Author Topic: History of EPMA  (Read 26445 times)

Anette von der Handt

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2022, 03:29:22 PM »
Hi,

the Camebax Microbeam came out in 1982. It was the microprocessor-controlled version of the Camebax (released in 1974).
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Karsten Goemann

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #46 on: December 12, 2022, 03:56:19 PM »
I don't think the Cameca SX100 came out as early as 1987 ?

The SX50 here in Tasmania was installed in 1989 and in Clausthal in Germany we had an "early" SX100 (#654, with Unix system) installed in 1995.

Probeman

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #47 on: December 12, 2022, 04:07:10 PM »
I don't think the Cameca SX100 came out as early as 1987 ?

The SX50 here in Tasmania was installed in 1989 and in Clausthal in Germany we had an "early" SX100 (#654, with Unix system) installed in 1995.

That's right.  Our Berkeley SX-51 was installed in 1992 or so, so the SX100 was after that.
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Anette von der Handt

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #48 on: December 12, 2022, 04:55:56 PM »
Cameca SX100 was officially launched in 1994 according to de Chambost (2011), History of Cameca. This paper also states that "..the SX100, the study of which started in 1987, had a new electronics system.." which is confusing wording IMO.

Cameca SX50 came out in 1984.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2022, 04:59:18 PM by Anette von der Handt »
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rickard

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #49 on: December 13, 2022, 12:16:47 AM »
For the record, officially confirmed by Kim Epps from JEOL that the  JXA-50A was introduced in 1971.

rickard

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #50 on: December 13, 2022, 12:21:23 AM »
Revised listing after inputs from Forum:
                   Year introduced
SEMQ-II   ARL          1978
SX-100   CAMECA   1994
JXA-50A   JEOL           1971
EMX-SM   ARL           1960
CAMEBAX MICROBEAM   CAMECA   1982

sem-geologist

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #51 on: January 17, 2023, 05:27:46 AM »
Cameca SX100 was officially launched in 1994 according to de Chambost (2011), History of Cameca. This paper also states that "..the SX100, the study of which started in 1987, had a new electronics system.." which is confusing wording IMO.

Cameca SX50 came out in 1984.

As operator of SX100 (manuf. 1998) and SXFiveFE (manuf. 2014) I had also found that sentence absolutely confusing, but not by the quoted part, but the part which follows after.
Actually I am not confused by dates. Contrary, I think that reveals really interesting developement (and excellent practice of company behind). SX50 came out in 84 (officially) probably similarly to SX100 Cameca it was being developed many years prior. Indeed I find this incredible that only three years after launching SX50 they started to look to the future and started developing SX100. It is interesting that it took 7 years to get the SX100 stable enough to launch as a new product, However it gets even more interesting when tracking the introduction dates of used components in finally launched product - it reveals some flexibility and adaptability to the changing market opportunities and advancing technology, something which existed then in Cameca.

Anyway as I mentioned the real confusion is actually not "having a new electronics system from 1987", but actually further in that paragraph when considering FPGA's:
Quote from: de Chambost(2011)
The SX100, the study of which started in 1987, had a new electronics system that used programmable logic devices known as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), which can often replace an entire printed circuit board (PCB) by a single circuit.

I think de Chambost got confused himself as SX100's in 2011 were being rolled out from factory with newer hardware than the hardware in prototypes from 1987 or at launch in 1994. Indeed in 2011 FPGAs were replacing lots of large circuit boards and SX100 was being sold with such new boards (the same hardware as later launched SXFive, which then probably was already in development). Actually modern implementation in FPGA-based solutions could achieve even more impressive effect than what De Chambost stated: i.e. 3 fully populated VME boards (6U extended size eurocards) (that is a Scanning Board, an Aquisition board and a Visualisation board) and squeeze that logic into a single board! three - into one!. This also eliminated lots of complications as logic of these three boards need tightly to work together, and previously signaling had to cross over VME motherboard - lots of delay and timing issues. In a single FPGA chip it is much easier to synchronize all of three logics, and it also consumes much less power and produce less heat. The similar FPGA-introduced improvements are present for stage and WDS boards, where stage board got twice smaller, and WDS got extremely un-cluttered and streamlined. The thing is this huge improvement come only with late SX100 or as an upgrade option for older SX100.

