Tuesday 30 April 2013

Security for embedded devices

New features added to the LynxSecure separation kernel help protect embedded systems from advanced cyber threats

LynuxWorks are adding new security features to the LynxSecure embedded hypervisor to offer real-time detection, alert and protection against new cyber threats - including zero-day rootkits and bootkits. As more embedded devices are connected to the outside world, as well as being connected to each other (machine-to-machine), the more they are vulnerable to malicious cyber threats seeking to threaten critical infrastructure, financial infrastructure and corporate domains.
LynxSecure is based on separation kernel technology and was designed from the ground up with security as a key design goal. Adding virtualisation to the separation kernel allows for multiple different guest operating systems (OS), both real-time and general purpose, to run in secure domains on a single embedded system. LynxSecure 5.2 is the latest version of this established product and adds a new feature that offers real-time detection of stealthy advanced persistent threats such as rootkits.

Rootkits are the most sophisticated and lethal type of malware--stealthy and extremely potent. A device is often infected a long time before the actual cyber attack happens, with the cyber payload being secretly injected and remaining dormant until the attack is finally triggered. When the LynxSecure 5.2 product is used on embedded devices, it can help detect these malicious infections as they inject their payload, long before the start of the actual cyber attack.

“Connected embedded devices are now becoming vulnerable to the same types of cyber attacks that we commonly see in corporate computer networks,” said Robert Day, vice president of marketing at LynuxWorks. “By using LynxSecure, with its new cyber protection mechanisms as a secure foundation between the hardware and the OS, we can help identify and protect against these attacks before the real damage is done.”

A common trend in the embedded market is that developers are starting to use more general purpose OSes, such as Windows, Android and Linux for connected devices. These general purpose OSes offer familiar user interfaces, and benefit from the wide range of applications and devices that they support. Unfortunately, this trend also adds the potential for cyber threats that have been common in the desktop, laptop and mobile arena to now attack connected embedded devices.

These most advanced variants of these cyber threats, such as rootkits, work at the lowest levels of the OS they intend to attack. The approach to combating these insidious threats needs a mechanism that offers a completely different security posture: It must execute with a higher privilege than the attacked OS; provide complete control of the platform hardware; and monitor all activities of the OS and its applications. Also, this mechanism must be self-protecting, non-bypassable and tamper-proof.

The LynxSecure product, by the nature of its virtualisation, resides beneath the OS, and allows any nefarious activity from advanced cyber threats to be observed, examined and prevented. This security architecture allows embedded developers to use general purpose OSes for their connected devices, often alongside traditional embedded RTOSes on the same hardware, with the extra protection against today’s and tomorrow’s advanced cyber threats.

• See also our ICS & SCADA Security Page for lots of links on cybersecurity in automation.

VGA Modules

Enhanced viewing angle and colour stability

Two new TFT displays featuring a new ultra wide viewing angle (UWVA) technology have been introduced by KOE. The new 5.7" TX14D23VM5BAA and 6.5" TX17D01VM5BAA displays feature VGA (640 x 480 pixels) resolution and are based on traditional TN (twisted nematic) TFT technology. Enhancements to the optical design of the LCD cell provide improved viewing angles and maintains colour stability when compared with standard TN TFT displays.

As a result of UWVA being implemented, both of these TN based TFT displays feature a wide viewing angle of 80 degrees in all directions (up/down, left/right) enabling concise, clear colour images and information to be displayed.

Mark Stephenson, Technical Marketing Manager, KOE Europe, commented, "For many applications with graphical user interfaces, colour homogeneity of the display image is mandatory. There is a growing demand in the embedded, medical and industrial markets for high quality displays that provide stable colour performance over wide viewing angles yet still offer a viable cost effective display solution. The new 5.7" and 6.5" display modules will be able to offer 'IPS like' optical performance from a TN based TFT technology."

The 5.7inch TX14D23VM5BAA features a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a LED backlight producing a brightness of 800cd/m² with a 40K hour half brightness lifetime. A 40-pin data interface supporting 18-bit RGB CMOS enables a colour palette of 262k colours. The module has mechanical outline dimensions of 131.0mm (w) x 102.2mm (h) x 7.6mm (d) and an operating temperature range of -20°C to +70°C.

The 6.5inch TX17D01VM5BAA features a contrast ratio of 350:1 and a brightness of 800cd/m² with a specified 70K hour time to half brightness. A 31-pin data interface supports 18-bit RGB CMOS and a 262k colour palette. The display supports an operating temperature range of -20°C to +70°C and has mechanical outline dimensions of 153.0mm (w) x 118.0mm (h) x 9.1mm (d).

Both display modules feature a 4:3 aspect ratio, COG (chip on glass) construction and are fully RoHS compliant. Suitable for many varied embedded, industrial, instrumentation and medical applications the new UWVA 'IPS Like' 5.7" and 6.5" TFT display modules are supplied through KOE Europe's distribution partners and are available across Europe immediately.

4-Port mini USB Hub

B&B Electronics has expanded its family of industrial-grade USB 2.0 hubs with the UH104, an affordable, four-port mini USB hub used to connect multiple peripheral devices to a single USB port. Powered exclusively by the host USB port, it provides downstream devices with 100 mA of power and High Speed USB connectivity at 480 Mbps.

Designed for easy mounting in harsh environments and cramped spaces, the mini (2.4 x 1.75 x 1.10 in, 6.1 x 4.45 x 2.79 cm) USB hub features a rugged ABS plastic housing, built-in mounting tabs, a wide (-40 to 80°C) operating temperature, and B&B Electronics’ signature high-retention USB connectors that require up to 3.4 lbs. of force to disconnect, ensuring tight connections even in high-vibration situations.

The UH104 is made primarily for industrial automation, instrumentation, security, kiosks, point-of-sale and laboratory market applications. The hub is designed, tested and proven rugged enough for industrial EN61000-6-1 harsh environments. Its construction was validated using IEC60068-2-32 drop testing, and it also adheres to 15 kV ESD protection and FCC / CISPR Class B standards.

This entry-level hub shares many of the features of B&B’s top-of-the-line USB hubs, although it does not include their built-in surge protection and electrical isolation, features that are intended for use in ultra-rugged applications.

Cooling systems

Rittal has launched its range of DX based LCP cooling systems. Rated at 12kW, the Liquid Cooling Package Direct Expansion (LCP DX) can be deployed in either cold aisle containment or high density rack cooling. The LCP Rack DX is mounted on the side of the rack, to form a closed system in either the rack or the cold/hot aisle containment pod.

