Intel Goes for Notoriety, IoT Goes for a Catchy Tune
I’ve had a month to mull over CES 2015 and read much of the breathless coverage. I’ll get my own ball rolling with Intel, the company that had a VERY large footprint at CES with one of the largest, flashiest and most expensive booths in the entire show. Before you jump to the “well OF COURSE a company of Intel’s size would have a gigantic booth” conclusion, do keep in mind that a modest little company called Microsoft has not had ANY booth at CES for the last few years. And last time I checked, Microsoft had a far larger consumer (that’s the ‘C’ in CES) business than Intel.
Intel had a cornucopia of announcements at CES, from real products to coming-soon products to WHAT THE?!?! concepts. Peruse Intel’s CES page for a high-level summary and, if you have the time, watch Brian Krzanich’s keynote: partially for the scope of the spectacle and mostly for the elements that Intel felt were important enough upon which to shine the spotlight.
Innovative FPGA Company Calls it Quits After 12 Years
Call it aggressive; call it innovative; call it bat-poop crazy. Whatever your views, Tabula certainly had interesting ideas about how to design an FPGA. But now it’s gone.
The Santa Clara–based startup will close its doors at the end of next month. The staff have all been given their walking papers. The furniture and fittings will presumably go up for auction, a common-enough sight here in Silicon Valley. And the technology? Tabula’s secret sauce may wind up in the hands of an investor, or a new startup, or some big established semiconductor vendor, or a patent troll. Too early to tell.
Lattice Introduces iCE40 UltraLite
There has been a lot of chest-beating over the years about who had the biggest, fastest FPGA in all the land. Countless press releases, PowerPoints, and posters have touted 30% better this and 4x more that. Each time a competitor leapfrogged the other, we lapped up the LUTs with renewed glee.
Lately, however, Lattice has been pushing the other end of the envelope, proudly proclaiming that they make the very smallest FPGAs. These FPGAs are so small, power-efficient, and cheap that they completely rewrite our notion of FPGAs. Literally everything you probably thought you knew about FPGAs is busted by these devices. Ask the average engineer and you’ll probably hear that FPGAs are big, expensive, power-hungry, and useful mostly for prototyping. They’ll generally continue that FPGAs would not work in mobile or battery-powered devices, aren’t useful for space-constrained designs, and would never-ever be found in a smartphone teardown.
Another Way to Make the Brittle Flexible
At present, we have two distinct electronic worlds.
On one side, we have the tried-and-true world of semiconductors.
Characteristics: small, high-performing, more expensive, solid and inflexible. Incorporates inorganic materials.
On the other side, we have the burgeoning world of printed plastic electronics. Characteristics: relatively larger, poorer performance, less expensive, and flexible. More typically uses organic materials. There have been attempts to make silicon more flexible, so bridges between these two worlds are being explored. Today’s topic is yet another look at integrating ultra-high-performing silicon structures into a flexible piece of electronics – and having the final result perform in a way that’s almost indistinguishable from its inflexible origins.
Whoa, That's a Big Piece of Equipment You've Got There
Fresh from the land of eye diagrams, super-fast SerDes, and more board design software than you'll ever need, it's Fish Fry! This week we investigate some of the biggest themes presented at this year's DesignCon in Santa Clara, CA. Our first guest is Rohde & Schwarz CEO Scott Bausback who joins Fish Fry to help us understand the ever-evolving world of test and measurement, explain how IOT will affect the evolution of T&M, and what it's like to build a recording studio in your house. Also this week, we chat with Stephanie Jarno from HUBER+SUHNER about how today's wicked-fast SerDes speeds are changing the demands on our cables and connectors.
Leveraging the Biology of Tactile Sensation
Kids goof around with all kinds of things, not knowing what will occur. It’s how they learn how the world works, and it’s why they can learn novel electronic user interfaces so much more easily than adults (which we mistake as intuition). Well, in one such bout of goofing about on our apple orchard, I was monkeying with balloons over the opening of a bottle of apple cider.
You see, my dad had this thing where he’d poke a few needle holes in a balloon and then place it over the bottle opening. Fermentation would start, inflating the balloon, which opened the little holes and let the CO2 escape. When the process completed, the balloon deflated and the holes closed, blocking oxygen from reaching the inside – and preventing a continuation of the process that would otherwise lead to vinegar.*