Now the confusion at my side originated from the fact that exact model of FPGA's on these new boards is Altera Cyclone (the I-st generation), which hit the market only in mid 2003! However, while this particular FPGA hit the market 2003, the first kind of mass-produced FPGA device was manufactured in 1984 (Altera EP300). Thus the experimentation with these kind of devices really could realistically start at Cameca R&D in 1987. Albeit these first FPGA was much less capable, and  claim of "replace an entire printed circuit board" from POV of capabilities of FPGA's up to mid 90'ies is very huge overstatement for SX100 officially launched in 1994. However the initially launched SX100 (with old hardware boards, thus also including our manufactured in 1998) had few FPGA's already replacing some very limited part of circuits. The only place where it was introduced was the WDS board. There the two FPGA's (Actel A1280A) in parallel was controlling counting of pulses from 5 spectrometers. Actels A1280A hit the market in 1990 and was one of highest density FPGA's available then, thus it actually only 4 (not 7) years of SX100 from final prototype to final product.

Old WDS board. Single FPGA could not replace whole PCB, densities and I/O pins of FPGA's in early 90'es was so limited that actually more than one FPGA's were needed to do something like that. These FPGA's probably allowed to evade the need for (additional) piggy-back card, something which is seen on other older VME boards:

Note that it is picture only of half of old WDS board. Please note the stickers with FPGA gateware at v1.01 dating to 12th January 1995, while board was produced at 1998. Does it means that they managed to write proper Gateware and required only a single fix half year after launch, and needed no more fixes after? - that indeed is impressive.

Anyway, the detailed analysis of electronics evolution reveals very interesting healthy development environment in Cameca. De Chambost clearly oversimplified the historical description (introduced some mental-shortcuts) introducing some confusion - the most important aspect of his message is actully not introduction of SX100, but that Cameca was early adopters of FPGA technology and they mastered usage of FPGA. I personally think Cameca was closely tracking the FPGA improvements and adopting the relevant advantages in the design. Thus because they started with simple FPGA from 1987, the R&D of Cameca could easily keep up and adapt the advantages of changing FPGA landscape for own advantage (getting in nowadays FPGA's is extremely steep learning-curve, but tracking FPGA evolution from 80's on company level would give a much more shallow learning curve to master FPGA usage). So currently large parts of most complicated logic on latest SXFive(FE) is indeed Gateware*, and if Cameca would decide to get back to production of non-shielded EPMA, they could pull that very easily, despite changing landscape of availability of electronic components used in current generation of boards. I guess they apply experience with FPGA to different instrumentation (SIMS, LEAP) where tight timing and integration is even more important than on EPMA. Probably Cameca could start moving to Gateware on different FPGA models on some of prototype iterations which we had never seen. I find it mind-blowing that Cameca had the mentioned Acquisition-Scanning-Visualization board ready only a single year from Altera Cyclon (I) being released to the market! Adopting to FPGA is extremely competitive advantage, hopefully Cameca will not waste this potential.

P.S. actually mind-blowing is only the 3 months for stage board FPGA adaptation, which they got the same year as Altera Cyclon FPGA got released. So Cameca had indeed achieved mastering in FPGA and I think they could one day surprise us with a new EPMA.

P.S.S. but even bigger mind-blowing is that the new type WDS board was developed before Altera Cyclone officially hit the market, which means it had to be started developed earlier and thus very likely Cameca was not just using mature FPGA available on shelf, they were clearly actively probing different pre-market source for these FPGA - now that is absolutely different level of engineering (in absolutely positive way).

*Gateware. We know more less what is hardware and software. There is also some word as "firmware" which partially could be used instead of gateware. But firmware is more the software which runs on the hardware, while gateware can return just intermediate products (bits) of processing and could be not exposed to any software ready I/O interfaces, but to other intermediate hardware. One is clear - gateware as software can be coded and digitally analysed and simulated before instantiated as combination of gate connections inside FPGA. Other important aspect is that it can be modified and FPGA can be reflashed with newer version. The FPGA can be switched to different model of different vendor and if FPGA has enough of capability the manifestation of gate connection from gateware code can be achieved on this other FPGA with very little of modifications.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2023, 02:43:48 AM by sem-geologist »

Probeman

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #52 on: February 01, 2024, 08:53:22 AM »
Ed Vicenzi calls this the "unearthed image the government doesn't want you to see":



Because he has such a beautiful baby face from 1993 in front of his PGT UNIX system...
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qEd

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #53 on: February 03, 2024, 12:55:20 PM »
That lab did have some paranormal activity, mainly confined to one spectrometer. :)

Probeman

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Re: History of EPMA
« Reply #54 on: February 03, 2024, 02:28:28 PM »
That lab did have some paranormal activity, mainly confined to one spectrometer. :)

You mean the "Ed" spectrometer?    :D
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