Safety (and Security) First

Embedded Software, TÜV Certification, and 64 bits

by Amelia Dalton

In this week’s Fish Fry, we’re taking on safety, security, and the embedded design software in between. Michael May (Express Logic) and I start things off with an in-depth discussion about the ongoing design-in battle between 32 and 64 bit processors and where ThreadX RTOS fits into the embedded ecosystem. Keeping with this week’s embedded software theme, I also chat with Jim McElroy (LDRA) about what we need to do when our designs must adhere to a security-critical standard, why TÜV Certification is so important, and what it's like to captain a whale watching boat.

 

Magnets Help the Harvest

Two Totally Different Techniques

by Bryon Moyer

Today we talk magnets. In particular, a couple of different ways magnets were shown to participate in energy harvesting schemes at last November’s IDTechEx show in Santa Clara.

We all know that passing a magnet by a wire creates a current in the wire, right? Well the first of the ideas leverages this simple fact. It’s from a company called Jennova, and it’s so simple it’s almost obvious. (“Almost” for any lurking patent attorneys…)

Here’s the deal: put magnets on a fan and run a wire nearby. Now you’re getting current through the wire. Simple, eh? Well, let’s dig in a little more.

 

Xilinx 1, Intel 0

Big X Scores First in the New Rivalry

by Kevin Morris

I’ll just say right up front that this is really mostly about bragging rights. No corporate destinies are shaped, no fortunes won or lost, no pivotal temporal butterflies crushed by the fact of who ships a new FPGA generation first. But, with the same fuzzy logic that drives reality shows, football matches, and political polls, those in the FPGA business put a lot of energy into the unofficial biennial Moore’s Law derby to see who can ship the first FPGAs on a new process node.

This time, the stakes were higher than ever. 16/14nm is the first node where both big FPGA companies are shipping FinFET-based devices (Achronix scooped them both, however, by shipping FinFETs with their 22nm Intel-fabbed devices over a year ago).

 

When Things Get Weird

When is the Right Time to Ditch the Standard and Go Your Own Way?

by Jim Turley

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Speaking of standards – what, you didn’t memorize last week’s column? – there comes a time when you have to leave them behind and blaze your own trail. Maybe. Sometimes. I think.

By now, you’re probably surrounded with USB cables. You use them for charging your phone, for downloading images from your camera, for linking to your game controllers - and for a dozen other uses. USB cables are ubiquitous and, thankfully, they connect to just about everything without any fuss. A true marvel of standardization. The hardest part is figuring out whether that rectangular Type-A connector goes right side up or upside down.

 

How It’s Built: Micron/Intel 3D NAND

Micron Opens the Veil a Little

by Bryon Moyer

3D NAND embodies the new vertical scaling direction for flash memory. We’ve heard about it for a while, at least in terms of what the concept is. But we’re just now getting “proofs of existence” and lower-level details on how you actually build such a beast.

At last month’s IEDM, I had a conversation with Micron’s Chuck Dennison. He was coauthor of a paper describing the joint Micron/Intel 3D NAND project. This gave a more detailed picture of how they managed their process.

 

Size Matters

The New Generation of Touchscreens with Cima NanoTech

by Amelia Dalton

Innovation big and small is the name of the game in this week's episode of Fish Fry. First up, we examine the newest advances in touchscreen technology with Jon Brodd and Kelly Ingham from Cima NanoTech. Jon and Kelly reveal the details of their (almost) larger-than-life touchscreens and help us plot a course to the future of touchscreen technology. Also this week, we take a closer look at a new wireless neurotransmitter being developed at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Institute of Microelectronics and Biospark Technologies that could change the face of pain management forever.

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