DAC in the Saddle Again

Food Trucks, Art Shows, and Design Automation

by Amelia Dalton

What do algorithmic art, food truck fare, and EDA software have in common? This year's Design Automation Conference! In this week's Fish Fry, we get a special sneak peek into the year's biggest EDA event with DAC Chairman Chuck Alpert. Chucks gives us the lowdown on all of the coolest events at the expo this year (Austin food trucks on the show floor?!), the details of the inaugural DAC art show and super cool keynotes (soccer playing robots?!), and much more. Also this week, we take a closer look at how a unique collaboration between Posterscope and NBS is hoping to stop mosquitoes dead in their tracks - one billboard at a time.


Industry Trends: Ecosystems and Packaging

Device Packaging May be Going to the Ball

by Dick Selwood

Two weeks after the three-ring circus that was embedded world (see "Embedded World Diary"), I was at another event: SEMI's ISS Europe. This was on a different scale and had a different topic. SEMI is the trade body for the companies that build the kit and supply the materials that, in turn, are used to make micro- and nano-electronics. ISS Europe (Industry Strategy Symposium) is a two-day event where members of SEMI are briefed on the trends that are going to shape the industry.

Now some of these trends, particularly the big global socio-economic issues, such as the overall economic climate and the important role of China, were discussed in “May You Live in Interesting Times".



Intel’s Had Another Bad Year. How Would You Fix It?

by Jim Turley

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” – Yogi Berra

It’s earnings season again, and that means another round of bad financial results and job cuts from the world’s best-known chipmaker, Intel. The company announced last week that it would lay off about 12,000 workers over the course of a year, amounting to a draconian 11% cut in headcount.

Look around your cubicle farm. Now imagine one cube in nine is empty, as if by alien abduction. And you get to pick up the slack.

There’s nothing much we can add to the headlines or the hand-wringing about how the darling of Silicon Valley is now potentially past its prime. The company’s not in a death-spiral. It’s not all that grim, and upper management is saying all the right things about “transformation” and “execution.”


Rock, Paper, Firmware

DJI Software Kills Hardware in the Field

by Kevin Morris

As the Internet of Trouble (IoT) continues to evolve, most of us designing electronic systems are working to make our devices “smart.” By adding a microcontroller and some snazzy firmware, we can create products that take care of themselves - monitoring critical operational parameters and taking proactive steps to keep everything in line. One goal is to reduce the burden of responsibility on the user, which is really a release-note euphemism for “prevent the stupid customer from breaking our well-designed hardware.”

We gain a measure of post-release control as well, as we can release firmware updates that alter the behavior of the product in the field, even after the customer has bought it and placed it in service. And, by taking advantage of agile software development practices, our system can continue to improve and evolve long after the initial sale. In fact, customers have come to expect this sort of behavior from products, eagerly awaiting software and firmware updates that will give their product new capabilities and fix existing annoyances.


Designing for Directed Self-Assembly

Yeah, There Are Rules. (And Tools.)

by Bryon Moyer

There’s going to be a new kid in town when we get to 5 nm. Her initials are DSA. And she’s not going to be completely transparent to designers, although tools will likely help to minimize the impact.

We’re talking about directed self-assembly (the D, S, and A in DSA). Which we’ve talked about before – it’s been one of our reliable post-SPIE-Advanced-Litho-conference update topics (whether fundamentals, EDA impact, the impact on how masks relate to actual patterns, or just the latest). And it will be an option, as I suggested, at the 5-nm node (with ongoing 7-nm work to bring it up).

At this year’s SPIE Advanced Litho, Imec’s Roel Gronheit made an update presentation and alluded to the notion of “DSA-friendly design.” That caught my attention, and, in a quick conversation afterwards, he directed me to Mentor Graphics’ Andres Torres, who has been heavily involved in much of the leading DSA work. So I was able to sit down with Andres later and discuss just what it means for a design to be DSA-friendly.


So You Wanna Startup

Startupbootcamp IoT and gridComm’s Startup Success

by Amelia Dalton

Step 1: Visualize your amazing new IoT product. Step 2: Assemble your stellar startup team. Step 3: Profit.

We all know that the steps to create a successful startup aren't as easy as that. Sometimes we all need a little help: some cold hard cash, a comfy office space, and maybe a little guidance from someone who knows the biz. Steven Webb (element14) is here to introduce us to the Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices. Steven reveals how you can pitch your startup to this unique accelerator program and what super cool prizes will be awarded to the winners of this contest. Also this week, we take a closer look at startup success story gridComm. Mike Holt (gridComm CEO and Co-Founder) joins Fish Fry to illustrate how gridComm is making cities across the world a whole lot smarter.

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