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Blog Review – Monday, January 25 2016

Monday, January 25th, 2016

In this week’s review, there is a Star Wars analogy, IoT security plans, a 30th anniversary and an unusual way of serving whisky

The dormant nature of some devices in the IoT are likened to the reawakening of Star Wars’ R2-D2 by Joe Hupcey III, Mentor Graphics. In an equally honorable and daring quest, he looks for the wisdom of ultra-low power design and verification for SoCs used in devices that wait a long time for reactivation.

FPGA with a dash of splash or on the rocks? Steve Leibson, Xilinx, explains how a bottle of fine whisky (scotch) ended up in a PC. It’s all in a good cause.

Three trends for embedded systems are identified by Amber Thousand, Critical Link. She explains how we should all be paying attention to user interfaces, the rise of complexity and integration, and a focus on core competencies.

This year marks 30 years since MIPS Computer Systems introduced the MIPS R2000 microprocessor chipset. Alexandru Voica, Imagination Technologies, considers the rise of RISC and where it has led.

Silicon is the best place to secure security features for the IoT, argues Matthew Rosenquist, Intel. He outlines the role Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) play in the cyber future.

Clearly not a man that travels light, Navrai Nandra, Synopsys, concluded that if storage space is limited, instead of trying to close a bulging suitcase, think about moving up. His wait at the airport inspired an interesting blog on 3D stack technology to triple NAND capacity.

Looking at what the IoT design wins means for design at advanced nodes, Vassilios Gerousis, Cadence, considers the design rules for 10nm.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday, January 11th, 2016

In this week’s review, as one blog has predictions for what 2016 holds, another reviews 2015. Others cover an autonomous flight drone; a taster of DesignCon 2016 and a bionic leg development.

Insisting it’s not black magic or fortune telling but a retelling of notes from past press announcements, Dick James, Chipworks, thinks 2016 will be a year of mixed fortunes, with a low profile for leading edge processes and plenty of activity in memory and sensors as the sectors reap the rewards of developments being realized in the marketplace.

Looking back on 2015, Tom De Schutter, Synopsys, is convinced that the march of software continues and world domination is but a clock cycle away. His questions prompted some interesting feedback on challenges, benefits and working lives.

Looking ahead to autonomous drone flight, Steve Leibson, Xilinx, reports on the the beta release of Aerotenna’s OCPoC (Octagonal Pilot on Chip) ready-to-fly drone-control, based on a Zynq Z-7010 All Programmable SoC with integrated IMU (inertial measurement unit) sensors and GPS receiver.

Bigger isn’t always better, explains Doug Perry, Doulos, in a guest blog for Aldec. As well as outlining the issues facing those verifying larger FPGAs, he provides a comprehensive, and helpful, checklist to tackle this increasingly frequent problem, while throwing in a plug for two webinars on the subject.

Some people have barely unpacked from CES, and ANSYS is already preparing for DesignCon 2016. Margaret Schmitt previews the company’s plan for ‘designing without borders’ with previews of what, and who, can be seen there.

A fascinating case study is related by Karen Schulz, Gumstix, on the ARM Community blog site. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has (RIC) has developed the first neural-controlled bionic leg, without using no nerve redirection surgery or implanted sensors. The revolution is powered by the Gumstix Overo Computer-on-Module.

Showing empathy for engineers struggling with timing closure, Joe Hupcey III, Mentor Graphics, has some sound advice and diagnoses CDC problems. It’s not as serious as it sounds, CDC, or clock domain crossing, can be addressed with IEEE 1801 low power standard. Just what the doctor ordered.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Security check from ARM Techcon; IC layout nostalgia; The Why for PHY; Counterfeit measures; Why Arrow targets Python over Perl; Mentor Graphics signal integrity Q&A

Following ARM Techcon, Rob Coombs, ARM, has posted his presentation from the event, following his blog last month updating readers on the spread of TrustZone and the new security sub-sytems, TrustZone CryptoCell.

