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Add Glamour to Your Product

“Most people think glamour is happiness.” – Peter Falk

They say sex sells, maybe even in the MCU business. Once found only in dull products like coffee makers, washing machines, and industrial tools, microcontrollers (MCUs) are now in flashy and exciting products like… coffee makers and washing machines. What’s different now is that those embedded systems are a lot more glamorous, sexy-looking, and consumer-oriented than ever before.

Just look at a Nest thermostat. It’s a $250 device (yikes!) that replaces your average, run-of-the-mill, hardware-store home thermostat. What could be more mundane and unsexy … Read More → "Add Glamour to Your Product"

Sunshine Changing the World

As an electronics editor, I am constantly being briefed on new technologies. Often, the presenter struggles to establish a framework for the innovation being described, trying to make a case for the big-picture importance of what they’re doing. Seldom am I left with a feeling that I am learning about an engineering development that could truly change the world.

This, however, was one of those rare times.

Before we descend into the fascinating world of nanotubes, light-wavelength antennas, nano-scale rectifiers, and commodity manufacturing processes, let’s get the … Read More → "Sunshine Changing the World"

Discrimination by Photon

Having braved several weeks hiking through the jungle, facing all the usual hazards, they find the entrance to the cavern. Only here it isn’t a cavern, but a hole barely big enough to squeeze through – after hacking away the vines and thorns that have, for centuries, protected it against intruders.

They slide in, oblivious as to what lies on the other side, driven by ancient myths, and, besting snakes and spider webs and two-headed fanged newts, they find themselves in the cavern of legend, with the priceless document resting at the base of … Read More → "Discrimination by Photon"

Giving Consumers a Say

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a stunning advancement of technology. Like a lot of us, I follow it closely, and the details of how things are done have held me in their thrall. But there are times when I need to step back and look at the big picture – and this is one of those times. After all, when we’re building these systems, it helps to know who we’re building them for.

Let’s start with the notion of the market – a really amazing concept when it works. In theory, you have a bunch … Read More → "Giving Consumers a Say"

How the Mighty Have Grown

“We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics.” – Bill Vaughan

All life on Earth is insects. Statistically speaking, there are so many different species of insects on this planet that all other forms of life – mammals, birds, viruses, plants, algae, you name it – are collectively all just a rounding error.

Similarly, all microprocessors are embedded. So few CPUs go into “computers” like PCs and servers that they might as well not exist (says the guy typing on … Read More → "How the Mighty Have Grown"

The Shifting Startup Scene

The seed of a technology startup has always been the same – expertise plus idea. Someone with a particular skill or expertise (and some entrepreneurial spirit) comes up with a novel idea and decides to “make a go of it” – creating a new company. The first part is easy, as most engineers are working completely in their comfort and competence zone. They get a couple of laptops, scopes, dev kits, or whatever. They find a garage or basement to work in. They burn a lot of midnight oil and a little more caffeine until they have a thing … Read More → "The Shifting Startup Scene"

Silicon Jersey Barriers

You’ve driven it for a decade or more. It’s taken you on-road and off-road. It’s brought you to the corner store and across the country. It’s got over 200,000 miles on it, and it’s still running fine. The thing is, you know you’re going to need to upgrade one of these days. Will the car die and force you into a decision? Or will you be able to plan ahead for a managed transition?

After all, you haven’t had a car payment in years, and new cars, well, they have all … Read More → "Silicon Jersey Barriers"

Update Time: What Happened Next?

I am revisiting the subject of a couple of articles. We publish stories about things that we feel are interesting and important, but, in most cases, they are only snapshots of an evolving process. So, today, I thought it was worth looking at two subjects where the evolution is particularly rapid.

I originally wrote about RISC-V last December. RISC-V is an open-instruction-set architecture (ISA), originally from Berkeley. Designed as an alternative to ARM and Intel architectures, it is gaining ground in a number of implementations, including in Microsemi’s FPGAs and some other single-core implementations. It has 16 … Read More → "Update Time: What Happened Next?"

Disruption Case Study #43K673S2

“Security is mostly a superstition… Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller

It’s tough spying on yourself. Lots of homeowners have installed security cameras in and around their houses, hoping to catch burglars on video. And more are coming; home security is a booming business, with growth rates in the 20% range.

So, if the home-security business is booming, why are home-security companies declining?

Dedicated home-security firms like ADT are seeing a 4% CAGR decline in installations, according to … Read More → "Disruption Case Study #43K673S2"

Cloaks and Daggers and Logic Probes

He looked nervously around the bar as we chatted, probably hoping to see nobody he recognized. We weren’t exactly handing off nuclear codes or kompromat dossiers, but I could tell he didn’t want to be seen talking to me (the press) nonetheless. “We switched PCB layout tools two years ago,” he quietly explained – his eyes continuing to dart toward the door. “So far, it’s been working pretty well. Both tools are stable and the new company’s support seems a little friendlier.”

Right.

The “big secret” here was that a medium-sized systems … Read More → "Cloaks and Daggers and Logic Probes"

featured blogs
Jun 19, 2017
Samtec’s FFSD, FFMD Series are micro-pitch, high reliability, high cycle IDC cable assemblies. TIGER EYE™ CONTACT The connector systems incorporate the Tiger Eye™ contact. Tiger Eye is a rugged contact for micro pitch interconnects; it is ideal for high reliabi...