Warm server air is drawn in directly from the rear of the rack and cooled air is blown back in front of the 19" equipment level from the side, over the whole height of the enclosure. Rittal’s LCP DX has four EC fans for maximum efficiency and minimum power consumption. Flow characteristics of the heat exchanger are optimised for the lowest possible pressure losses on the air side, this minimises the energy consumption of the fans.

Maintenance and service for all relevant components can be achieved quickly and simply due to the optimised layout. Rittal’s fans can be exchanged quickly and at any time, even while the system is operational (hot swapping). In addition the fans are installed in the cold air section, which increases their service life.

PC development system for software radio apps

Pentek has announced the launch of its Model 8266 PC development system, pre-configured to speed application development for the expansive family of Pentek Cobalt® Virtex-6 and Onyx® Virtex-7 FPGA PCI Express software radio and data acquisition I/O boards. The 8266 is delivered with the selected Pentek hardware configured for either Windows 7 Professional or Linux operating systems along with ReadyFlow® BSP drivers and software examples, fully installed and tested. Upon delivery, the system allows development engineers to immediately run example applications out-of-the-box.

“The Model 8266 is offered as a standard pre-integrated platform, saving our customers valuable time and cost in selecting, assembling and configuring components for a high-performance, real-time development system,” stated Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek. “We resolve the typical hardware, operating system and software compatibility obstacles inherent in new PC development platforms. All hardware is installed in appropriate slots, fully configured with proper cabling, power and cooling strategies, and optimized BIOS and operating system settings. The customer simply needs to remove the system from the package and start developing. As an added benefit, the tested and proven configuration of the Model 8266 streamlines Pentek customer support.”

Pentek collaborates with customers to select from the extensive family of 786xx Cobalt® and 787xx Onyx® PCI Express modules and then evaluates system requirements to define the Model 8266 configuration most appropriate for the final application.

ReadyFlow Software
Pentek ReadyFlow drivers and board support libraries are preinstalled and tested with the Model 8266. ReadyFlow includes example applications with full source code, a command line interface for custom control over hardware, and Pentek’s Signal Analyzer, a full-featured analysis tool that continuously displays live signals in both time and frequency domains.

System Implementation
Built on a professional 4U rackmount workstation, the Model 8266 is equipped with the Intel Core i7® processor, DDR3 SDRAM and a high-performance PCIe motherboard. These features accelerate application code development and provide unhindered access to the high-bandwidth PCIe links connecting the Cobalt and Onyx analog and digital I/O modules. All necessary coaxial and timing cables are installed and tested, providing SMA connectivity for all analog I/O lines. The Model 8266 can be configured with 64-bit Windows or Linux operating systems.

ProfiNET enabled I/O Solutions

New PROFINET I/O Scanners for PACSystems RX3i, PAC8000, VersaMax IP round out I/O offering

GE Intelligent Platforms has extended its commitment to high-performance solutions in today’s connected world with the release of the PACSystems RX3i, PAC8000 and VersaMax IP Scanners for the PROFINET industrial networking platform. PROFINET connectivity ensures fast, easy-to-configure connectivity to GE’s PACSystems RXi and RX3i controllers and extensive range of I/O options, enabling scalable machine automation and highly distributed modular machine designs.
PAC8000 I/O PROFINET Scanner allows rugged I/O 
to be used in extreme temperature & corrosive 

Every level of a GE Intelligent Platforms’ control system from PROFINET networked I/O modules to the cloud-based automation development platform – is built to connect and collaborate. The new PACSystems RX3i I/O PROFINET Scanner enables GE’s most advanced I/O to be used easily and efficiently as a distributed intelligent node. Combined with the PACSystems RX3i controller, it makes a high performance, powerful, singular form factor for the most demanding applications. The PAC8000 I/O PROFINET Scanner allows rugged I/O to be used in extreme temperature and corrosive environments. And, the VersaMax IP is IP67-rated, so it can be bolted right to the equipment it controls.

GE’s PROFINET-enabled high performance automation platform combines PACSystems controllers with PROFINET I/O, to allow infrastructure OEMs up to a 25% reduction in their implementation footprint as multiple media types and Ethernet switches are integrated directly into the scanners. Setup is fast with easy-to-use name-based configuration over the network or with a standard memory card. OEMs can maximize their customers’ uptime by simply adding one extra cable to create instant network redundancy. Speeds up to 1Gigabit are available without reducing the bandwidth other networks types might experience.

“PROFINET is the standard for industrial networking in automation,” said Steve Pavlosky, Product General Manager, Control & Communications Systems Platforms for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Because we use PROFINET, we build on a high speed, high bandwidth network to enable better access to real time plant floor data by taking the worry out of volume, latency, and frequency of information flow. This delivers a high performance automation solution for today’s, and tomorrow’s, connected world.

Monday 29 April 2013

Sensors & Instrumentation on show!

Sensors & Instrumentation, a new, dedicated exhibition, conference and seminar programme, is taking place in Hall 3 at the NEC, Birmingham (GB) on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September 2013.
The free-to-attend show, organised by Datateam Business Media in partnership with Trident Exhibitions, combines the solid industry foundations cemented by previous shows Sensing Technology and Sensors and Systems. The result: a single, focused, bigger and undoubtedly better event.

The exhibition will showcase sensors, test and measurement equipment along with a variety of other types of instrumentation and will play host to a range of seminars aimed at professionals from areas including: automation; calibration; cases and enclosures; condition monitoring; control systems; data acquisition; displays; environmental analysis; flow and level; gas detection; inspection and measurement; instrumentation, thermal imaging and many more.

Just some of the companies that will be exhibiting at this important trade event include: Dewetron; Infratec Infrared; Michell Instruments; Techni Measure; Optris; Rose Plastic; Kistler Instruments; National Instruments; Keller UK; PCB Piezotronics; Global Sensor Technology and FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, along with many others.

As well as an exhibitor list featuring a comprehensive collection of market leaders, the show will offer visitors the opportunity to enhance their professional development with a wide-ranging seminar programme and an array of innovative workshops. Papers are being submitted and discussed from National Instruments; Kistler Instruments; NPL; The Profibus Group and Techni Measure. In particular, Andy Mangel, Managing Director at Bronkhorst, will be discussing the manufacturer’s new ultra flow coriolis meter.

Visitors to the show will also benefit from an exciting event co-location, providing easy access to nearby shows Micro | Nano | Mems 2013, The Machine Building Show 2013, TCT Live and Mediplas. Due to the significant overlap in technology usage within these sectors, more visitors than ever are expected to attend Britain's only event of this kind.

