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In September 2011, I have been contacted by CATA’s Jean-Guy Rens who was doing a study regarding the embedded systems industry in Canada titled “The Other Computing – Is Canada Ready for the Internet of Things ?“. You can freely access his full study here.
We had an interview together to get my insights regarding future development of this industry. He finally decided to place this interview as the foreword of his study and called it “The Virtualization of Embedded Computing”. Here are some parts of this interview :
Being fluent in embedded software engineering is not enough
“Embedded systems are a horizontal technology, but their applications scopes are vertical. Many people are studying the embedded system itself, but the real challenge is to apply this knowledge to vertical applications. That is why I introduce myself as a software engineer who migrated to energy applications. I speak both “electric motor” and “embedded software”. Too often, electric motors specialists are not knowledgeable about embedded software and vice versa. Alizem’s expertise is to translate the needs of electric motor-based system designers into embedded software solutions. It is not sufficient to be an expert in C programming to be able to design an application that will fully satisfy a particular need. Too often, developers think they are able to create all purpose applications. That’s why the cost of embedded systems software development is skyrocketing. For my part I tendto consider that software programming is an engineering core skill. It’s like reading and writing: it is not because someone can write that he is equally capable of writing novels, political speeches and pamphlets for department stores. For an engineer, the challenge is to design solutions that encapsulate application knowledge (complex, rare and expensive to develop), within a short time to market, but without compromising product quality and performance. The technology of embedded systems is known and accessible to all. The challenge is to quickly and efficiently integrate modules that work first time around.”
Software now comes first, electronics second
“It is possible to compare the embedded system to a home. For centuries, it is the people who were makers of brick and cement that built the houses. The design, modeling and decoration of the house came as an afterthought. This process has changed beyond recognition when we started asking architects to make plans for our houses – or to program them virtually, if we are to continue our analogy. Even decorators – more often referred to as interior designers – are consulted from the start of the house project. It is they who define the plans of the house – the contractor comes later, to handle the actual construction. Everything happens exactly the same way in the embedded world. The engineer in microelectronics is the contractor with the bricks and mortar. If a microelectronics firm persists in programming an embedded system application from ‘a’ to ‘z’, it behaves like the ancient contractor who made himself the bricks with which he built a house, then would seek the aggregate of the mortar on the side of the river and so on. Such behavior was probably justified for the early embedded systems when devices had limited computing power and range of applications. Developers who all belonged to the world of electrical engineering approached their various projects from a hardware perspective: they had to practically invent their work tools as well as the final product. The rudimentary software used, a few hundred lines of code, was a detail they did not care about too much. But times have changed and electronics has become a commodity: the bulk of the value is migrating towards the software side. Today, embedded systems are software-driven. It is up to the software engineer to be both the architect and the decorator – he is the natural project manager. This role reversal is hard to accept by traditional electronic engineers. The result is a culture shock.”
The post The Virtualization of Embedded Computing appeared first on PE-FPGA/IP.com.
2012-02-10 ElektronikTidningen writes about my Zynq blog (in Swedish)
2014-02-06 Starting a new blog called "Zynq Design From Scratch"
2014-01-14 Updated wildskating.com
Anyway, you will still be able to load and run the firmware program in the hardware successfully and everything is working as expected.
These two error messages (builtin stwio could not be resolved and builtin ldwio could not be resolved) are however do not appear if you convert your C++ code to C code.
But you want to write your code in C++. The question is how to remove the two reported semantic error messages above because they are very annoying and they keep distracting you from the actual error messages?
Simple. Go to the Windows in main menu bar. Select Preferences. On the left-hand column, expand C/C++. Select Code Analysis. Scroll down a bit on the right-hand column. Look for the option Function cannot be resolved. Then, it is up to you to change this setting. You can uncheck the option for Function cannot be resolved. Or, you can just change it to Info or Warningfrom the drop-down list.
Important reminder, after applying the change of the setting, don’t forget to close the Eclipse IDE and reopen it. I noticed that without restarting the Eclipse IDE, the new setting is not effective. After restarting the Eclipse IDE, you will notice that the two semantic error messages above are no longer reported as error.
