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Analysis by Braille

As a technology, JTAG (or IEEE 1149.1) has been leveraged a lot of ways to do a lot of things that may not have been envisioned when it was first developed. Its original mission, however, was rather simple: provide a way to test whether the board connection between two chips was intact. And, while individual components have a way of describing their internal chains via a BSDL file, according to the folks at JTAG Technologies, there is no such simple equivalent for the entire board’s chain.

So if you’re a simple repair shop without … Read More → "Analysis by Braille"

When Greater Extinction Is a Good Thing

Earlier this year we got some comment from French research consortium Leti on the photonics research they were doing and where they saw it going.

More recently, they’ve announced that their HELIOS project was able to achieve the first-ever 40 Gb/s optical modulator having  an extinction ratio (more or less like the noise margin, the power difference between a logic 0 and a logic 1 – why optical needs a different vocabulary, I don’t know…) of 10 db.

This was done on a … Read More → "When Greater Extinction Is a Good Thing"

The Countess of Lovelace Strikes Back

Safety and security are big concerns in the embedded-systems world these days. Problem is, few of us really know how to add “security” to our products when nobody can even tell us what that means. We’re also finding out it’s hard to patch security into an existing system. It’s easier to design it in from the outset.

That’s where Ada comes in. Ada is a programming language (some would call it a religion) that was designed to create safe, secure, and reliable embedded systems. Think military electronics, missiles, and airplanes. If you want … Read More → "The Countess of Lovelace Strikes Back"

Gerber Grows Up

There are lots of EDA data formats with long, illustrious legacies. GDS-II and Gerber are great examples. But a few years ago, a new format to replace Gerber was devised, with the less-euphonious name IPC-2581. But calling it a replacement for Gerber is sort of like calling modern video games a replacement for the old family radio of the ‘20s. There’s a lot more going on than just a one-for-one swap.

Gerber plots simply contain the PCB patterning. But the IPC-2581 format contains, in one place, much more information for the fabrication, assembly, and … Read More → "Gerber Grows Up"

iPad Leveling Off?

The iPad may already be hitting its midlife crisis. According to financial insiders at JP Morgan Chase, component suppliers and manufacturing partners are being told to scale back their orders for the fourth quarter of this year. If true, that would be the first time that iPad production levels have gone backward.

The cutback is hefty, too: down 25%, from a planned 17 million iPads to just 13 million units. This amid widespread accolades for the latest iGizmo and a lack of any serious competitors. If the iPad was losing ground to, say, HP, IBM, or Amazon tablets that … Read More → "iPad Leveling Off?"

Micron’s Memory Cube

Micron Technology, America’s one-and-only memory manufacturer, has come up with a cool and unusual new type of memory chip. Well, it’s not really a chip. It’s more like a module. It’s a cube, actually.

The company calls it a “hybrid memory cube” (HMC) and it starts out as a set of stacked die within one package. That’s not terribly unusual in itself; plenty of companies have stacked two or more silicon dice on top of each other, and the technique is especially useful for memories. But the HMCs use Read More → "Micron’s Memory Cube"

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