Move Over, Connected Toaster; Here Comes the Connected Climbing Wall

When Does an Embedded System Become Part of the IoT?

by Dick Selwood

Yannick Chammings, CEO of French company Witekio, was explaining to me why they were changing the company name (previously they were called Adeneo Embedded), and why this was intended to show how they were changing the way in which they worked with their customers. As a part of this, he started talking about a connected climbing wall. Now climbing walls, while becoming increasingly popular, I think of as essentially dumb. You have an imitation rock face, built from a range of materials, with hand- and foot-holds screwed into a matrix of sockets. The holds can be colour-coded to indicate different routes up the wall, so a mix of different skills can use the same wall, and the routes can be reconfigured by moving the holds. (Oh - and usually the climbers are attached to a safety rope – limiting the damage should they fall off.)


Programmability for the People

Xilinx Kicks Up Cost-Optimized Offering

by Kevin Morris

It’s always fun to fantasize about Ferraris and FinFETs. After all, what true engineer doesn’t get a little tingly talking about terabits of bandwidth, single-digit nanometers, and gazillions of LUTs. But, in practical terms, the vast majority of us don’t have an actual application need for the biggest, fastest FPGAs and SoCs on the market. And, while it’s fun to watch and speculate about which company can cram the most transistors onto an integrated circuit, the reality is that, for most of us, our actual requirements are much more modest.

Fortunately, the programmable logic companies realize this, and, in the midst of all the marketing bravado and chest beating about the new high-end FPGA families, Xilinx is announcing a major upgrade to their non-bleeding-edge families - Zynq, Artix, and - back by popular demand - Spartan.


Qualcomm Discovers Its Long Tail

…and Other News from Applied Micro and Your TV Maker

by Jim Turley

Well, that didn’t take long.

In yet another example of the “what gets measured gets done” syndrome, some TV manufacturers now stand accused of cheating on their energy-consumption testing. According to the environmental monitors at the Natural Resources Defense Council, several big-screen TVs are cheating by detecting the government-standard testing methodology and artificially reducing their power to get a rosier efficiency rating. Do you suppose the test engineers drove to work in diesel Volkswagens?


Abstracting Register Sequences

Write Once, Use Many

by Bryon Moyer

Noooooo! Are you kidding me? How many times has this happened so far? You know tape-out is tomorrow, right? Dangit! Ok, what it is this time? … Yeah… ok… A timing problem… so in the bring-up sequence, you want to hold the 0 state in that stupid register for an extra cycle? In other words, you guys got the timing wrong and it’s now my job to cover your butts? And now if it doesn’t work or if we’re late, it’s my fault, right? Nice transfer of that hot potato. Jeesh… You realize this is going to need verification, right? I don’t even know if the regression suite can run in time even if we started now! And I need to find all the places where this needs to change… Ok, we’ll get star –


The Core of Innovation

Intermolecular and New Materials Discovery

by Amelia Dalton

The journey is not an easy one. Most engineers can't even see the finish line, let alone complete the race. The future of our industry hangs in balance and this is a competition that must be won - one way or another. In this week's fish fry, we investigate the perilous path to new material discovery with Chris Kramer of Intermolecular. Chris and I discuss the materials discovery process, the subtle interaction between process tools and new materials, and the challenges and opportunities new materials can bring. Also this week, we take a closer look at a new type of 3D printed material developed at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, in Potsdam, Germany that can make simple machines out of 3D printed plastic.


Tell Me What to Think

The Crayon Effect and New Product Development

by Jim Turley

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” – proverb

Creativity is a funny thing. It seems so elusive at the time, yet so obvious after the fact. Take the Beatles’ Abbey Road. It’s hard to imagine a world without it. Was there ever really a time when nobody had ever heard “Something” or “Octopus’s Garden” or “Here Comes the Sun?” It seems like those songs have always been around, but before 1969 none of that music existed.

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