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Audio Processing Evolves Like Chip Design

There seems to be a natural progression in our industry. It happened before, more slowly, with basic chip design; now that the concept is well established, it can happen more easily elsewhere.

We’re talking about ways to speed up the design process when designing… well, pretty much anything. But the process arose out of the semiconductor industry as we tried to build bigger and better chips more quickly.

Three-Step Program

The first step is tools. Simple tools at first, … Read More → "Audio Processing Evolves Like Chip Design"

GreenWaves Puts Another Spin on IoT Chips

“If reason were fashionable, you would all have reason.” – Fanny de Beauharnais

Five bucks and nine processor cores. That’s the takeaway from GreenWaves’ new GAP8 processor chip.

Oh, and its low power consumption, measured in nanoamps. And parallel-programming tools. And convolutional neural net (CNN) acceleration. And an Arduino-esque development board. That about covers it.

GreenWaves is a 16-person startup with headquarters outside scenic Grenoble, France. Their first (and so far, only) product is GAP8, a microcontroller intended … Read More → "GreenWaves Puts Another Spin on IoT Chips"

Intel FPGA Hits its Stride

Any time a company goes through a major acquisition, there is a period of slowdown and uncertainty. Organizational and cultural norms are stirred into a boiling cauldron of corporate chaos, org charts are pruned and rebuilt, goals are reset, and inevitably projects and products are delayed. In the worst cases, entire product lines and customer bases can be lost. In the best cases, things are a bit shaky and slow for awhile before the newly integrated organization hits its stride.

The Intel acquisition of Altera seems to be hitting its stride.

Over the backdrop of … Read More → "Intel FPGA Hits its Stride"

Cobalt Bumping Tungsten?

There’s a problem with transistor gates at 5-nm and below. There’s simply not enough room for all the things in the metal stack used for contacting the gate.

Let’s break that down, at least from the viewpoint of Applied Materials as described to me (and presented) at last fall’s IEDM show. In a simpler world, you’d have a gate metal, and it would touch the gate, and that would be that. But noooooo… that would be too easy. Let’s work our way through the stack.

Read More → "Cobalt Bumping Tungsten?"

A Tale to Make Your Blood Run Cold

For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter, so a good time to close the curtains, gather round the fire and tell stories that make the blood run cold and the hairs on the back of your neck rise in horror. And this is one such story.

It was a peaceful day in the international company’s computer operations centre until, at 13.07, the monitoring services detected that there were several simultaneous attempts to probe a non-existent workstation. Four minutes later, a VHDL server attempted to access a Google search. And, four minutes after that, … Read More → "A Tale to Make Your Blood Run Cold"

Postage-Stamp Linux

“If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it’s done.” – Scott Adams

There was a time when big operating systems ran on big iron. IBM, Data General, Burroughs, DEC, and other computer makers built big machines with big, blinking lights, and big price tags. They ran grown-up software and they supported multiuser operating systems. If you wanted a toy, you built a microcomputer. If you wanted a real machine for serious work, you bought a mainframe. Maybe a minicomputer, if it were for lesser tasks.

Read More → "Postage-Stamp Linux"

Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Call of (Fiduciary) Duty

We’re all in something like our fourth month of sitting and watching the slow motion drama of Broadcom’s attempted acquisition of Qualcomm. It seems everyone has an opinion on whether the merger would be a good thing or bad thing, and debate rages on as the fluid situation repeatedly escalates and then cools. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess whether the deal will happen. 

Oh, when we say “everyone,” what we really mean is financial experts trying to … Read More → "Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Call of (Fiduciary) Duty"

Policy and Regulations in the IoT World

Watching the tech industry over the last few decades, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that all of the inventions have come solely through the efforts of single-minded entrepreneurs determined to win, even if it means losing in the attempt. While lots of that has happened, this worldview, just like the notion that the Wild West was won solely by rugged individualists with no help from anyone, is over-romanticized.

In fact, while lots of specific ideas come and go like so many quantum fluctuations, there are efforts on various fronts to forge a strategy and … Read More → "Policy and Regulations in the IoT World"

It’s Alive!

“The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” –  Johann Paul Friedrich Richter

There’s a scene in the old Woody Allen movie, “Sleeper,” where a future time traveler discovers a cave with an ancient, dust-covered VW Beetle parked inside. He cautiously explores the strange artifact before opening the door and hesitantly settling in to the driver’s seat. He turns the key and… it starts.

Some primitive technologies are just too good to die. We still use QWERTY keyboards, even though they’re … Read More → "It’s Alive!"

Plunify – The Big FPGA Guns

Eyes scan the optimization options like a master pool player about to run the table against a hapless opponent. Solids and stripes form a map – a complex mathematical model where LUTs and connections melt away and a unique strategy emerges. Quick optimization to get the lay of the land, 7 ball in the side pocket, multiple runs for timing, park the cue ball left to set up for the 5 in the corner, check power and Fmax, defensive move behind the 8 ball. The physics of the situation evolve, and the expert plays them like an instrument.

Many of us … Read More → "Plunify – The Big FPGA Guns"

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