Inforce Insights March 2017: Vol.3 Issue 2 – Inforce Computing Newsletter

Hello,

As we finish our first quarter of the year, we are happy to reflect on all the new products, hardware, and software updates since our last newsletter in January with even more on the horizon.

In this newsletter, we share details about enabling RTC on your Inforce platform and how to roll your own Linux build system with Open Embedded.  Lastly, we bring you all the way to Germany where we share our experience partnering with Qualcomm, Basler, and Arrow at Embedded World 2017.

Warm wishes from the Inforce Team!

New Products

  • The much anticipated Inforce 6640, the first Snapdragon™ 820 SBC, is now available on the Inforce store along with display, camera, POE, and Ultra HDMI input accessories.
  • ACC-1H10, a 5MP MIPI-CSI camera with both a 41-pin and 51-pin connector, launched yesterday.
  • We have also launched ACC-1S70, a PoE adapter card, for Inforce 6640 and Inforce 6309, providing power over Ethernet through one single cable.

Product and Software Updates

What you need to know about enabling RTC on your Inforce platform

The purpose of an RTC or a real-time clock is to provide precise time and date which can be used for various application use-cases. Similar to a watch, it runs on a battery and keeps time for you even when there is a power outage on your system! Using an RTC, you can keep track of long timelines, even if your system is disconnected from the power plug.  Read more>> Continue reading Inforce Insights March 2017: Vol.3 Issue 2 – Inforce Computing Newsletter

Inforce Computing at Embedded World 2017

From robots cooking sausages to an augmented reality BMW® i8™ test drive, Embedded World showed the latest and greatest the embedded world had to offer.  Internet of Things was no doubt at the center of the show and we were thrilled to see so many eager developers with such unique applications for Snapdragon™ technology ranging from surgical devices to industrial automation and smart city management.

Inforce Computing had a big presence this year in Nuremberg, partnering with big names such as Basler AG®, Arrow Electronics®, and Qualcomm® to show our diverse and growing roadmap of Snapdragon-powered platforms and Inforce services.  New platforms such as Inforce 6640™, Snapdragon 820 SBC, and Inforce 6309L™, cost-optimized Snapdragon 410E SBC, made their debut into the embedded community.


@Basler Booth

Basler and Inforce Computing® came together to give them embedded community of and embedded vision system available today which works immediately off the shelf.  Basler cameras are known for their quality industrial cameras and now paired with an Inforce board, developers have a product ready system solution for applications such as industrial automation, medical technology, retail, and smart city systems.

Simulating a retail application in the digital signage space, an Inforce 6540™ was connected to a Basler Dart through USB3.0 while using a facial recognition algorithm to calculate age, gender, and an attention score with each participant who walked by.  This demo showed the value of an off-the-shelf high-end camera with the power of Snapdragon to be able to provide sophisticated analytics of the target audience to an advertiser.  If you walked by multiple times, regardless of trying to change appearance with glasses, it would recognize your face and you would not be counted again in the tracker.  Inforce and Basler’s integration can make an application like this very easy to productize.


@Arrow Booth

Inforce Computing and Arrow have partnered together to distribute Inforce products and services.  Arrow not only sells Inforce SOMs, single board computers and development kits powered by Snapdragon but now has opened the availability of Inforce Services.  Inforce services can include carrier design packages, custom design services, support contracts, and more.  Together with Arrow, we can deliver a full turnkey solution for embedded development.

Inforce debuted Inforce 6640 at the Arrow booth by displaying a FastCV corner detection and other computer vision features that require the Adreno 530 GPU’s real-time processing and hardware acceleration.  We also introduced Inforce 6309L, a micro SBC optimized to match the cost and features of DragonBoard™ 410c but made for production.  Inforce and Arrow FAEs from EMEA region were eager to show what is new for Inforce’s growing roadmap and Inforce services through Arrow distribution.


