The following article gives a real life example of pitfalls that developers face during their work almost every day and shows how problems can be solved by close cooperation of software and hardware developers.
It all started with a custom specific design which incorporated a CPU that was not used before. Therefore there was almost no know how available at emtrion about that CPU from former projects. Nevertheless the project was almost finished within the given time and hardware and software were working as demanded by the customer.
The only remaining issue was the startup time of the system. As often the customer complained that it lasts too long until the system was running after power up. To reduce component costs a single QSPI NOR Flash chip was used to store all software, including the Linux operating system.
The used CPU incorporates a so called “First level bootloader” which starts fetching code from the QSPI NOR Flash. This is done in 4 bit wide QSPI mode at 41.5 MHz clock. It was assumed that the startup time could be reduced by increasing the clock of the QSPI NOR Flash after the First Bootloader has finished.
We recently released our new mainline-Kernel based Debian and Yocto BSPs for our i.mx6 based System on Modules. In this article we'll give you a short overview of the advantages of the new BSP era! Beside the recent Kernel Versions delivered, new userspace APIs have to be used to access peripherals.
Today we released a beta version of a new root file system for the SBC-SAMA5D36. The main changes are a new Kernel Version and the use of systemd as init system. The Kernel version is 4.9 and is a longterm maintained kernel (see this page for more information). Systemd has some advantages over sysv like parallel start of services (if possible), delaying of the start until a service or device is really needed, and it is compatible to the old sysv init scripts. Systemd also has some other advantages like builtin monitoring of running services and restart of them if they crash or stop working and also better dependency handling of services.
Use this beta release at your own risk. There are some known issues and mabye also some unknown ones. We will stabilize this release during the next weeks and bring out a stable release. Please find the release under following link:
Renesas Synergy is a complete and qualified platform with fully integrated software, a scalable family of microcontrollers, and unified development tools to speed embedded system developers’ time to market as they innovate new products.
At the heart of the Synergy Platform is the Synergy Software Package (SSP), which is qualified, supported, warranted, and maintained by Renesas. The SSP consists of a proven real-time operating system (RTOS), stacks for USB and Ethernet, file systems, a graphic users interface (GUI), and more – all accessible through a robust Application Programming Interface (API) to free designers from struggling with lower-level details.
Based on the very popular and customisable Eclipse IDE, the Synergy IDE is very simple to understand and to get the graps of it.
In the past few months emtrion has broaden its knowledge base towards the open source virtualization platform Jailhouse . The eventual goal is to provide customers a virtualization solution that is real-time capable, lightweight, secure, certifiable and operable on emtrion hardware. The main advantage to customers will be the reduction of costs through the combination of multiple hardware units into one single unit that handles multiple tasks.
In general most of emtrion’s hardware comes with interfaces like Ethernet, RS232, CAN, GPIOs, I2C, SPI. In addition, the used CPU modules are supported by a powerful microprocessor.
Such preconditions are predestinated in controlling industrial systems. In many cases, programming in this environment is based on the widely-known standard IEC 61131-3.
If you consider these items, the question to ask is, are there any reason why you are not using emtrion's hardware as PLC. Not really. On the one hand it's dependent on the use case and its requirements such as real-time, certification etc. and the other hand on the effort needed to transform it to a PLC.
Transforming is an independent part of the use case and means to make an emtrion hardware a PLC. The transformation is limited by adding a piece of software, the so called RTS (runtime system) to the RFS (root filesystem).
The RTS we used, it is possible to make a PLC in less than one work day.
Following the proceeding steps are described.