The Quiet FPGAs

Microsemi Soldiers On Silently

by Kevin Morris

We don’t hear much about Microsemi in the FPGA world these days. In fact, it would be pretty easy to forget that the company - primarily known for it’s high-reliability mil-aero offerings - is in the programmable logic business at all. With the loud footsteps of Xilinx and Intel/Altera resonating in the hallways, the steadfast persistence of Achronix gnawing at some of their most important markets, and Lattice’s transition to a consumer electronics focus, it’s easy to let the memory of the interesting and capable FPGA families formerly associated with the Actel brand fade into the tapestry.

But Microsemi is still very much in the FPGA/SoC game, and their offerings have some compelling differentiators that make them worthy of consideration - perhaps the best choice - for many application sockets.

 

Matching Patterns

Mentor Discusses DRC’s Newer Cousin

by Bryon Moyer

When you look at someone’s face, what do you see?

I suppose that depends on who you are. Many people are good at picking up the details. Eye color is a big one that can sometimes get you in trouble if you don’t catch it. Other people aren’t so big on the details, but they can generate overall impressions based on a “look.” Your intrepid reporter would place himself in the latter category – seeing similarities in looks between people that others don’t see at all while missing the eye color.

At the risk of a neck-jarring change of direction here, let’s take this into EDA – and, in particular, the art and science of proving that a particular layout will work and yield. This is the realm of design-rule checks (DRC). But DRC is somewhat like noticing eye color: it’s focused on very specific detailed dimensions (or small collections of dimensions).

 

SPICE SPICE Baby!

Adventures in FAST Spice and Secret Message Jelly Fish

by Amelia Dalton

What do SPICE and a new material inspired by the skin of squid and jellyfish have in common? This week's episode of Fish Fry of course! First up, Zhihong Liu, Chairman and CEO of ProPlus Solutions joins us to discuss trends in the SPICE world, the challenges of displacing circuit-level FastSPICE simulators, and why he thinks table tennis is the best sport in the world. In the second half of our episode, we investigate a new type of material inspired by the reactionary skin of squid and jellyfish developed by a team of researchers at the University of Connecticut. This newly developed material may change how we interact with our cellphones, how we trade in our electronics, and how we send (secret) messages as well.

 

Something in the Air

Ultrasonics Brings Touch to the Human Machine Interface

by Dick Selwood

When you are next in a hospital, watch the medical staff as they get into a lift. The odds are they will call out the floor they want and someone non-medical will press the button. This is not because they are lazy but because studies have shown that hospital lift buttons have more bacteria on them than toilet seats. Clearly a sensor that recognises a wave of the hand or a pushing gesture as a signal to choose a floor would be a good replacement for a physical button, but how do you know whether your gesture has been recognised? Imagine instead, that - as you made a pushing gesture, your hand could feel a "button"?

 

News Flash: Hell Still Not Frozen Over

The Intel/ARM Agreement is a Smaller Deal Than It Sounds

by Jim Turley

You don’t often see the names “Intel” and “ARM” used together in a sentence without words like “rival” or “competitor” in between them. They’re like oil and water, cats and dogs, Dodgers and Giants.

But, just this week, we saw the lion lie down with the lamb. What’s this? Intel and ARM are working together? Intel will be making ARM processors? It’s the end of the world as we know it!

 

Flash for IoT, Automotive, and Mobile

Micron Launches New NAND Products

by Bryon Moyer

Memory is memory, right? OK, OK, yeah, there’s different types. DRAM, SRAM, non-volatile (typically NOR and NAND). But, within each family, memory is memory. Right?

Well, maybe not. Micron had a couple of NAND announcements, and the features they highlighted were definitely targeted at specific markets: consumer IoT (CIoT), industrial IoT (IIoT), automotive, and mobile. So – perhaps density aside – why would it matter where the memory is going? Let’s take a walk through the situation to see.

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