@Qualcomm Booth

Inforce and Qualcomm partnership dates all the way back to 2013, to the first days of Snapdragon entering the embedded world.  In those 5 years, we have brought four generations of both single board computers and micro SOMs powered by Snapdragon to many advanced embedded applications.  All these platforms were showcased around the Qualcomm booth. We were also able to show off successful commercial devices built with Inforce platforms in the video collaboration and medical space including SonoSite’s iViz portable ultrasound machine which saves lives all around the world.  We are excited for the future as the Snapdragon technology continues to improve and devices become smarter.

And that’s a wrap. For questions on any of these live demos or offerings, please contact sales@inforcecomputing.com.  We will see you next year for Embedded World 2018!

Open Embedded for Inforce Platforms

Introduction

Product makers would find it hard to pick up off-the-shelf Linux distributions for use in their systems directly owing to the combination of bootloader, kernel, application, and development tool components not being compatible for their peripherals and hardware. Thus, a ‘roll your own’ approach to Linux is preferred and the Open Embedded (OE) build environment provides exactly that through a methodology to reliably build customized Linux distributions for your embedded devices. Open Embedded is not a Linux distro but a build system with which a Linux distro can be created.

Download High Resolutions Image

OE is based on BitBake, a cross-compilation and make-like build engine developed for embedded Linux. Developers use BitBake by creating various configuration and recipe files that instruct BitBake on which sources to build from where and how to build them. OE is essentially a database of these recipe (.bb) and configuration (.conf) files, called Metadata, that developers can draw on to cross-compile combinations of components for a variety of embedded platforms. OE supports organizing Metadata into multiple layers. This concept of Layers allows you to isolate different types of customizations from each other. You might find it tempting to keep everything in one layer when working on a single project. However, the more modular your Metadata, the easier it is to cope with future changes.

You will find thousands of recipes to build both individual packages and complete images. A package can be anything from a bootloader through a kernel to a user-space application or just a set of development tools. The recipe knows where to access the source for a package, how to build it for a particular target, and ensures that a package’s dependencies are all built as well, relieving developers of the need to understand every piece of software required to add a particular capability to their application. OE can create packages in a variety of package formats (tar, rpm, deb, ipk) and can create package feeds for a distribution. You could begin by selecting a particular distribution rather than building individual packages. The advantage of using an existing distribution is that it will often be necessary to select certain package versions to get a working combination. Distributions address this key function. They often provide a ‘stable’ build in addition to a ‘latest’ build to avoid the inherent instabilities that come from trying to combine the latest versions of everything.

OE releases for Inforce platforms based on Linux Reference Platform Kernel (RPK) and the mesa graphic stack using freedreno driver are in the pipeline and would soon be publicly available on our Techweb repository. The layer descriptions along with other details are available at this link.

Enabling RTC on Inforce Platforms

Introduction

The purpose of an RTC or a real time clock is to provide precise time and date which can be used for various application use-cases. Similar to a watch, it runs on a battery and keeps time for you even when there is a power outage on your system! Using an RTC, you can keep track of long timelines, even if your system is disconnected from the power plug.

Snapdragon processors seamlessly integrate Power Management ICs that typically include RTC support natively. Inforce platforms based on Snapdragon processors thus have RTC feature onboard or provide a means through which off-the-shelf coin cells with cable assemblies can be connected. This removes the need for an additional IC and related circuitry to achieve RTC implementation.

A typical block diagram of the PMIC with all major building blocks is shown below

Download High Resolution Image

Clock distribution and real time clock are part of the General Housekeeping block. The real time clock functions are implemented by a real time counter and an alarm, both configurable in one-second increments. The primary input to the RTC circuits is the selected sleep-clock source (calibrated low-frequency oscillator, or a crystal oscillator). Even when the system is powered off, the oscillator and RTC can continue to run off other sources like a coin cell or super capacitor. As power is restored, the RTC pauses and skips a few seconds.

Inforce platforms will reacquire system time from the network to resume the usual RTC accuracy. If the voltage at VCOIN drops too low for some reason, RTC contents are again corrupted. An oscillator stop can also cause RTC errors. All these errors are handled by Inforce platforms using interrupts and the RTC accuracy is guaranteed.

