Embedded Wireless News

Deal with Component Shortages Using Abstraction Based Connectivity Solutions

Supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic have had major repercussions on the embedded systems industry. Firms have been forced to switch from one supplier to another in an attempt to fulfil their customers' orders, and engineering teams have been faced with an enormous amount of rework. This has not only required hardware redesign, but has also necessitated software changes. Abstracting the connectivity components of a design from the hardware, Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) layer, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi chipset, and TCP/IP network stack are some methods to relieve part of the rework burden.

The effects of component shortages are many and include:

  • Extra cost for redesign, redevelopment, and recertification to comply with industry standards
  • Production delays and stoppages across many industry segments due to the inability to obtain required component/s
  • Possibility of plant shutdowns in cases of prolonged production stoppages
  • Reduced development efficiency due to not having access to required tools from home
  • Slower development times due to difficulties sharing the development experience and debugging information while working remotely

Implementing abstraction-based solutions is an efficient way of meeting the challenges of component shortages. Many factors must be considered when implementing an abstraction-based approach. These include abstraction of processor architecture, microcontroller/microprocessor unit (MCU/MPU), OS/RTOS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi chipset, hardware interface, TCP/IP network stack, permanent storage, and debugging software. To illustrate how an abstraction-based connectivity solution may be implemented, we use the example of ClarinoxSoftFrame, developed by Clarinox.

A. Semiconductor Abstraction

When dealing with semiconductor shortages, it is important to consider incorporating flexibility in processor architecture and MCU/MPU. This flexibility allows engineers to reuse portions of existing software, making the change from one supported semiconductor to another a significantly reduced effort as compared to traditional porting.

B. Operating System Abstraction

Component shortages may also necessitate a change in the OS/RTOS. Again, the abstraction of this layer significantly increases productivity by removing the need to perform porting when changing OS/RTOS.

C. Wireless Chipset Abstraction

In wireless systems, the wireless chipset is also a major factor. Similar to semiconductor and operating system abstraction, abstraction at this level can facilitate faster changeover should changes need to be made to the wireless chipset. To achieve such abstraction, an intermediate board support package layer needs to be used. Such a layer can be implemented by using a well-defined lightweight interface architecture

D. Hardware Interface Abstraction

Various hardware interfaces can be used to interface to the connectivity devices. Wi-Fi generally uses SDIO, PCIe, USB, or SPI interfaces, while Bluetooth more commonly uses UART or USB (but SDIO or SPI are used by some designs). ClarinoxSoftFrame accounts for all these possible interfaces. Abstraction at this level provides flexibility should the hardware need to change in projects impacted by chipset shortages.

E. TCP/IP Network Stack Abstraction

The TCP/IP network stack is an important consideration for today's connected embedded devices, and there are many open source and commercial choices. In some cases, the TCP/IP stack is provided as part of the RTOS, as in the example of Microsoft providing NetX/NetX-Duo with AzureRTOS (formerly ThreadX RTOS). Creating an abstraction for this layer facilitates a simpler process when change is required, and therefore assists to prolong the product life cycle.

F. Permanent Storage Abstraction

Another essential abstraction is that of permanent storage. Whether a file system or Flash/EEPROM memory interface is used, an abstraction mechanism avoids application rewrites when a change is necessitated. A connectivity stack may require storage of pairing and bonding information or configuration data. This level of abstraction needs the connectivity stack to utilise generic memory access functions.

G. Debugger Abstraction

The ClarinoxSoftFrame abstraction layer includes a debugger, ClariFi, which gives a clear real-time view into the connectivity layer, including protocol specifics, memory state, application fatal errors, warnings, and test messages. It also allows for comprehensive postmortem analysis via detailed log files, as well as complex filtering, performance analysis, and automated testing, all of which help to keep development on schedule.

Abstraction-based approaches to software design are particularly relevant in the context of component shortages, which have had a widespread impact on embedded software development over the past two years. Multiple layers of hardware and software-based abstraction are advisable, including abstraction of the MCU/MPU, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi chipset, OS/RTOS, TCP/IP network stack, permanent storage, and debugging software. ClarinoxSoftFrame is an example of a software package that facilitates the implementation of abstraction at these various levels.

