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PCI-SIG-nificant Changes Brewing in Mobile and Small form Factor Designs

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Of five significant PCI Express announcements made at this week’s PCI-SIG Developers Conference, two are aimed at mobile embedded. It’s about time.

The big news from the PCI-SIG is speed. From PCI to PCI Express to Gen3 speeds, the PCI-SIG is an industry consortium that lets no grass grow for long. As the embedded, enterprise and server industries roll out PCIe Gen3 and 40G/100G Ethernet, the PCI-SIG and its key constituents like Cadence, Synopsis, LeCroy and others are readying for another speed doubling to 16 GT/s (giga transfers/second) by 2015.

The PCIe 4.0 next step would likely become known as “Gen4″ and it evolves bandwidth to 16Gb/s or a whopping 64 GB/s (big “B”) total lane bandwidth in x16 width. The PCIe 4.0 Rev 0.5 specification will be available Q1 2014 with Rev 0.9 targeted for Q1 2015.

Yet as “SIG-nificant” as this Gen4 announcement is, PCI-SIG president Al Yanes said it’s only one of five major news items.

Five PCI-SIG announcements at this week’s Developers Conference
The other announcements include: a PCIe 3.1 specification that consolidates a series of ECNs in the areas of power, performance and functionality; PCIe Outside the Box which uses a 1 – 3 meter “really cheap” copper cable called PCIe OCuLink with an 8G bit rate; plus two embedded and mobile announcements that I’m particularly enthused about. See Table 1 for a snapshot.

Table 1: There were five major announcements made by the PCI-SIG at June’s Developers Conference.
Figure 1: The PCI-SIG’s impending M.2 form factor is designed for mobile embedded ultrabooks, tablets, and possibly smartphones. The card will have a scalable PCIe interface and is designed for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, SSD and more. (Courtesy: PCI-SIG.)

New M.2 Specification
One of two announcements for the mobile and embedded spaces, the new M.2 specification is a small, embedded form factor designed to replace the previous “Mini PCI” in Mini Card and Half Mini Card sizes (Figure 1). The newer, as-yet-publicly-unreleased M.2 card specification will detail a board that’s smaller in size and volume, but is intended to provide scalable PCIe performance to allow designers to tune SWaP and I/O requirements. PCI-SIG marketing workgroup chair Ramin Neshati told me that M.2 is part of the PCI-SIG’s deliberate focus on mobile in a fundamentally changing market.

The scalable M.2 card is designed as an I/O plug in for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WAN/cellular, SSD and other connectivity in platforms including ultrabook, tablet, and “maybe even smartphone,” said Neshati. At Rev 0.7 now, the Rev 0.9 spec will be released soon and the final (Rev 1.0?) spec will become public by Q4 2013.

Figure 2: The Mobile PCI Express (M-PCIe) specification targets mobile embedded devices like smartphones to provide high-speed, on-board PCIe connectivity. (Courtesy: PCI-SIG.)
Figure 3: M-PCIe by the PCI-SIG can be used in multiple high speed paths in a smartphone mobile device. (Courtesy: PCI-SIG and MIPI Alliance.)

Mobile PCIe (M-PCIe)
The momentum in mobile and interest in a PCIe on-board interconnect lead the PCI-SIG to work with the MIPI Alliance and create Mobile PCI Express: M-PCIe. The specification is now available to PCI-SIG members and creates an “adapted PCIe architecture” bridge between regular PCIe and MIPI M-PHY (Figure 2).

Using the MIPI M-PHY physical layer allows smartphone and mobile designers to stick with one consistent user interface across multiple platforms, including already-existing OS drivers. PCIe support is “baked into Windows, iOS, Android,” and others, says PCI-SIG’s Neshati.  PCI Express also has a major advantage when it comes to interoperability testing, which runs from the protocol stack all the way down to the electrical interfaces. Taken collectively, PCIe brings huge functionality and compliance benefits to the mobile space.

M-PCIe supports MIPI’s Gear 1 (1.25-1.45 Gbps), Gear 2 (2.5-2.9 Gbps) and Gear 3 (5.0-5.8 Gbps) speeds. As well, the M-PCIe spec provides power optimization for short channel mobile platforms, primarily aimed at WWAN front end radios, modem IP blocks, and possibly replacing MIPI’s own universal file storage UFS mass storage interface (administered by JEDEC) as depicted in Figure 3.

