How do you feel about growing food for your gas tank?

The first time I heard about corn-based ethanol, I was gobsmacked. Growing food so you can feed your SUV? It sounded wrong to me, and still does. Maybe I'm being super naïve, but shouldn't we solve the problem of feeding the world's hungry before pumping corn into V8s?

If that's not enough, the practice has contributed to a significant increase in food prices — a problem that hurts the poor (read: hungry) far more than it does the rich or financially comfortable.

Of course, there are arguments for using corn-based ethanol, but they aren't water-tight. In fact, some argue that using corn-based ethanol may increase, rather than decrease, the carbon footprint of your gas tank.

But let me stop right there. My friend Andy Gryc tackles this topic in further detail on the QNX auto blog. Hop over there and check out what he has to say.


Freescale, QNX, ISaGRAF, and KPA unveil new "PLC in a box"

The new dual-core
PLC reference platform
Do you know what a PLC is? If you don't, I won't take offense if you stop reading. But before you go, take a minute to learn about PLCs on Wikipedia. They're the special ops of the computing world: tough and reliable, with a talent for accomplishing their goals in a fast, low-profile manner. When they do their job right, you don't even know they are there.

Now where was I? Oh yes: Early this morning, Freescale announced a new PLC reference platform based on the dual-core QorIQ P1025 processor. The reference platform pre-integrates EtherCAT software from KPA, PLC firmware from ISaGRAF, and the QNX Neutrino RTOS from QNX Software Systems to reduce the time and cost of developing PLCs, PACs, DCSs, RTUs, CNCs, and other industrial products.

Here's the platform at a glance:

Highlights include:
  • ISaGRAF PLC firmware — Supports IEC 61499 and IEC 61131-3 PLC programming languages, with compliance confirmed by TÜV Rheinland.
  • KPA EtherCAT master stack — Implemented in C for high performance, with scalable EtherCAT features such as cable redundancy, hot connect, and multiple master.
  • QNX Neutrino RTOS — Comes with a proven track record in PLCs, wind turbines, train-control systems, nuclear plants, process automation systems, and other realtime environments.
  • Freescale TWR-P1025 platform for QorIQ P1025 processor — Enables rapid prototyping and tool re-use through reconfigurable hardware.

CPU Headroom
PLCs must typically exhibit fast, predictable response times. To that end, the reference platform delivers millisecond response times for the EtherCAT master stack while using <1% of one core in the platform's dual-core processor. Translation: lots of spare CPU cyles for the control application.

Functional safety
For systems where functional safety is paramount, ISaGRAF offers an IEC 61508-compliant version of its PLC firmware. Combine that with the IEC 61508 SIL3-certified QNX Neutrino RTOS Safe Kernel, and you've got an ideal foundation for building safety-certified PLC applications.

The complete kit, including hardware, software and evaluation tools, is now available for purchase. For more information, visit the QNX website and Freescale website.


Why do I work at QNX?
Reason #4: I hate being bored

I get to avoid this.
How about you?
I’ll admit it, I get bored easily. And when I get bored, I become a real pain in the, ahem, derrière. So I learned long ago to embrace the difficult. To pursue the challenging. To avoid the routine.

Which is why you find me at QNX. Because there is nothing routine about our technology or the markets we serve.

Let’s rewind a bit. At one time, an embedded OS company like QNX could provide its customers with an OS kernel, a file system, a compiler, some device drivers, and they were off to the races. But no longer. Now, most QNX customers need an incredibly comprehensive and well-integrated software stack. Moreover, that stack keeps evolving in response to very dynamic market requirements. A year ago, for example, relatively few customers wanted support for HTML5. Today, it is a front-and-center requirement.

All this creates a challenge on the technical side, since customers want us to provide this goodness while still delivering the high levels of quality and performance they’ve come to expect of QNX. So, if you’re a software developer who likes a challenge, this is the place to be.

But it’s also a challenge on the marketing side, where I sit. Because what you knew yesterday doesn’t apply today. And what applies in one market segment doesn’t apply in another. So I’ve found that I need to have an open mind, and to keep it that way. And to learn constantly.

Nice thing is, I don’t get bored.

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