Medical diagnostic imaging is an important tool for medical professionals worldwide, and also represents an expanding market. To ensure that medical facilities meet safety standards, a series of critical safety regulations, certifications, and performance requirements must be managed and met. Reliability, temperature control, noise, power consumption and remote management functions were all required for a certain project that a customer approached us with. This customer is a global expert in industrial motherboards and systems for the industrial, OEM/ ODM and embedded PC industries, with experience in creating systems for medical applications. They were looking for an efficient, ultra-low acoustic noise solution.
There is a trend toward software API drivenpower management, especially in battery operated or low-power embedded systems, and this project was no exception. We considered taking advantage of the latest power saving features in the new generation of CPUs, such as Intel® i3, i5, or Atom™ CPU; all have the built-in Power Management Framework. But would it be good enough? As it turned out, no. The problem was that heat was coming not only from the CPU, but also from other components like DRAM, LAN, video IC, modules, SSD, etc. Critical thermal zones vary widely between products, even those having the same components, because of differences in component placement and system design. Ultimately we selected iManager Multi Thermal Zone APIs, which manage system heat dissipation through a smart, user-friendly, active fan algorithm.
The Advantech DTOS team designed four thermal sensors into the system; one each for battery, DC-DC circuit, CPU, and module zones. After extensive thermal tests and measurements at the Advantech QA LAB, they built four thermal tables for the on-board embedded controller. Each thermal zone implements ACPI critical shutdown policy to prevent system damage. We defined rising temperature thresholds as well as corresponding falling temperature thresholds for each thermal zone. When temperature inside any thermal zone goes up, fan speed is regulated using rising thresholds. When a zone temperature goes down, fan speed is likewise adjusted using falling thresholds. Advantech provided the iManager APIs to the customer so that algorithms could be rewritten if and when needed.
Ultimately, this super-quiet, low-power system satisfied all requirements and certifications with flying colors, and is now successfully deployed in healthcare service centers worldwide.
Benefits to DTOS Customer
• Four built-in thermal sensors; one each for CPU, module, battery, and DC-DC power area.
• Smart remote management functions enabled via embedded iManager API.
• Reduced fan noise to meet sensitive environmental requirements.
• Dedicated DTOS service team for integrated project service.