“PCB” Tool Battle Heats Up
There’s no question that the IC side of the EDA world gets most of the attention. After all, quad-patterning, EUV-having, boundary-pushing, 5-nm lithography issues are certainly bright shiny objects to grab the attention of tech-nerds. But the vast majority of us are doing more pedestrian stuff - designing board-based systems for a wide variety of applications across a huge number of end markets. What about our tools? Not glamorous enough for ya?
What Are Individuals Thinking About?
Most of what we see about the upcoming self-driving car phenomenon comes from the industry. Press releases and contributed articles may disagree on timing and exact phase-in mechanisms, but they’re pretty unanimous in one respect: “This is happening.”
There are certain segments, of course, for whom self-driving cars will be money in the bank. Anyone who has to pay pesky humans out of their revenue stream can eliminate this cost and simply keep all the money. (Or improve the economics… more on that in a sec…) Hence truck-driving and Lyft-driving are viewed as careers that will disappear.
Spectral Allocation and the Next Generation of Electronic Warfare
What has the electromagnetic spectrum done for you lately? I’m guessing not a lot. But it can. In this week’s Fish Fry, I sit down with Hayden Nelson (Abaco) and discuss the future of electronic warfare. Hayden reveals the what, where, and how of cognitive electronic warfare, how spectral allocation in wireless communication can be a battlefield game-changer, and why open standards are critical to the evolution of warfare communication technologies. Also this week, we check out a funny story coming out of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction that involves five incarcerated cyber criminals, unauthorized network access, and two kluged together personal computers found in the ceiling of a prison.
Automotive Thoughts from Embedded World
How do you sum up embedded world, this year spread over three days, with nearly 40,000 people and over 1,000 exhibitors, all around a theme of Securely Connecting the Embedded World? Well you can't – not sensibly. Instead I am going to look at a thread that recurred in the dozens of conversations that I had in those three days and that is currently a hot topic. Obviously, the IoT was also a regular occurrence, with many of the new product announcements specifically targeting it. But the topic that kept recurring was cars: not just fully autonomous cars, but also those with lower levels of autonomy such as with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). A handy guide to levels of automation is the SAE's taxonomy, which classes them from 0 = total driver control to 5 = totally autonomous car.
Performance-IP’s MRO Speeds up Slow Memories
Q: When is a cache not a cache?
A: When it’s a Memory Request Optimizer.
If that sounds tautological (aren’t all caches memory-request optimizers?), then you haven’t talked to Performance-IP, a small startup in the Boston area. P-IP has a patent-pending way to speed up your system’s slow accesses to external memory by interposing some clever logic of its own.
Digital Systems that Nobody Designs
Over the past five-plus decades, Moore’s Law has taken us on a remarkable rocket ride of complexity. With the number of transistors on a chip approximately doubling every two years - and we’re up to 26 of those “doublings” now - we’ve seen an increase on the order of 67 million times the number of transistors on a chip, giving us processors with over seven billion transistors, FPGAs with over thirty billion transistors, and memory devices with over a hundred billion transistors, as of 2016. It’s an absolutely remarkable explosion in complexity. But, during those same fifty years, the average engineering brain’s capacity to manage that complexity has increased by approximately: Zero X.
Yep, we’re now designing devices with tens of billions of transistors using the same old 1965-era brains that were straining to manage fifty.