What some people will do to delay the chore of cleaning out the garage. Graham Etchells, Synopsys, bought some time from the boring chore by examining some photos he found there of the first CALMA systems he worked on. They provoked some interesting musings, and I wonder if the garage is now pristine – and if any other treasures were unearthed.

I love Whiteboard Wednesdays – and December’s contribution keeps up the high standard. Corrie Callenbach, Cadence, has posted a video where William Chen looks into the implementation of multi-link, multi-protocol PHY.

Legislation has been approved by the US House of Representatives to advance the battle against counterfeit semiconductors. Dustin Todd, SIA, explains what the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644/S.1269) will mean. The association’s whitepaper is available to download, via a link in the post. Winning the Battle Against Counterfeit Semiconductor Products is available free, from the SIA Counterfeiting Task Force.

Decisions, decisions: Aditya Mittal, Arrow Devices, relates how the distributor has opted for Python for scripting code.

Getting to grips with the topic of signal integrity, Gabe Moretti, Chip Design, approached Karen Chow, Mentor Graphics, who gives some detailed, yet concise answers to his questions, making a succinct, yet informative Q&A.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review, Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 30th, 2015

ARM – celebrating 25 years and virtual reality; Light and smart; Say hi to Li-Fi; Power management in wearable devices; Happy Thanksgiving, the Brit test

An interesting blog by Freddi Jeffries, ARM, looks at Virtual Reality, its present status and its future in mobile devices, its challenges and pitfalls.

LED technology is at the heart of the Internet of Experiences, explains Neno, Dassault Systèmes, in a blog about smart cities and looking ahead to its presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

Putting together a cheat-sheet for geeks, Bill Vandermark, Ansys, has a link to an article about Li-Fi which makes Wi-Fi look as slow as the telegraph.

Although not exactly an ingénue, Gabe Moretti, Chip Design, attended his first ARM Tech Con this month and liked what he found. Embracing the Maker community is to be encouraged, although he finds that politeness can run the risk of shorting circuits.

A cliché, but still effective: Dick Tracy as a reference for wearable devices makes Warren Kurisu, Mentor Graphics an eye-catching read. In this instalment, Kurisu tackles the thorny problem of power management – not just optimising it but architecting and developing a system that takes full advantage of the hardware.

While the USA celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, the next day saw ARM commemorate 25 years since in spun out of Acorn Computers (November 27 1990). Neil Cooper, ARM, charts the early days of Advanced RISC Machines with the company’s first press release, some financial and technical milestones from the last quarter century.

(Belated) Happy Thanksgiving. As a Brit, I would argue there would be no Thanksgiving without us! Paul McLellan, Cadence turns the tables and ask how much of a Brit are you? Try his simple quiz. (Although my tests would also include, do you refer to ‘football’ or ‘soccer’? and do you give directions citing pubs and churches along the route or road juntions. (Brits answer yes to the first choices!)

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, November 16th, 2015

ARM TechCon 2015 highlights: IoT, mbed and magic; vehicle monitoring systems; the road ahead for automotive design

It’s crunch time for IoT, announced ARM CEO Simon Segars at ARM TechCon. Christine Young, Cadence reports on what Segars believes is needed to get the IoT right.

Posing as a ‘booth babe’, Richard Solomon, Synopsys, was also at ARM TechCon demonstrating the latest iteration of DesignWare IP for PCI Express 4.0. As usual, there are pictures illustrating some of the technology, this time around switch port IP and Gen2 PCI, and quirky pictures from the show floor, to give readers a flavor of the event.

Tracking the progress of mbed OS, Chris Ciufo, eecatalog, prowled the mbed Zone at this year’s ARM TechCon, finding IoT ‘firsts’ and updates of wearables.

