The standard RapidIO protocol provides for serial and parallel communication between chips, boards, and systems. The serial version of the standard has gained acceptance among chip vendors as a proven way to communicate information rapidly over just a few connections. To help ensure the compatibility between products, three companies, Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, and Xilinx sent representatives to meet at Tundra Semiconductor (Ottawa, ON, Canada) to test the compatibility between products. Tests involved Advanced Mezzanine Cards (AMCs) from Freescale and Texas Instruments, an ML32x FPGA development board from Xilinx, and a development baseboard from Tundra. The latter board provided communications to the Xilinx board through coaxial cables and linked to the AMC boards through standard connectors. The tests aimed to ensure “Device A” would work properly with “Device B.”
According to Tom Cox, executive director of the RapidIO Trade Association (RTA), the tests built on the association’s RapidIO Interconnect Specification Device Interoperability and Compliance Checklist (1.3 specification). Tests checked device-to-device electrical connections as well as how well devices met the RapidIO specification. These collaborative efforts uncovered a few minor problems and differences the companies quickly corrected. The meeting of the RapidIO group has inspired Tundra to establish the RapidIO Interoperability Lab, or RIOLAB, at its facility. The Tundra staff will work with vendors of standard devices, FPGAs, and ASICs to test and ensure compatibility of products that include RapidIO interfaces. Although the lab will operate at first under the auspices of Tundra, it will maintain an unbiased approach to testing and will provide standardized test results to all vendors who request testing. And the lab will operate as a not-for-profit organization in association with the RTA. Both Tundra and the RTA plan to spin off the lab as an independent entity within 12 to 24 months. Designers can find out more about the lab and about the RTA at www.rapidio.org.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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