ethernet

Renesas Electronics accelerates industrial ethernet application development with new RZ/N1 solution kit

By Zenobia Hegde

Renesas Electronics, a supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced the availability of the new RZ/N1 microprocessor (MPU) Solution Kit designed to support various industrial network applications including programmable logic controllers (PLCs), intelligent network switches, gateways, operator terminals and remote I/O solutions.

The new RZ/N1 Solution Kit is a complete development package that includes the hardware and software to enable faster prototyping of industrial Ethernet protocols such as EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP™, ETHERNET Powerlink, PROFINET, Sercos, and CANopen, thereby accelerating development and saving up to six months of industrial network protocol integration into customers’ applications.

The new kit includes a CPU development board based on the RZ/N1S MPU. In addition, a comprehensive software package is included with all the drivers and middleware, sample protocol stacks, U-Boot and Linux-based BSP, a unique inter-processor communication software, and even a user-friendly PinMuxing tool that can generate C-code header files that removes the complexity of pin configuration. The various software and sample code provides customers with a complete set of tools and frameworks to build their own application without any additional up-front costs or complexity.

Key features of the new RZ/N1 solution kit:

Enhanced operating system flexibility

Developers can now evaluate using the operating system (OS) ThreadX® for the applications subsystem, in addition to Linux that is already supported by the RZ/N1. This enables system developers to choose an OS depending on their specific application requirements. Both OS options support the leading industrial Ethernet protocols that have been implemented on RZ/N1.

Linux: A widely used OS with a very large knowledge base community. For Yocto based Linux development, Renesas provides the respective Yocto recipes to build the Linux, U-Boot and root file system. Using Qt abstracted set of APIs, GUI applications can also be developed and ported to different targets.

ThreadX: Renesas provides a sample reference port of Express Logic’s X-Ware IoT platform powered by ThreadX on the application subsystem. ThreadX is designed specifically for deeply embedded, real-time, and IoT applications. It provides advanced scheduling, communication, synchronisation, timer, memory management, and interrupt management facilities.

Enables PLC programming compatible with IEC 61131-3 by CODESYS

The new solution kit allows evaluation of CODESYS, a hardware independent IEC 61131-3 development system for programming and creating programmable logic controller (PLC) applications. Among others it supports Industrial Ethernet master stacks for EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, Sercos, CANOpen and PROFINET.

Furthermore, the embedded LCD controller featured in the RZ/N1D makes great use of the CODESYS target visualisation tool, enabling product development with graphical visualisation screens. Having CODESYS support enables the device to be either a protocol slave device but also as a master, which highlights the flexibility of the RZ/N1 Group MPUs.

Availability

The enhanced RZ/N1 Solution Kit for the RZ/N1D and RZ/N1S Groups of MPUs are available now through Renesas Electronics and representative distributor partners. The solution kit for the RZ/N1L is scheduled to be available in 1H 2018. The kit includes a variety of sample applications, development tools, drivers as well as evaluation versions of the protocol stacks for faster prototyping and integration.

Renesas will demonstrate the new kit at SPS IPC Drives 2017 (stand 130 in Hall […]

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Teledyne LeCroy Inc and Spirent Communications partner for PAM4 generation and analysis

By Zenobia Hegde

Teledyne LeCroy, and Spirent Communications, the global providers in Ethernet and Fibre Channel test and measurement solutions, announced the industry’s first Ethernet generation and test solution for developers of Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM4) networks.Spirent and Teledyne LeCroy have created the QSFP28 to SFP56 single w/PTAP adapter, an exclusive PAM4 adapter allowing design and test engineers the ability to source, synchronise, capture, and analyse PAM4 signaling for emerging IEEE 802.3cd-based applications.

PAM4 signaling enables higher throughput Ethernet connections to support the growing need for data storage and communications speeds. These higher signaling rates require increased attention to intricacies of establishing and maintaining robust and healthy link connections. Spirent TestCenter generates IEEE compliant 50GbE traffic for exercising these new Ethernet links. Teledyne LeCroy’s SierraNet analyser captures and decodes the traffic which is ported via the QSFP28 to SFP56 single w/PTAP adapter module.

Early adopters of the IEEE 802.3cd for 50GbE Ethernet transactions need generation and analysis tools to ensure their designs are specification compliant. Spirent and Teledyne LeCroy offer best-in-class solutions to ensure Network Equipment Manufacturers (NEMs) new products meet customer expectations of operation and conformance.

The NEMs reliance on the Test and Measurement community is increasing, as homegrown tools are not up to the task. This relationship allows Teledyne LeCroy and Spirent to focus on their core strengths, keep pace with market needs, and offer leading edge tools, which are paramount to successful Ethernet product deployments.

