How do you think the new GigE standards will influence the machine vision industry?
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According to Intel, continued improvements in process technology are bringing critical advances in scaling the size of ICs and increasing transistor performance, meaning that designers now can optimize their imaging systems for both size and performance simultaneously. And since multicore and 45nm are found across the broadest range of computing platforms, designers have to understand their architectural options in order to determine their best starting point for any given design.
MicroTCA Means Rugged
Originally developed as a telecommunications architecture, MicroTCA is gaining a lot of ground in small form factor imaging applications. By delivering compact, high-performance networking and data transfer capabilities, MicroTCA has proven itself an attractive and smaller blade server option for network-centric systems in military, medical and industrial markets. Remote imaging applications in these markets— typically some of the most environmentally challenging—are realizing the advantages of the performance, management functionality and high-availability features of MicroTCA. Flexibility and system scalability are benefits of MicroTCA based on its compatibility to a variety of chassis form factors, from a small four-module blade to a 19-inch rack-mountable redundant system. As a result, whether the blade server is supporting an MRI machine at a regional health center, or monitoring an unmanned aerial vehicle from a military ground support and control center, MicroTCA has become a popular choice to fit each of these demanding environments.
MicroTCA boards and systems are designed to meet NEBS (Network Equipment Building System) Level 3 requirements, addressing environmental demands such as thermal margins, fire suppression, emissions and the ability to continue working even during a severe earthquake. As a result, standard COTS MicroTCA systems are beyond rugged enough for environments such as military ground installations or on certain types of airborne platforms, i.e., image capture systems onboard unmanned aerial vehicles.
While MicroTCA is certainly tough enough for a broad spectrum of applications, soon new rugged MicroTCA specifications will be available to address the blade server needs of even more environmentally harsh environments. Further ruggedization of MicroTCA is what many designers are looking forward to, and a range of standardized rugged implementations of MicroTCA are being driven forward by a committee of the PICMG standards body. These include rugged air-cooled MicroTCA (MTCA.1), hardened MicroTCA for military applications (MTCA.2), and conduction-cooled MicroTCA (MTCA.3); MTCA.1 was in fact ratified very recently. These new standards leverage the ANSI /VITA 47 specification to define environmental requirements. For example, MTCA.1 extends MicroTCA into more rugged military environments as defined by ANSI/VITA 47’s EAC6 environmental class and V2 vibration class.
WHEN MICRO MEANS MORE
Booming exponentially, small handheld devices enabled by 45nm technology are improving health care for millions of people in hospitals, doctors’ offices, homes and emergency situations. Ranging from diagnostic equipment that informs, and monitoring devices that keep tabs on existing conditions, to treatment equipment that actually can perform life-saving techniques, these “take-everywhere” diagnostic tools are enabling medical practitioners to make faster and more accurate clinical decisions. Ultra-portable point-of-care units, such as pocket ultrasound systems, require low-power and reliable high performance in a very small form factor. As a result, key design considerations focus on low power consumption, top efficiency through extended battery life, and fast response time driven by the user’s need to quickly know the status of the patient’s health.