The Market for Two-Inch Windows

AMD’s Merlin Falcon SoC Crams a Whole PC into a Single Chip

by Jim Turley

Well, it’s finally come to this. The PC has shrunk to the size of a single chip.

Oh, sure, we’ve had single-chip computers before. But nothing this advanced, or this close to a “real” PC without compromises. Other single-chip systems (whether PC-compatible or not) typically lag several generations behind the current state of the art, with old processors, old peripherals, and old fabrication technology. They’re either a last gasp before the old CPU is put out to pasture, or an expensive experiment in integration.

Not so with Merlin Falcon, AMD’s new all-in-one embedded PC-on-a-chip. Officially called the third-generation Embedded R-Series SoC, Merlin Falcon combines a pretty new quad-core 64-bit x86 processor with the entire south bridge including current peripherals, a modern DDR4 memory controller (that also does DDR3), USB 3.0, and on-chip 4K graphics courtesy of ATI. In short, it’s a no-excuses PC on a chip. For reals.


Altera’s Long Game

Intel… Then What?

by Kevin Morris

We wrote a lot in these pages (even long before it happened) about the market and technology trends and pressures that led to Intel’s bid to acquire Altera. We dove into the data center and dug up the game-changing combination of conventional processors with FPGA fabric that can form a heterogeneous computing engine, which could conquer the current plague of power problems that limit the size and capacity of server farms around the world. We argued that Intel needed Altera - as a strategic defense to protect its dominance of the data center in a future world where FPGA-accelerated processing was the norm rather than the exception.

Intel came, offered, negotiated, and eventually won. Now, pending approval of various worldwide regulatory bodies, Altera will most likely become part of the world’s largest semiconductor company. But what then?


Faster ATPG and Other Test Goodies

Synopsys Announcements at ITC Time

by Bryon Moyer

One of the notable skills repeatedly demonstrated by director Robert Altman was the ability to take a number of smaller stories and knit them together into a larger story. You know, one narrative that pulls the distinct seemingly-unrelated bits together into a larger truth.

Today, we’ve got a few – 3, to be specific – little stories. How to weave them together? What’s the common theme? Well, test, for one. But that’s a blah theme – on reserve in case there’s nothing else.


The Touchscreen Revolution

A Fish Fry Greatest Hit

by Amelia Dalton

What do the blue-rayed limpet and silver nanowires have to do with advances in touchscreen technology? Absolutely everything! This week's Fish Fry looks into how silver-coated nanowires are changing the touchscreens and OLEDs of today, and could change the film-based solar cells and flexible displays of tomorrow. My guest is Sri Peruvemba from Cambrios, and we discuss the technology behind silver nanowires, how they can be implemented into a variety of designs, and what The Society for Information Display is all about. Also this week, we check out a groundbreaking new study by a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard that looks to harness unique reflective power found in the blue stripes of the blue-rayed limpet to unlock a new kind of transparent display technology.


The Big Grid

GridComm Turns City Streetlights into a Big Municipal Network

by Jim Turley

How would you like to control the world’s biggest dimmer switch? You’d be almost like a comic book supervillain, able to dim the lights of a giant metropolis at will. “Ha ha! I’ll show you, puny Earthlings! Flee in terror as I plunge your world into darkness! Marvel as I turn the brightness back up again!”

As super-powers go, that might be a fairly harmless one. But cool nonetheless. And eco-friendly, too. Because by dimming a city’s streetlights, you can save the town millions of dollars (or rupees, euros, bhat, et cetera) in electricity costs. So you’d be one of those modern angsty and conflicted superhero/villain characters. You spread darkness, but in a polite and thoughtful way.


Let There Be Vision

Cadence Tensilica Vision P5 Lets the Light In

by Kevin Morris

The Internet of People has cameras - literally billions of them. They are in smartphones, laptops, tablets, WiFi devices - it sometimes seems they’re watching our every move. This incredible volume of information is then (somewhat) intelligently analyzed, edited, and moderated by the vast visual computing power of the enormous array of human brains behind these cameras. The amount of computation required to filter, process, and interpret this image data is staggering. The end result is, of course, an almost infinite wasteland of cat videos on Facebook and YouTube. But video processing has higher purposes as well.

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