To learn more about PAM4, download our white paper here.

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TempAlert bought by Digi Intl. for $45M cash

Digi International, the maker of RF modules, gateways, cellular routers and other IoT/M2M connectivity products announced last week that it has acquired TempAlert, a startup offering remote temperature monitoring system for $45 million in cash plus future earn-out incentives.

TempAlert Wireless Sensor and Screen

TempAlert is the fourth startup Digi has acquired over the past two years. The acquisition streak started with the company acquiring cloud computing service provider Etherios back in Nov 2015 for $20M followed by two more acquisitions i.e. FreshTemp and Smart Temps in Nov 2016 and January this year respectively.

The high-profile acquisition of TempAlert, the most expensive of the four buyouts signifies Digi’s consolidation of its ‘connected cold-chain’ practice. At the time of acquisition, TempAlert had 20,000 customers using its temperature monitoring solution.

The solution consists of a suite of wireless sensor devices, a cloud-based monitoring dashboard, and an analytics and reporting module. The sensor suite consists of a rugged casing that contains temperature sensors accompanied with cellular/Ethernet gateways that act as the connection hub for all wireless sensors.

TempAlert’s dashboard

“The acquisition of TempAlert doubles our Smart Solutions team to over 100 professionals, allowing us to offer our customers unprecedented domain expertise and support.”
Ron Konezny, president and chief executive officer, Digi International

Interestingly, another company called Belden Inc. (NYSE: BDC), a global leader in high quality, end-to-end signal transmission solutions for mission-critical applications offered, and later rescinded its offer to acquire Digi International.

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Two More Crypto Holes

By Steven Bellovin

If you work in computer security, your Twitter feed and/or Inbox has just exploded with stories about not just one but two new holes in cryptographic protcols. One affects WiFi; the other affects RSA key pair generation by certain chips. How serious are these? I’m not going to go through the technical details. For KRACK, Matthew Green did an excellent blog post; for the other, full details are not yet available. There are also good articles on each of them. What’s more interesting are the implications.

As I’ve said before about crypto, don’t panic. Encryption flaws are sexy and get academics very excited, but they’re rarely particularly serious for most people. That’s very true here. In fact, at a guess, the most widespread problem, with WiFi, will have fewer serious consequences than the RSA problem.

The reason that crypto issues are not in general very serious is that someone who wishes to exploit them needs both the flaw and access — and access is rarely easy. For this new WiFi attack, remember that the range of WiFi is about 100 meters; this is not something that the attackers can do over the Internet. (Yes, with a good, directional antenna you can manage about a kilometer. That’s still not much, and since the attack depends on sending a packet to the target machine you need very precise aim on someone’s phone or computer.)

There’s a really important public policy angle to this, though. We’re hearing lots of calls for “exceptional access”, a mechanism for lawful government access to encrypted content. I and my colleagues have long warned that this is dangerous because cryptographic protocols are very subtle. In retrospect, this new flaw is blindingly obvious — very bad things happen if you replay message 3 of a 4 message sequence — but it took 13 years for it to be noticed, in a protocol that is used by literally billions of devices. (Btw — by “blindingly obvious” I’m not insulting the discoverer, Mathy Vanhoef. He did wonderful work finding it when no one else had, by asking himself, “I wonder what happens if….”.) Oh yes — the protocol was mathematically proven correct — but the proof didn’t cover what the attack actually does.

Cryptographic protocols are hard.

So who is affected by this, and what should you do? The problem is on the client side; WiFI access points are not affected. You need to install software updates on every one of your WiFi devices. Apparently, iOS and Windows are not as seriously affected, because they didn’t completely follow the (flawed!) spec. Android phones are vulnerable and are less likely to be updatable. Internet of Things devices are the most at risk, given their poor history of being updated.

Again, though, most consumers are not at risk. Businesses are, and ones with many devices, e.g., credit card readers, connected by WiFi have a lot of scrambling to do.

The other flaw appears to be more academically interesting and — for some of those affected — far more serious. Briefly, in the RSA encryption algorithm, one has to generate a “public key”; this key is (in part) the product of two large, random primes. We normally write this as

n = pq

Normally, n is public; however, p and q must be kept secret.

The problem seems to be in the way p and q were generated. Normally, you generate large, random numbers and test them for primality. It appears that the code library used with a particular chip had something wrong with the process for generating primes, resulting in an n that is easy to factor into its constituent p and q. Interestingly, it’s possible to detect these weak values of n very cheaply and easily, without trying to factor them.