Time passes and it is now the moment to make a short review of what happenned, in my opinion, in the world of FPGA-based Motor Control and Embedded Motor Control software IP in 2013:
New FPGA evaluation kits
Lattice has started the year with the release of its new iCE40 LP384 development kit. While not being explicitely targeted for motor control but controllers in general, this FPGA is small and very low cost: less than 50 cents per unit in multi-million unit quantities. Even the evalutation kit is very low cost: both iCEblink40-HX1K Evaluation Kit and iCEblink40-LP1K Evaluation Kit are sold for 34.12$. Of course, those kits do not include any power stage, motor or transducers: you need to have your own.
A month later, Altera has annouced the release of its new Cyclone V SoC development kit. Built around a 800 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and provided with all interfaces needed for maximum connectivity, this new device is clearly positionned in the same segment than Xilinx’s Zynq device (also built around ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor) previously released in 2012. This kit interfaces with the FalconEye 2.0 motor control board.
Embedded Motor Control Software IP
In February, Texas Instrument (TI) has announced the release of their new INSTASpin-FOC sensorless motor control software. The pitch is “Identify, tune and fully control your motor in less than 5 minutes and eliminate the need for a mechanical rotor sensor” and meant to be used on TO C2000 Piccolo microcontrollers. According to TI, this helps saving months of design time which is inline with a topic previously addressed on this blog. To my knowledge, TI is currently the only motor control chip manufacturer offering such advanced motor control design tool. Note that this tool is meant to be used in sensorless applications, i.e. applications where near zero speed performance is not a requirement.
In October, my company Alizem has announced that our previously released Motor Control Software IP for Servo-Drives applications has reached a new level of performance on 100kW motors which has led into a licensing agreement with a major industrial OEM. At the same time, we have announced the signature of an agreement with the Canadian Space Agency regarding new motor control software technologies (stay tuned for the release shortly).
In May, I have had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a Webinar on the specific topic of FPGA-based motor control and sponsored by Altera. The discussion has been held around the following questions:• What are the typical steps and challenges faced by system designers when designing motion controllers? • From a motion control design point of view, how do FPGA/SoC devices and design flows compares to other devices? • Communication networks are clearly critical: What are some of the challenges of Industrial Ethernet? • What design tools and flows are needed to maximize system designer productivity? • What is needed from device providers to enable designers to go further in their product innovation? • What factors can reduce the overall cost of ownership of motion control development platforms? The webinar is still available for off-line consultation if you are interested.
Is there anything else missing ? If you think yes, please let me know ! You can also contact me on any topic you would like me to address. Thanks for reading my blog!
The post FPGA-based Motor Control and Embedded Motor Control Software IP – A review of 2013 appeared first on PE-FPGA/IP.com.
ISIE 2014 – IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics
June 1-4, 2014, Istanbul, Turkey
Call for papers: Special Session on Industrial Applications of FPGAs & Embedded Systems
The Special Session seeks papers describing original research or application aspects of FPGAs and Embedded Systems in the area of industrial electronics. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Design and test/debug methodologies for ES/SoC
- Architectures for ES
- Reconfigurable platforms
- Embedded software development
- Formal methods and ES design
- Industrial experiences
- Case studies
All the instructions for paper submission are included at the conference website: http://www.isie.boun.edu.tr/
Submission deadline (extended): 30 December 2013
It is possible to accommodate an extension of some extra days if authors contact organizers in advance. Special Session Organizers:
The post ISIE 2014 – Special Session on “Industrial Applications of FPGAs and Embedded Systems” appeared first on PE-FPGA/IP.com.
Almost every electronics now have SMD parts on it. Hobbyist sector is no exception. Sometimes parts only come in SMT packages and there is no way to avoid. If you need to solder few of them, maybe you can get away with soldering iron and a bit patience. But for larger batches maybe it is better to use reflow soldering technique. This is nothing more than baking circuits in oven. One thing is important here – temperature and timing. Instead of doing this manually, better leave this process to control circuit.
Hamster though it would be fun project to make an oven controlled by FPGA. He programmed temperature stages as finite state machine. Temperature is monitored by using thermocouple. Heater element is switched on/off with solid state relay. The other part of electronics is less critical like LED display, RS232 logging. As initial tests showed, good oven isn’t enough. Proper paste dispenser is also critical for smooth solder joints. But with some practice or by simply using stencils results sould be much better.