The Real World Meets Innovation At The Avnet Tech Games
In this week’s Fish Fry, I interview Joe Tillison (Technical Director for Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas) about the upcoming Avnet Tech Games. From racing robots to a new game called “Kevin’s High-Tech Home Makeover”, Joe and I sort through the details of the Avnet Tech Games and chat about why the these games aren’t like your average high tech scholarship contests. Also this week, I dig into my mailbag and come up with a sponsorship opportunity for industrious engineers.
Packet Plus Brings Debugging to Networking Engineers
Networking engineers are some of the best and brightest among us. There are good reasons for this. Designing networking equipment is a demanding discipline, spanning a wide gamut of areas from analog and signal integrity to digital design to software - and integrating all of these elements at something near their maximum performance potential. In order to get a competitive piece of network hardware out the door, you are literally designing at the bleeding edge of everything.
One Embedded Design at a Time
In this week’s Fish Fry (sponsored by Altera), I look into how Texas Instruments is ushering in a new wave of WiFi-enabled devices with their SimpleLink family of products. I chat with Matt Kurtz (Texas Instruments) and dig into the details about this new family of products -- from what design challenges SimpleLink addresses, to the unexpected designs that could come from this technology. Also this week, I check out a new way to lose money: by betting on high tech announcements.
During the Christmas break, I took time out from roasting an ox on the open fire, distributing presents to the assembled multitude of staff, chasing foxes across the rolling acres of Selwood Towers and feasting, wassailing and carousing to think about the past year and embedded technology stuff. I managed to overcome the urge and went back to roasting an ox etc, but, now the break is over, it seems worth having another think.
Where Green Pastures End
Just about every electronic technology on the market today has alternatives. Between custom chips, ASSPs, pre-built modules, embedded processors, microcontrollers, FPGAs, and a host of other silicon-based goodies, there are always numerous ways to solve any given problem. As engineers, we make our choice based on any number of criteria - cost, power, size, reliability, our familiarity and experience with the technology, our company’s preferences... all of them weigh into our decision.
The Gritty PR Underbelly of CES
In this week’s Fish Fry (brought you to by Altera), I investigate some of the not so fabulous behind-the-scenes action that happens in the ramp up for the Consumer Electronics Show. I check out a curious press release retraction, why headphone maker Klipsch is gunning for counterfeiters in China, and how HzO will save the world’s electronics...one nano-scale skin at a time.
Programmable Logic in Consumer Products?
Programmable logic devices such as FPGAs are bigger beneficiaries of Moore’s law than perhaps any other class of semiconductor device. One could, of course, argue that memories deserve that title. However, memories are at the opposite end of the spectrum from FPGAs on sustainable price margins - with memories being far on the commodity side, and FPGAs carrying extraordinary margins due to the vendors’ deadlock on tool, IP, and design technology.
A Look Back at 2011
Yawn! Another boring year of exponential improvement in capability, cost, and power consumption. Bo-o-oring. When will something truly exciting happen in electronics? It’s just the same old grind, year after year, with nothing all that interesting going on.
Moore’s Law is a harsh mistress. It sets the bar for our industry at an incredibly high level. If you manage a 2x improvement in everything you do every two years, there’s not really anything of interest to report. You met the standard - status quo - move on along - nothing to see here. Furthermore, if you try to brag that you’ve “doubled” this or “ten-times’d” that, you get thrown into the bin of “marketing-hypers” and your credibility plummets.
Engineering Team Teardown
I’m going to throw a hypothesis out there: In any large engineering team, 99% of the work is done by 1% of the engineers.
There, I said it. It’s like the 80/20 rule, but I assert that 80/20 is far too generous for most engineering squads. We can debate whether it’s 85/15, or 90/10, or - heck, I guess the total doesn’t have to be 100. I’d say 90% of the engineering work could be done by 1% of the engineers. 80/20 is just a confusing breakdown of convenience.
This week I chat with EE Journal Editor-in-Chief and resident FPGA expert Kevin Morris in a special FPGA State of the Union Fish Fry. Kevin talks with me about where he sees FPGAs headed in 2012, what to expect from market leaders Xilinx and Altera, how Lattice Semicondutor's acquisition of SiliconBlue will affect the landscape, and where smaller start-ups Tabula and Achronix fit into that mix.