Faster Extraction

Mentor’s xACT Wrestles with FinFETs, Corners

by Bryon Moyer

So you build a circuit with a couple of transistors here and a couple of transistors there and you want to see how it’s going to operate. So you’ll simulate (or do signal integrity analysis or whatever other study you’re interested in). But you need to tell the tool about your circuit. So… do you just say, “Yeah, I’ve got a couple transistors here and a couple resistors there – please go calculate”?

Ah, if only it were so simple. Of course that won’t work – because it ignores all of the unstated interactions between the elements and other parasitic structures in the silicon substrate. Back when circuits were small, that meant manually building a more complete model that included the extra resistors and capacitors (and perhaps the occasional inductor) and putting that whole thing through the tool.

 

Muxcapacitors and a Quantum Shift in Power Supply Technology

Smarter Power Part One

by Amelia Dalton

What has your power supply done for you lately? In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a closer look at a revolutionary new technology that's taking power supplies by storm. My guest is Michael Freeman (CEO/CTO - Semitrex) and he’s here to introduce us to the power of the muxcapacitor and unveil how Semitrex plans to stem the tide of the world’s energy consumption...one power supply at a time. Also this week, we take a closer look at the newest rumors surrounding Intel's buyout of Altera.

 

The RSA Conference

Advanced Persistent Threats Meet Advanced Persistent Marketing

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

I attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco last week. I would have posted this article earlier, but it took some time to decrypt my notes.

I’ve covered Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) in a number of articles this year; so many articles, in fact, that it would be cumbersome to provide links to them here (feel free to use the search box). Little did I realize at the time I wrote those articles that protecting against APTs is now job #1 in the cyber-security world. Or so it seemed at the RSA Conference, where you couldn’t toss a rubber tchotchke without hitting a vendor promoting their APT defenses.

Astute readers will note that I did not use the word ‘solution’ a single time in the above paragraph. None of these vendors are claiming to have completely solved APTs—or other attack vectors in general—which is somewhat refreshing transparency. But holy camoley, there are a TON of vendors trying: Agari, Area 1 Security, Barracuda Networks, Blue Coat Systems, Bromium, Caspida, cPacket Networks, Cyphort, FireEye, Fortinet, Guardian Analytics, Hillstone Networks, LightCyber, Palo Alto Networks, Pivot Cloud, SentinelOne, Shape Security and TaaSera. And those are just companies in Silicon Valley proper; there is a cluster of vendors in Maryland and another bundle in Boston.

 

MIPS: Many Interesting Possibilities for Students

Imagination Gives Universities a Free MIPS Processor to Learn From

by Jim Turley

Trade schools and universities are two sides of the same educational coin. Broadly speaking, trade schools teach you how to work with your hands, while universities teach you how to hunt for low-wage jobs. No, wait… that’s liberal arts colleges.

Trade schools teach skills. Universities teach politics. No, that’s not it, either. Universities feed your head, medical schools your heart, trade schools your hands, and health… is uh, the 4-H Club.

Whatever the actual institution, most students studying Computer Science or Electrical Engineering rarely get to see inside an actual, working microprocessor. Mechanics studying at trade schools tear down real cars all the time. Med students intern at hospitals and get to see actual squishy stuff. But budding processor designers typically make do with simulation models or toy architectures. Imagination Technologies wants to change that.

 

The Changing Customizability Continuum

ASIC, ASSP, CSSP, FPGA, SoC, MPSoC, GPU, MPU, CPU

by Kevin Morris

We spend a lot of time in the semiconductor business trying to put chips into bins. We in the press and those in the analyst community are constantly struggling to label particular semiconductor devices, and financial types are always trying to figure out what “market” a particular chip belongs in. As Moore’s Law has pushed us into higher and higher levels of integration, most of the interesting devices out there have a little bit of everything in them.

Consider, for example, the upcoming Zynq UltraScale+ devices recently announced by Xilinx. Even though Xilinx is an FPGA company, and even though a substantial amount of Zynq chip area is taken up by FPGA fabric, Xilinx does not call Zynq devices “FPGAs.” The company has bounced around various monikers over the years. (Do you remember “Extensible Processing Platforms”?) We refer to this category of devices as “Heterogeneous Integrated Processing Platforms (HIPPs).” Xilinx has recently fallen into calling them “MPSoCs” for “Multicore and Multiprocessor Systems on Chip”.

 

A Giant Sensor Standard

Cutting Through IEEE 1451 Confusion

by Bryon Moyer

What if I were to tell you that there was a standard in place – in fact, a relatively old one – that establishes plug-and-play sensor capabilities, low-level sensor module subsystem interconnect formats, communication protocols, and even a sensor web services component? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Maybe even crazy good?

Well, if you’re in the mil/aero world, or maybe automotive, using conventional (not so much MEMS*) sensors, you might say, “Yeah, well, what of it?” If not, your response might more likely be, “Wait, whaaaat?”

Today we talk about IEEE 1451 – probably the biggest standard you’ve never heard of. It’s an aggressive and expansive attempt to capture a large number of aspects of how sensors interoperate and interact with the world. Work started in 1993; much of it was complete in the early 2000s. And yet work continues, with updates underway on some components and new capabilities being defined or planned.


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