The British National Physics Laboratory is also endorsing the event. Pete Moores, Business Development Manager, NPL Training, said: “The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is pleased to be exhibiting and presenting at Sensors & Instrumentation 2013. It is a great opportunity for us to meet and network with all the key players in this sector at one event. This year we will be providing a preview of our new Instrumentation and Sensors training course, so delegates can get a taster on the underpinning principles of measurement good practice, which can really make a difference within their workplaces, giving them the opportunity to generate a return on investment and improve measurement capability.”

Website eases access to display & component technical content

Product information cross referenced by application and supplier

Ginsbury has announced the launch of their new website. The new site has been designed to provide the end user with ease of access to technical data and product information. A simple, user-friendly navigation structure has been implemented and a new look complements the refreshed online portal.

Ginsbury specialises in the supply of high quality 
display components, monitors, digital signage
 and power components to commercial, industrial
 & retail markets throughout Europe
Site navigation is aided with product and application images that enable users to find supplier information and product data quickly thanks to an uncomplicated menu architecture. Content on the new site includes revised and updated product pages containing information for new and existing products and applications.

John Halton, Director, Ginsbury said, "One of our main goals was to create a website that provides a user-friendly experience and ease of navigation. Displays provide a visual indication of information and data. We wanted to employ a similar philosophy with the new website design. Every picture tells a story, hence the use of picture-based product and application menus and a minimal number of pages to drill through."

Ginsbury is hoping the new website will provide another tool for strengthening business relations and is asking online visitors to sign up for its Newsletter which will include the latest product news and corporate announcements from key suppliers and principals.

More applications for measuring image dimensions

By drastically reducing measurement times, Keyence's IM Series Image Dimension Measurement System has revolutionised full-part inspection. Now with a twice as large field of view (200 × 100 mm) and new illumination options, it can handle larger and more complex targets.

The IM Series measures dimensions in seconds both reliably and with greater accuracy. Simply place a target on the stage and press the button. Up to 99 points are measured in a matter of seconds with a high degree of accuracy. The system simplifies measurement procedures. In addition to recognising and measuring shapes automatically, it features an autofocus complete with a motorised Z-stage with a 30 mm travel range and distortion adjustment. Lastly, it offers the advantage of eliminating inter-operator variability problems and makes managing measurement records easy.

A broad range to cover a maximum of applications.
The IM-6600 controller can be used with four different head units — the IM-6015/IM-6025 (general-purpose models), the IM-6140 (high-precision model, 0.1 µm repetition accuracy) and the all-new IM-6120 (200 mm wide-field model). The IM-6120 features a 200x100mm stage yet still has a remarkably small footprint.

Four types of illumination are now available — backlighting, epi-illumination (for measuring non-through dimensions), ring epi-illumination (for measuring shiny targets or tapered surfaces such as conic sections) and grazing illumination (for measuring targets with uneven surfaces or contours that are hard to delineate due to the diffusion of light).

Plastic cap/Mouldedcapacitor.
Ring epi-illumination makes measuring non-through dimensions on bottle caps and other targets with raised surfaces possible. This high-intensity ring of white LED light is cast onto the circumference of the lens. The ring is divided into four parts that are individually turned on and off to obtain the sharpest image. These settings are retained for each specific target to be measured.

Statistical processing of data has also been improved with a new application that extracts measurement data so that it can be imported into conventional spreadsheet software. Users can choose from a set of document templates and customise each layout with a logo or other visual element. The trend graph/histogram function allows on-site analysis of production trends and variations and can help to reduce rejection rates.

Simpler vision systems

Simplified vision systems with power over Ethernet frame grabbers

National Instruments has announced the NI PCIe-8236 and NI PCIe-8237R two-port GigE Vision frame grabbers featuring PoE technology. The PCIe-8237R features LabVIEW FPGA-enabled I/O, including isolated digital inputs and outputs, as well as bidirectional TTL lines for implementing custom counters, PWM signals and quadrature encoder inputs. It also offers advanced triggering and synchronisation options, such as a low-jitter, low-latency FPGA-based network trigger as well as RTSI synchronisation bus support.

Both frame grabbers are fully compliant with isolation specifications in the PoE standard to provide additional safety for the vision system and its operators. They can also interface with the latest low-cost PoE cameras on the market as well as non-PoE GigE Vision cameras with cable lengths up to 100 m.

“With these new frame grabbers, you can power a camera, perform triggering and acquire images from a single Ethernet cable,” said James Smith, Director of Industrial Embedded Marketing at National Instruments. “Engineers are constantly being challenged to do more with less, so this is a huge advantage for anyone building a vision system.”

New corporate marketing manager at instrument company

Tom Watson is the new Corporate Marketing Manager at Moore Industries-International, Inc. In this role, Watson will help guide the company’s strategic marketing efforts in strengthening its leadership position in the design and manufacturing of electronic measurement and interface instruments for various process industries.

Prior to joining Moore Industries, Watson was the Director of Global Marketing and Communications at Goellner, Inc., a worldwide manufacturer of machine tools and machine components. While at Goellner, Watson handled two of the company’s brands: Henning (a manufacturer of machine protection and coolant management products) and Advanced Machine & Engineering Co. (a machine and components manufacturer). At Goellner, Watson improved sales and marketing processes while updating corporate websites and instituting a successful PR-oriented demand generation campaign.

Watson also held several roles during 22 years at Hewlett-Packard, including the title of Worldwide Advertising Manager of the Electronic Products & Solutions Group at HP’s test and measurement spin-off Agilent Technologies. While with Agilent, Watson oversaw a brand rebuilding campaign based on tutorial-driven content that helped increase brand sales and grow sales within the group.

“Tom’s ability to combine creative strategic thinking with tactical project management and execution makes him a great fit for this position as our company looks to reach new customers while retaining our existing base,” said Scott Saunders, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing and COO at Moore Industries. “In addition, we feel that Tom’s many years of experience in marketing communications and advertising combined with his background in marketing products to test engineers and manufacturers will enable him to make valuable contributions to the continuing success of Moore Industries.
“Moore Industries’ commitment to bringing innovative products of such high quality to process control customers is unparalleled within the industry. The company has several upcoming product and technology innovations planned. I am excited about the opportunity to work with this dedicated team to develop new ways to bring these excellent products and services to our diverse process control marketplace.”

Analyser in composter!

An organic fertilizer manufacturer has selected Michell’s XZR500 analyzer to monitor oxygen levels in its composting process. The innovative process dramatically reduces the time taken to break down animal dung into a useable form and the XZR500 forms part of the control system. Traditionally animal dung takes around 21 days to compost, however the fertilizer manufacturer achieves this in just 24 hours, with great benefits to their efficiency and costs.

The dung is fed into a rotating cylinder which agitates it for 24 hours during which time the composting process is completed.   Conditions in the compositing chamber are very aggressive: the chicken and cow excrement used as a compost feedstock produce high levels of ammonia. The conditions in the chamber are also very humid with temperatures ranging between 20 and 70°C. After the process is completed, the compost is dried and powdered.