Inforce systems typically retain the correct time without drift for a minimum of 5 weeks of power down, with the coin cell battery being fully charged when the system was powered down.

Inforce 6309 micro SBC and Inforce 6640 SBC platforms have the RTC feature onboard and the accompanying Android and Linux BSPs support this feature out-of-the-box. The Snapdragon 600 based Inforce 6410P SBC provides a 2-pin header to which a coin cell can be plugged in to realize the RTC feature (with a bit of software of course). Inforce computing would be glad to help customers to implement the RTC feature on custom carrier boards designed for any of their micro SoM products.

An Introduction to Embedded Systems and IoT

Embedded systems have become an important part of every modern electronic component such as – microwave oven, washing machine, remote control, RFID tags, routers, modems, PDAs, mobile phones etc. Embedded system is a part of large device that perform specific task of the device. For instance – they are used as home automation embedded systems to control lights, sensors, sense climate change, AV systems etc.

Today, IoT is one of the hottest topics of the industry and has taken its place in conventional business Jargon.  However, it brought host of challenges for developers — as they need to develop devices that allow seamless connectivity. To help embedded developers meet the challenges posed by IoT, an RTOS must be designed that delivers scalability, connectivity, modularity, safety and a cutting-edge feature set to comply with the demands of highly connected remotely managed IoT solutions.

What does IoT mean for an embedded developer?

As IoT solutions present all industries with business opportunities, it gives tremendous opportunities for embedded system developers too. For an embedded developer, it is all about connecting multiple devices to the internet. However, there is a lot more than just being connected to the internet. IoT for embedded systems is more about collecting and analyzing large amount of data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information to improve the way services and devices are used today.

Major players in embedded hardware and software development are aiming to bring these transformations into their products to take advantage of growing IT market. Smart embedded systems need architecture and design elements to suit real time operations. With billions of devices expected to join in the coming years, analysts expect that IoT will have significant impact on device design. Working with these devices is a different domain for most of the application developers. The key difference between a general OS and RTOS lies within the high degree of reliability and consistency on timing between the task acceptance and completion.

Future of IoT embedded systems

With growth and advancements in the field of electronics and wireless communications, devices around us are able to communicate in a better way than one can imagine. The future of embedded systems and IoT lies in the advancement of technologies that enable faster communication with high interwoven connections between different devices. IoT is gradually sneaking into our lives and is expected to become more persuasive in future. It is going to become a lot more than just a concept, and the interaction between embedded devices will revolutionize the way data and devices are interconnected.

No doubt, the future of IoT embedded devices is going to be bright with the easy access of internet in every corner of the world. Internet of things will play a significant role in manufacturing of devices, as a result of which people will have complete access to products at home — even if they are away from home. The Internet of Things (IoT) holds a promising future, especially in North American embedded industry where companies come up with innovative products.

Choosing an Operating system for Embedded systems

An embedded system is a special purpose computer designed to perform dedicated tasks, rather than multiple tasks. There is an increase in popularity of embedded systems as they take care of everything such as – display, computing, communication etc. Whether it is entertainment, education, science or communication, they span across different aspects of modern life. Being a combination of both hardware and software, embedded systems perform a specific task or set of tasks within a large system.

With more performance, graphic capabilities, GUI enabled touch screen devices and wider range of applications —– embedded systems with Android/Linux operating systems have become a great alternative.   The embedded operating systems are targeted for CPU architecture and hence, an improper OS can have a negative impact on different aspects of project development such as – durability, licensing cost, product development etc.

In this post, we’ll take a look at different parameters to consider while choosing the right OS for embedded systems.

Connectivity and UI

Linux and Android are two powerful operating systems used in most of the embedded systems today. Selection between the two will depend completely on the usage and requirement. For instance – If you want better wireless connectivity and graphics interface, you might consider Android OS over Linux. Linux OS can do everything that Android OS can do. However, Linux comes with a complex flow and it might be difficult for a beginner to understand it. But, it can produce better results — once understood.

