel developed by Xilinx. Read More...

Logical chain-based clock implementation

A solution restrategizes timing optimization to tackle clocks and data logic concurrently. Read More...

Increasing observability of activity-based gating circuits

Adding XOR-based gates into the design has shown significant power saving in the SoC clock networks but requires methods to insert this circuitry while reducing the area and timing impact as well as boosting coverage of the design. Read More...

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Testing the performance of your motion controller

A poorly tuned regulator can result in wasted energy, wasted material or an unstable system, so it's important to evaluate speed and position controller performance at many different speed and load operating points. Read More...

A comparison of space-grade FPGAs - Part 3

Imagine the worst-case scenario for a spacecraft containing SRAM-based FPGAs performing critical control, having their configuration - i.e., the intended functionality - suddenly corrupted by cosmic radiation. Read More...

Intro to LTE-Advanced

How do we achieve higher capacity mobile phone performance with the LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) specification from the 3GPP? Read More...

Reduce your electricity bill - start with an efficient A/C design

How HVAC designers are meeting increasingly challenging standards while still reducing the cost of their system implementation. Read More...

A comparison of space-grade FPGAs - Part 2

For the latest, deep-submicron, space-grade FPGAs operating at higher frequencies with lower voltages and increased logic densities, SETs can dominate the soft-error rate. Read More...

Using conditional complexity to test embedded software

There are many different ways to test an embedded system but they can be boiled down into two primary types of testing, white and black box testing. Read More...

Auto design gets help from old and new tools

Automotive design is one of the first new sectors added to the traditionally semiconductor EDA dominated DAC show, and is a major thrust into the "it's all about the system" mentality. Read More...

Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why

Mommas, here are the top 5 reasons why your babies should NOT grow up to pursue degrees in computer science. Read More...

Motor control for functional safety

As electric motor use proliferates, a fault in the electronics, sensors or motor could pose a serious risk to people or the environment, so functional safety standards now apply to the electronics. Read More...

MCU leverages 55nm automotive-specific semiconductor platform

Scaleo chip has positioned itself as the first fabless company to introduce an automotive MCU manufactured with the GlobalFoundries 55nm automotive-specific eFlash NVM advanced semiconductor manufacturing platform. Read More...

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