The XZR500 – usually associated with applications measuring the combustion efficiency in boilers, incinerators and furnaces – helps to ensure the levels of oxygen in the composting chamber remain at the optimum level for maximum performance.

The XZR500’s probe is placed directly into the air outlet and an ejector is used to pull a sample out to the sensor housed in the ex-situ head.  The MSRS zirconium oxide sensor is able to withstand the harsh atmosphere in the composting chamber without the need for a sampling system and does not require frequent replacement, ensuring low running costs.

The previous analyzer used in process had needed a sampling system with a more complex installation and routine maintenance.  The original sensor used in this application was an electro-chemical cell which depleted over time, needed periodic replacing and added to the cost of ownership.

• Michell are represented in Ireland by Instrument Technology.

Friday 26 April 2013

Hidden pigeons revealed by thermal camera

Juvenile Pigeon in Recovery
Following an alert from a member of the public, staff from Seahaven Bird Rescue rushed to a library in Newhaven (GB) in an attempt to rescue a number of trapped pigeons. However, some of the birds were hidden inside a wall cavity, so an infrared camera was hired from Ashtead Technology in order to investigate the extent of the problem.

The eggs were no longer alive!
After releasing the trapped birds, the rescuers used the hired Flir i60 thermal camera to inspect the cavity and were surprised to find three nests containing eggs, and that the cavity was a lot larger than first thought. The infrared camera also enabled the rescuers to determine that the eggs were no longer alive.

Ashtead Technology’s staff were delighted that the camera had made a significant contribution to the success of the operation. Josh Thomas said: “Our range of infrared cameras is often employed to investigate walls and cavities; this is usually to find areas of water leakage or poor insulation, but we were very happy to be able to help with this unusual application.”

In addition to the assessment of buildings. thermography is also employed for the inspection of vital equipment such as pumps (to check overheated connections and fuse problems), valves (leakage), storage tanks (sludge levels) and conveyor belts (overheating bearings). Motors and other machinery components can also be easily inspected and potential problems quickly identified and resolved.

At the entry level and weighing just 0.58kg, the compact i60 camera represents excellent value for customers wanting a lightweight thermal camera with many of the features found in high-end imaging equipment. Designed for easy, one-handed operation the high-resolution i60 provides a temperature survey range of -20°C to +350°C and is perfect for small-scale industrial applications and building inspections. Because of its size, the i60 is also the ideal choice for inspecting hard-to-reach machinery and equipment while the 1GB memory allows for the storage of around 1,000 images at any one time.

Commenting on the success of the project, Carrie Grace, founder of Seahaven Bird Rescue said, “The i60 arrived self-calibrated, which meant that we just had to turn the camera on, aim and click. We also found that the flashlight on the camera was really useful because our inspection went on late into the evening.
“The thermal camera dramatically improved the effectiveness of our investigation and the ability to hire this technology is a major advantage.”

Connector incorporats moulded interconnect device (MID) technology

Harting has expanded its har-speed range of connectors with a new PCB connector which will be manufactured using moulded interconnect device (MID) technology. A straight variant for PCB connection will initially be launched on the market.

This use of MID technology means that the size of the new connector has been significantly reduced compared with a conventional PCB connector. The new addition to the M12 range is intended for the integration of the M12 connector configuration into high-speed communication devices such as switches and routers.

Shielding inside the connector is redefined with MID technology. The metal shielded cross is now superfluous. Two plastics are used in the 2-shot MID process, one of which can be deployed with a surface coating in a plating process. The new connector is significantly lighter, with a weight reduction of around 30% per component, and like the larger conventional device can be soldered onto the circuit board in the reflow process.

The new MID variant also meets Cat 6A and performance class EA requirements like the products already available from Harting.

Strain Gauge to USB Converter

New strain gauge to USB converter design offers a more compact solution

A new redesigned strain gauge to USB converter (DSCUSB) has been launched by Mantracourt Electronics Ltd. The new design offers a more compact solution, with a smaller and more stylish enclosure. Internally the product remains unchanged and will perform identically to its widely acclaimed predecessor.

The DSCUSB is a high performance strain gauge digital signal conditioner with USB connectivity. It provides easy sensing for weight, pressure, force and torque and is recognised by engineers worldwide for its high stability and superior performance. The device is easy to connect to a strain gauge sensor and also allows multiple devices to connect to a single PC. The DSCUSB also comes with a free software toolkit, which provides the tools required for configuring, calibrating, logging and managing the parameters of the DSCUSB.

"We are very proud of the DSCUSB, and how widely it is used. It has been a big success," said Louise Stubbs, Marketing Co-ordinator at Mantracourt. "The new, more compact design looks a little more modern and it will be easier to store, transport and handle. Also, the previous design had a fixed USB cable, whereas the new version has a USB connection socket instead. This will allow engineers to choose a specific USB cable length, depending on their situation."

Mantracourt is a world leader in the design and manufacture of electronics for measurement technologies, including strain gauge, temperature, resistance, pressure, voltage, current, potentiometer, rate, flow, LVDT and displacement in either analogue, digital or wireless form.

The DSCUSB is compatible with most load cells and sensors and enables the device to appear as a virtual com port. Windows driver DLL's are also available for interfacing with the DSCUSB. The rugged ABS IP50 enclosure makes the device suitable for most environments and a pcb version of the device is available for projects that require a design-in approach.

"Simply by plugging the DSCUSB into a PC, data can be extracted from most strain gauge bridge input sensors and acquired by the software," said Louise, "This solution enables detailed data logging and manipulation, removing the need for amplifiers, filters & multimeters. Furthermore, the DSCUSB is powered from the USB port, so that no additional power supply is required"

Although ideal for one-to-one interface the device can connect with multiple sensors with the use of a suitable hub. It is also available in ASCII protocol, offering higher resolution and lower temperature drift. Typical applications for the DSCUSB will be those requiring simple sensor connectivity in desktop settings such as test & measurement, R&D and laboratory environments.

Data monitoring programme for compressors

Atlas Copco has launched SmartLink, a new data monitoring programme for compressors that intelligently gathers, compares and analyses data to help compressed air users increase maintenance and service efficiency. Making smart use of connectivity, data monitoring and business intelligence, Atlas Copco helps customers to get a better view of their maintenance needs, maintain production uptime and improve, wherever possible, their operating costs by minimising energy consumption.