PCI Express Ready for More
More information on these five announcements will be rolling out soon. But it’s clear that the PCI-SIG sees mobile and embedded as the next target areas for PCI Express in the post-PC era. Yet the organization is wisely not abandoning the PCI Express standard’s bread and butter in high-end/high-performance servers and systems.

ciufo_chrisChris A. Ciufo is editor-in-chief for embedded content at Extension Media, which includes the EECatalog print and digital publications and website, Embedded Intel® Solutions, and other related blogs and embedded channels. He has 29 years of embedded technology experience, and has degrees in electrical engineering, and in materials science, emphasizing solid state physics. He can be reached at

Getting ARM’d for Innovation in x86 Modules is a Power Play

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

An interview with Bob Burckle, Vice President, WinSystems discusses x86, ARM, and low power.

WinSystems is one of those Tortoise and Hare kind of companies, often alternating between the two. The employee-owned Arlington, Texas company is progressive enough to literally rent out its parking lot for Dallas Cowboys tailgate parties on game days. The company focuses on “deeply embedded” x86 standard form factors PC/104 and EBX, at times racing ahead of the industry to initiate standards like the SFF-SIG’s SUMIT-ISM, or slowly moving along revising PC/104+ boards with new x86 clone CPUs from the likes of DM&P just to keep the ISA bus alive.

You might say the company is methodically focused, knows exactly where to aim its design arrows, and isn’t planning on being all things to all people. The company doesn’t have the product breadth of a Kontron, nor the take-no-prisoners-with-design-innovation of a Congatec. They’re kind of somewhere in the middle, which is just fine with co-founder Bob Burckle. But like the whole embedded market, WinSystems is facing the challenges of how to incorporate low-power ARM processors into an x86 ecosystem, when to finally abandon the ISA bus that still sells well in industrial and legacy data acquisition markets, and how to lower overall system power.

I caught up with Bob on a Saturday in late January. Edit excerpts follow.

Chris Ciufo, Embedded Intel Solutions: What’s the latest on embedded small form factor (SFF) standards?

Bob Burckle,
vice president, Winsystems

Bob Burckle, WinSystems: Within the standards area, I’m most familiar with PC/104 and the SFF-SIG. In PC/104, the big push recently has been for a PCI Express solution. The PC/104 Consortium has come up with their implementation, and now it’s close to a second generation. The difference between this and the SFF-SIG’s SUMIT-ISM standard comes down to a philosophical question: “What do you do with the original PC/104?”

It’s a case of evolutionary versus revolutionary. The SFF-SIG said they’ve seen 80% of the applications use the original PC/104 module and connector using the ISA bus, which was obsoleted maybe 10 years ago. Yet within our particular space we see people continuing to use the bus in both new designs and true legacy designs. The SFF-SIG decided to replace the parallel PCI connector (on PC/104+, PCI-104) with PCI Express, while keeping PC/104.

On the other hand, the PC/104 Consortium philosophy was to replace the PC/104 connector with a PCI Express solution, but they maintained the PCI-104 connector for parallel PCI. You can have PCI and PCI Express on the same card. But you no longer have ISA available, unless you put another bridge card on the stack, which adds some cost. This is a viable solution.

Both organizations realize ISA will eventually go away and in the meantime you’ve got 90 x 96 mm boards available from the SUMIT camp or the PC/104 Consortium. It’s incumbent upon the customer to decide what’s the best design going forward. Obviously for a new design you’re not constrained by either of the two groups. It depends upon whatever I/O is available.

Embedded Intel Solutions: Is one better than the other?

WinSystems: The SUMIT implementation is called SUMIT Industry Standard Module (SUMIT-ISM) so as not to create confusion with the PC/104 version. It will support existing PC/104, but it does have PCI Express and USB and other support capability from the CPU. All the boards introduced have ISA, but they don’t have to. You can plug a PC/104 board with ISA onto a SUMIT-ISM board that has ISA.

Is one better than the other? When you have two people—or organizations—coming from different philosophies you’re going to get a different solution because of a different perception of market, customers, or sensitivities to cost or performance attributes. Neither is better, really. WinSystems is an Executive Member of the PC/104 Consortium, and I’m on the board of directors of the SFF-SIG. I need to keep abreast of both technologies so I can advise our customers on what’s best for their needs.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What are the trends in processor standards?

