Sensors

Microcontroller-agnostic module form factor for smart sensors

14th October 2020
Alex Lynn

PICMG has announced the ratification of the MicroSAM specification. MicroSAM is a new microcontroller-agnostic, ultra-small form-factor module for the enablement of smart sensors. MicroSAM is the first PICMG specification in a series of IIoT-related open standards to reach ratification. It is an open hardware specification that addresses the fast-growing sensor market.

MicroSAM enables a fundamentally different IIoT architecture, offering a distributed architecture with true Plug and Play network integration. The specification defines a 32x32mm module hardware platform for traditional sensor vendors wishing to quickly create smart sensors. 

“I would liken the impact of this specification on the IIoT market to that of the Open Compute Project on the data center space,” said Doug Sandy, Chief Technical Officer, PICMG. “When combined with the PICMG sensor domain network architecture and data model, sensors will seamlessly integrate into the network with plug-and-play interoperability.”

MicroSAM fills a need not currently addressed by other industry specifications; namely, a compact module targeted at microcontrollers for each of the Industrial IoT sensor nodes. The processing performance and I/O connectivity are targeted toward the sensor interface. MicroSAM may exist in parallel with other embedded technologies, where MicroSAM devices provide sensor connectivity, and PICMG standards such as COM Express, CompactPCI Serial or MicroTCA provide higher layers of control.

Jessica Isquith, President of PICMG, added: “This specification has the potential to accelerate the shift to better sensor interoperability and encourage a better and wider range of options.”

Other specification work includes requirements for common firmware features, common data model, network architecture, and integration with the Distributed Management Task Force’s (DMTF) Redfish management API.

PICMG developed this specification to benefit the industry in three specific ways:

  1. It will enable sensor vendors to create smart sensors without having to manufacture the control circuitry and/or software by purchasing these components from PICMG-compliant suppliers. 
  2. It will enable controller suppliers who wish to create smart sensors or smart-sensor components to do so in a way that is interoperable with other suppliers.
  3. Accelerate the uptake of smart-sensor technology through open-specifications and interoperability.

MicroSAM was developed in collaboration with the following PICMG members: ADLINK Technology, AMI USA Holdings, Arroyo Technology, Avnet Integrated, Elma Electronic, Intel, Lodz University of Technology, nVent, Samtec, TE Connectivity, Trenz Electronic, and Triple Ring Technologies.

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