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Introduction

Linux is an operating system that is widely used in embedded systems such as consumer electronics, networking equipment, machine control, industrial, automation and so on and so forth. However, all systems do not have the same requirements in term of determinism and sometimes determinism, the ability to schedule the highest priority tasks in a consistent and predictable way, really matters. This is the case for Financial Services, Networking (QoS), Robots, Air Traffic Control Systems...

Compared to other real-time operating systems, Linux has the advantage to be open source with great hardware support. Yet it was not designed to be real-time. It was originally designed to be a time-sharing system where the goal is to give the best throughput from the hardware using all the resources at the maximum. This is the opposite requirement of the real-time constraints that needs determinism even at a low global throughput.

Throughout the years, different approaches have emerged to overcome this problem. The first approach is to modify the Linux Kernel itself in order to get the required latencies or the real-time APIs. This approach is covered by the project PREEMPT_RT led by the Linux kernel developers Ingo Molnar, Thomas Gleixner and Steven Rostedt. The second approach is to add a layer between the Hardware and the Linux kernel to handle the real-time requirements so that the Linux kernel behaviour can stay as it is. This approach has been taken into account by different project like RTLinux, RTAI and Xenomai. Since only the last one is maintained actively on ARM, we will only talk about it.

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The emtrion SBC-SAMA5D36

 06. May 2015, by emtrion
Categories: Hardware, Linux, embedded, SAMA5D3

 I may be a microcontroller guy myself, but there are times where you need the power of a microprocessor. Having an operating system handle the memory, peripherals and events just saves time, and some applications really do need the power a microprocessor provides.

Atmel’s SAMA5D3 family has some impressive devices. Based on ARM’s A5 architecture, they has an impressive amount of peripherals and I/O lines. To name just a few, the SAMA5D36 has 3 I2C ports, 6 SPI ports, 12 12-bit ADC channels, and something you don’t see every day, 7 UART ports. This is impressive enough, but to add to that, the SAMA5D3 also has up to 160 I/O pins, each with its own interrupt. The SAMA5 series is geared towards industrial environments, automotive devices, and with Atmel’s implementation of capacitive touch peripherals, it can be used on just about any application where a user must input data.

With all that power, it isn’t surprising that the German manufacturer emtrion used this processor for one of their development boards, the SBC-SAMA5D36. They not only went with the SAMA5D36 device for its power and reliability, but also for Atmel’s reactivity when it comes to support. Atmel has worked hard on Linux implementation, and so the Linux kernel has everything you need to access every part of the processor, but I’ll get into that later on.

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Android has established itself as a dominant mobile operation system for consumers in recent years. It is indispensable in the field of applications such as smart phones, cameras, tablets, game consoles and much more. The Android-Software-Development- Kit (SDK) is extensively equipped and offers substantial possibilities for programming complex applications. Based on a complete Linux-kernel, Android is operated by a touch-based user interface. In fact, these are ideal conditions for the development of appealing and intuitive HMI applications in an industrial environment. However, especially in industry, there are further boundary conditions to be considered before Android can be used.

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New CPU-Module DIMM-RZ/A1H

 06. October 2014, by emtrion
Categories: Hardware, embedded
New CPU-Module DIMM-RZ/A1H

emtrion is pleased to announce the availability of the new processor-module based on the RZ/A1H CPU from Renesas.

The RZ processor family was designed to meet the requirements of the constantly growing market for HMI-applications. The improved GUIs of new HMI applications lead to a demand for enhanced 2D graphics functions to utilize LCD-panels with higher resolutions. The DIMM-RZ/A1H processor module with its CPU internal 10MB of SRAM is capable to operate a display at WXGA resolution without external DDR-SDRAM.

The DIMM-RZ/A1H is well-suited for applications which were formerly based on Cortex-M3/M4 CPUs and are now facing new tasks to integrate a LCD-panel, with the new demand for more RAM, 2D graphics functions and higher CPU-speed. The RZ/A1H processor includes a Video Display Controller (VDC5) with hardware accelerated 2D vector graphics (OpenVG1.1) which keeps the CPU-load low for image processing tasks.

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New SBC-SAMA5D36 developer kit presentation

 08. September 2014, by emtrion
Categories: Hardware, Linux, embedded, SAMA5D3
New SBC-SAMA5D36 developer kit presentation

Emtrion is pleased to announce the availability of its new SBC (Single Board Computer) based on the new SoC ‘ATSAMA5D36’ from Atmel.

The SBC is composed of a single ARM Cortex-A5 core CPU running at 536MHz, 256MB of DDR2-SDRAM, 512MB of SLC NAND Flash and 8 MB NOR Flash. The available peripherals are 2xUSB 2.0 Host, 1xUSB 2.0 Device, 1xGbit Ethernet, 1x100Mbit Ethernet, 1xLCD connector, 1xHDMI connector and more than 40 fully configurable I/Os on its expansion connectors.

With its compact size (135mm x 74mm x 15mm (LxWxH)) and its low power consumption (only 200mA @ 5V typ), the SBC-SAMA5D36 is the perfect low-power prototyping board with industry quality. Thanks to its optional extended temperature (-40°C to 85°C) and its 4 mounting holes, the board can also be directly integrated into your industrial project.  

This board is targeting various industrial field applications. With its Lithium battery charger, the board can be used as battery powered device. It can also connect with several industrial busses via its expansion board: CAN, RS-232/485, Soft Modem Device, SPI, I²C… The user interaction is not only composed by 4 LEDs and 2 Push Buttons, but also with the LCD connector that can output a WVGA resolution on a 7” LCD screen with no extra external power supply for the display! And if the LCD display is too small for the application, the HDMI connection makes it possible to output on a standard PC monitor with no extra software required!

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Webinterface Demo on DIMM-MX6

 03. June 2014, by emtrion
Categories: Software, Linux, i.MX6

Adding network capabilities and especially a simple Webinterface is a great enhancement to the user-experience of headless embedded devices. This blog will present a simple Webinterface mainly build using Python-components.

 

Connecting to the Device

Webinterface displayed in Windows Explorer.

The device uses DHCP to obtain a IP address. If there is no DHCP-Server available a Link-Local address (address block 169.254.1.0 through 169.254.254.255) will be claimed automatically. This behaviour grants correct functionality if the device is directly connected to a computer.

To be able to connect to the device without guessing its actual IP address, the device uses UPnP to publish the Webinterface.  The device will show up in the network section in the Windows Explorer.

 

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XBMC Media Center on DIMM-MX6

 11. April 2014, by david.dueck
Categories: Software, Displays, Linux, i.MX6, embedded

The i.MX6 is a platform well-suited for multimedia applications. It features a powerful video processing unit (VPU) and can decode full-hd video without problems.

To showcase the capabilities of the i.MX6 emtrion created a demo using the popular XBMC media center. It plays videos, whether from local storage, sites like Youtube or TV streaming sites. It can be controlled via a comfortable Android app.Thanks to the efforts of the active free software community around the i.MX6, all this works seamlessly with our Debian-based BSP for DIMM-MX6.


The source code for this can be found at https://github.com/xbmc-imx6.



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Contact

emtrion GmbH
Kreativpark - Alter Schlachthof 45
D-76131 Karlsruhe
Germany

Tel: +49 (0)721-62725-0
Fax: +49 (0)721-62725-19
sales@emtrion.com