Enchanted by IoT, Eric Gowland, ARM, found ARM TechCon full of wonder and magic – or, to paraphrase Arthur C Clark, technology that was indistinguishable from magic. There are some anecdotes from the event – words and pictures – of how companies are using the cloud and the IoT and inspiring the next generation of magicians.

Spotting where Zynq devices are used in booth displays, might become an interesting distraction when I am visiting some lesser shows in future. I got the idea from Steve Leibson, Xilinx, who happened upon the Micrium booth at ARM TechCon where one was being used, stopping to investigate, he found out about free μC/OS for Makers.

Back to Europe, where DVCon Europe was help in Munich, Germany (November 11-12). John Aynsley, Doulos, was pleased that UVM is alive and well and companies like Aldec are realising that help and support is needed.

Identifying the move from behavior-based driver monitoring systems to inward-looking, camera-based systems, John Day, Mentor Graphics, looks at what this will use of sensors will mean for automakers who want to combine value and safety features.
Deciding how many functions to offer will be increasingly important for automakers, he advises.

Still with the automotive industry, Tomvanvu, Atmel, addresses anyone designed for automotive embedded systems and looks at what is driving progression for the inevitable self-driving cars.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Counting gates til the chickens come home to roost; Bio lab on a desk; Twin city goes digital; Back to the Future Day; Graphics SoC playground; Wearables get graphic

Something is troubling Michael Posner, Synopsys, when is a gate not a gate? He discusses the FPGA capacity of Xilinx’s UltraScale FPGAs and tries to find the answer. He also describes his Heath Robinson style light controlled chicken feeder he has installed in the chicken coop.

A desktop biolab sounds like something in a teenage boy’s room, but Amino is the ‘brainchild’ relates Atmel of Julie Legault. The Arduino-based bio-engineering system enables anyone to grow and take care of living cells. The mini lab allows the user to genetically transform an organism’s DNA through guided interactions. The Arduino-driven hardware monitors the resulting synthetic organism which needs to be fed nd kept warm. For those old enough to remember the Tamagotchi craze – it just moved up a gear.

3D computer models of buildings and cities take on a new role, demonstrated by Dassault Systèmes, whose 3DEXPERIENCity continuously generates the city as a digital twin city. Ingeborg Rocker explains how the IoT is used by the multi-dimensional data model which integrates population density, traffic density, weather, energy supply and recycling volumes data in real time to support city planners.

Recent acquisitions in the industry are analysed by Paul McLellan, Cadence Design Systems. Beginning with the acquisition of Carbon Design Systems by ARM, McLellan puts the deal in a market and engineering context. He moves on to the acquisition by Lam Research of KLA-Tencor and Western Digital which has bought SanDisk.

Putting the AMD R-Series through its paces, Christopher Hallinan, Mentor Graphics, delights in the versatility of the SoC, as discovered with Mentor Embedded Linux. He gives real-life examples of algorithms and how the visuals apply to industrial and scientific applications.

Celebrating a noteworthy date Back to the Future Day – October 21 2015 – Tobias Wilson-Bates, Georgia Tech, looks at how time travel has been portrayed in fiction. It gets philosophical: “One way to think about future speculations is to imagine that there are all these failed futures that co-exist with a present reality” but Marty would approve.

The acceptance of Mali-470 GPU to the wearables camp is complete. Dan Wilson, ARM, explains how the GPU is exploiting its OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics standard and power consumption for wearable and IoT applications.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, September 28 2015

Monday, September 28th, 2015

ARM Smart Design competition winners; Nordic Semiconductor Global Tour details; Emulation alternative; Bloodhound and bridge-building drones; Imagination Summit in Taiwan; Monolithic 3D ‘game changer’; Cadence and collaboration; What size is wearable technology?

Winners of this year’s ARM Smart Product Design competition had no prior experience of using ARM tools, yet managed, in just three months to produce a sleep Apnea Observer app (by first prize winner, Clemente di Caprio), an amateur radio satellite finder, a water meter, an educational platform for IoT applications and a ‘CamBot’ camera-equipped robot, marvels, Brian Fuller, ARM.