About Clarinox

Clarinox Technologies Pty Ltd was formed with the aim of providing cost-effective and innovative wireless embedded systems solutions for businesses developing embedded products. Members of the Clarinox team leverage their experience with embedded systems design to develop leading-edge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions. ClarinoxWiFi provides STA, AP & P2P as well as security protocols. ClarinoxBlue is qualified as Bluetooth version 5.2 covering both Classic and Low Energy, inclusive of Bluetooth Low Energy audio profiles/services and LC3 codec. Clarinox is passionate about delivering flexible and robust wireless protocol software for embedded systems developments.

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https://www.clarinox.com

Coordinating camera crews with wireless intercom systems

Broadcasting major international sporting events involves a lot of technology behind the scenes. Multiple cameras for live streaming, lighting, on-air talent, and production teams need to be coordinated. Sporting venues are supported by vast IT infrastructure including switches, routers, file transfer systems, storage, communications, and high-powered processing capacity.

RTS, part of the Bosch Group, is a leading supplier of professional intercom solutions, with more than 40 years of experience in the market. RTS systems are the choice of major broadcasters worldwide, trusted for coordinating coverage of the world's largest sporting events. These include the recent Summer Games in Tokyo, where RTS's unique Trunking technology enabled all the local and global locations of a major US-based broadcaster to act as a single virtual location. The installation for coverage of the Games was fully IP, comprising over 600 ports and leveraging two more singular and superior RTS technologies: OMNEO high-quality audio for local communication and RVON for international comms.

Improved Bluetooth connectivity with ClarinoxBlue

The RTS product line-up also includes high-quality partyline intercom solutions, including the new Digital Belt Pack (DBP). To ensure the highest quality Bluetooth connectivity to headsets and smartphones, RTS defined several objectives during the belt pack's development, addressing both hardware and software in the process.

First, it was a priority for the user to be able to place the DBP on a fixed stand or bench for freedom of movement within a limited range, without the restriction of wires. Next, it was desirable to allow the user to receive calls on their phone and talk or listen on the belt pack headset. Finally, it was required that the user be able to make calls on their smartphone and bridge these calls into the intercom so that the phone could act as a telephony bridge. To address these objectives, RTS chose Clarinox Technology to supply the ClarinoxBlue Bluetooth protocol stack software for RTOS.

ClarinoxBlue is a developer-friendly software protocol stack, designed exclusively for the development of embedded Bluetooth applications. The stack handles complex applications using both multiple profiles and multiple local Bluetooth devices, enabling an application to interact with several local Bluetooth devices simultaneously. The simplicity of the ClarinoxBlue API greatly reduces application development times. For most applications, the code written based upon ClarinoxBlue will comprise only one-third of the number of lines required for other stacks.

Clarinox tailored, compiled, and tested its ClarinoxBlue protocol stack software based on RTS's requirements. Bluetooth Classic handsfree, audio streaming, and cable replacement profiles were packaged, tested on the target hardware, and provided by Clarinox along with a reference application. In addition, Clarinox used its ClariFi debug tool to quickly resolve issues as they arose in the development phase.

"Reliability and quality in engineering are hallmarks of the Bosch brand, along with products that are innovative and spark enthusiasm," says Kevin Moore, Vice President of Engineering at Bosch Critical Communications Systems. "We chose Clarinox because the company and its products exceeded our requirements and our expectations."

 

 
 
About RTS intercom systems

Part of the Bosch Group, RTS is the industry leader in professional intercom systems, providing solutions that combine forward-thinking functionality, real-world reliability, and superior sound quality.

https://rtsintercoms.com

About Clarinox

Clarinox Technologies Pty Ltd was formed with the aim of providing cost-effective and innovative wireless embedded systems solutions for businesses developing embedded products. Members of the Clarinox team leverage their experience with embedded systems design to develop leading-edge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions. ClarinoxWiFi provides STA, AP & P2P as well as security protocols. ClarinoxBlue is qualified as Bluetooth version 5.2 covering both Classic and Low Energy, inclusive of Bluetooth Low Energy audio profiles/services and LC3 codec. Clarinox is passionate about delivering flexible and robust wireless protocol software for embedded systems developments. For more information, visit

https://www.clarinox.com

 

