Direct Line to the Cloud

RTI Eliminates the HTTP Middleman

by Bryon Moyer

We’ve spent quite a bit of energy talking about various communication patterns for use in the Internet of Things (IoT). There’s the ever-popular publish/subscribe (P/S) for sending data around, and then there’s request/reply (R/R) for controlling devices.

And we’ve blithely referred to data being sucked into the Cloud for more processing before commands are sent back down to devices. But we haven’t looked in any detail at how data gets from the local infrastructure (perhaps a gateway) into the Cloud. It turns out that this is where two very different worlds meet, as described by RTI with their recent release of Connext DDS 5.2.


Muxcapacitors and a Quantum Shift in Power Supply Technology

A Fish Fry Greatest Hit

by Amelia Dalton

What has your power supply done for you lately? In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a closer look at a revolutionary new technology that's taking power supplies by storm. My guest is Michael Freeman (CEO/CTO - Semitrex) and he’s here to introduce us to the power of the muxcapacitor and unveil how Semitrex plans to stem the tide of the world’s energy power supply at a time. Also this week, we take a closer look at the newest rumors surrounding Intel's buyout of Altera.


Guarding the Gate

Authentication in the IoT

by Bryon Moyer

[Editor’s note: this is the fourth in a series on Internet-of-Things security. You can find the introductory piece here and the prior piece here.]

You’re in a hotel, dead tired from a long day of meetings. There’s a knock on the door; you ask who it is, and they respond, “Room service.” Perfect; you had no energy to go out, and so you ordered up to dine in the relaxed ease of your room. You let the server in; your dinner is set up; you give a nice tip; she leaves so that you can tuck into some comfort food. You lift the warmer, and…

You’re in a hotel, trying to catch up on sleep with an early to-bed regime after changing too many time zones. As you’re drifting off, there’s a knock on the door. “Who is it?” “Housekeeping.” Housekeeping? At 9 PM? You peer through the peephole; looks like someone from housekeeping. You open the door a slice, chain on, and ask for ID; ID is proffered up and looks legit (although you have no idea what it’s supposed to look like, so it could be fake). “Turn-down service. We’re running a bit late today; sorry.” Reluctantly, cautiously, you open the door, and…


The $5 Supercomputer

Atmel’s SAMD2 Series Looks Like Any MCU, but…

by Jim Turley

Ho-hum, another ARM-based microcontroller. Not really news, right? But every once in a while you get surprised in this business.

Today I got surprised by Atmel and its new SAMA5D2 series of MCU chips. At first, they sounded like any other low-cost family of MCUs – and, in a lot of ways, they are. They’re based on the popular ARM Cortex-A5 CPU core; they have on-chip peripheral controllers; they come in a few different packages; and prices start at $4.95 in decent volumes.

But one interesting factoid jumped out at me. Atmel offers a choice of operating systems for these new chips, including ThreadX, FreeRTOS, NuttX, and Linux. Hang on – what? Linux on a $5 microcontroller? What is the world coming to?


Imagination Imagines a 5G Future

Will Fifth-Generation Wireless Standard be the One to Rule Them All?

by Jim Turley

Without science fiction, we’d have no science. After all, somebody had to dream about flying to the moon before somebody else could start working on it. Without the idea of robots, nobody would invent robots. And without imagining what a universal wireless network would be like, we’ll never get one.

We may still never get one, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Now that 4G wireless has barely rolled out in parts of the world, we’re already working on 5G. And, like the journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step, the task of creating 5G starts with deciding what the heck it is. And what it isn’t. And what it will do, not do, or do particularly well. Hey, these standards don’t write themselves, you know.


TI Innovation Challenge Takes Flight

Seven Deadly Synths, Real-time ASL, and Hercules Autopilot

by Amelia Dalton

Gather 'round makers, it’s innovation time! In this week’s Fish Fry, we’re checking out the Texas Instruments Innovation Challenge North America Design Contest with Steve Lyle from TI. Steve introduces us to this year’s super cool winning entries including an advanced new synthesizer that will change how the physically disabled create music, a new wearable that will help the hearing impaired communicate with others, and a full flight control system designed for quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicles that could change how unmanned search and rescue missions are carried out. Also this week, we look into a new IoT product launched by Project Overlord (yes, really).


AMD Gets All Tokyo with Fiji

Twenty-two die in a single package?

by Jim Turley

The semiconductor business is a lot like selling real estate. It’s not the dirt you’re paying for; it’s the location. A square acre in the middle of Manhattan will cost you a lot more than an acre in the desert (provided it’s not in the middle of a Saudi oil field). Likewise, a square millimeter of 28-nanometer silicon can cost a lot or a little, depending on who made it and what they did with it.

To stretch the analogy a bit further, the cost of the real estate also depends on what “improvements” you’ve made to the property. An empty field isn’t worth as much as a developed lot with a four-story apartment building on it (again, assuming your field isn’t atop a gold mine).


USB Type C for You and Me

Standards, Challenges, and Dynamics of USB Type C

by Amelia Dalton

It slices, it dices, it juliennes, and it doesn't care which way you plug it in - it's USB type C. Coming soon to a consumer electronic design near you, this new interface is bound to take the electronics world by storm. Well, that might be overstating things a bit. USB type C may not be the electronics equivalent of sliced bread, and it may not revolutionize the world of CE, but it will be pretty darn cool to start using in our designs (and our everyday lives). This week we're taking a closer look at the design challenges surrounding USB type C and how you can get it up and running in your next design. My guest is Gervais Fong and we're discussing all of this... and the wonder of BBQ too.



Communicating with Customers is Tougher than it Sounds

by Jim Turley

People don’t read anymore. Actually, I’m not sure they ever did. Okay, I know - people do literally read words and stuff. They just don’t… y’know… read.

And this makes it hard for designers of electronics.

Most of us are familiar with the initialism RTFM: read the freakin’ manual. To get the full effect, you have to yell it, usually just after ending a conversation with a particularly frustrating idiot/user. “Why can’t people RTFM? It’s right there in black and white!”

Because nobody reads, that’s why.


IoT Security Artifacts

Keys, Signatures, and Certificates

by Bryon Moyer

This was going to be an article about authentication. In putting it together, I realized that there are a number of fundamental concepts that can help the authentication discussion. Some of us tend to toss out words related to those concepts rather freely – and tentatively, perhaps, because if we were pushed hard, we’d have to admit that we don’t understand the details. And this is especially true in security, where those details tend to accrue only to a select few.

So if you’re a security whiz, what follows will all be familiar stuff. If you’ve dealt with browser security, it may also be familiar – because much of Internet of Things (IoT) security is based on existing technology, like TLS. But the IoT is bringing a lot of new folks into the game, and for them (or should I say, “us”), this stuff isn’t obvious.

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