Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (1-30-12): Getting the best out of your board designs - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (1-30-12): Getting the best out of your board designs

Embedded Newsletter for 01-30-2012

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January 30, 2012

Tech Focus: Getting the best out of your board designs


Underfill revisited: How a decades-old technique enables smaller, more durable PCBs

Evaluating PCB layout tools: A board developer's perspective

ANSI/VITA makes computer-on-modules mission-critical

Four ANSI/VITA specs reach full ratification

EE Times' Coverage of DesignCon

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

In “The boards may shrink, but performance doesn't“, Christine Van De Graaf of Kontron succinctly captures the dilemma facing builders of single board computers for a wide variety of high reliability markets such as military/aerospace, telecom and industrial control.

In her article she describes demands of developers in these segments, who, seeing the moves toward higher processor performance, lower power consumption, and smaller physical footprint in consumer, desktop and mobile computing, want to see similar capabilities in their designs, but without sacrificing the ability to operate reliably in harsh environments.

As Michael Yu and Syed Wasif Ali of Nexlogic Technologies note in “Underfill revisited“, the demands of the consumer market are tough enough, but when you add the rigorous requirements of segments such as military/aerospace, new ways are needed to build printed circuit boards and the component packages that populate them.

From the 20 year knowledge base of Embedded.com design articles, white papers, and webinars here is a selection of some of the new ideas board developers have been considering. For more even more inspiration, register to attend the PCB Summit at the 2012 DesignCon this week in Santa Clara, Ca., where there are three tracks devoted to board design: System Co-Design: Chip/Package/Board; PCB Materials, Processing & Characterization; and PCB Design Tools & Methodologies. Out of the dozen or so papers on topics of interest to board developers, my Editor's Top Picks are:

EM modeling for high-speed PCB performance
Time-domain electrical design checker for PCB design layout
Power distribution resonance calculator for chip, package & board

Design How-Tos

Underfill revisited: How a decades-old technique enables smaller, more durable PCBs

A well-orchestrated PCB design and assembly plan is required to successfully implement techniques such as underfill in next generation OEM embedded consumer and mobile designs.

ANSI/VITA makes computer-on-modules mission-critical

While embedded system designers struggle to meet high demands in compact mobile or mission-critical computers, an ANSI/VITA standard takes computer-on-modules to new levels of rugged performance.

Taking on the 0.3 mm ultra-fine pitch device challenge in PCB design

To deal with the printed circuit board design challenges of nextgen nanometer circuits and the demanding packaging constraints of small footprint mobile & embedded apps, Nexlogic's Michael Yu thinks the answer boils down to carefully crafted PCB design, fabrication, and assembly guidelines.

Evaluating PCB layout tools: A board developer's perspective

A look at some popular printed circuit board layout tools by an experienced PCB designer, who evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of some of them and provides tips on some work-arounds as well as features he thinks should be in the perfect PCB tool.

Using chip-on-chip SiP techniques in small footprint embedded designs

Using chip-on-chip stacking rather than traditional planar layouts, System-In Package techniques can be used effectively in many mobile and automotive small footprint embedded designs.

The boards may shrink, but performance doesn't

Small form-factor boards continue to evolve to meet the increasing demands of embedded systems.

New standard takes COM to the extreme

The ESMexpress standard ruggedizes the computer-on-module (COM) for harsh-environment embedded applications.

Modular Computing Extends For New Applications

The extensions to ATCA that PICMG is developing will open the architecture to new application opportunities. Developers in these application spaces should explore the architecture and evaluate the benefits that it can provide.

Combining FPGAs & Atom x86 CPUs for SBC design flexibility

This product how-to article describes how an embedded X86 single board computer's feature set need no longer be set in stone, shows how this was done in Kontron's PCIe/104 MICROSPACE MSMST SBC with an Intel Atom E600C processor and an Altera Cyclone IV GX FPGA.

PRODUCT HOW-TO: Taking the RISC out of COMs

How Kontron's Atom CPU-based nanoETXexpress modules enables the efficient and cost-effective development of different types of applications such as mobile handhelds, solar-powered ultra small stationary devices and modular devices with very compact displays.

Reduce SoC device/package leakage/power with improved power management protocols

Described is a new power domain partitioning technique to reduced leakage in system-on-chip designs by taking advantage of package configuration information.

A brief primer on embedded SoC packaging options

This article addresses the basics of packaging such as types of packages and their advantages and disadvantages, future trends, and factors to be considered while choosing a package.

Embedded Systems Bookshelf


Embedded Books Reading Room
Bernard Cole's favorite links to book excerpts.


Engineer's Bookshelf
Airport fiction blows. A look at books other engineers are reading and why you should read them, too. Recommend and write a review yourself. E-mail Brian Fuller.

Jack Ganssle's Bookshelf
A list of book reviews by Jack Ganssle, contributing technical editor of Embedded Systems Design and Embedded.com.

Max's Cool Beans
Clive “Max” Maxfield, the editor on Programmable Logic DesignLine, often writes about interesting books.


RISC Computer-on-Module with ARM-based Cortex-A8 Series processor

Advantech's ROM-1210 Computer-on-Module (COM) integrates an ARM Cortex-A8 1GHz Freescale i.MX53 series and an ultra-low power SoC and intensive I/O solution chips.

TI launches ZigBee Smart Energy system-on-chip with ARM Cortex-M3 processor

Texas Instruments has launched a system-on-chip that integrates an IEEE 802.15.4 2.4GHz Zigbee radio, an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, dedicated Smart Energy (SE) 2.0 hardware security acceleration and enough flash and RAM to run the ZigBee IP stack and SE2.0 profile for smart grid and remote sensor applications.

Intelligent Power-on Built-In Test Solution for Kontron processor boards enables a complete system check with no learning curve

Kontron has announced the availability of the intelligent Power-on Built-in Test Solution Kontron PBIT on itsVPX/OpenVPX and VME processor boards which serves to improve the reliability, safety and security of mission critical installations.

AMC boards with highest speed TI DSPs target high-performance DSP and wireless apps

CommAgility's AMC-2C6678 and AMC-2C6670 DSP boards are now shipping with the fastest versions of the high-performance TMS320C6678 and TMS320C6670 digital signal processors (DSPs) from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI).

ST unveils industry-first car door controller IC with integrated window control

STMicroelectronics claims that their L99DZ80 car door controller IC is the market's first multi-functional door-zone driver with an integrated electric-window control.


High-tech conference promises help with design

DesignCon 2012 starts January 30 and ends February 2nd in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Discover news you can use at DesignCon 2012

The meeting features a comprehensive technical program, including tracks on RF microwave, analog and mixed-signal systems,

DesignCon Panel: Is it time for an analog comeback?

Organizing panels is a balancing act between making sure the panelists have enough in common and yet not quite agreeing…

CAST to host free 32-bit system development breakfast at DesignCon

I just heard from the folks at CAST that they are going to host a free breakfast and hands-on seminar at DesignCon 2012…

Evolution of the board business

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Follow it if you can.

Controller PCB problem solved

Problem with a controller PCB causes significant yield loss at an off-shore drive assembly plant and Ravinder is sent in to investigate…

Quirky chips

Jack has fun describing some of his favorite quirky chips from the past; some of these are still around.

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter Archive

A collection of Embedded.com's Tech Focus Newsletters.

Sponsored White Papers

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