WinSystems: One of the things that’s interesting is what’s going on in the ARM world. Can any of these existing SFF standards support ARM processors without having to redesign them? If you look at what’s going on in the COM (computer on module) world, every time you need a new pinout you just add a new “Type” number, such as Type 1, Type 2, Type 10 and others. I believe Kontron may have put an ARM processor on one of their COM Express boards; I think Congatec may have done that with one of their Q7 modules. So I have to ask: Why is there not an embedded standard emerging in the ARM world?

The PC/104 architecture isn’t particularly well suited—from a connector pinout standpoint—for how ARM is pinned out. With COM Express, and COM modules per se, they look like system components. They look like a “fast CPU”, like the former Socket 370. The COM module itself really can’t do anything unless you add on an entire base board. Does it make sense for SBC manufacturers in the embedded space to come up with a standard size for ARM processors that can scale for everything from low cost to streaming video capability? Is there a way to come up with some sort of single board form factor that could envelop that? Would something like that make sense? Or is it just too difficult because so many options make it impossible to encapsulate that such that it could work across several manufacturers’ product lines?

Embedded Intel Solutions: What processors do your products use today?

WinSystems: We use the Intel Atom family. We started out with the early versions…it’s now on Gen 4 or Gen 5; it’s moving along very quickly. We have used that class of processor because they give good processing power, great video, and much, much lower power than Intel’s Core i3, i5, or i7. They also provide the expansion capability of PCI Express and high speed USB.

We are also currently using the AMD LX800 and we may evaluate AMD’s next generation. We also use DM&P which makes the Vortex x86 Pentium-class processor for deeply embedded products (Figure 1).

Figure 1: DM&P is a clone x86-compatible processor that offers low power and legacy peripherals such as ISA. (Courtesy: DM&P.)

Embedded Intel Solutions: I’m unfamiliar with DM&P.

WinSystems: DM&P took the processor core concept from ZF Microsystems and designed for deeply embedded systems. These guys make some really clever and very good products out of Taiwan. The Vortex x86 is used on our entry level headless systems, and they will soon have some new silicon coming that’s pretty attractive.

This gives us a wide range from Intel, who seems to want to be in the “moderate to upper end processing”, to DM&P who brings in the entry to mid range. And then there’s AMD’s mid-level Geode successor products that line up pretty well against Intel. Note that I’m not referring to AMD’s APU devices with integrated GPUs. This year, we plan on taking a hard look at some of these processor options as a next-generation successor. In fact, if you take a look at Kontron, Congatec, and what others have done, they’ve been using the new AMD processors and the AMD/ATI video is fantastic.

Embedded Intel Solutions: Besides ARM, what’s on your low power roadmap?

In our particular market power is the enemy. You don’t want to use it if you can avoid it, and then you’ve got to get rid of the heat. If you never generate it in the first place then it makes your cooling solution even better, especially if you’re trying to go over extended temperature.

The question then becomes: how can you balance the processing power you need with the electrical power available? If you take a look at those entry level DM&P products, they’re low power. However, to some people even 1 W is high power. We try to maintain 10 W or lower for the whole board because with small boards, power is absolutely critical. We don’t want to put a fan on anything, which is why we don’t use Intel’s Core i3, i5, or i7 processors: they’re too hot. We need to come up with the best, most passive heat solution. We’ve used cold plates and conductive transfer solutions from the processor to the plate to the passive heat sink. In our environment, rotational devices can and will fail, so no fans.

An added benefit is this: when you can reduce power, you can go off-grid. One of the major initiatives we had last year was coming up with new power supplies to operate with solar cells, wind turbines, and a built in battery charger. The PSU has an automatic switchover that decides which is generating more power, wind or solar, and then it trickle charges the standby batteries when not needed or it flips over to the batteries when neither is available (Figure 2). We’re seeing this as a major trend, not just in the SFF world, but within the small non-x86 boards as well.

Figure 2: WinSystems’ PPM-PS394-533 PC/104+ power supply has a built in battery charger for off-the-grid embedded systems.