So — who is affected by this bug? First, remember the access issue. An attacker needs access to your encrypted traffic or encrypted device. That’s not easy. Furthermore, if you used 2048-bit keys — and that’s been standard for a fair number of years — the attack isn’t cheap. On a 1000-core Amazon cloud, it would take 17 days and cost more than US$40,000. Translation: it isn’t an attack that can be done casually or against bulk traffic. It’s a targeted attack that can be launched only by a well-resourced adversary, and only against a high-value target.

But there is one serious cause for concern. If you have email encrypted with one of these flawed keys, or if you have an electronic document signed with one, someone can attack it in the future — and that $40K cost and 17-day time will only drop.

* * *

Update Oct 16, 2017: According to later information, both the access point and the clients must be patched. This is more serious, since many access points are abandonware.

Update Oct 17, 2017: A nasty thought happened to occur to me, one that’s worth sharing. (Thinking nasty thoughts is either an occupational hazard or an occupational fringe benefit for security people—your call…hellip;)

I, along with many others, noted that the KRACK flaw in WiFi encryption is a local matter only; the attacker has to be within about 100 meters from the target. That’s not quite correct. The attacking computer has to be close; the attacker can be anywhere.

I’m here at home in a Manhattan apartment, typing on a computer connected by wired Ethernet. The computer is, of course, WiFi-capable; if I turn on WiFi, it sees 28 other WiFi networks, all but two of which use WPA2. (The other two are wide open guest networks…) Suppose someone hacked into my computer. They could activate my computer’s WiFi interface and use KRACK to go after my neighbors’ nets. Better yet, suppose I’m on a low-security wired net at work but am within range of a high-security wireless network.

I’m not certain how serious this is in practice; it depends on the proximity of vulnerable wired computers to interesting WiFi networks. Wired networks are no longer very common in people’s houses and apartments, but of course they’re the norm in enterprises. If you’re a sysadmin for a corporation with that sort of setup, KRACK may be very serious indeed.

Written by Steven Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity

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Emerson controller aims to simplify capital projects and to ready organisations for operational benefits of IIoT

By Sheetal Kumbhar

Emerson has launched the DeltaV™ PK Controller, making the advanced automation of its DeltaV distributed control system (DCS) available to fast-growth industries traditionally less reliant on large-scale automation.

The next-gen controller provides scalable automation control to all process industries, particularly parts of the life sciences, oil and gas, petrochemical, and discrete manufacturing industries that have relied on complex, non-integrated programmable logic controllers (PLCs) with limited operational capabilities. The fit-for-purpose DeltaV PK Controller is the process industry’s first controller that manufacturers can scale down for skid units or scale up to be natively merged into the DeltaV DCS in a larger plant.

These industries tend to use PLCs for smaller applications, which can create disconnected ‘Islands of Automation’, and limits plant production improvements. The DeltaV PK Controller is the first controller to truly bridge small and large control applications.

Organisations can leverage the DeltaV PK Controller for effective, easy-to-implement standalone automation control akin to a PLC but with the features of a full-scale DCS, including advanced batch production, recipe management, execution, and historisation. Users can then choose to leave the DeltaV PK Controller standalone, or natively merge it into their DeltaV DCS. This capability eliminates operational complexity and dramatically improves the performance, safety, and efficiency of their entire project and operational lifecycle.

DeltaV™ PK Controller

“The DeltaV PK Controller delivers a business-effective solution for organisations of all sizes to improve automation control and integration,” said Jessica Jordan, Emerson product manager.

“The controller is capable of powerful standalone control for advanced automation on skids today while still being able to easily integrate into a full-scale DCS for total plant production control.”

The DeltaV PK Controller is the latest addition to Emerson’s Project Certainty initiative, targeting radical transformation in capital project execution.

The new controller will simplify capital projects by enabling OEM skid-builders to design and produce skids in the same way they do today, while eliminating the costs, time, and risks associated with integrating a PLC into their control system.

Jessica Jordan

The DeltaV PK Controller was designed from the start with connectivity, particularly into the IIoT, in mind. The scalable controller leverages an assortment of communication protocols, including the first Emerson controller with a built-in OPC UA server. It is also the first Emerson controller with six Ethernet ports and can operate using any Emerson DeltaV I/O type, including DeltaV Electronic Marshalling, traditional marshalled I/O, wireless I/O, and integrated safety instrumented systems.

In addition, it has built-in protocols to communicate with Ethernet devices such as drives and motors. Together, these features make connectivity easier at every stage and help plants achieve operational benefits of cloud-based tools and analytics through the IIoT. The DeltaV PK Controller also features built-in redundancy for controllers, communication, and power supplies, allowing organisations to improve uptime without adding to complexity or footprint.

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