Chip Making Joins the 21st Century
If you live in Germany, the term Industry 4.0 (or rather Industrie 4.0) will be familiar to you. The term comes from an initiative backed by the German Government, to the tune of Euros 1 billion, to improve manufacturing through the use of modern technology. There is direct interest from Chancellor Angela Merkel and involvement by two senior ministers, and many of the big German manufacturing companies are playing a part in setting objectives and managing progress.
Elsewhere in the world, Industry 4.0 is likely to be something that you vaguely recognise. Its exact definition is open to debate; many writers and commentators are not in agreement, but, to a large extent, defining it is irrelevant to what is actually happening.
ARM’s DynamIQ Interface is Nice, Not Spectacular
You want the short version? Some future ARM processors will support 8-CPU clusters.
You want the longer version? “This redefines multicore. Designed from the ground up. Massive system performance uplift. 10x faster. 50x faster. Architecture for total computing. An industry inflection point. Accelerates AI adoption. Safer autonomous systems. For all markets and all devices. Nearly ‘unlimited’ design spectrum. Redefining the future of computing.” And more.
Is it just me, or is the hyperbole getting a bit thick in here?
Intel and Xilinx Take More Turf
It’s clear that programmable logic and FPGA technology will capture an increasing share of the value in conventional and cloud data-center deployments. While FPGAs have always been used in connectivity and storage, there is an ever-building push to have high-end FPGAs take over a crucial role in computation as well. FPGAs pack a potent combination of massive computational throughput, low latency, and power efficiency that is unmatched by any rival technology. With the huge growth of data-center demand fueled by IoT, continuing to power the cloud exclusively with conventional processors is just not feasible. Heterogeneous deployments of conventional processors and FPGAs working together have the potential to boost computational performance many times over and, more importantly, dramatically cut power consumption.
Perfecting the Recipe
What’s the most important thing for the perfect pizza? This isn’t a fair question, of course, because there’s no definition of “perfect” when it comes to pizza. OK, maybe there is, but each person has their own. But stay with me for a sec here: for a certain style of pizza, you need an oven that’s over 500 °F – higher than home ovens can go, for sure. And the right old-school wood-fired ovens can do that.
So if you’re in search of that perfect pizza, the first thing you might have to do is to splurge to get an oven that will finally give you the heat you need. You might play with the amount of wood you use, the best pizza positioning to ensure even heating, and the best oven placement for not burning the house down before you’re satisfied that you’ve nailed it. It could take a lot of work – probably more than you expected.
Hybrid Systems, Board Design and a Bowl Full of Standards
With a dash of mini PCIe, a couple heaping spoonfuls of VPX and VNX and a whole lot of SBCs, Bill Ripley (Alligator Designs) and I are cooking up the perfect recipe for hybrid rugged computing. In this week’s episode of Fish Fry, Bill and I discuss the role of standards in hybrid systems, the evolving role of COTs in ruggedized systems, and why Alligator Designs can enable board design that other COTS providers cannot or will not do. Also this week, we take a closer look at the trade-off between fixed- and floating-point math in DSP algorithm implementation.
Reports from ISSCC
Wow. It’s been six years. Where has the time gone?
Six years ago, I attended a session on sensors at the ISSCC conference. I decided to do a series of articles on the various sensors that were presented. This was my intro to the world of sensors, and, since then, we have embraced sensors and MEMS as they have evolved into the bigger-picture internet-of-things (IoT) theme.
The sensors were newish and somewhat obscure at the time. MEMS then blew up huge, although, as with all favorite sons and daughters, there’s always the risk that a newborn will steal the attention. A year later, MEMS Industry Group (now MEMS and Sensors Industry Group) director Karen Lightman felt that the MEMS space was pushed aside for top attention honors by the notion of 450-mm wafers. But, in retrospect, she won: it’s 2017, and MEMS is still important. 450-mm wafers? Not so much.