3D’s Supporting Players

by Bryon Moyer

3D gets lots of attention these days. Whether it’s the massive success of a movie that spawns a gaggle of followers making every possible consumer item 3D, the added dimension of the fin on a FinFET (or tri-gate) transistor, or the stacking of chips using TSVs or other technology, you just can’t seem to go wrong with 3D.


Multicore Automation

Finding that Happy Medium

by Bryon Moyer

I used to be a die-hard manual transmission driver. Even before I drove a car, I had learned how to double-clutch for smooth on-the-go gear changing on our Case tractor (which didn’t have synchronized gears because it wasn’t intended to be shifted on the go). My grandmother insisted on a manual transmission up until she stopped driving in her 80s (or later?): “I vant to do it myself!” (That’s a Swiss-German accent there…)

I finally had to rethink my principles when I got a cell phone. The moment of truth came when I was at a stoplight waiting to turn left while talking on the phone. The light turned green and I proceeded, but realized I didn’t have enough hands: I needed to turn, change gears, and hold the phone, all at the same time.


To Verification And Beyond

Lauro Rizzatti Talks Emulation and IBM's New Memory

by Amelia Dalton

In this week's Fish Fry, Amelia interviews Lauro Rizzatti (Vice President of Marketing, GM of EVE-USA) about emulation, verification, and why Lauro thought he was planting pepperoni in his garden in Italy.

Also this week, Amelia checks out the new phase change memory unveiled by IBM and investigates how this new memory technology may change the electronics industry as we know it.

Amelia has a fun new nerdy giveaway to give out this week, but you'll have to listen to find out exactly what it is!


One for All

Does a Standards-Based IP Strategy Hurt Competition?

by Kevin Morris

In today’s global electronics economy and, more important, global techonomy, successful companies have to make careful decisions where they will differentiate and where they will standardize. Nowhere is this more evident and crucial than in the fabless semiconductor arena. Since fabless companies have (as the name implies) no fab, they logically do not have the ability to differentiate themselves from their competition by superior semiconductor technology.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you listen to FPGA companies.


Are We Done Yet?

OneSpin Takes on Formal Verification Metrics

by Bryon Moyer

“Is this it?”

“Yeah, I think so. Drop it off here.”

“Whaddaya mean, ‘I think so’? If they don’t get the money, we’re dead.”

“I know, I know. But you can’t see any addresses here. It’s all so beat up I don’t really know which house is which.”

“And you had to go without a map. Real smart.”

“There is no map, you moron! Not even Google will drive through this neighborhood. This is, like, No Man’s Land. I just want to get in, make the drop, and get out. Look, there, those guys are watching us. Givin’ me the creeps.”


Sailing Into Tomorrow

The Intersection Between Sailing and Engineering and the World's First Foot USB Controller

by Amelia Dalton

In this week's Fish Fry, Amelia chats with Bill Neifert (Carbon Design Systems' Chief Technology Officer) about the benefits of Carbon's pre-silicon software development and architectural analysis, and how his love of sailing intersects with his passion for engineering.

Also this week, Amelia gets into the nitty gritty details of a new 3D printer specifically created to print chocolate, and she investigates how the new foot-operated digital interface unveiled by KMI might not be all that they claim it is.

Amelia has a Lattice ECP3 Versa Development Kit to give out this week, but you'll have to tune in to find out how to win.


Controlling Power During IC Production Test

by Ron Press, Arik Krantz, Asher Berkovitz, Cynthia Hao, and Giri Podichetty

Many of today’s integrated-circuits (ICs) are designed to operate in low-power modes to accommodate greater analog-digital integration, faster operating frequencies, and battery-powered applications. During semiconductor manufacturing test, the majority of logic is often activated concurrently to facilitate detection of many faults within a small set of patterns to reduce test time. Activating all the logic at once uses more power than these low-power devices were designed to function under, which can cause them to fail or burn out during test.

This divergence in functional power versus test power means that the test application has to allow power thresholds to be set so that overstressing devices beyond the functional design and operation is avoided.


Happy Independence Day

by Dick Selwood

Happy Birthday, the United States of America. How does it feel to be 235? You really have done well since you took the training wheels off and started riding your bicycle by yourself.

Many societies have what historians call “Foundation Myths” – stories that explain how a community was established. Some myths explain societies through the acts of gods, others through the actions of people, either imaginary or real people. For example, the founding myth of the City of Rome was that twins, Romulus and Remus, who were brought up by a she-wolf, founded the city that was the heart of the Roman Empire.


