Modern factory automated test and measurement equipment must be general purpose, remotely programmable, and flexible enough to handle a variety of input ranges and types, speeds, and functions. To analyze the skyrocketing data transmission rates of production devices, manufacturers must provide real-time, high-performance digital signal processing equipment. Many in-process inspection stations also include multichannel, high-speed video analysis equipment to record and verify product configuration and alignment. In order to improve the accuracy and lower equipment costs, multiple industrial system manufacturers have adopted the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture. These new processors are rated for long-life embedded applications and include multiple features that improve hardware and software performance in a high-performance industrial instrumentation environment.
High-speed digital signal processing and video analysis functions found in production test systems require demanding floating point calculations to deliver the necessary accuracy and measurement rates. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture incorporates the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instruction set optimized for audio, image, and video processing. Although the AVX data path has been increased to 256 bits to accommodate demanding floating point processing, it is backward compatible with previous x86 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) extensions. With the AVX extended performance, designers can eliminate external hardware-based digital signal processing silicon to reduce the component count and lower overall power requirements. With signal processing algorithms programmed in AVX code, future updates can be made with a software modification.
The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture features an integrated graphics processor optimized for media analysis testing applications plus dedicated hardware for video processing. The graphics processor incorporates fixed function hardware in the signal processing channel as an array of parallel execution units for rapid encoding and decoding of high definition video in order to maximize the throughput per watt and to replace programmable functions. The video processing section includes advanced logic for removing noise, sharpening, scaling, and color processing of video signals. The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture also features a unified power management design where the graphics processor has a separate power plane and clocking so it can run at a different voltage than the CPU depending on the workload.
Targeting network test systems where fast data processing is a key requirement, Concurrent Technologies recently announced the AM 31x/x0x single-width AdvancedMC (AMC) processor board (See figure 1). The single board computer includes the Intel® Series 6 Express chipset, up to 8 Gbytes of DDR3-1333 ECC SDRAM, and a choice of several Intel® Core™ i7 or i5 processors. In addition to eight PCI Express lanes, two 1000Base-BX channels, and four SATA interfaces, the SBC provides front panel Ethernet, DisplayPort, and USB 2.0 interfaces. The AM 31x/x0x features a dedicated Module Management Controller (MMC) allowing an administrator to remotely monitor, manage, diagnose, and recover systems. The AM 31x/x0x is currently supported by the Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Embedded Standard 7, Linux and VxWorks operating systems.
To handle the high speed data transfer rates found in industrial test applications such as machine vision, ADLINK Technology introduced the NuPRO-E340, a full-sized System Host Board (SHB) conforming to the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) 1.3 specification (See figure 2). The module utilizes the 2nd generation quad-core Intel® Core™ i7 processor at clock speeds up to 3.4 GHz integrated with the Intel® Q67 Express Chipset PCH and is equipped with up to a maximum of 8GB of dual-channel DDR3 1066/1333 MHz memory. The NuPRO-E340 provides a wide range of storage, I/O, and expansion connectivity, including 6 COM ports, 12 USB ports (2 USB 3.0), and 6 SATA ports. The NuPRO-E340 has been verified for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows XP.
Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ processors provide a host of features to enhance test and analysis designs including reduced power, integrated graphics, faster floating point performance, and hardware-based signal processing. Factory automation applications can also take advantage of Intel®’s vPro and Active Management Technology (AMT) to provide access to remote systems for diagnostics, periodic software updates, and certificate-based security tasks. If you think that Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ architecture fits your next test and measurement project please feel free to exchange information and questions with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Test and Measurement. Also, check back as I discuss the role of virtualization with the latest multicore architectures.
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ADLINK Technology is an Associate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Concurrent Technologies is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.