The Vision Thing

Synopsys EV Processor for Games, Security, and Everything

by Jim Turley

Politicians used to argue about “the vision thing,” a borderline unintelligible swipe at opponents who didn’t share their view of the big picture. As a company, Synopsys may not be very political, but it’s definitely on board with the vision thing.

Embedded vision – that is, adding real-time image recognition to embedded systems – used to be a high-end, pie-in-the-sky kind of feature. Cheap systems couldn’t do image recognition, could they? They don’t have the processing power. And anyway, what would you do with it? Why does a thermostat need to recognize my face?

 

Put an FPGA IN It

Flex Logix Debuts FPGA Cores for IC Designers

by Kevin Morris

Kato, Robin, Watson, Tonto, Spock, Barney, Hutch, Higgins, FPGAs - everyone knows the importance of a top-notch sidekick. We’ve seen FPGAs teamed up with countless heroes, parked next to just about every type of device you can imagine. And FPGAs are steadfast in the fulfillment of their duties - bridging the logic, driving the interfaces, accelerating the processing, scaling the video, integrating the peripherals - no task is too unglamorous for the hard-working FPGA - and it often manages several of these at once.

Today, if you’re designing a custom chip, chances are you’ve already considered putting an FPGA next to it. And that’s before your custom design is even done. There are just too many variables in a new design, and you have to assume that you won’t have them all nailed down before you tape out. There may be some standards that aren’t solidified yet (and you certainly don’t want to wait for standards committees to finish their seemingly-endless deliberation before you proceed with your design).

 

A 50x50 Photonics/MEMS Optical Switch

New Interchanges for Data Centers

by Bryon Moyer

Picture the huge datacenters run by Google and Facebook and their ilk. Imagine that, as big as they are, each of those datacenters serves only one company.

Now picture an Internet-of-Things (IoT) world where everything is connected, with data flying hither and yon, and with some non-trivial part of that data making its way to new datacenters built to handle the additional load. That could mean incredible distributed computing resources.

Even today, you may think of all the traffic that the internet sends to Google and Facebook – nothing to sneeze at, and yet it’s only part of the overall traffic they have to handle internally. For redundancy, performance, and scalability reasons, data is replicated and cached and optimized constantly, resulting in huge amounts of intra-farm traffic that never escapes the building.

 

Bringing Flexy Back

Molex and the Connectors of Tomorrow

by Amelia Dalton

They’re super important, and every design needs them, but let’s face it - connectors have gotten a bad rap for being a bit boring. In this week’s Fish Fry, we explore into the multi-faceted world of today’s connectors and cables where signal integrity rules the roost and multi-gigbit SerDes is king. My guest is Joe Dambach (Molex) and we discuss how Molex is using correlated models to solve today’s signal integrity and high-speed serial design challenges, how datacenters are changing the face of connector and cable technology, and why connectors and cables aren’t as boring as we once thought they were. Also this week, we look into this week’s hottest rumor swirling around the EE halls: Will Intel buy Altera?

 

Watching Apple

Even More Interesting Than Apple Watch

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

The 9 March event provided color on the Apple Watch; it revealed the future of Apple the company.

Well that was interesting; at times, downright fascinating. I refer to the big Apple event last month. We learned more about Apple Watch—not a great deal more about the product itself, given that the functionality was detailed in the September 2014 event—and got multiple lessons in metallurgy. The fascinating bits were pricing and the implications therein for Apple corporate positioning moving forward.

Let’s begin with some honest scoring: how did I do with my observations in my column written last fall? Bear with me, this will necessitate skimming over some of the most fascinating bits; we’ll circle back around to those after we peek at my prognostications.

 

XMOS xCore-200 Wants to Replace Peripherals

Deterministic Processor an Alternative to Typical Code Drivers

by Jim Turley

Oftentimes, the decision comes down to “FPGA or ASIC.” But what if the decision was “FPGA or microprocessor?”

That’s essentially the value proposition from XMOS, the British microprocessor company that pitches its products not as alternatives to the usual rogues’ gallery of CPUs, but as an alternative to an FPGA.

And now that decision gets a little bit tougher.

You see, in the usual hardware/software partitioning that we’re all familiar with, you start out with fixed hardware resources (some combination of a CPU or MCU, some fixed logic, and maybe some programmable logic) and then you begin to apply software. Pretty standard, right?


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