This year’s Nordic Semiconductor Global Tech Tour will start next month, and John Leonard, ARM has details of how to register and more about this year’s focus – the nRF52 Series Bluetooth Smart SoC.

Offering an alternative to the ‘big box’ emulation model, Doug Amos, Aldec, explains FPGA-based emulation.

Justin Nescott, Ansys, has dug out some great stories from the world of technology, from the UK’s Bloodhound project and the sleek vehicle’s speed record attempt; and a story published by Giz Mag about how drones created a bridge – with video proof that it is walkable.

A review of the 2015 Imagination Summit in Taiwan earlier this month is provided by Vicky Hewlett. The report includes some photos from the event, of attendees and speakers at Hsinchu and Taipei.

It is with undeniable glee that Zvi Or-Bach, MonolithIC 3D announces that the company has been invited to a panel session titled: “Monolithic 3D: Will it Happen and if so…” at IEEE 3D-Test Workshop Oct. 9th, 2015. It is not all about the company, but a discussion of the technology challenge and the teaser of the unveiling of a ‘game changer’ technology.

A review of TSMC Open Innovation Platform (OIP) Ecosystem Forum, earlier this month, is presented in the blog by Christine Young, Cadence. There are some observations from Rick Cassidy, TSMC North America on Thursday, on automotive, IoT and foundry collaboration.

How big is wearable, ponders Ricardo Anguiano, Mentor Graphics. Unwrapping a development kit, he provides a link to Nucleus RTOS and wearable devices to help explain what’s wearable and what’s not.

A brief history of Calypto Design Systems, recently acquired by Mentor Graphics, is discussed by Graham Bell, RealIntent, and what the change of ownership means for existing partners.

Beginning a mini series of blogs about the HAPS-80 with ProtoCompiler, Michael Posner, Synospys, begins with a focus on the design flow and time constraints. He provides many helpful illustrations. (The run-on piece about a visit to the tech museum in Shanghai shows how he spends his free time: seeking out robots!)

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday, September 14th, 2015

MonolithIC 3D identifies IoT drive; Trio advise Accellera Work Group on SoC definition; Shape-shifters on the catwalks; Weathering the storms of design challenges; IP subsystems ahead of OIP; AMD SoCs find their calling; Cadence keeps lines of communication open

Ahead of the IEEE S3S Conference, Zvi Or-Bach, MonolithIC 3D looks at the wafer demands for cheaper IoT development. His illustrated preview of some of the papers gives some insight into the discussions that lie ahead.

The clock is ticking for further technology contributions to the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group. Ahead of the deadline, September 16, Tom Fitzpatrick, Mentor Graphics, adds some background to the announcement that Mentor, Cadence and Breker have joined the group, offering portable test and stimulus expertise, in the definition of an SoC verification standard with IP and re-use opportunities.

Sportswear designer, Chromat, held its Spring/Summer 2016 runway show at MADE Fashion Week, with models wearing responsive garments that transform shape based on the wearer’s body temperature, adrenaline or stress levels. The experimental Adrenaline Dress, says Ayse Ildeniz, was powered by Intel’s Curie Module. There was also the Aeros Sports Bra which can respond to changes in perspiration, respiration and body temperature to adjust body temperature.

Design challenges that can make a real difference are highlighted by Brian Fuller, ARM, as he profiles the winning project in the inveneo solar power Micro Data Center Design Challenge 2015. The Micro Weather Station is explained inside and out and makes fascinating reading.

An interesting preview of his talk about the concept of IP subsystems at TSMC’s OIP (Open Innovation Platform) is given by Navraj Nandra, Synopsys. He uses examples of wearable and automotive technology to show the role of the foundry, as well as design and integration challenges.