We’re also seeing the rise of Power over Ethernet (PoE) because once you generate power, you need to distribute it. We’ve taken a look at those needs and have developed some boards that will allow you to grab sufficient power from Ethernet itself to power the stack. It makes the design and power requirement easier, and there’s an added benefit for extended temperature because the PoE equipment might be in a conditioned area where the environment might be a little more challenging than for pure commercial equipment. This way we can keep the board stack separate from the power source.


Chris A. Ciufo is senior editor for embedded content at Extension Media, which includes the EECatalog print and digital publications and website, Embedded Intel® Solutions, and other related blogs and embedded channels. He has 29 years of embedded technology experience, and has degrees in electrical engineering, and in materials science, emphasizing solid state physics. He can be reached at

2013 Trends: New Standards, Lower Power, and Rugged

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The military’s infatuation with SWaP-C begins to drive non-defense suppliers as myriad markets and applications need better-than-commercial.

When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So it is sometimes with my own view of the embedded market. After spending years associated with several of the world’s defense industries and ministries, I tend to see technology as it might apply to military, aerospace, and other high-rel, mission-critical systems. But as we examined this year’s crop of small form factor (SFF) technologies and trends to create the questions for our annual Roundtable Q&A, the answers from our three participants often indicated a growing awareness of rugged technologies, products, and systems.

Take, for example, the new standards organization SGET (Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies) headquartered in Munich, Germany. Chartered to create open (and freely available!) standards for embedded systems, Kontron tells us about a new ARM-based form factor called SMARC that’s thin and low power enough to apply to UAVs, transportation systems, and lots of other size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) constrained systems. Similarly, PCI Systems describes the new VITA 73 “microATR” standard that’s designed to be rugged enough for deployment on drones yet similarly equipped to the larger VPX board size.

In other areas of SWaP-C, size definitely matters. As the Internet of Things flows out to connect every intelligent device as a node on the global network, M2M products are in most companies’ arsenals. And they range in size from small COM boards, to standard PC/104 and SUMIT boards with a variety of connectivity options such as IEEE 802.15.4 RF flavors…to plain vanilla Ethernet supplying Power over Ethernet (POE) as in many of WinSystems’ products.

It’s also interesting to note the range of processors available in today’s SFFs. A few years ago it all would’ve been Intel-based (and most likely Atom-based). That’s changing. When Kontron announced support for ARM a year or so ago it signaled new choices for designers and the effect of the mobile consumer world on the previously PC-dominated embedded market. Our respondents in this year’s Q&A are using ARM, Atom, Intel Core ix, DM&P, and AMD APUs and Geodes. Not all of these are x86 compatible, of course.

Finally, a bit a surprise was how little affect Android and “touch” has had on most of the embedded applications described by our three respondents. I suppose it’s because two of the companies are “deeply embedded” suppliers whose products don’t “touch” (no pun!) the end user directly. Kontron, of course, provides human-machine interface systems (HMI) and remains involved with capacitive touch screens, Android, and more.

Read on, and learn for yourself what trends affect each of these three important embedded companies. These same trends will likely affect your own design decisions.
Chris A. Ciufo, Editor 

EECatalog: The first question is always about standards…what’s new? Specifically, what’s new with each form-factor organization (PC/104, SFFSIG, PICMG, VITA, etc) and how do they apply to the market?

Jack London is a Product Manager at Kontron.

Kontron: There is actually a new standard in module form factors which has been expressly designed for ARM and SoC technology. SMARC or Smart Mobility ARChitecure was created to provide designers with a low profile, small 82 mm x 50 mm dimension  module for low power applications. The SMARC specification is being supported by the SGET consortium which is specific to embedded market applications.

Claus J. Gross is President of PCI Systems.

PCI Systems: Created under the VITA standards organization, VITA 73 has gained market recognition with a complete chassis integrated in UAVs and other vehicles having tight spaces.The double slot version is superior to 3U VPX featuring a 4-core i7 CPU, 16 lanes of PCIe Gen3 on each slot. The latest custom design for the Navy incorporates a Virtex-7 FPGA and next generation 3.7Gs/sec 12bit ADCs where four independent channels are on one board.

VITA 73 chassis have the highest function-to-size ratio, even compared to 3U VPX. In other standards, VITA 75 is basically a cut-off 3U VPX offering with a very low function to size ratio, and VITA 74 looks like a ruggedized PC/104 system with limited high speed functions available.

Bob Burckle is Vice President at WinSystems.

