posted by Dick Selwood
I've written before on Future Horizon's regular reviews of the state of the semiconductor industry. (The four horsemen). Malcolm Penn, the firm's founder and CEO, is normally fairly up-beat, but yesterday he was wearing black. Given the state of the world economy he sees the market for semiconductor sales as essentially flat in dollars. Given that unit shipments are maintaining their 29 years of 10% annual growth, the average selling price (ASP) is falling, again another long term trend. The result is that chip companies are going to feel a profitability squeeze, with the probable result of more take-overs. The big concern is what will happen when the world's economy improves. Classically chip demand increases rapidly in an improving economy. There is very little slack in fabrication capacity and very little current investment in new capacity, prices will rise dramatically (as will profits!) but some companies will have orders for products, but nowhere to build them.
We are still on the roller coaster folks.
posted by Dick Selwood
UltraSoC, the SOC debug company I wrote about a few weeks ago www.eejournal.com/archives/articles/20150728-ultrasoc/ is being pretty imaginative in their marketing. Today, they have launched a new whitepaper, Performance Monitoring Using UltraSoC by drawing attention to Apple's delay in launching watchOS 2. All that is generally known is that the delay was caused "by a bug" which most news channels have assumed was purely a software issue. UltraSoc is speculating that it might have been something within the SoC that caused the problem. The company also draws attention to Samsung's issues with the launch of the S6 phone and Land Rovers issues over doors unlocking.
Certainly any form of debugging of software running on a large complex SoC is fiendishly difficult, so you might want to download the whitepaper yourself from here. http://www.ultrasoc.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/09/Performance-Monitoring-Using-UltraSoC-White-Paper.pdf And you don't have to register to get it. Well done UltraSoC.
posted by Bryon Moyer
Earlier this year we saw that Zigbee and Thread were collaborating to implement Zigbee profiles or “clusters,” which normally appear at the top of a Zigbee stack, over the Thread stack as well.
Strategically, this allows top-level Zigbee to handle IP-based data, since Thread includes 6LoWPAN, an IPv6 adaptation for running over 802.15.4, the radio protocol used by Zigbee. Much of the world operates with IP on layer 3; this allows Zigbee infrastructure to participate.
That’s at the top of the stack. Meanwhile, at the bottom, Greenpeak recently announced a single-radio implementation of Zigbee and Thread in their GP712. It can handle both flows with a single radio – or, alternatively, it can serve as a single-stack chip, usable for either stack with a single stocking unit. It needs a thin layer to mux/demux the traffic into the appropriate stack once it leaves the radio.
This got me thinking about how these two reconvergent stacks might play together in different devices. This is based on realizing that an Internet of Things (IoT) edge node is likely to implement only one of the two protocols. So a mixed device isn’t likely to serve there (except as a single-SKU chip that goes either way).
Greenpeak says they’re targeting infrastructure nodes – hubs, gateways, set-top boxes and the like – and those devices are indeed likely to be managing multiple traffic streams across multiple platforms. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that they’ll be working at the application layer (except perhaps for deep packet inspection).
It may be a failure of imagination on my part, but the only node I can picture that might realistically process multiple protocols and implement the application layer would be a server. I’d include a phone as a possible server, although phones typically don’t do 802.15.4.
The following figures illustrate the different configurations that I’ve derived from this mental wandering. Presumably, the GP712 could serve in any of them with appropriate configuration.
You can read more about Greenpeak's new device in their announcement.