Until now, the service of compressors and compressor rooms was either based on regularity (ie organisations with service contracts in place that ensure planned visits from a service technician) or was conducted on a reactive basis (an unforeseen problem requiring an immediate intervention). According to Atlas Copco this doesn’t need to be the case anymore: The SmartLink data monitoring program enables the monitoring of productivity on a 24/7 basis.

SmartLink provides businesses with a complete insight of their compressed air production. It helps to predict potential problems (and thus anticipate them); and shows how and where production can be optimised and energy can be saved.

There are three different options available: SmartLink Service which enables the user to easily schedule maintenance visits as they have an overview of machine data and the time left before a service is due. The service log book is always just one click away and the online link with Atlas Copco allows them to request and receive quotes for spare parts or additional services quickly.

The second option SmartLink Uptime allows the end user to be informed by email or SMS message if there is a problem with their compressed air production. Based on this information the necessary actions can be taken to avoid the risk of a breakdown. It is possible to visit the website at any time and see the actual warning/shutdown status of the machines as well as a history of previous notifications.

Finally, SmartLink Energy enables the continuous monitoring and analysis of the energy
efficiency of a compressor room. The user defines the performance indicators (such as air pressure) and the benchmarks and immediate improvements can be made when needed. The results can be used for energy monitoring according to ISO50001

Over the coming years it is Atlas Copco’s ambition to integrate SmartLink into air production installations worldwide and help customers benefit from the insight it offers.

SmartLink is an easy to install, efficient to consult, and simple to tailor data monitoring program. Data is gathered, compared, and analysed efficiently and when needed, warnings are sent out in order to prevent downtime. This data enables local service organisations to plan and prepare their interventions. As a result service efficiency increases, time is gained and money is saved.

Process safety fundamentals!

A new ISA course, Process Safety Fundamentals (EC50CT), provides a sound foundational understanding of leading process safety concepts, standards and procedures, and accentuates the need to regard process safety as a fundamental daily priority.

Process safety focuses on preventing significant industrial accidents, such as fires, explosions and chemical releases, in chemical plants and other facilities dealing with hazardous materials, such as refineries and oil and gas production installations.

Luis Garcia - Instructor
“Process safety is a continuous journey, rather than a destination, and everybody within a plant or manufacturing organization must undertake this journey and recognize what’s at stake,” says Luis Garcia, a consultant for Siemens Energy and Automation, a Certified Functional Safety Expert and the instructor of ISA’s Process Safety Fundamentals course. “Operators and technicians, but also engineers and managers—even though they may not be directly involved in safety administration—need to understand the critical importance of process safety, and recognize the serious risks if safety procedures are not followed.”

“This course shows that safety is everyone’s business,” continues Garcia, who for nearly 30 years has been working to develop process safety standards and procedures in the oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical sectors. “Safety provides the foundation for any plant to operate effectively. It can’t be viewed as a burden or an add-on step. It’s got to be approached as a critical need.”

ISA, Garcia says, has played an important role in elevating process safety through the development of the ISA84 functional safety standards. These standards improve the design, installation, operation and maintenance of Safety Instrumented Systems—the computer-based systems relied upon in most modern plants to prevent adverse safety, health and environmental consequences.

In addition to explaining the purpose and value of the ISA84 standards, ISA’s Process Safety Fundamentals course:

• Covers legal requirements.
• Describes the role of personnel in the Safety Life Cycle.
• Reveals how to determine and manage safety risks.
• Evaluates the basic characteristics of a SIS and their implications.
• Emphasizes the importance of maintenance in the operational phase.
• Discusses the differences between various industry-applicable standards.
• Serves as a preparatory course for a more advanced ISA offering: Safety Instrumented Systems—Design, Analysis and Justification (EC50).

Throughout his career, Garcia has participated in the design and development of instruments for many safety-related applications, such as solenoid valves. He has written several white papers, and has conducted seminars and workshops throughout Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Spain and Great Britain.

Garcia graduated with honors as a metallurgist and material scientist from Liverpool University, and holds a mechanical degree from Saint Joseph Technical College in Rosario, Argentina.

The next scheduled offering of Process Safety Fundamentals (EC50CT) will be on 20 May 2013 at ISA’s Columbia, Illinois USA regional training location. The last day to register for this class is 6 May 2013. The EC50CT course will also be offered as part of ISA SIS Boot Camp at ISA Technical Training Camp - Houston this coming June.

All-weather colour camera for plant monitoring

Yokogawa has released the first model in the new FIELDEYE II series of all-weather CCD cameras for the monitoring of plant facilities and premises. This new model, the FC33U, is non-explosion proof and has pan-tilt zoom functionality. Yokogawa plans to release an explosion proof model by the end of this year.

This new FIELDEYE II all-weather CCD camera is compact in size and features best-in-class performance. It is expected to provide a boost to Yokogawa’s plant monitoring solution business.
Development Background

Many plants have security camera systems that allow the monitoring of production lines and other facilities from locations such as the central control room. Yokogawa entered this market with the 1997 release of the FIELDEYE series of all-weather CCD color cameras. Much smaller and lighter than other plant monitoring cameras on the market, these products have acquired a solid track record particularly here in Japan and other Asian countries.

The monitoring camera market has been expanding worldwide, driven by the recent increase in awareness of the need for heightened plant security. To improve plant safety, monitoring cameras that deliver high performance, yet easy-to-install, are in demand. In response to these market needs, Yokogawa has developed this new FIELDEYE II series all-weather CCD color camera.

Product Features
1): Compact and light, yet rugged and corrosion-resistant
In contrast to the FIELDEYE series, which used an aluminum enclosure, FIELDEYE II series enclosures are made of robust, corrosion-resistant SUS316L*1 stainless steel. Although stainless steel is about three times denser than aluminum, the new enclosure weighs about the same as the aluminum enclosures used on our earlier products, thanks to its small size (made possible by the redesign of camera system components) and the use of a thin-wall stainless steel casting process. The FC33U is one of the most compact non-explosion proof pan-tilt zoom type CCD camera systems on the market today, and is also one of the lightest products employing a stainless steel construction. With these characteristics, the FC33U is easier to install and can be used in a greater variety of locations.

2): Camera with high sensitivity, magnification, and resolution
As a standard feature, the camera unit, a core component of this product, has superior sensitivity (minimum illumination: 0.5 lux, zoom magnification (36× optical and 20× digital), and horizontal resolution (650 TV lines). As such, it is one of the best-performing plant monitoring cameras on the market today..