ClariFi Adds Non-Intrusive Tracing to Analyze High-Speed Events in Embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Applications

ClariFi Insight offers small-footprint, non-intrusive tracing for ClarinoxBlue and ClarinoxWiFi


MELBOURNE, Australia-May 10, 2022


Clarinox Technologies, a leader in short range connectivity software, today announced the addition of ClariFi Insight, a non-intrusive trace and debugger that enables customers to debug their systems that include ClarinoxWiFi or ClarinoxBlue. ClariFi Insight traces the behavior of a system, enabling developers to more easily identify and correct errant application behavior by capturing high-speed events. This has been successfully tested at speeds of 100mbit/s UDP over Wi-Fi

Unlike many debug tools, ClariFi Insight is non-intrusive and does not interfere with the normal behavior and functionality of embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. Such interference is particularly problematic with high-speed applications as the typical trace debug process creates interruptions that interfere with system sequencing and performance. The small footprint of ClariFi Insight ensures that developers can trace and debug high-speed events without slowing the software application and impacting normal system behavior.

ClariFi Insight Simplifies Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Application Analysis

As the high-speed connectivity of embedded systems increases, so has the challenge of debugging system behavior. The trend toward cloud connectivity, remote management and increased system integration requires once disparate systems to now work together. Firmware from multiple silicon vendors, real-time operating systems (RTOS)/operating systems (OS), and TCP/IP stack combine with a plethora of drivers such as USB, UART, and SDIO, as well as the connectivity stacks all operating under the customer's own embedded application layer. ClariFi Insight provides information about how the various parts function and perform as they communicate and pass data to the ClarinoxWiFi and ClarinoxBlue components.

"Debugging high-speed, highly integrated systems can be a nightmare for developers these days. ClariFi Insight reduces that challenge, providing clarity into the behavior of even high-speed Wi-Fi, such as video streaming from a camera over Wi-Fi at tens of megabits speed," said Gokhan Tanyeri, CTO, Clarinox Technologies. "ClariFi Insight is designed for debugging performance issues, but it can also be helpful for projects without a spare port for debugging or where the communications port, such as UART, is too slow to capture the high-speed events. It can also be used for Bluetooth applications such as A2DP music streaming."

How ClariFi Insight Works

ClariFi Insight uses a small memory buffer at a set memory location to trace functionality. A buffer - as small as a few kilobytes - is sufficient to enable a developer to debug a system crash or capture what is taking place on the target. When coupled with the option of defining custom events with short or long packets of data, these insights give engineers the visibility needed to trace whether one part of the system is attempting to communicate and/or pass data incorrectly or at the wrong time - typical factors that result in aberrant system behavior.

Once ClariFi Insight records the predefined events, the data can be read into ClariFi, where the full set of tools, including the Lua scripting capability, can search and fully analyze the information. The ClariFi Insight information can then be used with or without these other ClariFi debug, protocol analysis, and automated testing features. ClariFi Insight performance measurements could, for example, be taken during an automated testing session driven by ClariFi scripting engine. Various data formats are supported for reading the data by ClariFi; currently raw binary, Intel hex format or Motorola S format is supported.

"Because of ClariFi Insight' small, non-intrusive nature, application developers can embed it in the release code," Trish Messiter, Clarinox Technologies, CEO added. "When added to the release code, ClariFi Insight can be used to collect data on customer-reported issues from the field, if needed. Developers - and their customers - can rest assured that any bugs that happen not only during development, but also afterwards, can be traced and fixed."

For more details of ClariFi, see https://www.clarinox.com/products/clarifi/

About Clarinox Technologies Pty Ltd

Clarinox Technologies Pty Ltd was formed with the aim of providing cost-effective and innovative wireless embedded systems solutions for businesses developing embedded products. Members of the Clarinox team leverage their experience with embedded systems design to develop leading-edge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions. ClarinoxWiFi provides STA, AP & P2P as well as security protocols. ClarinoxBlue is qualified as Bluetooth version 5.2 covering both Classic and Low Energy, inclusive of Bluetooth Low Energy audio profiles/services and LC3 codec. Clarinox is passionate about delivering flexible and robust wireless protocol software for embedded systems developments. For more information, visit

https://www.clarinox.com/

 

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