3D NAND and the Flash Drives of the Future

Modern day life is infused with evolving data, which is why it is increasingly triggering the need for high capacity storage, and subsequently, new technological innovations. 3D NAND is one such advancement. Designed to define the future of storage, it is expected to meet the growing memory demands with bigger, faster, and cheaper flash drives.

With planar NAND almost nearing its practical scaling limits, it was becoming more and more difficult to serve the enhanced memory requirements of mobile computing and data centers. Now with 3D NAND flash technology delivering an innovative process architecture, we are ready to experience 3X the capacity of planar NAND technologies while leveraging improved performance and reliability.

System designers developing products like laptops, notebooks, mobile devices, and servers, can make use of 3D NAND’s unprecedented technology to accommodate the rising data movement in the consumer and enterprise storage department.

Flash memory makers are offering a full range of NAND memory products, including companies like Micron, providing specialized NAND solutions integrated with a unique set of features that significantly boost performance capabilities across a range of process nodes.

These widespread diversifications in the NAND technology essentially mean, today’s designers cannot just select any NAND Flash device for their applications, instead, they will have to derive a basic perception of each NAND, understanding how its features can suitably benefit the necessities of a particular device.

Features and Factors Driving the 3D NAND Technology

3D NAND, as the name suggests, is a flash storage technology that involves cutting multiple layers into the silicon, stacking the memory cells to enhance storage density. By stacking cells in 32 layers, 3D NAND can pave the way for much higher storage density in each die, allowing cells to space out more on each plane while reducing the inter-cell interference issues.

In addition, stacked cells in 3D NAND can still retain its MLC and TLC cell characteristics, which leads to massive increase in the storage volume. In light of these memory cells, it should be noted, MLC and TLC can be stacked up to 32 levels for 256 gigabytes MLC dies, and 384 gigabytes TLC dies.

3D NAND Flash memory technology for SD cards, solid state hard drives, and smartphones deploys a series of floating gate transistors, assigned to a charge value of “on” and “off” (1 and 0). Subsequently, these memory blocks are arranged side-by-side in a two-dimensional layout. With further advancement in technology, it is obvious that designers will succeed in fitting more memory blocks onto a single die, resulting in the production of higher capacity flash drives.

The Future Possibilities of 3D NAND and Flash Drives

3D NAND technology is in its early stages, with a whole lot of possibilities still to unfold in the near future. Micron Technologies, a pioneer in flash memory innovations, has been working on advanced 3D NAND storage that will reduce the size of SSDs to 2.5-inch with over 10TB of storage. These early technological advances can hopefully lead to the production of cheaper, reliable, and higher-capacity device storage ready to meet the increasing memory challenges.

What is Industry 4.0?

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Industry 4.0 marks the beginning of a new era, being termed as the fourth industrial revolution. Integrating cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing, it signifies the latest trend in new age automation and data exchange that creates possibilities for smart manufacturing technologies within a “smart factory” framework.

Smart modular factories are characterized by cyber-physical systems, which monitor the physical processes of manufacturing. Over the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 helps in the communication and interoperability of these systems, aiding them to cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time via the Internet of Services.

The fundamental principle of Industry 4.0 is to connect machines, workpieces, and systems while formulating intelligent networks for businesses along the entire value chain of internal and cross-organizational services that manage each other autonomously.

Industry 4.0 machines predict failures and trigger maintenance processes on their own, as well as keep track of self-organized logistics, which react to the unexpected changes in the production process. Components and systems integrated into an Industry 4.0 factory, as opposed to a traditional setup, are able to gain self-awareness and self-predictiveness, enabling management to diagnose faults with deeper insight into the factory status.

Additionally, smart factories, founded on the principles of Industry 4.0, are also noted for their peer-to-peer correlation, which provides a fusion of health information based on the functioning of various components and system levels. Providing crucial health predictions, the technology offers crucial perspicacity to the factory management for ‘just-in-time’ maintenance and zero downtime of production processes.

In June 2013, consultancy firm McKinsey published an interview that featured an extremely important discussion between the McKinsey experts, and executives at Robert Bosch, Siegfried Dais (Partner of the Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG) and Heinz Derenbach (CEO of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH).

This interview outlined the prevalence of IoT in manufacturing and the sequential technology-driven changes it promises to trigger in the new industrial revolution. Excerpts from the interview highlighted the probable changes that are to be witnessed in a smart factory framework.

According to Dais, “It is highly likely that the world of production will become more and more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else”. The discussion cited examples from the prevailing architecture in traditional industrial setup, where networks and processes are limited to just one factory. As mentioned by Dais, this won’t most likely be the case in an Industry 4.0 scenario. Breaking physical barriers, Industry 4.0 is anticipated to interconnect multiple factories across a range of geographical regions.