Power management

This is another important metric that measure the performance of embedded system. The operating system you choose should provide support for power management and supply different power management techniques. Both Android and Linux supports effective power management compared to real time operating systems.

Responsiveness

Real time performance is one of the key requirements of mission critical applications. Operating system vendors use terms such as – soft and hard to describe the responsiveness of operating systems. Real time performance does not mean that the OS is fast, but is predictable. Linux is less responsive compared to Android and there are many issues in Linux OS that affect performance of embedded device.

Cost

The cost of android and Linux operating tends to remain same, as both are open source platforms. A proprietary OS such as windows would increase the cost of each product as it require royalty to be paid for every product.

The bottom line is – At first, android seems to be an odd choice, but becomes an appropriate choice — as it is already an embedded OS.  Choosing the right OS could reduce the development and testing time significantly. Additionally, it helps in developing a quality product and launching it in the market on time.

About Inforce Computing

Inforce computing has been providing diverse range of services for real time embedded systems since 2010. Our products support embedded application development with high quality RTOS, protocol stacks and embedded databases across Android and Linux platforms. We offer state-of-art embedded solutions for various industry segments such as – video conferencing, medical imaging, robotics, drones, etc. We rely on cutting edge technologies that are based on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors to provide reliable embedded hardware and software solutions.

Inforce Computing at Basler Booth, Embedded World 2017

Inforce Computing is at the Embedded World trade show this week, taking place at the Exhibition hall, in Nuremberg, Germany. At Hall 2, Booth 528, we collaborate with Basler to showcase live demos on embedded vision solutions running on an Inforce platform based on Qualcomm® Snapdragon 805 processor connected with Basler’s dart board level camera.

Come, visit us and walk by the camera’s line of sight at the booth and the complex retail analytics algorithm measures your age, gender and attention span before storing the data anonymously and securely into a database! The built-in intelligence ensures that this data is captured just once irrespective of how many times you pass by or if you now wear spectacles! Cool, isn’t it?

Basler’s YouTube channel should soon have their video interviewing us on our partnership and this demo.

Inforce Computing at Arrow Electronics Booth, EW 2017

Inforce Computing is at the Embedded World 2017 trade show this week, taking place at the Exhibition hall, in Nuremberg, Germany. At Hall 4A, Arrow Electronics’ Booth 340, we are presenting a FastCV ARM-optimized computer vision demo that is running on our newest SBC, Inforce 6640 which is based on Qualcomm®’s first custom 64-bit quad-core processor.

The demo uses algorithms to showcase Affine transformation, Corner detection, Filter Correlation, Warp and other computer vision features that require real-time processing and hardware acceleration which is possible through the Adreno GPU. This Demo is being run using off the shelf components from Inforce with no external cooling mechanisms! In addition we are showcasing live demos on our compact SBCs, Inforce 6309 and 6309L based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 apart from static displays of our entire product line that includes long life embedded roadmap SOMs and SBCs. Arrow FAEs from all European regions are here with us, representing our commitment to global markets and local service! Come, visit us!

Inforce Computing is Exhibiting at Embedded World 2017 on 14th-16thMarch 2017

inforce-embedded-world-2017Inforce Logo
What: Embedded World 2017

When: 14th-16th March 2017

Where: Nuremburg Exhibition Centre, Germany

Booth: Find us with Arrow, Qualcomm & Basler

Embedded World is a leading international trade fair held yearly in Nuremburg, Germany. The 2016 event saw an impressive 939 exhibitors and an outstanding 30,063 visitors at Embedded World 2016. As one of the significant events in the embedded community, Embedded World 2017 is ready to bring together an exciting array of embedded developers, design engineers and manufacturers of embedded systems. (Credit: Embedded World 2017)

Inforce Computing is a leading provider of application-ready embedded computer hardware platforms for the IoT niche. Inforce Computing offers signature, versatile product ready Single Board Computer (SBC), System on Module (SOM) and development kit platforms that are based on powerful and efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. These have been utilized in portable medical imaging, video conferencing, robotics, drones and hands-free computing.