Major Applications
The monitoring of processes and facilities at oil, petrochemical, chemical, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, food, and iron and steel plants

*1 A stainless steel with excellent corrosion resistance, fracture toughness, ductility, workability, and weldability that can be used in a wide variety of applications
*2 Approximately the brightness of a full moon

Putting green energy on the Canadian grid

National Instruments has partnered with Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc. (LocalGrid™) to build the next-generation energy management system for Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited. Funded by nearly €1.92 million ($2.5m) in grants from Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative and Ontario’s Smart Grid Fund, the project takes advantage of distributed intelligence technology to manage renewable energy generated by the community onto the power grid. In addition to allowing for increased generation capacity, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the integrated platform can improve reliability and efficiency across the electric power system.
Toronto Hydro is working with LocalGrid to develop a distributed approach for managing generation without requiring expensive new power lines or capital equipment. LocalGrid’s software uses NI CompactRIO devices installed on the grid to control and monitor community generation sources.

“The electrical grid will be radically transformed over the next 10 years, moving from a centralised model of power generation and distribution to a less capital-intensive local or MicroGrid model,” said Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid. “This is driven in part by the introduction of distributed renewable sources of generation. Our technology allows renewables that are currently blocked to come online without costly infrastructure investment.”

The LocalGrid solution addresses an unexpected challenge created by clean energy incentives. Due to the country’s vast size, cold climate and expansive economy, Canada has one of the highest rates of per capita energy consumption in the world. To promote conservation and efficiency, the federal and provincial governments provide rebates to households and businesses for renewable energy installations. In some areas, the boom in solar panels and wind turbines actually generate more power than the existing infrastructure can handle, resulting in valuable electricity being wasted.

Toronto Hydro, the largest municipal electric utility in Canada, is working with LocalGrid to develop a distributed approach for managing generation without requiring expensive new power lines or capital equipment. LocalGrid’s software uses CompactRIO devices installed on the grid to control and monitor community generation sources.

“We are using CompactRIO because of its combination of advanced analytics and processing power, in a rugged, flexible, field-deployable system, at the right price point,” said Leigh. “A distributed energy management system must have flexibility, modularity and reliability at the core of the design so that it can grow with the needs of utilities for years to come.”

Last Autumn, Toronto Hydro and LocalGrid kicked off a two-year demonstration period at Exhibition Place. The mixed-use district is home to Canada’s largest entertainment venue and has a variety of distributed generation installations. This month, testing began with the CompactRIO intelligent grid devices that will manage, monitor and control the Exhibition Place grid.

“Toronto Hydro and Prolucid LocalGrid’s work will serve as a model for sustainable energy and smart grid technologies, showing other utilities an integrated and interactive approach to improving efficiency, reliability and responsiveness,” said Owen Golden, vice president of NI’s energy segment. “We are extremely excited to be the technology partner for the sophisticated control and monitoring applications needed within such a complex network.”

Thursday 25 April 2013

The year of ZigBee!

GreenPeak Technologies has announced the year of ZigBee. Worldwide, GreenPeak and other ZigBee semiconductor suppliers are now shipping millions of ZigBee chips every week, making ZigBee the only credible open worldwide standard for the smart home supported by cable and satellite operators and other companies playing in the smart home space.

“ZigBee has been recognized as the connected and smart home technology of choice, due to its worldwide standardization and acceptance via the cable TV and service provider industries,” says Greg Potter of Multimedia Research Group. “Once the cable companies have taken the first step of providing ZigBee networks in the majority of new set-top boxes, it helps create a thriving industry of ZigBee add-on devices for the home - making it easy for installers, system integrators, and home do-it-yourselfers to install a wide range of ZigBee devices onto the cable companies’ ZigBee backbone within the home". Revenues from services derived from ZigBee backbones within the home are set to skyrocket from $80 million in 2012 to over $1.7 billion in 2017.

According to IMS Research – now part of IHS (NYSE: IHS) – one of the key trends driving the use of ZigBee in the ‘smart home’ is the adoption of the technology by managed service providers in the U.S. and Europe, offering home monitoring and energy management systems via cloud-based home management platforms. The growing traction of ZigBee RF4CE in home entertainment devices is set to continue. IHS projects that shipments of ZigBee RF4CE ICs will grow with a CAGR of 29.1% in the period 2012 to 2018 as ZigBee RF4CE is increasingly incorporated in a range of devices such as set-top boxes, television sets and the accompanying remote controls as an IR replacement technology, enabling more sophisticated interaction with home entertainment devices.

According to Greg Potter, “The ZigBee revolution is driven by cable companies and service providers who wish to expand their market by a wide variety of home services, in addition to delivering content. Often called the Fifth Play, cable companies are now adding home services to the previous four plays: TV & movies, broadband Internet, VoIP and wireless phone services.”

“There are approximately 600 million homes connected to the internet – each of these is a potential customer for a ZigBee home network, with over a hundred possible devices in each home talking to the network: from thermostats, lights and switches, security sensors, door locks, appliances, remote controls, etc.” says Cees Links, Founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. “GreenPeak’s Open Smart Home Framework provides a context in which all these devices seamlessly connect to each other and to the internet via the low power ZigBee standard, complementary to WiFi for data sharing and content distribution.”

Exclusive reseller in Japan

Quantum Composers announced today that Opto Science Inc, a top reseller of laser and pulse generator technology, will take over as the new exclusive reseller in Japan.

 Quantum's Saphire pulse generator
Opto Science has been representing Quantum Composers products since 2005 and has been recognised several times for their excellence in customer service and support. The company itself has been in business for over 25 years, providing products and services to a wide range of customers from their headquarters in Tokyo. They specialize in the sale of laser instruments, such as CO2, Excimer and YAG Lasers, optical supplies and of course test & measurement instruments such as pulse generators.

Sales and Marketing Director for Quantum Composers, Mr. Will Bomar says “Making Opto Science an exclusive reseller was an easy decision. They have shown through their dedication and expertise that the title is well deserved.” The announcement itself came just before one of the largest Asian tradeshows of the year, LASER EXPO (OPIE 2013) in Yokohama. Opto Science is making their exclusive debut and will be showing several Quantum Composers products at their booth.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Opto Science provides laser systems (laser source, instrumentation systems, sensors, optical materials optical components, peripherals, optical components, vacuum) optical communications (optical components, measuring instruments / fiber processing equipment, accessories) and associated Raman Biotechnology such as unit production and sale systems to foreign skilled Optoelectronics (custom design).

Additional industrial network interfaces

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the availability of new CANopen and CC-Link bus interfaces for its high performance PACSystems® RSTi distributed I/O. Both networks enable the I/O and a wide range of control devices to connect on the same network, therefore reducing wiring and network complexity. The RSTi system is based on global standards and delivers on the promise of an open, consistent and standard high performance communication link between field I/O and controller. The unit’s integration into the control system also simplifies development and commissioning that results in increased productivity

“Equipment builders are continuously looking for ways to improve the performance of their equipment while augmenting usability and reducing size and complexity,” said Bill Black, I/O Product Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms. “These requirements extend to the control system. Every level of a GE Intelligent Platforms’ control system – from our PROFINET networked I/O modules to our cloud-based automation development platform – is built to connect and collaborate. With PACSystems, GE provides high performance control solutions with best-in-class integration of distributed, networked, I/O ideally suited for today’s demanding connected applications.”

