Patents Expired! Create Your Own Processor!

Make a 32-bit SuperH CPU in Your Spare Time

by Jim Turley

“Why, it’s turtles all the way down!” – anonymous, in describing recursive philosophy

Now that we’re well into the 21st Century, some of the microprocessors we used in our salad days have fallen into the public domain. Case in point: Hitachi’s SuperH CPU.

If you’re not a Japanese developer, you may not remember the SuperH (or Hitachi, for that matter). Remember the Sega Saturn or Dreamcast video games? They both used SuperH processors. In fact, later generations of SuperH were tweaked specifically to accelerate Sega’s graphics. SuperH was also among the first RISC processors to use a “compressed” instruction set (i.e., a 32-bit processor with 16-bit instruction words). It was the precursor to ARM’s Thumb, MIPS-16, and other compressed ISAs. For a while there, SuperH was one of the most popular 32-bit RISC chips on the planet. Then progress happened.

 

IoT Phone Home?

The Coming Cloud Apocalypse

by Kevin Morris

Can you hear them? They’re out there. Millions of tiny digital voices shouting wistfully into the abyss. They are trying, trying, trying to make contact. Trying to reach Home. Trying to reestablish that crucial intimate connection that they need to survive. Their desperate cries blend into a silent cacophony of lost packets - billions and billions of bits wandering aimlessly through the internet infrastructure, searching for something that will never ever reply.

Home is simply not there anymore.

Most of the IoT relies on a cloud-based computing architecture. The edge nodes do the sensing, the communicating, the actuating - all the interaction with the real world. They also do a small share of the computation and storage. But for the heavy compute, store, and communicate tasks, they hook up with the mother ship in the cloud. Technically, this allows faster, more capable servers to complete parts of the task that the tiny, power- and space-limited edge node cannot.

 

Mentor and Verification Productivity

Recent Emulation and VIP News

by Bryon Moyer

Tired of spending all that time doing verification? Yeah, well, everyone is, so get in line for the “Can I Finally Be Done Verifying - PLEEEEZ??” window, where you can submit your coverage numbers and see whether you get a weekend or you get sent back to the lab for more verification.

Verification productivity has always been a hot topic, ever since it was figured out that you guys spend about 70% of your silicon efforts on making sure that the other 30% was done correctly. Mentor Graphics recently made a couple of announcements intended to provide some relief for the poor verifiers that desperately need to get home for a shower and some sleep.

 

Subliminal Code

Digimarc and the Case of the Hidden Digital Signal Processing

by Amelia Dalton

“The most profound technologies are the ones that disappear.” - Mark Weiser

If you listen closely you won’t be able to hear it. If you squint your eyes you won’t be able to see it. But it’s there. Most of us have encountered Digimarc’s technology and most likely, we were never the wiser. In this week’s Fish Fry, Tony Rodriguez (CTO - Digimarc) and I discuss the details of Digimarc’s Intuitive Computing Platform: A platform that leverages all of the sensors in your mobile device to tell you more about the world around you. Tony and I also chat about Digimarc’s Discover Mobile Software Development Kit and how the Portland Trail Blazers are utilizing Digimarc’s unique digital signal processing technology.

 

Hiding In Plain Sight

One Company Has its Hands in Almost All of Our Products

by Jim Turley

“I guess I'm just hopelessly fascinated by the realities that you can assemble out of connected fragments.” – Junot Diaz

If you were told that there is a high-tech company that can boast, “virtually every electronic device in the world is produced using our technology,” who would you think of first? Are we talking about a chip company like Intel, Microchip, Freescale, or Toshiba? Surely they’re not in every device in the world. Maybe it’s a software company like Microsoft or Google’s Android? They’re popular, yes, but not that widespread. I know – maybe they’re talking about the Free Software Foundation or a group like the IEEE? It’s conceivable that their standards or technology appears in “virtually every electronic device” in the world.

 

Integrity Simplified

Mentor Upgrades HyperLynx

by Kevin Morris

These days, the metal on your PCB has to do a lot more than just connect a few dots. With the pervasiveness of high-speed serial interfaces and other signals that put a premium on signal integrity (SI), most board designs can’t get away with simple-minded placement and routing anymore. And, with the compression and perforation of power planes, we can’t take power integrity (PI) for granted either.

The situation is only getting worse. New protocols and standards for high-speed interfaces like DDR4, multi-gigabit Ethernet, and PCI Express put even more strain on the design, and continually increasing operating speeds combined with decreased voltages up the ante yet again. It is becoming rare for a design team to be successful with a leading-edge PCB without state-of-the art SI and PI simulation and analysis.


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