Storm the Barricades and Pro Test

New EEMBC Pro Benchmark Tests Higher Level Processors

by Jim Turley

Those darn processors. They keep getting faster and we keep running out of ways to keep track of them.

In the beginning, there was clock speed. Faster clock meant faster processor, right? Not so fast. Some processors – like some people – did more work than others in a given amount of time. So your 5-KHz UNIVAC might or might not be faster than my 3-KHz ENIAC.

So we created benchmarks. Let’s run LINPAC or Whetstone on both of ’em and see who finishes first. That was better, but it still told you only how well your computer ran that test. Not how well it would run any test. Maybe your machine is designed for integer arithmetic while mine is geared toward floating-point math.

 

Plunify’s FPGA Proof Point

Putting Your Tools Where Your Mouth Is

by Kevin Morris

Breaking into any part of the FPGA market ecosystem is a substantial challenge. Countless companies have launched with various novel ways to take advantage of FPGA technology, and the countryside is littered with the carnage of their decaying carcasses. It’s not a friendly environment out there in FPGA land.

Ironically, the biggest danger for FPGA startups is the FPGA companies themselves. Their track records over the past couple of decades have established them as shining examples of the “frenemy” concept. In order to succeed in FPGAs, you have to partner with the FPGA companies. Then, at some point, you generally find yourself competing with them in one way or another - usually by trying to sell tools or IP that they give away for free.

 

Quilt Packaging

A New Twist on 2D – or 3D

by Bryon Moyer

So you’re working on a big die, eh? Maybe a huge imaging die – sized to capture a wide field with high resolution? Yeah… die manufacturing yield isn’t so great, eh? What to do?

When you’re on an unfriendly part of the yield curve, yield drops non-linearly with die size, meaning that 4 dice that are ¼ the size of one big die will yield more than four times better, combined, than the one big die. (If both big and small dice are already yielding 99%, then four small dice won’t yield better than 100%...

 

In It to Win It

Achronix Takes Speedster to Production Prime Time

by Amelia Dalton

The green flag dropped long ago. The pole-sitters have put the pedal to the metal on their high-octane beasts and vanished around the bend. Circling the course, the leaders of the pack fly ahead, their eyes fixed on the twists and turns of smaller and smaller geometries, without even a glance into the rearview. Don't look now! A dark horse is coming up quickly and quietly, stealthily stalking both leaders, attacking their most profitable lines. The programmable logic race has been ruled by a duopoly for years, but now an up-an-comer looks to change the race - once and for all. My guest this week is Robert Blake (CEO - Achronix) and Robert is here to discuss how Achronix is speeding ahead to full volume production, why (sometimes) it's best to buy and not invent new parts for their FPGA engine, and what it's like to be a pilot in the Bay Area.

 

Return of the Hobbyist

New Boards, Power Electronics, and Software Tinkerers

by Dick Selwood

Now bear in mind that I am a mature Englishman, so when I talk boards I am not looking at the sort of thing that you see on the US Pacific coast and that the Beach Boys sang about. (There, that rather demonstrated "maturity". For those of you wondering what I am on about, the Beach Boys were a Californian 1960s band who sang about surfing, cars and girls – very exotic in early 1960's, pre-swinging London.)

Instead we are looking at Raspberry Pi and its rivals, which have sparked off a whole new wave of tinkerers - a new type of tinkerer, who plays with hardware at a module level and with software. A distinctive feature of these board families is that they all have developed a strong, web-based community, where community members share projects, problems and successes.

 

Tools! Tools! Tools!

Debuggers and Boards and IDEs! Oh, My!

by Jim Turley

If this is February it must be Nürnberg. Or Barcelona. Either way, it’s the month when embedded developers head to Central Europe. (The ones with travel budgets, anyway.) And it’s the month when embedded vendors roll out their latest toys. It’s like attending Milan Fashion Week or the Paris Auto Show except… you know… less glamorous.

Two of my favorite announcements this week came from smallish companies, and both have been in the business for a while. And both have to do with tools. Software-development tools. The things that make the embedded world go ’round.

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