Users can standardize on the RSTi I/O system regardless of the controller type or bus interface for a wide range of applications which, in turn, reduces spare parts, training and support costs. There are more than 80 different module types to choose from for discrete, process, motion and specialty applications. In addition to CANopen and CC-Link, GE offers PROFINET, PROFIBUS DP, DeviceNET, MODBUS/TCP, and MODBUS serial.

Starter kits for both the CANopen and CC-Link are available on the GE Intelligent Platforms online store. These specially-priced starter kit systems are ideal for OEMs to evaluate the RSTi for the first time and see the flexibility and power of this open distributed I/O system.

Software supports full performance of Windows 8

zenon 7.10, COPA-DATA's new automation software version is compatible with Windows 8 as of release and supports the complete performance of the new Microsoft operating system.

With the successfully completed compatibility tests, Microsoft has confirmed that zenon 7.10 can smoothly run under Windows 8 and fully meets all quality and security requirements of the operating system. The zenon 7.10 setup has been adapted for use with the new Windows 8 Desktop user interface, enabling users to run zenon directly by way of various tiles (style icons).

Reinhard Mayr, Product Manager at COPA-DATA, explains: "Being a Gold Application Development Partner, we have been able to profit from the strategic partnership with Microsoft for many years now. The confirmed compatibility of zenon 7.10 with Windows 8 once again underlines our continued technological leadership in the industrial automation software market. The new certification signalizes security, reliability and sustainable investment protection for our customers and partners."

To exploit the full performance of zenon under Windows 8, COPA-DATA recommends its customers to use the new version, zenon 7.10, only.

Certification for process systems cyber security

Wurldtech Security Technologies’ Achilles® certification recognises best practices to protect process control equipment against evolving cyber security threats

Emerson Process Management’s DeltaV™ digital automation system and its project and engineering support services have successfully passed annual best practice standards set by Wurldtech Security Technologies, a world leader in protecting mission-critical connected systems and devices.

Emerson has taken a leading role in responding to increased global cyber-security threats by providing cost-effective, easy-to-use protections to its DeltaV digital process automation system. Because of the dynamic nature of cyber security threats, manufacturers participating in Wurldtech’s Achilles Practices Certification programme must re-certify every year. Annual audits help participants improve their cyber security processes and practices, development, testing, commissioning, maintenance and support throughout an automation system’s lifecycle.

Building on industry security requirements set by the International Instrument Users Association (WIB), Wurldtech created its programme to proactively and independently certify that manufacturer policies and practices meet and exceed these requirements.

"Wurldtech set the bar for device manufacturer cyber security," said Emerson Process Management’s chief strategic officer Peter Zornio. "Now, with the Achilles Practices Certification they’ve expanded coverage to the entire control system and its lifecycle. This certification is just one testament to Emerson’s on-going commitment to helping process industries meet current and emerging international cyber security standards and regulations, and most importantly, protecting their process and assets."

"We congratulate Emerson on this achievement," said Wurldtech CTO and founder, Nate Kube. "By certifying its DeltaV system and its service practices for project engineering and support, Emerson can better meet cyber security expectations through globally recognised standards."

• Readers may be interested also in our ICS & SCADA Security page.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Testing energy efficiency

Yokogawa power meters and analysers are the key elements in tests being carried out by LUX-TSI,  an independent British test house specialising in the testing of energy efficient lighting and electronic products, including LEDs, to ensure compatibility with international standards governing energy efficiency.

The two companies have entered into a relationship to test products using Yokogawa’s WT210 and WT3000 instruments to evaluate compliance with European Ecodesign (ErP) Directives, and this capability will be demonstrated at the euroLED Conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, on 24th and 25th June 2013. At this event, LUX-TSI will also be exhibiting with its partner, UL, who are global players in the provision of energy performance and safety testing and certification.

The Yokogawa WT3000 precision power analyser provides “best in class” precision and stability. With a basic power accuracy of ±0.02% of reading, DC and 0.1 Hz-1 MHz measurement bandwidth, and up to four input elements, the WT3000 provides a high-accuracy measurement solution for testing all types of power electronics products.

Dr. Gareth Jones, Chief Executive of LUX-TSI, is a keen supporter of the EU Ecodesign Directive in helping to reduce greenhouse emissions: “The European Commission has brought into effect regulations and directives focused on improving the energy efficiency of key products”, he comments: “There are two complementary ways of reducing the energy consumed by these products: imposing requirements at the design phase, and adding labelling to raise the awareness of consumers. Our UK based independent accredited test house is supporting the implementation of this directive through providing energy performance testing to industry and Government.”

It is estimated that over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase. Product energy-efficiency improvement is a highly effective mechanism to achieve carbon emission reductions, both in terms of the short payback period and the change that may be affected. Research has shown that the introduction of more energy-efficient electronics and lighting represents the lowest cost to society per ton of CO2 emissions reduced.

Lighting products are an important part of the energy-using product space, and consume around 20% of electricity usage. The production, distribution, use and end-of-life management of lighting products are associated with important environmental impacts such as waste generation and the release of hazardous substances.

“One effect of new regulations has been a phasing out of most of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs available for sale in the EU”, says Dr. Jones: “This is driving an important new product into the lighting world – the solid-state LED light - which creates benefits in terms of lowering energy: not only in its growing use but also the energy consumed in manufacturing the product, which is much lower than for other lighting technologies.”

Current estimates suggest that LEDs will achieve more than 70% market penetration by 2020, displacing traditional technologies that have existed for 100 years within a very short timescale.

Testing lighting and electrical products according to the regulations is technically complex and requires controlled laboratory conditions, with stringent calibration and operating procedures. “This is where the LUX-TSI independent accredited testing laboratory with its Yokogawa power measuring instruments has a key role to play”, says Dr. Gareth Jones: “We are happy to fulfil this requirement by supporting manufacturers and governments to ensure that the product performance complies with the regulations in use and in the design phase.”

Automation boot camp training!

ISA introduces ISA Technical Training Camp, an in-depth combination of technician, automation engineering and safety courses to be taught during June 2013 in Texas, USA.