Positive Implications of Smart Factory and the Industry 4.0 Technology

Industry 4.0 will have remarkable beneficial effects in a number of key areas, including:

  • Innovative services and business models
  • Reliable and continuous productivity with practically zero downtime
  • Machine health prediction, automated maintenance, and safety
  • IT security
  • Improved product lifecycles
  • Industry value chain
  • Workers education and skill enhancement
  • Socio-economic benefits

While Industry 4.0 sounds like a reasonable assumption and a driving force behind the Internet of Things, it also brings forth a range of complexities and challenges that smart factories have to straighten out in the near future in order for it to take full effect.

Meet Regional Display Solutions Specialist: John Cronise

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WPG Americas would like to introduce you to John Cronise, Regional Display Solutions Specialist (RDSS) for the West Coast. John supports customers west of the Rocky Mountains with their display and embedded computing application needs.

With a BS in Business Administration from Portland State University in Portland, OR, John has always had an interest and aptitude for electronics, development and design. These interests drove his career and fueled his major background areas of electrical and mechanical engineering, product design, manufacturing and web development, just to name a few.

John’s RDSS position with WPGA have given him the opportunity to support clients on a broad range of products. Daily, John straddles the line between clients and manufactures, providing and maintaining in-depth product knowledge.

“With so many choices on the market today it can be difficult for clients to know all their options and that is where I play a role. When I meet in person with a client, or we receive their inquiries, I focus on their objectives and stated requirements to identify the best display solution for their application,” said John. This process typically requires a detailed conversation, which is where a close working relationship with each client is vital.

With the display industry landscape changing frequently, challenges typically faced by a display specialist include product lifecycle issues, LCD supply shortages and long lead-times, as well as the expectation to live up to consumers expectations. “…I strive to mitigate these for WPG Americas’ clients,” said John.

When asked what he is most looking forward to in the future of the display solutions industry, John replied, “The evolution of the market is going to be very exciting over the next few years. The growth of OLED technology, flexible displays, and decreasing costs per square meter of high resolution LCD glass is going to change the display landscape.”

We will likely see many of these innovations in the next few years. About what’s in store, John added, “I expect to see more displays in more places. The future is as bright as it is beautiful.”

Powerbox Launches High-Performance Power Supplies to Support Industry 4.0

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Powerbox recently launched its new product series of four power supplies, targeted to support the emerging needs of Industry 4.0 applications.

An addition to the family of Powerbox Industrial Line, the new product range, comprising of OBM33, OBM35, OBP37, and OBP38, is based on advanced power switching technologies such as LLC, synchronous rectification, active PFC, low leakage current, and energy optimization.

The new generation power supplies, developed to sustain the specific demands of Industry 4.0, have been integrated with capabilities that meet the regional line voltages while operating in unstable power grids. The series, designed and optimized for enhanced performance, has already emerged as a leading player for applications deployed in Industry 4.0.

Technical Specifications and Product Features of the newly Introduced Power Supplies

Applications deployed in the Industry 4.0 demand power supplies that meet high isolation voltages. Keeping that in mind, Powerbox has developed OBM33, OBM35, OBP37, and OBP38, guaranteed to provide end users improved system performance with no power disruption. Perfectly suited for next generation Industry 4.0 applications, the launch includes more than 28 models that blend dynamic topology and optimized layout to ensure better EMI performance.

The new Powerbox product line taps in input voltages in the range of 90 VAC to 264 VAC, and line frequency of 47Hz to 63Hz, while delivering single output voltages of 12V, 15V, 18V, 24V, 30V, 36V and 48V within a power range of 80W to 400W. The series can endure 3000 VAC (4000 VAC for the OBM33) input to output, 1500 VAC input to ground, and 500 VAC output to ground.

The newly introduced portfolio sets a new benchmark, restricting the maximum current leakage below 275 μA, four times lower than the standard industry average. Created to render designers with safety margins at 264 VAC and 63 Hz, the units meet and exceed EN55022B radiated and conducted Class B.

Designed to support Industry 4.0 environments, the OBM33, OBM35, OBP37, and OBP38, permit surges of ±1KV differential, 2KV common; magnetic field immunity of 1A/m, conducted immunity 3Vrms ; fast transient/burst 1KV ; ESD ±8KV air and 4KV contact.

The latest series can be operated from -10°C to +70°C, where 75% of the maximum power is available without any extra cooling. With the help of additional forced air cooling, product performances can be jacked up to 100% power at 50°C. Subsequently, a slender power derating will allow operation up to 70°C. Based on the MIL-HDBK-217F calculation method, at full load and 25°C ambient, the MTBF of OBM33, OBM35, OBP37, and OBP38, can reach up to 300,000 hours.

