Who Watches the Watchers?

Subjecting your Design to an Audit Can be Painful and/or Enlightening

by Jim Turley

The German put out his hand. “Do you have ze papers?”

Of course I had my papers. I’d been planning this for weeks. My papers were all in order, I’d practiced my rudimentary German, and I’d anticipated every question he might ask me, along with my answers. Just act cool, I told myself. Confident, but not over-confident. Just give the man what he wants and he’ll let you go on your way.

This man stood between me and freedom. But there was something about his manner that told me he wasn’t going to let me past his desk without a struggle. This could get ugly.

 

Making SoCs Easier to Debug

A New Technology Aims to Track Both Software and Hardware Bugs

by Dick Selwood

System debugging used to be fairly straightforward. Components were on a board, linked by tracks, and, with a 'scope and probes, you could look at signals and work out what was happening. Of course it didn't seem so simple at the time - isn't hindsight great? In time, systems got more complex, microcontrollers got more complex, and the companies building ‘scopes and other tools for hardware debugging came up with more and more sophisticated (which implies expensive) products. Digital 'scopes, logic analysers and emulators all helped engineers in their efforts to keep up. JTAG was created to provide an interface - now frequently to a PC as well as to specialist tools - as multilayer boards hid tracks, and it was then used to provide visibility of operations within the chip. The JTAG interface is now also used for software debugging, as through JTAG it is possible to control program execution, stepping through line by line, or to set breakpoints. JTAG can also be used to program flash memory. Processor manufacturers started fairly early on to provide proprietary analysis tools, and ARM, for example, provides a range of interfaces and on-chip capabilities for advanced debugging and analysis.

 

Trust

Proving You’re Legit – to Yourself and Others

by Bryon Moyer

[Editor’s note: this is the second in a series on Internet-of-Things security. You can find the introductory piece here.]

So you’re buying a car. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in the US, it’s one of the least favorite purchases someone can make. Partly it’s because it’s our only haggling purchase, and, as buyers, we’re not used to haggling, so we’re not skilled at it. That aside, all too often, when the deal is done, buyers come away feeling like there’s a good chance they’ve been owned in the process.

Let’s start with the sales guy that slithers out of the office when you walk onto the premises. You’re probably being approached by half a dozen sales folks, like so many hungry zombies, each wanting to be the first to you but not wanting to look over-eager or to turn it into an outright race. One guy wins and you’re stuck with him. Granted, he (or she; we’ll assume he for our purposes) may seem to be a very nice person, and he’ll work hard to earn your trust.

 

The Zen of Verification and IoT Maintenance

Finding a Holistic Way to Verify Your IoT

by Amelia Dalton

Welcome to the Fish Fry commune my friends. This week we're bringing zen to your IoT verification process. My guest is John Koeter from Synopsys and we are taking a closer look at holistic ways to verify our IoT designs. John and I discuss verification in IoT, the unique challenges of IP in IoT, and the best places for foodies in the Bay Area. Also this week, we check out how you can lower your BOM bottom line (that might not be obvious by simply looking at component costs) and we're giving everyone another chance to win an Odyssey MAX® 10 FPGA and BLE Sensor Kit.

 

Summertime Beach Reading

Being a Collection of Midsummer News Bits for Nerds

by Jim Turley

So a sports car just drove itself around a racetrack and did pretty well, setting competitive lap times. Audi’s self-driving RS7 lapped Sears Point (aka Sonoma Raceway, aka Infineon Raceway) in just a shade over two minutes. For comparison, the lap record for a Corvette is only nine seconds quicker, at 1:51, and the all-time Porsche GT3 record is 1:42. For a car with no driver, that’s hauling.

The important point here is that the car was not pre-programmed to run a particular course. Sure, it would have been easy to equip the vehicle with a millimeter-perfect internal map of the route and set it going, guided by GPS and inertial navigation, like a great big slot car. But that’s not what happened. Instead, the car was piloted entirely by its onboard vision system, which looked around for the edges of the pavement and landmarks such as surrounding buildings, walls, and objects, according to Audi. In other words, it drove the same way that humans do: by watching where it was going. Ironically, it had no electronic distractions while it was driving.

 

The Cost of Teamwork

Could We Eliminate Engineering Meetings Completely?

by Kevin Morris

Ask anyone who works in a typical corporate environment to describe their schedule for an average week. Chances are, a significant percentage of their work time will be taken up by meetings. In fact, 30-40% of work hours occupied by meetings would not be an unusual figure. For management employees, greater than 50% would not be surprising.

Stop and think about that for a minute or two.

Did you stop and think about it? Really, go back and stop and think about it again.

As engineers, we all understand the value of collaboration. Certainly most of mankind’s meaningful achievements are the result of people working together. And in modern times, massively collaborative projects are responsible for most of the major technological advances we all depend on each day.

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