Trying to figure out where the smart set goes if it’s not into a smartphone, automotive design or consumer device, Chris Ciufo, eecatalog, champions the power of AMD’s G-Series SoCs for “everything else”, especially thin client computer and some arresting digital signage.

All relationships rely on good communication, so Christine Young, Cadence, explains how to simplify the design flow between schematic and layout engineers. Instead of checking versions, she recommends some of the sound advice given by Karim Khalfan, director of application engineering at ClioSoft.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday, August 31st, 2015

HPC for cancer analysis; body power: game on for animation; DDR challenges; aviation fascination; packaging checks; Arrow explains USB3.1; IDF meets IoT

It would take 5.6Exabytes to synchronize the data of the 14million cancer patients worldwide, just once, points out Kristina Kermanshahche, Intel. She explains how Intel’s HPC is a helping scientist access and share data, with relationships such as Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes, and at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

Distasteful things like a body’s sweat could charge phones, speculates Catherine Blogar, Dassault Sytemes. She speaks to some experts in wearable and implantable engineering for some futuristic power advice.

Some helpful tips on creating animation is offered by Laura Mengot, ARM, in her blog. Although the software used is Autodesk Maya and Unity, Mengot says that the detailed, illustrated theories are applicable to any 3D engine and game engine.

Ely Tsern, Rambus, identifies five trends in server memory and speculates on DDR4 capability in particular, and even beyond to DDR5.

Welcoming the RTCA/DO-254 (Design Assurance Guidance For Airborne Electronic Hardware) standard, Graham Bell, Real Intent, delves into what it means for verification tools.

Reminiscing about a European design classic, Nazita Save, Mentor Graphics, remembers Concorde. Pre-CAD modification and with no CFD software, how did they do it?

While end users may love smaller package sizes, they are a headache for manufacturers. IC Packaging Pros, Cadence, discuss layout tools for validating and verifying, with some easy-to-follow advice.

Four bloggers contribute to the latest update to USB3.0. Anand Shirahatti, Thejus Shanbhogue, Kanak Singh, Deepak Nagaria, Arrow, discuss the implementation and verification challenges – with a link to a USB3.0 vs USB3.1 USB cheat sheet thrown in.

Richard Solomon appears confused as to what day it is, but makes up for it with a round up of what’s what at this year’s IDF, from characters encountered, travel tips to his own takeaways from this month’s event in San Francisco.

Blog Review – Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Where will the future of embedded software lead; Manufacturing success; DDR memory IP – a personal view; Untangling the IoT protocols; The battle of virtual prototyping; Accellera SI update; Smart buildings; SoC crisis management

The rise of phones, GPS, tablets and cars means embedded software increases in complexity, muses Colin Walls, Mentor Graphics. He traces the route of hardware and software in simple systems to ones that have to work harder and smarter.

Managing to avoid sounding smug, Falan Yinug reports on the SIA (Semiconductor Industry Association) paper confirming the semiconductor industry is the USA’s most innovative manufacturing industry, and looks at its role in the economy.

Less about being a woman in technology and more about the nitty gritty of DDR controller memory IP, Anne Hughes, DDR IP Engineering, Cadence talks to Christine Young.

Fitting protocols like CoAp and IPSO smart objects in the IoT structure can be daunting, but Pratulsharma, ARM, has written an illustrated blog that can lead readers through the wilderness.

Clearly taken with the Battlebots TV show, Tom De Schutter, Synopsys, considers how to minimise design risks to avoid destruction, or at least behave as intended.

A considered view of the Accellera Sytems Initiative is given by Gabe Moretti, Chip Design Magazine. He elaborates on what the UVM standardization will mean for the wider EDA industry.

Where the IoT is used, and how, for smart buildings, is examined by Rob Sheppard, Intel.

Alarming in his honesty, Gadge Panesar, Ultrasoc, says no-one know how SoCs operate and urges others to be as honest as he is and seek help – with some analytics and IP independence.

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