Open Power Foundation Aims to Make PowerPC More Plentiful
Once upon a time, there were many little RISC processors frolicking in the deep green microprocessor forest. There was the jaunty little ARM. The bright little SPARC. The mighty little MIPS. The aristocratic little PowerPC. And so many others. They all played and laughed and had ever such a good time.
Then, one by one, the happy little RISC processors started disappearing. Were they gobbled up by the big, bad CISC processor that lurked in the woods? Did they cross over the Wheatstone Bridge and into another land? Or did they just get lost in the tall grass, wandering aimlessly until their mommies and daddies forgot about them?
Cadence Rolls New Protium Platform
System on Chip (SoC) design today is an incredibly complicated collaborative endeavor. By applying the label “System” to the chips we design, we enter a realm of complex, interdisciplinary interactions that span realms like analog, digital, communications, semiconductor process, and - with increasing dominance - software. Since the first SoCs rolled out a mere decade or so ago, the composition of design teams has shifted notably, with the percentage of cubicles occupied by software developers increasing much more rapidly than those of any of the other engineering disciplines. In most SoC projects today, software development is the critical path, and the other components of the project are merely speed bumps in the software development spiral.
Plasma-Therm Proposes Plasma Dicing
A silicon wafer will always be patterned with a perfect grid of rectangular dice. It’s so obvious that you even have to think about it. From the very first wafer you saw in school to whatever you’re working with today, they’ve all looked like a well-planned city with edge-to-edge streets.
But did you ever wonder what would happen if you didn’t lay a wafer out that way? Plasma-Therm presented some alternative ideas at the recent MEPTEC MEMS Technology Symposium, suggesting that breaking the rules can have some benefits – although, as always, there are tradeoffs. I should caution that these are largely conceptual ideas that need further vetting, although ON Semiconductor has done some implementation, confirming net benefits for the dice they worked with.
Project Ara Dev Boards and the Internet of Moving Things
The pedal is to the metal, our motor is running, and Fish Fry is hitting the open road. At the wheel this week is mCube CEO Ben Lee. Ben and I discuss the future of the IoT market, the details of mCube's super tiny accelerometers, and where you can find a truly unique golf course where you play above the clouds. Also joining our Fish Fryin' caravan this week, is an exciting update from the folks at Google's Project Ara (and you won't want to miss this!) Last but certainly not least, we round out this episode with a little ride down Static Timing and Constraint Validation Lane. Buckle up my friends, it's gonna be a wild ride!
New EEMBC Benchmark Measures Android Speed
“I don’t always benchmark my Android devices. But when I do, I prefer AndEBench-Pro.” – The Most Boring Man in the World Benchmarking, like economics, is a dismal science. Both are important and both are more complicated than the casual observer may expect. EEMBC is an expert at one of these.
The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark consortium (the second E is purely decorative) is a nonprofit group approaching its 20th birthday. The merry band of benchmarkers has expanded beyond its original remit of creating tiny benchmark kernels for stressing CPU cores, and it now offers a whole catalog of benchmarks large and small for just about anything. There’s an automotive benchmark, a Web browser benchmark, and now two different Android benchmarks.
Lattice iCE40 Ultra Brings Programmability to Wearables
In the 1960s, an electronic device was “cool” if it had the word “transistor” in it. Even though the general public didn’t understand the benefits a transistor brought to a portable radio, everyone wanted the new “transistor” type. Then, of course, the shock and awe of Moore’s Law took the world on a fifty-year joy ride that completely isolated the electronics-buying public from any hope of understanding or appreciating what went on inside the latest consumer technology wonders.
For that reason, the “FPGA” label probably won’t be applied to mobile and wearable products the same way “transistor” was a few decades back, but the role of the FPGA today is no less transformative and enabling than the transistor was in the 1960s. Using an FPGA in a consumer device - particularly a small, power-sensitive, portable or mobile one - raises the stakes in a way that most definitely deserves a title role.