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Will There Ever Be Cake?

It’s as if there’s this great party coming, and everyone is working at breakneck speed to make sure that all the details are in place to make it the best party ever. And the highlight is some amazing cake that everyone’s been hearing about. Let’s call it an Extreme Ultra Velvet cake.

This cake is so special that everything needs to change. The flatware must be swapped out so that no surface ions contaminate the exquisite flavor. The dishes must be made out of the most perfect reflective material … Read More → "Will There Ever Be Cake?"

A Fully-Differential Accelerometer

Accelerometers are used for a wide variety of applications (which we’ll look at more specifically soon). Particularly demanding are automotive applications, not least because of the harsh conditions and huge amount of noise that they must tolerate. That noise can be electrical or simply “ambient vibration” that is not of interest.

Electrically, differential signaling is often used to reject common-mode noise. But one paper at ISSCC took the concept all the way back to the proof mass: a team from Robert Bosch split the proof mass, working then with what are nominally two … Read More → "A Fully-Differential Accelerometer"

Altera Partners with Intel for 14nm Tri-Gate FPGAs

Altera just announced that they’re partnering with Intel to produce FPGAs based on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate process.  This has the potential to give Altera a big lead in the node-after-next war with rival Xilinx.  Intel has a well-established leadership position in FinFET technology (which they call Tri-Gate) – a 3D transistor fabrication technique that has much lower power consumption and better performance than traditional planar CMOS transistors.  FinFETs give probably an extra process node worth of benefits to FPGAs, so … Read More → "Altera Partners with Intel for 14nm Tri-Gate FPGAs"

I Sing the Body Electric

Microchip has just rolled out BodyCom, a new way to do wireless nwtworking using your own body as the antenna. This is a body-area network, meaning it connects things you’re wearing — or at least, touching. That makes it useful for sensors and displays, for example, but not for beaming music to a remote speaker. Microschip’s got all the documentation, software, and development kits here. http://www.microchip.com/pagehandler/en-us/technology/embeddedsecurity/technology/bodycom.html.

 

Read More → "I Sing the Body Electric"

Debug Trick Uses CPU Cache as RAM

Embedded tool company Asset Intertech is giving away a free e-book that teaches a clever little debugging trick: Use your CPU’s on-chip cache like RAM so you can bring up a non-functional board. If your new hardware won’t even boot, it’s hard to figure out where the hardware/software problem(s) lie. With no working RAM you can’t even run diagnostic routines. But your processor’s on-chip cache is always there and always reliable. Give it a shot. The download link is at http://bit.ly/XzK0nIRead More → "Debug Trick Uses CPU Cache as RAM"

Finding iNEMO

Back when we looked at sensor hubs last year, the trajectory of that discussion took us to the point of sensors integrated with a microcontroller on a single chip. ST Microelectronics had announced the technology used for that example. At the time, their announcement focus was on Windows 8 HID compatibility, and there was a lot of generic discussion about the promise of the technology, but I have to confess to having not … Read More → "Finding iNEMO"

I think it’s probably safe to as

I think it’s probably safe to assume that the request for “MORE Lawyers” probably means “MORE of the better kind.”

Dick, I have to say that I don’t agree that lawyers’ self-selection, education, and training “conspire” to ensure we get bad lawyers. I decided to be a lawyer because I wanted to “fight the man” and practice public interest and social justice law. While in law school, I met many incredibly motivated, interesting people who wanted to be forces for good and benefit society as part of their work (even the ones who wanted to … Read More → "I think it’s probably safe to as"

MORE Lawyers, Please!

In response to Dick Selwood’s recent article “Lawyers, Bankers, and Engineers”, I want to take a different (and perhaps controversial) stand:  We need MORE lawyers.  (The torch mob can form on the left, now. Please stand by, and take a number.)  That’s right, I said it.  The world doesn’t have nearly enough well-trained legal experts to keep pace with the incredible demands being created… mostly by our community of engineers.

Over … Read More → "MORE Lawyers, Please!"

MEMS Caps that Push Both Ways

The many bands that cellphones must support, coupled with environmental changes that can have a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of a phone’s antenna, have made the concept of antenna “tuning” particularly relevant. We looked at WiSpry’s approach to this some time ago. The concept involves an array of capacitors that can be reconfigured in real time to change the characteristics of the antenna and improve reception.

Most such MEMS capacitor arrays consist of cantilevers – like … Read More → "MEMS Caps that Push Both Ways"

ISSCC Goes RGB

I’ve commented in the past about how ISSCC, largely in contrast to other shows, had a distinctly binary color – or lack of color – scheme. As usual, I approached the escalator this year with the expectation that I’d be able to give my retinal cones a well-deserved vacation.

Instead, I had to check to make sure I was in the right place. ISSCC has made a dramatic shift towards the casual. Even where suits are in evidence, they … Read More → "ISSCC Goes RGB"

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