WinSystems: The current state of the market from our perspective is that we are in an implementation phase of the new recently introduced standards. WinSystems has introduced SBCs and I/O cards built upon the SUMIT connector and SUMIT-ISM board standard using the latest Intel Atom-class processors and high-speed PCIe [PCI Express] peripherals.

With the advent of the lower power x86-based CPUs, WinSystems has made a significant move into power supplies and off power grid computing. We have can power SBCs and I/O cards from batteries, wind turbines, solar panels and Power Over Ethernet [PoE]. This may not be necessarily “new” technology, but a needed implementation for low power, embedded applications for small form factor boards. With applications in military/aerospace, transportation, security, and other fields that need to operate in a remote and often hostile environment, availability of clean and reliable power is essential.

EECatalog: What are the technology trends you’re watching this year, in boards and in end market segments?

Kontron: As board form factors become smaller and more capable, thanks to consolidation of functions into SoC silicon, designers are now seeking ways to implement connectivity and multi-display capability. Market segments for these include digital signage, mobile, and handheld applications in medical environments.

PCI Systems: High speed ADC and DAC applications needing 16 lanes Gen3 PCIe slot connection. These high data rates are also required when GPU chips are used. Also, in the markets we care most about, SWAP is the big issue.

WinSystems: As stated above, low power is a major issue. We are also seeing more inquiries on “green” energy segments and PoE applications. Another trend for our customer base is for long-term product availability. If it is not broken, then don’t fix it and if a product works, don’t redesign it unless major functions and features are required. Our customers are satisfied with the I/O functionality and price point of products using the different variants of PC/104 technology. So we continue to see significant orders for existing designs, plus new designs based upon existing technology (assuming that you can still buy it). We infrequently obsolete any popular products and if we do, we replace it with another that is closely resembles the other’s form, fit, and function. This is not always possible since we are dependent upon the semiconductor manufacturer for their silicon.

EECatalog: M2M (Machine-to-Machine) is getting to be a super-hot buzzword, and SFFs are ideal for end-point nodes. What technologies are you seeing there, and what about comms links and protocols?

Kontron: M2M and IoT (Internet of Things) is a fast growing trend with applications for many vertical markets including Transportation, Healthcare, Industrial and Utilities. OneM2M organization ( is defining the standards for an M2M/IoT service layer that can be readily embedded within various hardware and software products. WWAN, WLAN and WPAN technologies are becoming more and more prevalent for connectivity solutions, while transport protocols such as CoAP and 6LoWPAN are getting very popular for specific applications such as smart grids.

PCI Systems: We have developed a 24 lane optical link that fits into a D-Sub connector size. There is no protocol in the translating engine involved so any signal between 1 Gbits/s and 10.5 Gbits/s can be transmitted.This connection can be used for PCIe Gen3, InfiniBand, 1, 10, 100 Gbit Ethernet and many more applications.

WinSystems: In many applications PoE allows easier implementation of the end-point device; this is exciting with cameras and other intelligent I/O because it really simplifies installation. We are also seeing a SFF SBC communicating with sensors through a variety of protocols including serial, USB, I2C, and wireless protocols. What makes this possible are the “canned” drivers and application programs that can be adapted to embedded applications.

EECatalog: Android is everywhere, especially in touch-based systems. How does this trend affect embedded modules supplied by your company?

Kontron: Embedded technology applications are not usually first to market with new OS implementations due to the nature of their use. However, as Android becomes more popular there is a growing trend towards supporting it in embedded applications even though the predominance of end users still prefer a more traditional Linux- or Windows-based OS.

PCI Systems: We manufacture deployed systems without optical or touch monitors, so this trend isn’t applicable to us.

WinSystems: Android is starting to be discussed but Linux variants and Windows platforms are still used by the majority of our customers. We also see RTOS’s like QNX and VxWorks.

EECatalog: How is Windows 8, Windows RT, and the whole “touch” phenomenon affecting your engineering and product plans? Be specific.

Kontron: The touch phenomenon is making its presence known in embedded applications and is emerging as a “must-have” feature, particularly in the HMI space. For this reason our engineering teams are implementing necessary hardware interfaces and software support to realize this feature.  This includes driver development in software and implementation of different internal interfaces such as USB to support touch screen overlays on displays.

