Fish Fry Meets Software Freedom Conservancy
Once in a while, we all need some help. When the vast landscape of our next software project makes our head hurt, we need a place to go to hang out and throw our ideas around. So - where do we go? Software Freedom Conservancy, that's where. My guest this week is Bradley M. Kuhn - Executive Director of Software Freedom Conservancy. Brad and I chat about what Software Freedom Conservancy is all about, how we can participate, what projects they are working on, and I even slip in little question about New York City. Also this week, I check out the Tiny Engineer Superhero Emergency Kit and reveal how this tiny but mighty kit can impress your friends and family.
The semiconductor industry is ramping up for the wider adoption of 3D ICs, which promise better performance, reduced power, and improved yield. While some aspects of true 3D ICs are still evolving, solutions for testing 3D ICs are ready today. The test strategy for 3D ICs has two goals: improving the pre-packaged test quality and establishing new tests between the stacked dice. We describe a test strategy for 3D ICs based on a plug-and-play architecture that allows die, stack, and partial stack-level tests to use the same test interface, and to retarget die-level tests directly to the selected die within the 3D stack.
The fundamental requirements of a test strategy for 3D ICs are the same as for traditional ICs—portability, flexibility, and thoroughness. Therefore, we use an IEEE 1149.1 (JTAG) compliant TAP as the interface at every die and IEEE P1687 (IJTAG) networks and definition for test access. The test interface at each die is based on an IEEE 1149.1-compliant TAP because this is the most common standard device DFT interface. The same TAP structure is used on all dice, so that when doing wafer test on individual dice, even packaged dice, the test interface is through the same TAP without any modifications.
SNL’s “Weekend Update” Has Nothing on the Software Industry
Programmers, call off your drug pushers.
I know, I know… you think you’re helping. But really, you’re not. You think you’ve got my best interests at heart. You don’t. Your marketing people have convinced you that you’re “providing a service” to your customers. That you’re “ensuring quality.” Here’s where you can stick your quality, fellah.
I’m talking, of course, about automatic forced updates to my software. That’s right, I said “my software.” Not “your software,” and not “the software you created.” Once I lay my money down and get a copy of (excuse me: a license for) the software your company sold me, it’s not yours anymore. And the fundamental rules of property ownership that our society has observed for millennia make me responsible
Could the Little ESL Company be the Next Synopsys?
Back in the 1980s, chips were designed with schematics. There was a comprehensive design tool flow to support schematic-based methodology, and the world had three big EDA companies - Daisy, Mentor, and Valid - whom most folks simply referred to as “DMV”. Those three companies thrived on the tools that defined that schematic-based flow - schematic capture, gate-level simulation, timing analysis, place-and-route, and design-rule checking. Life was good, the world was stable, and folks made some decent chips.
Unfortunately, Moore’s Law kept going. Designs got bigger and schematics got unwieldy. We needed a new thing, and that new thing was language-based design.
While DMV were off trying to invent the next generation of schematic-based tools, a new company called Synopsys brought logic synthesis technology out of the lab and commercialized it. That product, Design Compiler, revolutionized chip design by raising the fundamental design abstraction level. It also shook the EDA industry at its roots. By the time the dust settled, we still had a “big 3” EDA landscape, but now the players were Synopsys, Mentor, and Cadence.
Every Little Improvement Counts
I’ve always found ISSCC to be a useful exercise. If nothing else, it puts me in my place if I ever start thinking I know a lot. ISSCC reminds you how little you know compared to the hordes surrounding you. It’s an exercise involving me desperately trying to keep the tip of my nose above water while the presenters all around me make waves.
The available topics vary widely, with some remaining consistent over the years and others coming and going. Energy Harvesting now has its own session, and I spent some time there experimenting with how well I could track the presentations.
So this is for those of you following the low-level things that are gradually making harvesters more efficient and useful. We’ll cover three specific threads: DC-DC converters, multi-source harvesters, and maximum-power-point tracking (MPPT).
Uniquify and the Bitcoin Boom
Get out your pickaxes, canaries, and a high-powered ASIC or two - we're going mining! In this week's Fish Fry, we venture deep into the Bitcoin caves with Bob Smith (VP - Uniquify). Bob and I chat about how the Bitcoin mining race is heating up (literally) and how Uniquify is using their ASIC expertise to create super-powered machines mining today's hottest (and most controversial) virtual commodity. Also this week, I unveil a new unique Amelia-alternative to the current hardware-biased Bitcoin race. I've got two words for you: Bitcoin MMORPG. So strap on your headlamps ladies and gentlemen, we're going in.