Get Your Motor Running

Head Out on the Highway with NXP’s LPC1500 Motor Controller

by Jim Turley

One of the definitions of an “embedded” system, as opposed to a “computer,” is, “anything that uses electronics to replace a previously mechanical device.” Programmable thermostats are embedded systems because they replace two dumb pieces of bent metal with a microcontroller and some software. Antilock brakes are embedded systems because they use MCUs instead of hydraulics to control skidding. And pretty much anything with an electric motor in it is an embedded system, because motors are all computer-controlled these days.

That presents a juicy market opportunity for the guys who make motors, and for the guys who make control-control ICs. Guys like NXP. Guys, meet LPC1500, your newest embedded motor-control microcontroller.

 

Xilinx vs. Altera

Calling the Action in the Greatest Semiconductor Rivalry

by Kevin Morris

Hatfields vs McCoys, Coke vs Pepsi, Democrats vs Republicans, Army vs Navy, Nike vs Adidas, Microsoft vs Apple, iOS vs Android, Star Trek vs Star Wars, Deep Blue vs Kasparov, Edison vs Tesla… We love ourselves some feuds, don’t we? Any time capable competitors square off against each other and reach a standing state of equilibrium we have the ingredients for a fan-frenzied, religion-mimicking, mud-slinging, name-calling, grudge-holding feud.

In the FPGA world, that feud is Xilinx vs Altera.

This spirited rivalry has spanned the space of three decades. Like any good beef, this one transcends time and topic, and the cast of characters has changed multiple times while the battle raged on. Folks fighting on the front lines today may well have worked for the enemy last year, but that doesn’t alter their steadfast focus on the prime objective: Crush the Competition.

 

Of HIDs and HALs and Hubs

New Pathways and Ambiguous Terms

by Bryon Moyer

Those of you in the sensor world are deeply involved with the low-level nuances and intricacies of your devices. How accurate, how linear, how to connect, how to read data, how to fuse data… – there’s so much to think about if you put your mind to it.

Of course, the people you’re doing this for – users of phones and tablets and medical devices and industrial sensors – couldn’t care less about that stuff. They want to sleep soundly knowing that, by hook or by crook, those sensors are detecting their assigned phenomena accurately, and the system is correctly reading those data and munging them into whatever form is necessary to provide a simple, meaningful result at the application level.

And, in between you and that user lies, among other things, the operating system (OS). And OSes are now wise to the ways of sensors, and they’re laying down some rules of the road.

 

Adventures in Verification Land

Rolling the Dice and Spinning the Wheel

by Amelia Dalton

Take two steps forward and three steps back. Not all parts of our design process are created equal. In this week's Fish Fry, we examine one of the most painful, frightening, and frustrating parts of our design process - verification. My first guest is Tom Anderson (Breker Verification Systems), and we chat about formal verification, what Breker’s new verification technology TrekSoC-Si is all about, and where you can the best vinyl in Silicon Valley. Then, continuing the formal V theme - we go to Vigyan Singhal, CEO of Oski Technology. Vigyan and I dive into the details of the "Decoding Formal Club." The first rule of "Decoding Formal Club"? Well, we're gonna break that one right here. Vigyan also reveals the secret behind the name "Oski". Also this week, I investigate how Netflix is looking to read your thoughts with a little help from Amazon's Cloud services. Better put on that foil hat!

 

Wireless Power Standards Proliferate

Why Have 1 When 3 Will Do?

by Bryon Moyer

With new technologies come new standards. And resonant power transmission technology, which we covered recently, is no different. As a quick review, this is a way to charge phones and other devices without plugging in and without the kind of placement precision required by older inductive approaches such as those used by toothbrushes.

Why might standards matter? All of the spokespeople for the standards work underway – and, as we’ll see shortly, there’s lots of such work in progress – describe a vision of ubiquitous charging stations in malls and airports and coffee shops and anywhere people might want to charge their electronic devices. If we’re going to have all of these chargers charging lots of different devices from lots of different vendors, then we need a standard so that they all work well together.

 

The Mid-Winter Grab Bag

Bogus Tech Support and a Statistical Rorschach Test

by Jim Turley

I finally got the call.

My phone rang, and the caller at the other end said, “This is Microsoft Technical Support. We’ve detected—”. I cut him off right there. “No, you’re not. You’re a %&@# scammer and should be in jail,” and hung up on him. (I sometimes miss old telephones where you could slam down the receiver.)

I’d heard about this scam before, where someone claims to be from Microsoft (it’s never Dell or Lenovo or Samsung) offering to help you clean up “infections” they’ve somehow detected on your computer. All you have to do is visit their helpful website and download their remote diagnostic tool… You can guess what mischief transpires from there.


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