The Good, The Bad and The Timely

Bruggeman Takes On EDA

by Amelia Dalton

At the Design Automation Conference this year, Amelia had the pleasure of sitting down with Cadence CMO John Bruggeman and they chatted about all sorts of things...including why he thinks the "style" of EDA needs re-invention, where he thinks EDA360 is headed, and why he believes EDA isn't getting its fair share of the electronic market revenue pie.

Also this week, Amelia has a Lattice ECP3 Versa Development Kit to give out to one lucky listener, but you'll have to tune in to find out how to win.


Light Show

Synopsys’ OSG Group Helps Designers Put Photons in the Right Place

by Bryon Moyer

Way back in the 80s, I remember talking to someone about the delicacy of putting together the lens stack used to project the light that exposes circuit patterns onto silicon wafers. Those machines must seem hopelessly primitive today (pellicles were just being introduced), and yet, even then, the optics were a delicate matter.

As described to me, the lenses were carefully ground and assembled with thin sheets of paper between them – like the wax paper that keeps slices of deli cheese from sticking together. To assemble, you carefully positioned one lens over its adjoining one, and, when alignment was perfect, you gently slid the paper out. If you got it wrong, there was no return once the paper was removed: the lenses were so precisely ground that the cohesive attraction between the two lenses would make any further minute adjustments impossible.



Who’ll Use the Next Generation of Design Tools?

by Kevin Morris

The Von Neumann architecture is a miracle of efficiency if you count the algorithmic complexity that can be completed by any given number of transistors. If you’ve got enough transistors to create a 32-bit processor plus peripherals plus enough memory to store a decent size program, you can execute an enormously complicated algorithm.

Where Von Neumann isn’t so efficient is in the amount of computation for a given amount of power, or in the number of computations in a given amount of time. Those battles are won handily by custom, parallel hardware like we might create in an FPGA, or in a custom, algorithm-specific block in an ASIC or custom SoC. Optimized hardware that specifically implements our algorithm will always win in terms of speed and power - at a cost of vastly increased transistor count.


An Escape from an Escape

Imagination Technologies Tries to Make it Easier to Connect from Anything

by Bryon Moyer

Being out in the wild is supposed to get you away from things modern and technological. And yet… there are ways that new gadgetry might improve your isolated camping experience.

Let’s say, for example, that a critical camping information system would be useful. Perhaps it would link to a variety of on-line video channels dedicated to camping content. And, rather than packing yet another device, perhaps it could be integrated into an existing piece of camping equipment. Like, perhaps, your camp stove. It’s got a lid that flips up to block the wind – why not integrate a screen into it?


The Times They Are A Changin’

Moshe Gavrielov Gets His Zynq On and IBM Rolls Out a Graphene IC

by Amelia Dalton

In this week's Fish Fry, Amelia's special guest is Xilinx CEO Moshe Gavrielov who chats with her about their new Zynq embedded processing platform and how he sees this new addition not only changing the course of the Xilinx roadmap going forward but also where he thinks the FPGA industry is headed as a whole. Also this week, Amelia explores the new Graphene IC unveiled by IBM and checks out the Freescale/BMW collaboration that just might make parking our cars just a little bit easier.

And, in keeping with the Xilinx theme, you'll definitely want to get in on the competition for this week's awesome nerdy giveaway - a Spartan-6 LX9 MicroBoard, and as usual you'll need to tune in to find out how to win.


Integrating Hardies and Softies

by Dick Selwood

Winston Churchill once said that the United Kingdom and the United States are two nations divided by a single language. Sometimes it seems like that in an embedded development environment. In the green corner - the hardies. These are people who think in volts and transistors and will spend enormous effort to reduce watts burned by a system. In the red corner – the softies. Their thinking is dominated by efficient code execution time. The difference between the two is nicely encapsulated in the story of a UNIX based system that was burning excessive power: the processor never seemed to go into any form of standby mode. The hardies naturally blamed the softies, who in return disclaimed all responsibility and also pointed out it would be very hard to find a culprit in the vast number of lines of code in the system.


Creating a Virtual Factory

Averna’s Proligent Keeps Tabs and Makes Changes Where Needed

by Bryon Moyer

We in the semiconductor world live in a relatively self-contained environment. Processing is highly specialized, equipment is expensive and not really usable for anything else, and risks are high if something goes wrong.

So we tend to get a little, oh, inbred, with a few companies providing the variety of tools and services in a small-town supply chain.

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