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Electronics & Test
Freescale Unveils Computing Architecture for Industrial HMIs
3/28/2012

Freescale's Vybrid architecture combines ARM's Cortex-A5 with Cortex-M4.   (Source: Freescale Semiconductor)
Freescale's Vybrid architecture combines ARM's Cortex-A5 with Cortex-M4.
(Source: Freescale Semiconductor)

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Beth Stackpole
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The era of consumerization
Beth Stackpole   3/28/2012 6:39:01 AM
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Very cool development and one that puts Freescale squarely ahead of a trend that I don't see any signs of stopping. With more and more people (overly) dependent on smart phones and tablets for everything related to both work and play, there's no doubt that people are expecting the same ease of use and intuitive user interface in every kind of electronics/appliance/piece of gear they touch. Why settle for less when the touch and gesture interface popularized by Apple is so pervasive. If I can intuitively use my smart phone to access my home security system, why shouldn't I be able to employ the same interface to control industrial automation system or my fridge. I think this trend will go gangbusters over the next year and Freescale's new multicore processor is only going to help.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Task partitioning & interfaces
Ann R. Thryft   3/28/2012 12:19:56 PM
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Interesting partitioning of tasks between the two processors, and one that makes a lot of sense. The HMI/GUI continues to get more complicated as a greater proportion of electronics users are consumers, and a smaller proportion are engineers, as the iPhonization of industrial applications continues. In the ancient old days of much lousier, less intuitive UIs we had to put up with quite a lot of confusing interactions. OTOH, some people (my husband included) find the command line interface a much more powerful way to interact with the machine. Well, yes, if you actually need to program the thing. Personally, I'd prefer a one-way non-vocal Siri: I talk, it listens, figures out what I want, and does it, with no talking back. Meanwhile I'm on to the next thought and task.


Charles Murray
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Re: The era of consumerization
Charles Murray   3/28/2012 7:51:18 PM
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I agree, Beth. Freescale, as well as other chip makers moving in the same direction, are on to something important. When you see a company like Cadillac use iPhone capabilities in their touch screens, then you know it must be solidly in the mainstream.

Mydesign
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Hybrid Chips
Mydesign   3/29/2012 3:05:08 AM
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Charles, it seems that integration of two tasks in a chip, where real-time applications and domain specific applications. I think such hybrid model chips have to develop further, so that they are more compactable to the board and efforts can be minimize.

IQ Process Control
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Dual Core
IQ Process Control   3/29/2012 9:33:01 AM
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This sounds like a much better approach than conventional methods where HMI's either use one mutitasking processor for communication, screen updates and background processing or two seporate processors, one being used for communications alone. This all in one approach is bound to be much more effiecent.

ChasChas
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Non-critical timing
ChasChas   3/29/2012 10:31:58 AM
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The way I see it. the tasks are separated so the coordination between the chips are non-critical. Is this correct?

 

Craig
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Re: Task partitioning & interfaces
Craig   3/29/2012 1:25:35 PM
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Oh that's classic Ann!!  "...with no talking back."  I don't want my 'hardware' to talk to me either!  We each want a different UI according to what we like.  And I like all my (non-audio) hardware silent and obedient!  "STOP that BEEPing!!"  I find a train of thought to be very fragile and noise is distracting.

apresher
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Industrial HMIs
apresher   3/29/2012 2:53:56 PM
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Chuck, Excellent article.  There's no question but that industrial HMIs will be providing all types of additional computing options from animations and video-based instruction manuals and other applications.  As PCs in particular continue to provide additional processing power, and operating systems go to the next level, the Industrial HMI becomes the portal to the machine more and more.  Thanks.

apresher
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Industrial HMIs
apresher   3/29/2012 4:30:34 PM
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One other question.  A key trend for industrial factory HMIs is that they are often also serving as the main controller for the machine.  Most are PC based architectures increasingly using Windows because of the flexibility.  Does this approach also compete effectively with that approach?  Can envision an appliance or other products might have entirely different HMI needs.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Task partitioning & interfaces
Ann R. Thryft   3/30/2012 12:37:17 PM
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Thanks, Craig. Glad you liked my humor and that someone else knows what I mean. "Silent and obedient"--yes! Sometimes my train of thought is fragile, and sometimes it's so fast that I hate wasting time interacting through such a slo-o-o-w medium as two-way full-duplex speech, or even just listening to a bunch of beeps. Besides, it's just a machine, a tool. I prefer to have conversations with actual living beings. 

And you're right, there are several different preferences for UIs. So why do we get stuck with just one on a given machine?


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