WinSystems: At this point Windows 8 and the “touch” phenomenon have not penetrated the industry segments where resistive touch screens have been dominant.  With new developments allowing capacitive touch screens to be used in applications where water, dirt, and gloves are common, we expect a strong increased use in this [embedded] sector in the next few years.

EECatalog: What’s new in wireless – including 802.15.4, 802.11, cellular, NFC and others?

Kontron: As the LTE networks get rolled out across the US and other regions, many new applications leveraging the high bandwidth and low latency of LTE networks are being developed and deployed. This is being used in combination with 802.11, BLE and NFC technologies at the smart edge node.

WinSystems: We seeing continuing adoption of 802.11 and cellular 3G/4G systems.  We are just beginning to see some adoption of 802.15.4 with several protocol profiles realized.

EECatalog: The processor wars are heating up between AMD, ARM, Intel and others. Which ones have you selected and why?  Also, what about the ease of programming and application porting between platforms?

Kontron: Kontron’s goal is to develop products that address market application requirements, each of which will have different processing capability demands. Whereas one application will benefit from the low power attributes of ARM technology, another application will need high-end x86 multi-core processing where power dissipation is not an issue. Still yet other applications demand high-end HD 1080p multi-display graphics capabilities. For these reasons Kontron partners with industry leaders who develop and produce x86 and ARM technology based silicon.

Programming and application porting between dissimilar machine compute platforms is not as daunting up to a certain level. For example, under Linux each platform will have similar function calls and make use of C compiling, but the pathway splits when it comes to driver development as each technology has different features and functions requiring unique drivers.

PCI Systems: We heavily use Intel because of the high data rates seen by our customers’ applications, connecting 16 lanes of PCIe Gen3.

WinSystems: All have their own strengths and weaknesses.  We are currently using all three mentioned plus DM&P who is targeting a different sector of the market. [Editor's note: DM&P manufactures a variety of x86 instruction set compatible SoC processors which integrate peripherals such as ISA bus, GPU, Southbridge and more. ]

EECatalog: What are the trends in rugged? Can you describe some of the engineering techniques your company has used to deal with heat, moisture, or other environmental metrics?

Kontron: Ruggedized applications present a host of challenges for designers due to the nature of their use in different operating environments.  Kontron has taken steps with some of our module products to ruggedize the product through design and environmental stress screening. For example, selecting industrial-rated components, layout and placement of these components as well as developing appropriate thermal solutions are all necessary to deliver a ruggedized product. Interestingly enough, the lower temperatures can often be more challenging to support vs. the upper temperature ranges. In some cases designers would need to implement such techniques as “pre-heating” a board  or forward biasing current to certain circuits so as to bring them to life prior to their operation to ensure proper system operation.

PCI Systems: The main issue for deployed systems is the ratio of functions per chassis volume. To that end, we have developed a patent-pending 3D backplane design to reduce chassis size. PCI Systems can get the same functions out of a chassis where the competition would need two chassis. We use cold plate cooling, liquid cooling and forced air duct cooling. All chassis are rated IP65 and conform to MIL-STD-810 and other military standards.

Our VITA 73 chassis, called microVPX and microATR , have one third the volume as a 3U VPX chassis from the competition with the same functionality. [Editor's note: Refer to the article on VITA 73 "The smaller VITA 73 Small Form Factor and MicroATR chassis" available in this issue.]

EECatalog: I’m a strong proponent of embedded security – and an “evangelist” of sorts. What are the issues concerning security and safety in PC/104 and other SFFs? What are your customers saying, and how is your company responding?

PCI Systems: We provide patent-pending “mission sticks”; basically rugged sticks that contain mission data and EEPROMs for storing classified content. Our rugged chassis will not work and is useless when the mission stick is not inserted. Also, the mission stick and our high capacity SSD can be physically remotely destroyed if, for instance, a UAV gets lost.

WinSystems: The first step is physical security and to not have access to USB and other connections when unnecessary.  The bulk of security concerns fall into the software arena, where operating systems should be secured with appropriate software and/or configured as read only so they cannot be modified easily by those with ill intent.


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Chris A. Ciufo is senior editor for embedded content at Extension Media, which includes the EECatalog print and digital publications and website, Embedded Intel® Solutions, and other related blogs and embedded channels. He has 29 years of embedded technology experience, and has degrees in electrical engineering, and in materials science, emphasizing solid state physics. He can be reached at

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