To meet your customized needs these plug and play platforms are available in multiple small form factors off the shelf and build to order options.

Inforce Computing will be present at Embedded World 2017. You can find us at Hall 2/2-528 on the 14th to the 16th of March. We will be with Arrow, Qualcomm and Basler delegates.

Visit us to find out more about the exciting cutting edge embedded platforms we offer. You can interact with our in-house experts on embedded products.

What you can expect to see:

Inforce 6640

Inforce 6640 is the next generation Pico-ITX single board computer (SBC) featuring the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 for the most leading-edge embedded applications.  Inforce 6640 provides an optimal experience in connectivity, performance, power, and graphic capabilities required for virtual/augmented reality, healthcare, gaming, 4K video collaboration, cameras, and Internet of Everything. You will experience Inforce 6640 Snapdragon™ 820 powered SBC running FastCV™ SDK with Inforce camera & display accessories which enable gesture recognition, face detection, tracking, text and corner recognition, and augmented reality.

Inforce 6309L

Designed as a product ready solution, Inforce 6309L has the essential I/Os and connectivity you need to give you a high performance and cost-optimized solution for your long life IoT devices. The micro SBC is powered by the quad-core Snapdragon 410E processor which has a 10-year supply commitment from Qualcomm. Inforce 6309L has robust features that include Wi-Fi/BT connectivity, GPS, up to 2 MIPI-CSI cameras, and HDMI display. For a minimum order quantity of 100 units, the Inforce 6309L starts at the price of $85, comparable to the popular DragonBoard™ 410c development platform. The platform comes preloaded with Android or Linux operating system.

Inforce 6309

The Inforce 6309 micro SBC is a full-featured single board computer (SBC) based on the powerful 64-bit Snapdragon 410E processor. It delivers a rich set of I/Os and unique features including dual MIPI-CSI cameras, support for an extended operating temperature range (-30°C to 85°C), and LVDS displays. An optional interface card enables Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) and RS485 ports for industrial applications. The Inforce 6309 Micro SBC delivers high performance, rich multimedia, low power consumption, connectivity, and comprehensive support for an upstream Linux kernel (Linaro), Android OS and device drivers for embedded applications such as industrial automation, Internet-of-Everything (IoE) devices, digital signage, smart infrastructure, and retail.

Micro SOMs

Inforce will feature four generations of Snapdragon-powered micro system on modules specifically designed with the same pin, connector, electrical, and form-factor compatibility with all other Inforce Micro SOMs to ensure faster time-to-market for future generation devices and prevent obsolescence. Inforce Micro SOMs come in an ultra-small footprint of 28mm x 50mm and range from 10-11 grams in weight.  Inforce Computing provides standard carrier boards for development and carrier board design services to take you into production.

Application-Ready SBCs

Inforce will highlight their diverse roadmap of Snapdragon™ single board computers, optimized for large-scale production, to advanced embedded applications.  For two SBCs, Inforce 6410P and Inforce 6309, Inforce guarantees a 10-year supply for long-life IoT and industrial devices.  Inforce supports a build-to-order support model to meet your exact specifications eliminating custom design fees and accelerating time-to-market.  Volume pricing and variant SKUs are available for all platforms.  Discover the Inforce single board computers packaged with accessories including displays, cameras, Power over Ethernet add-on card, etc.  With these production-ready platforms combined with Inforce services, embedded developers are able to take their advanced mobile devices to market quickly and efficiently.

#InforceInspired
©2017 Inforce Computing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Inforce Computing releases Inforce 6640 with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor

Inforce Computing releases Inforce 6640™, the computing industry’s first commercial single board computer based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor for advanced, high-end embedded devices

Fremont, CA, February 16, 2017 /MarketWired/

Inforce Computing, Inc., a leading provider of modular embedded computing platforms and solutions, today unveils Inforce 6640, the next generation Pico-ITX single board computer (SBC) featuring the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor for cutting-edge embedded applications.  Inforce 6640 provides an optimal experience in connectivity, performance, power, and graphic capabilities required for virtual/augmented reality, healthcare, gaming, 4K video collaboration, cameras, and Internet of Things.

