Robotics for You and Me

Element14 Raises the Robot Bar

by Amelia Dalton

You scream, I scream, we all scream for…ROBOTS! In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a closer look at the GertBOT, a new robotics add-on board for Raspberry Pi recently released by Element 14. I’ve got Sagar Jethani with me to tell you about the powerful capabilities of this new expansion board. Sagar and I also explore the correlation between guitar playing and engineering, and why Eddie Van Halen is called "the Edison of guitar players.” Then, in keeping with our spirit of innovation and musical invention, I explore a new Etsy product that hopes to usher in a new generation of mixtapes.

 

ARTEMIS is Dead – Long Live ECSEL

The changing role of European Funding for Embedded Systems R&D

by Dick Selwood

The European Union (EU) is a complicated beast. It isn't a United States of Europe, although in some lights it can look like it, as it has laws that overrule those of member states, and it uses a common currency (although not all member states use the Euro).

Its roots are in the devastation of the Second World War, when a shattered Europe was rebuilding its industrial base and at the same time looking for ways to ensure that there would never again be conflict between European countries. It has been successful in both those aims and has taken on increasing powers as it has expanded to include 28 countries. It is now a single market with no customs duties or protectionist measures and, with the addition of Switzerland, Norway and some "micro states" like the Vatican, is a passport free area, except for the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. One task of the EU is to improve the competitive position of European industries, particularly those that are seen as important to future growth, such as electronics.

 

A Dialog with Imagination

Two Companies Want You to Wear Their Chips

by Jim Turley

Ooh, trends. Gotta love ’em. There are trends in music, trends in fashion, trends in politics, trends in economic theory, and trends in our good ol’ electronics business. Fortunately for us, almost all of the trends in the latter category are of the good, healthy, up-and-to-the-right, variety. Chips get faster, power efficiency improves, and software gets better. Well, two out of three.

Another trend is shrinkage, of course. On this, the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law, we’re still seeing our devices get smaller and smaller, to the point that we’re now wearing them. A computer that once took up an entire room in our grandparents’ time now fits on a wrist, in a pocket, or behind an ear.

 

FPGAs in Space

Microsemi Launches New Space-bound Family

by Kevin Morris

In space, no one can hear you scream - about how your FPGA got hit by a neutron, which caused a single-event-upset, resulting in a bit-flip in a configuration cell and the ensuing very bad behavior. Of course, that scenario is science fiction because nobody who designs space-bound electronic systems would ever put a non-qualified device into orbit.

Space is an incredibly challenging environment for FPGAs. You’ve probably guessed that it’s prohibitively expensive to roll out a service truck and a technician to deal with a reliability problem in orbit. And you may have also surmised that fans and heat sinks aren’t that useful in a situation without any, you know… air. And you may complain about shipping charges to get parts from Mouser or Digi-Key to your lab, but getting electronic parts delivered into orbit costs something like $13,000 per pound.

 

Revamped Digital IC Flow

Cadence Launches Innovus

by Bryon Moyer

It’s a familiar tale of woe: new silicon process nodes are creating an extreme burden for design tools.

When I say, “familiar,” it’s not just because everyone is bemoaning the current state of affairs, what with FinFETs and multiple patterning and other new features creating innumerable vexations. No, it seems that this happens after every few advances: the improvements made to nullify the last set of hurdles run out of steam in the face of the latest set of new hurdles. And so tools get rolled again.

The product of the tools – a correct mask set – hasn’t changed; the ways we get to that mask set have changed over and over. And continue to do so.

 

RTL Roundup

Taming the Wild West of EDA Design with OneSpin

by Amelia Dalton

This week we’re saddling up and taking a ride into the Wild West, where the days are long and the code is even longer. We’re talking about the rough and tumble, SystemC slingin’, HLS wranglin’ assertion-based formal verification. Dave Kelf (OneSpin Solutions) rides with us across the dusty EDA plains of RTL design where we unveil why RTL (and above) is called the Wild West of Design, who exactly is playing sheriff in these here parts, and how design and verification at the RTL level can be corralled once and for all. Also this week, we address the most recent rumors surrounding the Intel/Altera buyout deal and investigate the newest (and coolest) smartwatch this side of the Mississippi - an Enigma machine for your wrist!

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