“Internet of Things is everywhere and Industry 4.0 happening faster than expected. In that environment, business continuation and energy saving is a must, requiring power supplies designed to meet demanding and complex requirements” says Martin Fredmark, VP Product Management at Powerbox. “The new series include a number of technical innovations contributing to reduce power consumption and to offer a high degree of flexibility to systems architects.”

Designed to minimize environmental impact, the new product line introduced by Powerbox comply with the latest RoHS requirements, meeting all other necessary safety standards.

To learn more about the product, please contact the WPGA team.

Trends in Industry 4.0

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Every new technology that secures a position in the marketplace sets off disruptive industry changes through its inherent features, agility, and adaptability. Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is one such trending topic of recent times and it’s expected to change the market dynamics of IoT in the near future. This article outlines the top emerging trends of Industry 4.0 that are poised to play a significant role in transforming the IoT marketplace over the next two years.

Trend #1: Standardized Industry 4.0 / IoT Complete Solutions

Currently, IoT solutions are still in the periphery of individual consumer products, its potential not being explored at large. Having said so, it is, however, the custom-tailored approach of consumer devices that form the basic foundation for standardized solutions. In the future, Industry 4.0 / IoT solutions will not just rely on standardized platforms, it will also pack in a comprehensive range of integrated solutions to cater to a diversified array of upcoming and challenging applications.

Trend #2: Industry 4.0 / Integration of IoT Data, Big Data, and Analytics

While evaluating the variety of IoT solutions being offered in the market right now, it is evident that analytics, big data, and machine learning are key functionalities that are playing a pivotal role in every IoT product portfolio. The world we live in is heterogeneous, and it will continue to be. This is why integration of IoT data, analytics, and big data will be a persistent topic that will surface every now and then in the current and future IoT ecosystem. Synthesis of heterogeneous devices, data, and applications isn’t trivial, as it represents the “compulsories” of the Industry 4.0 and IoT world.

Trend #3: Today’s Industry 4.0 Users Will Become the Vendors of Tomorrow

Very rapidly we will get to see a band of emerging enterprise users, trying to gain perception and expertise of Industry 4.0 through their in-house designs, which they will eventually market to external customers. These typical Industry 4.0 / IoT enterprise users, in this process, will subsequently become the future Industry 4.0 / IoT vendors. Simply put, this concept is also strikingly applicable to companies as a whole. Especially in the IoT space, it is an outstanding idea to build fast and agile subsidiaries to counterbalance the rigid, corporate IT structures. The idea for industrial enterprises is to develop an entire production process line, starting from order entry to delivery, including connecting with vendors and clients on an open ERP platform.

Trend #4: IoT Ecosystems

We are in an extremely interconnected global economy; no longer is it the size of one’s company that matters. Rather, it is one’s network that matters, as the network provides the decisive power in gaining ground and winning market shares. This concept, however, isn’t particularly limited to Industry 4.0 or IoT. Instead, it plays a key role in all succeeding market developments across the Internet of Things spectrum. The IoT ecosystem, largely centered on IoT platforms, will stretch its limits and continue to expand over the next two years, around which increasingly interconnected micro services will be grouped.

Keeping your ears to the ground for emerging trends like these will help you harness the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, optimizing applications and processes through the Industry 4.0.

Benefits of Embedding JavaScript Early in Your IoT Products

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Looking at the rapid speed at which smart devices are flying off the shelf, there’s no wonder that we’ll soon be living in a hyper-connected world, the seeds of which has been planted already. According to reports published by Business Insider, forecasts suggest, by 2019 the expected sales of connected and smart devices will break all records to touch a new high of 1.8 billion units per annum.

From a user perspective, the experience of getting connected to smart devices, new technologies, and its advantages, should be fulfilling, however, there are certain factors to be taken into consideration as well. First and foremost, when it comes to a connected environment, there is a severe lack of transparency, which is followed by difficulties like customizability restraints, and increasing dependency on online services that may or may not be functional and existent in the long run.

Introducing JavaScript early on in IoT product designs can help mitigate these problems. Let’s discuss how.

JavaScript (JS) is perhaps the only unified solution, which by making connected devices scriptable, successfully addresses its pertinent problems. In a way, it makes the connected world a faster and better place by offering feasible replacements for traditional product firmware with suitable JavaScript apps.

The benefits of transition from conventional C to JS are twofold. First, JavaScript, due to its approachable and accessible characteristics, is proved to make product design processes conveniently simpler. Second, it leaves ample scope for customization, wherein a user can just replace or modify the Script to customize the functionalities of their device.

The Kinoma Advantages of Embedding JavaScript in IoT Products

An integrated team of designers and engineers within the global semiconductor company Marvell, make these transitions happen with their free and open source JavaScript application framework, the KinomaJS.