To meet the automation and control community’s needs for comprehensive technical training in a highly condensed format, the International Society of Automation (ISA) announces it will conduct three knowledge-intensive training programs in Houston, (TX USA) over four consecutive weeks in June 2013.
ISA Technical Training Camp students enjoy:

•  Discounted pricing. Save 5 percent on any Technical Training Camp package when you register with promo code “13HTTCPR” by 15 May 2013
• Direct access to and interaction with ISA’s subject matter experts and instructors 

• The opportunity to take an ISA84 SIS Certificate exam. Qualified applicants can choose to sit for one of the ISA84 SIS Certificate programs on Friday, 28 June 2013 
• Pre-arranged local plant tours, which demonstrate how the instruction and skills taught are being applied in actual work environments
• Complimentary ISA technical publication libraries (varies per course)
• After-class networking events to encourage discussions among students and instructors, and facilitate personal and professional development
Sponsored by the ISA Houston Section, this three-part training event, ISA Technical Training Camp—Houston, represents the first time ISA has offered its newest in-depth training events—Technician Training Boot Camp, Automation Engineering Survival Training, and Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) Boot Camp—all in one location.

This Training Camp comprises three rigorous, value-packed training events:

“ISA Technical Training Camp provides a very unique opportunity to take one or more of ISA’s most comprehensive, world-class training events at one location over a short time period, and at a reduced rate for those attending more than one,” says Dalton Wilson, ISA’s manager of Education Services. “As a result, students have the ability to learn and master skills more quickly while saving time and expenses.”

Class size is limited, and registrations will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis

Save operational costs with energy reduction initiative

WEG has launched a new energy reduction initiative, which is designed to help manufacturers optimise efficiencies of existing equipment throughout their plants and processes. The free assessment reviews equipment and outlines a number of steps manufacturers can take to reduce energy use and increase equipment efficiency and reliability, enabling them to minimise costs, reduce carbon footprint and total cost of ownership.

In partnership with Sulzer, WEG is educating British customers in selecting suitable plant equipment with energy saving potential, and giving objective, professional advice on improving productivity while reducing energy consumption and costs.

Experts will assess existing plant equipment and can install drives on-site to monitor and demonstrate existing energy usage. Then a variable speed drive (VSD) can be fitted, energy savings proven and potential savings related to project payback, on-going operational savings and total cost of ownership can be calculated.

The free energy assessment is a simple process and enables the customer to trial equipment before purchase. It is suitable for all plant equipment, including pumps, compressors, fans and conveyor belts.

“Today there is greater pressure than ever on organisations to minimise their carbon footprint and reduce their costs and at WEG we’re committed to increasing energy efficiency, offering customers valuable choices on how they can best enhance their bottom line,” says Daniel Griffiths, product specialist – automation, at WEG. “Our energy efficient technologies like the W22 electric motors and our CFW inverter drives can play a real role in helping them to do both. Our products are always designed to increase energy efficiency, reduce noise and temperature levels, reduce size and increase reliability.”

Motors are responsible for generating over 40% of total global energy consumption. Selecting motors that have been designed with energy efficiency as a priority, such as WEG’s W22 Super Premium motor that exceeds the yet to be implemented IE4 regulations, will enable manufacturers to make significant energy savings, reduce operational costs and increase productivity.

WEG’s new frequency inverter CFW501, which has been designed to meet the needs of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, is another example of energy efficient technology. The robust, compact and easy-to-use drives are currently available with a power range from 0.18 to 7.5 kW and are suitable for all pump and fan applications. Thanks to their advanced features and design, they help users to optimise the operation of their motors, while being quick and easy to install and cost-effective to maintain.

New industrial computing modules to enhance customer choice

GE Intelligent Platforms is to develop a range of rugged COM Express modules based on the new AMD  Embedded G-Series SOC (system on a chip) processors. First shipments are expected in later this year (2013).

Including AMD processors in the new products will enable GE to develop more compact ‘Type 10’ modules in the so-called ‘mini’ format, measuring just 84mm x 55m and allowing customers to deploy them in a broader range of environments. The new products will also provide customers with the flexibility to choose exactly the right COM Express module for the target application.

• New GE COM Express modules will provide new levels of price/performance, and be more compact
• Reduced number of components will further increase reliability for modules used in industrial and harsh environments
• Customers will benefit from GE’s implementation of unique characteristics of AMD Embedded G-Series SOC processors
GE Intelligent Platforms’ rugged COM Express modules are designed to enable high performance automation for a connected world, and offer ultimate durability and varying levels of performance-per-watt. They are well-suited for OEMs designing computing platforms into equipment for industrial or harsh environments, and when reducing the overall design cycle and lowering validation costs are of key importance. Onboard components are specifically selected for their reliability in demanding conditions. Unlike solutions designed for benign environments, the processor and memory on GE COM Express modules are soldered to the board for maximum resistance to shock and vibration. Extended mechanical construction protects the module, which is designed for optional conformal coating for even greater resistance to moisture, dust, chemicals, and temperature extremes.

The COM Express embedded computing architecture is growing in popularity because it separates the underlying “carrier card” from the processor. This means that COM Express modules can be more easily upgraded to the latest technology than would otherwise be possible. The benefit to customers is that this approach extends the useful life of a subsystem by allowing simple, cost-effective upgrade of the processor alone, reducing long term cost of ownership while ensuring that performance keeps pace with changing needs.

Such is the flexibility that the GE COM Express module gives to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and system integrators that it can feature in a broad range of commercial environments including industrial automation, test & measurement, security, transportation, and medical where it can enable end users to be more productive, manage resources better, improve quality and increase revenues and profitability.

“AMD’s new embedded computing processor technology provides a unique combination of functionality and performance characteristics that enables us to design COM Express modules that require fewer supporting chips, making the modules more compact, requiring less power and dissipating less heat and maximizing reliability and uptime,” said Tommy Swigart, Product Manager, Control & Communication Systems, GE Intelligent Platforms. “We are looking forward to working with AMD to bring the benefits of COM Express to help address an even wider range of customer challenges.”

"The AMD Embedded G-Series SOC processors offer a small footprint, low-energy use, and rich I/O integration to enable smaller form factor embedded designs, cool and efficient operation, and simplified build requirements,” said Kamal Khouri, director of embedded products, AMD. “As a significant player in the embedded computing market, and a leader in the development of COM Express solutions, we’re delighted that GE Intelligent Platforms will be featuring the AMD Embedded G-Series SOC processor in its new products.”

The planned product will further extend GE’s growing range of rugged COM Express modules. Most recently announced was the bCOM6-L1400 which takes advantage of the significant processing and graphics capabilities of the Intel® Core™ i7 processor to support multiple independent displays. Prior to the bCOM6-L1400, GE had announced the rugged bCOM6-L1200 which features a range of five VIA Nano™ and VIA Eden™ processor options.