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Will We Ever Really Know Who Invented the Microprocessor?

 

FPGA luminary David Laws has just published a well-researched blog on the Computer History Museum’s Web site titled “Who invented the Microprocessor?” If you’re wildly waving your raised hand right now, going “Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Call on me!” to get teacher’s attention because you think you know the answer, then you don’t understand that it’s a trick question. It all depends on how you define the word “microprocessor,” doesn’t it?

According to Laws, there is no lack of good … Read More → "Will We Ever Really Know Who Invented the Microprocessor?"

For Lease: Birthplace of the IC

 

The lease listing on the Pacific American Group’s Web site reads:

“Eight Forty Four East Charleston Road is a historically relevant commercial building in Palo Alto. This building was key in the development of Silicon Valley’s computer business. Here, Robert Noyce and others co-invented the integrated circuit board.”

Well, it’s close anyway.

I don’t really expect commercial real estate agents to fully grok what happened nearly 60 years ago on this site, in this building—not even … Read More → "For Lease: Birthplace of the IC"

Visiting Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel High Atop Mt. Umunhum. (And You Can Too!)

You might think that Labor Day Weekend is perhaps not the ideal time to visit Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel from the Cold War era, but my wife thought so. And so we went. The Sentinel is a large, multi-story, concrete tower that looms over the southern part of Silicon Valley. I looked at it frequently when I worked at Xilinx in South San Jose. It’s quite visible from the campus.

That immense box sitting atop Mt. Umunhum is easy to see from a wide swath of the valley.

And that was the whole … Read More → "Visiting Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel High Atop Mt. Umunhum. (And You Can Too!)"

Will Enthusiasts be Scrambling for your Designs in 50 Years?

If you’re like me, you started building plastic model kits at an early age. It was one of the tributaries that became the river I traveled on to become an engineer. Manufacturer names and probably the logos for model kit makers such as Monogram, Revell, Aurora, and Renwal are likely familiar. I certainly built model kits from all of those companies. Well, today’s big news is that the Atlantis Model Company has purchased the mold tooling for many plastic model kits from these specific vendors from “USA-Blitz Partners,” the company that bought this tooling after Revell went … Read More → "Will Enthusiasts be Scrambling for your Designs in 50 Years?"

Xilinx’s CEO Victor Peng Speaks About 7nm Everest/ACAP, Death of Moore’s Law. His Hot Chips 30 Keynote Now Online

Earlier this week, I published a detailed account of the HW/SW Programmable Engine that was the final, undisclosed block in the Xilinx Everest Architecture, to appear first in the company’s 7nm ACAP (the Adaptable Computing Acceleration Platform), which will tape out later this year. (See “Xilinx Puts a Feather in its ACAP: Final block in Xilinx’s 7nm Everest Architecture is Detailed at Hot Chips 30 in Cupertino.”) That article was largely based on a technical presentation given at Hot Chips 30 by Juanjo Noguera, the engineering director of the … Read More → "Xilinx’s CEO Victor Peng Speaks About 7nm Everest/ACAP, Death of Moore’s Law. His Hot Chips 30 Keynote Now Online"

Monty Python, Dead Parrots, Moore’s Law, and the ITRS

The news that GlobalFoundries has ceased work on its 7nm process node has prompted me to rewrite Monty Python’s remarkably appropriate Dead Parrot/Pet Shoppe sketch:

 

The CEO of Big Chip, Inc. enters the small offices of the ITRS (the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors), a mythological organization that no longer exists.

 

CEO: Hello, I wish to register a complaint.

 

(The ITRS agent does not respond at first, then slowly … Read More → "Monty Python, Dead Parrots, Moore’s Law, and the ITRS"

Registration for the Xilinx Developer Forums in October now open

Xilinx is holding three Developer Forums later this year and registration for the two October events is now open. The US event is being held at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose on October 1-2. The Beijing event is being held at the Beijing International Hotel on October 16. Registration has yet to open for the Frankfurt event being held on December 10 but you can pre-register for an alert when registration opens.

If you’re involved in the design of systems based on Xilinx devices, these events offer the most concentrated form of technical help and expertise … Read More → "Registration for the Xilinx Developer Forums in October now open"

391 San Antonio Road: The House that William Shockley Built (and Destroyed)

Once upon a time, the Santa Clara Valley was called the Valley of Heart’s Delight; the main industry was growing prunes; and there were orchards filled with apricot and cherry trees all over the place. Then in 1955, a future Nobel Prize winner named William Shockley moved back to the San Francisco Bay area where he’d been raised and set up shop in a rented, one-room Quonset hut located in Mountain View. The shop’s name was the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. It was located at 391 San Antonio Road, close to El Camino Real.

Although Shockley’s … Read More → "391 San Antonio Road: The House that William Shockley Built (and Destroyed)"

Why are the IEEE President and President-Elect speaking in Ft. Collins? Because…

I worked at HP in Ft. Collins, Colorado back in the 1970s. It was a heady experience. We were designing and building early, pre-PC desktop computers and we owned the market back then. The division I worked for eventually migrated to 32-bit workstations, chased from the desktop computer arena by IBM’s PC. Although there were/are some other tech companies in Ft. Collins—and a gigantic Budweiser brewery—it’s not really a tech town although I did take my first (and only) class in operating systems from a CSU (Colorado State University) professor from Ft. Collins, along … Read More → "Why are the IEEE President and President-Elect speaking in Ft. Collins? Because…"

Cattle Call

Last week at Intel’s Data-Centric Innovations Conference, a rude attendee sitting a few seats away from me in the auditorium persisted in using his mobile phone during presentations. He attempted to muffle his voice by covering his mouth with his hand but only succeeded in garbling his words. He didn’t manage to mask the annoying noise. (He did achieve his goal of making his conversation private while remaining an annoyance.) Well, a failed Kickstarter product called the BloxVox sought to profit from people like this boorish attendee.Read More → "Cattle Call"

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