Green in: Seeing threads on cores, OSHAN-ready kits, ARM-based panel computer

April 1, 2010 OpenSystems Media

In our Deep Green Editor's Choice section, we look at technology helping design green into today's new products.

This month’s news brought several noteworthy ideas for making designs greener. One takes on the multicore programming problem to get more work out of a group of cores. The second applies open source technology to a low-cost development environment for wireless home area networks. The third is a panel PC with a difference that makes it very interesting.

Threading cores easier

The question right now for many designers is how to program multicore so multiple cores actually do work. It seems we have more cores than meets the code in many cases, especially legacy code that by necessity runs serially. One company is out to change that with a unique programming tool that tackles the problem in a different way.

CriticalBlue’s Prism tool (Figure 1) very simply lets designers look at a flow of threads and see if they can be rearranged into a more parallel execution on multicore. Drawing from partnerships with MontaVista Software (see our recent E-cast showing how Prism and DevRocket can work together), MIPS Technologies, and others, Prism tools take much of the anxiety out of analyzing, recoding, and tuning multicore software with a friendly Eclipse-based environment charting how threads run.

Figure 1: CriticalBlue Prism


SuRFing the home network

There are a lot of home networking technologies available today, and one of particular interest is the Open Source Home Area Network, or OSHAN. OSHAN is IP-based wireless using 6LoWPAN and IPv6 in a mesh network configuration based on a stack running on TinyOS.

People Power Company has introduced the SuRF Developer’s Kit (Figure 2), which makes it easy for any developer to try out apps using open source tools running on a Texas Instruments CC430 chip with its 900 MHz radio. For $149, two SuRF cards and an OSHAN environment can get developers rolling on creative applications to quickly connect appliances and other devices to a home network. People Power is holding a contest until September 15, 2010 for the most compelling SuRF device.

Figure 2: People Power SuRF Developer’s Kit

People Power Company

Small, efficient ARM9 panel computer

Most panel computers I see run some form of x86 processor, so when one shows up in another processor architecture, I’m curious. With an ARM926EJ-S running at 200 MHz packed in a 156 mm x 212 mm x 50 mm package with a 5.7" color display and touch screen, Kontron is offering something unique.

The Pico Client 5.7" (Figure 3) fits the role for many small industrial apps with its IP65 rating and fanless operation, and can go into places like vehicles and mobile applications with a 24 VDC power source. Peripherals are integrated easily with USB, SD, or Ethernet interfaces. An interesting wrinkle is ARM’s Jazelle technology that can speed up Java apps by up to eight times, further increasing the processing power in this small footprint device.

Figure 3: Kontron Pico Client


Don Dingee (Editorial Director)
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