The Snapdragon 820 processor, a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., features the Qualcomm® Adreno™ 530 GPU, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 680 DSP, and Qualcomm Spectra™14-bit dual-ISP with 25MP@30fps. The Qualcomm® Kryo™ CPU is a quad-core configuration, clocked at up to 2.2GHz and is designed to feature 2x the performance and efficiency compared to previous generations.

Inforce 6640 brings out crucial features, I/O interfaces, and software to enable a diverse set of superior embedded devices including,

  • Memory options: 4GB LPDDR4, 64GB UFS 2.0, and 1 µSD card interface (other memory configurations available)
  • Multimedia features: Dual MIPI-DSI, HDMI 4K Ultra HD HEVC video capture and playback
  • Camera capabilities: MIPI-CSI up to 25MP camera
  • Improved Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GbE, and on-board GPS
  • Pre-loaded operating system: Android Marshmallow (Android 7 available)

This is the first commercial single board computer designed with the Snapdragon 820 processor and Inforce’s second Snapdragon 820 based platform.  Qualcomm Technologies is pleased to see Inforce Computing bringing more variety for platforms using Snapdragon processors to the embedded segment where application requirements are so diverse” says Tia Cassett, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

We are very happy to bring advanced mobile computing to embedded product developers with Inforce 6640“, said Jagat Acharya, CEO of Inforce Computing. “Once again, Inforce is leading the pack with the industry’s first embedded SBC based on Snapdragon 820, available off-the-shelf, in multiple SKUs.

With the launch of Inforce 6640, Inforce already has a variety of accessories to complement the platform including ACC-1H70, a 21MP camera card, and ACC-1S70, a Power over Ethernet accessory card.  ACC-1H70 is a complete camera solution using Sony’s IMX230 sensor and is capable of capturing 4K video and 21MP photographs.  For noisy environments, developers can use ACC-1S70 PoE add-on card which allows both power and Ethernet connection through one single cable.

In addition to supporting the standard Inforce 6640 platform, accessories, and software, Inforce computing offers support for hardware customization, custom drivers, custom OS, and custom I/O development allowing specialized requirements to be met like extended temperature.  Inforce provides lifecycle assurance for all platforms for OEMs. Contact Inforce Sales at sales@inforcecomputing.com for more information.

In Nuremberg, Germany, Inforce 6640 will be making a huge splash at Embedded World from March 14-16th.  Inforce 6640 will be shown at the Qualcomm, Basler and Arrow Electronics booths.  Please contact Inforce Sales at (510) 683-9999 or at sales@inforcecomputing.com for more information or to schedule a meeting.

You can purchase Inforce 6640 at www.inforcecomputing.com for $295.  Volume pricing is available.  For more information, call Inforce Sales at (510) 683-9999 or at sales@inforcecomputing.com.

 About Inforce Computing

Inforce Computing is at the bleeding edge of modern embedded computing design and is a leading supplier of application-ready embedded hardware platforms based on Android and Linux OS for low-power, small footprint, and high-performance solutions powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ family of processors and chipsets. Inforce’s system-on-module (SoM), single-board-computer (SBC), development kits, and wireless technologies have enabled OEM solutions in diverse markets such as portable medical imaging, collaboration and videoconferencing, AR/VR based hands-free computing, computer vision, robotics, and drones. Inforce leverages mobile and embedded Internet technologies to provide hardware and software support for the long term. Inforce also provides broad hardware and software design services to accelerate customer designs to market. More information can be found at www.inforcecomputing.com.

Qualcomm, Snapdragon, Adreno, Kryo and Hexagon are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and other countries. Qualcomm Spectra is a trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. Other product and brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.