Shasta Has a High Peak

Soft Machines’ VISC Processor Looks Darn Lofty in Comparison Tests

by Jim Turley

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” – Mark Twain

They say seeing is believing. Speaking as a professional skeptic, I’ll withhold judgement until I’ve seen one of these things in real life. But I gotta tell ya, it’s looking pretty interesting so far.

The thing in question is the VISC processor from Soft Machines. You remember VISC from our earlier coverage in October, 2015; December, 2014; and November, 2014. It’s a high-performance processor that runs ARM binary code, but it’s supposed to be both faster and more power-efficient than ARM itself. Oh, and it’s probably cheaper, too.

 

Oil and Vinegar

Microchip to Acquire Atmel

by Kevin Morris

Where will next decade’s innovation come from? Will it spring from secret labs buried deep in the bowels of multi-billion-dollar corporations? Will it bootstrap itself into existence from venture-funded startups built on foundations of perfectly executed PowerPoint presentations? Will it Kickstart to life in the garages and workshops of over-achieving makers? Will it be the result of carefully and professionally engineered solutions to well-defined problems, or will it stumble into the light on the wobbly legs of a blind flash of pure creative inspiration?

Microchip and Atmel would seem to have a lot in common. Both companies sell lines of microcontrollers and other assorted components that populate an enormous range of products - mostly hovering around the edges of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT).

 

PNI Turns Navigation, Kalman Upside Down

SENtrace Cuts GPS Reading Power

by Bryon Moyer

We’ve talked a lot about navigation in the past, especially as it relates to the indoor version, where you can’t rely on GPS. Well, PNI Sensor has made an announcement that turns the conventional MEMS-and-GPS navigational paradigm on its head. Let’s review how things have been in order to see better what PNI is doing differently.

We’ve been navigating with GPS for a long time, and it’s generally considered the gold standard for figuring out where you are. As long as you’re in range of a GPS signal, that is. You can’t always count on it outside; inside, you pretty much can’t get it at all. That whole indoor thing was where the newly popular MEMS motion sensors promised to come to the rescue.

 

Safety (and Security) First

Embedded Software, TÜV Certification, and 64 bits

by Amelia Dalton

In this week’s Fish Fry, we’re taking on safety, security, and the embedded design software in between. Michael May (Express Logic) and I start things off with an in-depth discussion about the ongoing design-in battle between 32 and 64 bit processors and where ThreadX RTOS fits into the embedded ecosystem. Keeping with this week’s embedded software theme, I also chat with Jim McElroy (LDRA) about what we need to do when our designs must adhere to a security-critical standard, why TÜV Certification is so important, and what it's like to captain a whale watching boat.

 

Magnets Help the Harvest

Two Totally Different Techniques

by Bryon Moyer

Today we talk magnets. In particular, a couple of different ways magnets were shown to participate in energy harvesting schemes at last November’s IDTechEx show in Santa Clara.

We all know that passing a magnet by a wire creates a current in the wire, right? Well the first of the ideas leverages this simple fact. It’s from a company called Jennova, and it’s so simple it’s almost obvious. (“Almost” for any lurking patent attorneys…)

Here’s the deal: put magnets on a fan and run a wire nearby. Now you’re getting current through the wire. Simple, eh? Well, let’s dig in a little more.

 

Xilinx 1, Intel 0

Big X Scores First in the New Rivalry

by Kevin Morris

I’ll just say right up front that this is really mostly about bragging rights. No corporate destinies are shaped, no fortunes won or lost, no pivotal temporal butterflies crushed by the fact of who ships a new FPGA generation first. But, with the same fuzzy logic that drives reality shows, football matches, and political polls, those in the FPGA business put a lot of energy into the unofficial biennial Moore’s Law derby to see who can ship the first FPGAs on a new process node.

This time, the stakes were higher than ever. 16/14nm is the first node where both big FPGA companies are shipping FinFET-based devices (Achronix scooped them both, however, by shipping FinFETs with their 22nm Intel-fabbed devices over a year ago).

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