Why Isn’t There a Generic Chip to Run All Types of Code?
“Siri, launch my compiler.”
“Alexa, run a.out.”
“Hey, Google, execute that old CP/M program for me.”
“Cortana, halt and catch fire. Ha-ha.”
Wouldn’t it be cool if your personal digital assistant could execute any task, and any program, on any operating system? We’ve been designing computers for several lifetimes now. Why can’t they be universal?
The New Tiniest Mightiest FPGA
Lattice Semiconductor revels in being the holder of the “World’s Smallest FPGAs” title. While Xilinx and Intel/Altera boast about gazillions of LUTs, scores of DSP blocks, and multi-gigabit SerDes packed into silicon platforms that you could probably land a small helicopter on, Lattice attacks the opposite end of the spectrum - FPGAs so small you could sneeze and knock a dozen off your lab bench by accident.
Cadence Announces Tool and Flow Safety Kits
Depending on which article or social media post you read, people are either excited about self-driving vehicles or they’re petrified. (Truck and taxi drivers are more of the latter, although for different reasons.)
And what makes people so nervous? To sum it up in one word, algorithms! And if our only experience with algorithms is social media, then we ought to be afraid. But, realistically, there’s no lack of awareness of the seriousness and safety requirements for automated vehicles. Cars have their own safety standard, ISO 26262, one of the specialty standards under the umbrella of IEC 61508.
Reinventing the Wheel with Micro-Manufacturing, Co-Creation, and 3D Printing
What you’ve got here is one part engineering co-creation, one part wicked cool 3D printing, and one part automotive revolution. In this week’s Fish Fry, we welcome Dan Fox - CTO of Local Motors. Dan and I discuss the the variety of 3D printed cars micro-manufactured at Local Motors, what their co-creation program is all about, and how you can get involved in their Zelator Drone Build project. In the second half of our episode, we dive into the world of safety and security critical software development. Jim McElroy (LDRA) joins us and we chat about what their “Road to Certification” is all about, what kind of critical safety and security training classes LDRA offers, and why LDRA offers a 30 day trial of their tool suite for free.
RISC-V is Taking Off
A few weeks ago, if I had heard of the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), it was only in passing. How things have changed. Kevin Morris has covered the announcement that RISC-V IP is available for a wide range of Microsemi's FPGAs. Around the 5th RISC-V workshop in November, there was a flurry of announcements. At several meetings and conferences I have attended, RISC-V has been discussed in the informal sessions. And now there are rumours in various places on the Internet that Samsung is planning a device using RISC-V.
So what is it, and why is there a buzz now?
Qualcomm’s Massive 48-core ARM Chip Just Ain’t Gonna Fly
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
ARM-based processors were supposed to be cheaper, more energy-efficient, cooler running, and maybe even faster than those rusty, old, clapped-out Intel x86 chips. Right?
Right? So what happened? Why do we still inhabit a world powered by Intel servers instead of shiny new ARM machines? What happened to the New Cloud?