Safety-Critical Systems

An Evaluation of the Last 25 Years

by Dick Selwood

Security, particularly for the IoT, has been hogging the headlines recently, but safety and safety-critical applications are still a major topic of interest. February saw the 25th Safety-Critical Systems Seminar (SSS). It was organised by a group called the Safety-Critical Systems Club (SCSC) - the UK's professional network and community for sharing knowledge about safety-critical systems, with membership from a wide range of disciplines including practicing engineers, academics, and regulators, as well as tools suppliers. The seminar also coincided with a change in the Club's management team, and a relocation from Newcastle to York. The event was used as an opportunity to look back on the last 25 years in developing safety-critical applications and reviewing what needs to be done. The three-day event was studded with keynotes reviewing the last 25 years, and often even longer.

 

Quantum of Solace

IBM Gets Serious About Quantum Computers

by Jim Turley

You’ll never lose your job for buying IBM. That was the conventional wisdom in the days of large mainframe computers, the heavy metal that ran your uncle’s downtown business. IBM was considered the safe choice, the blue-chip, reliable, businesslike (“It’s in their name!”) supplier of computers, typewriters, and assorted office technology. Big Blue.

Now we have Big Weird.

 

Picking Up Bad Vibrations

Mentor Debuts Shaky New PCB Tool

by Kevin Morris

It feels great to finish a printed circuit board (PCB) project, doesn’t it? By the time a project goes out the door, the design feels almost like a child you’ve raised. You’ve nurtured, guided, argued, questioned your own competence, and even fought. Then, at the end, you’ve finally settled into a nice rhythm of blissful acceptance where you realize you’ve done your best, and your creation will now have to head into the world to stand on its own.

Then, liberated by the emptying of the nest, you archive all those design files, buy a couple Hawaiian shirts, plunk down some cash on that 2-seater sports car you’ve always wanted, and head out for the open… wait, what? Your design is back? Sleeping on the couch in the lab? It’s moving back in because it “stopped working”? Ugh.

 

A Radio with Minimal Analog(ue)

Pizzicato Pushes More into Digital

by Bryon Moyer

Economics is never far from a semiconductor discussion. Even Moore’s Law, often articulated in physical terms (die size, feature size, etc.) is really an economic law that deals with cost. Yeah, it’s a bit more drab than bits and bytes, but, heck, it pays a lot of bit-and-byte salaries (at least for now, until our AI overlords take over that industry), so it’s not to be given short shrift.

And yet, as much as we think we’re turning out amazing stuff at lower-than-ever cost (probably true), the IoT industry still pushes back on anything perceived as adding to cost. It’s one of the reasons that security is such an issue: the seemingly small additional cost for adding extreme vetting of devices that attempt to attach to the network is more than many manufacturers want to bear.

 

Safety at Thirty Thousand Feet

COTS and Designing the Next Gen of Avionics

by Amelia Dalton

In this week's Fish Fry, we fly into the wild blue yonder with two hot shot pilots - Mike Slonosky and Ivan Straznicky from Curtiss-Wright. With a bogey on our tail and a tank full of OpenVPX, our flight plan leads us directly to the next generation of avionics design. What could be better for our climb up to flight level 300? Improved fuel of course! Our high-flying episode also includes an in-depth look at newly released research from Duke University that could not only reduce growing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere but could also lead to the development of alternative fuels and energies, all without the creation of toxic byproducts like carbon monoxide.

 

Expanding the Scope of Verification

Transcending Functional Correctness

by Kevin Morris

Looking at the agenda for the 2017 edition of the annual DVCon - arguably the industry’s premiere verification conference, one sees precisely what one would expect: tutorials, keynotes, and technical sessions focused on the latest trends and techniques in the ever-sobering challenge of functional verification in the face of the relentless advance of Moore’s Law.

For five decades now, our designs have approximately doubled in complexity every two years. Our brains, however, have not.


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