Developed and optimized for embedded product development, KinomaJS is the runtime that allows a device’s operating system to run the JavaScript apps. With cool extensions for the native C code, it offers enhanced manageability to a product’s user interface, network connection, and its interactions with the cloud, while providing control for the device’s sensors, motors, lights, and more.

Software Required to Develop JavaScript Apps on KinomaJS 

The latest Kinoma release provides two software extensions for both professional programmers and learners. Designed to help developers, the Kinoma Code lets them quickly and easily build great product apps for connected devices. On the other hand, KinomaJS Blocks is basically for the JS novices to learn more about developing customized apps on JavaScript.

Kinoma Kit – For Fast-Prototyping of IoT Devices

Kinoma offers two device prototyping kits: Kinoma Create and Kinoma Element. These kits provide the simplest and quickest route to get up and running with the KinomaJS while embedding sensors, motors, LEDs, and other components into an IoT product.

Kinoma Create runs on an ARM SOC and presents a full computing experience for developers working with the KinomaJS. The kit includes a capacitive touch screen, Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE), speaker, microphone, USB port, SD card slot, and a sturdy enclosure.

Kinoma Element is relatively smaller, and a simplistic prototyping option. Running on a Marvell microcontroller, it uses FreeRTOS and JavaScript stack to perform its prototyping functionalities.

Kinoma Element includes Wi-Fi and 16 expansion pins for sensors and components. It is primarily designed for building more compact embedded products without a screen.

Kinoma’s collection of resources is believed to be transformational in achieving the goals of transparency, customizability, and independence, by making devices scriptable.

To learn more about Kinoma products, please contact the WPGA team.

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Kinoma: An Open-Source Framework for Fast-Prototyping IoT Devices

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Kinoma® — a registered brand of global semiconductor company Marvell — promises to take IoT prototyping to the next level with its products: Kinoma Element and Kinoma Create. Both products are a part of the company’s “JavaScript-powered Internet of Things construction kit” line-up.

The Kinoma Element is an embedded product prototyping platform, while the Kinoma Create is a JavaScript-powered construction kit for prototyping smart consumer electronics and Internet-of-Things devices.

The Kinoma hardware specifications for the two products are open-source, scriptable, and designed for limitless customizability. It provides developers ample flexibility to meet their choice of sensors, and cloud services, as well as connections for mobile devices and other IoT hardware products.

Technical Specifications of Kinoma Create

Kinoma Create is a JavaScript-powered device, integrated with a power-efficient 800MHz ARM CPU, Wifi, Bluetooth connectivity, a color capacitive touch screen, speaker, and a microphone.

Create is the first product in the Kinoma family to include the JavaScript 6th Edition. Recently updated, the device now offers compatibility and support for a more upgraded Linux distribution, and a host of other services like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), ANCS, and 802.11b/g/n/AC.

Kinoma Create is basically different from any other prototyping hardware kit that has been released so far. It has the Internet of Things (IoT) platform at the center of its heart. The kit, for this reason, is a primary choice for developers looking to prototype an expanded range of IoT products.

To extend further support to developers, Kinoma has open-sourced their once proprietary Kinoma Platform Runtime, and the KinomaJS API. This has made things increasingly easy for designers and engineers to develop the Kinoma Create.

All developer related information is readily accessible through the open-source Kinoma Studio development environment, which comes pre-loaded with tons of tools targeted to help developers get started with the platform.

Technical Specifications of Kinoma Element 

Connectivity is the fundamental focus of Kinoma Element. The design incorporates FreeRTOS onto a 200 MHz ARM Cortex M4 from the Marvell’s microcontroller product line. The framework’s microcontroller is integrated with Wi-Fi g/n, which reduces the device size, as well as power consumption.

The Kinoma Element, innovatively designed to fuse with the Execute in Place (XIP) technology, allows running of JavaScript applications on devices with RAM as low as 512 KB. XIP helps Kinoma Element to free RAM by running both the native ARM code and the JavaScript bytecode straight from flash memory. This unique model releases the majority of RAM for application data.

Kinoma Element, the open-source framework, illustrates the ease of deploying a full ES6 language into compact devices stifling with space constraints. The design also simplifies possibilities of adding Wi-Fi and end-user scripting to any IoT product.

“Kinoma Element is a new hardware product for IoT innovators. It’s instantly and always connected, interfaces with off-the-shelf sensors, and is ideal for prototyping embedded devices poised for mass production,” said Dr. Andy Carle, Director at Kinoma.

Kinoma hardware products and solutions are specifically designed to transform connected device ideas to prototype and production. The platforms are developed to help build IoT products in JavaScript, which enables the scope for connected IoT devices to evolve faster with end-user scriptable enhancements. Open-source Kinoma framework, Create, and Element are both the preferred choice of well-known companies like August, Blossom, iHome, Rheem, Whirlpool, and Xiaomi.

For more information on these products, please contact the WPGA team.

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