Selling Your Brain

Patent Law is a Slippery Slope for Engineers

by Kevin Morris

Patent Law was created to protect and encourage inventors. The original intent is noble: when you invent something, the patent system is designed to give you a period of exclusivity where you can profit from your work and creativity without fear of someone copying your idea without compensating you.

However, the patent system didn’t contemplate the reality of today’s professional engineering environment, where the majority of engineers are employed in a work-for-hire situation by large corporations, and where those engineers frequently move from one large corporation to another. In that situation, our patent system breaks down badly.


IoT Security

Hints of Solutions to Come

by Bryon Moyer

Security is the last unsolved problem of the Internet of Things (IoT). Really; all we have to do is make a security and it will all be good.

Poke around in IoT-Land a bunch, and you could come to that conclusion. Over the last year, I was excited to see the appearance of various whitepapers and presentations on IoT security, hoping to learn what solutions would get us over the security hump. But most just reiterated the fact that security was important and missing and someone should do something about it.

While security isn’t the only barrier to an IoT deployment explosion, it has been holding some folks back. Others have proceeded with less than ideal security since they wanted to do something without waiting for an engraved invitation to a secure IoT.


Treasure of the Semiconductor Madre

Seeking EDA Gold (and Answers) with Xerxes Wania

by Amelia Dalton

Bust out the pickaxes and dynamite, we're looking for gold in ‘dem 'der hills. Xerxes Wania (CEO - Sidense) joins Fish Fry this week to dig into the treasure trove of issues found deep in the semiconductor and EDA industries today. Xerxes and I scour the land for faults and break out our trusty gold pans to find the answers... and it ain't pretty my friends. Also this week, I delve into a brand new world of inductance-to-digital converters that will revolutionize position and rotation sensing in our IoT designs.


A Bluetooth/ZigBee Mashup

Freescale’s Kinetis MCUs Offer a Choice of Interface; or No Choice At All

by Jim Turley

Itching to invent your own electronic door locks? Freescale has the chip for you. Or your new LED lighting project. Or that home-automation system you’ve been meaning to create. If it’s small, cheap, and needs low-energy wireless communications – a trifecta that covers just about everything these days – you may want to look at the new Kinetis.

What’s that? Don’t know about the new Kinetis? You’re forgiven, because Freescale (soon to become part of NXP) has an awful lot of Kinetis chips already, and it’s not easy to keep them all straight. The ones you want to remember this week are called KW20, KW30, and KW40.


After Intel and Altera

What Happens to FPGA?

by Kevin Morris

For decades, the FPGA market has been a well-balanced duopoly. Something like 80% of sales have been split by two ferocious competitors, Xilinx and Altera, constantly jousting for single points of relative market share. This dynamic has driven everything from the FPGA technology itself to the tools, IP, and services that make the whole concept work. It has determined what we pay for FPGAs, what they can do, and how we use them.

Now, Intel plans to buy Altera, and the duopoly that has dominated the FPGA universe will come to an end. What happens next? Will the Earth shift on its axis? Will the “FPGA market” cease to exist? What will be the long-term implications of this business change on the future direction of this critically important technology?



Developments in Interconnect

by Bryon Moyer

OK, folks, time to get out the copper polish and the soft cloth. We’re going to dress up the metal that adds a patina of shiny to our work. (OK, patinas often aren’t shiny, but you can forgive a tarnished metaphor, can’t you?)

Things are happening in the world of metal. And three of those things are topics for today. They come to us from Applied Materials (AMAT) and Imec. And we’ll take them in that order.

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