Is It Time for Post-ARM Already?

New APS23 and APS25 Processors Designed for “Third Wave” of Computing Devices

by Jim Turley

If you could sell 700 million units of the product you’re designing right now, would that be a success?

Seven hundred million is a big number. That’s about the total number of cars sold by all the automakers in the world combined over the past ten years. Or more than double the number of copies of Windows 8, or the number of hamburgers McDonald’s flips out in four months. As I said, a big number.

You’d think that any company responsible for such impressive product movement would be well known, right? Especially if it’s a microprocessor company? We must be talking about Intel or ARM or Freescale or Renesas?

Keep guessing.

The responsible party is a 28-person group in Montpellier, France, overlooking the blue Mediterranean. They make a 32-bit CPU for low-power devices. It’s synthesizable. It’s licensed as IP. It’s used in a lot of mobile and handheld devices.

 

Skynet Calling

Liquid Metal, Communication Protocols, and Embedded MCUs

by Amelia Dalton

We all know it's coming. It's only a matter of time. Skynet is close at hand. This week's Fish Fry takes a look at a new study released by the University of North Carolina that has made reconfigurable metal a reality. But, before we can build Skynet (or build the counter-revolutionary forces led by the one and only John Connor) we must be able to connect the IoT communication dots. Today's episode also examines two of the many building blocks needed to get this sci-fi plot line from fantasy to fact. We chat with John Beal and Artem Aginskiy about a new RF-enhanced embedded microcontroller family from Texas Instruments (SimpleLink) and TI's C5000 fixed-point DSP products.

 

iWatch, Therefore I Am

It Is Not iWatch! Write It Ten Times: Apple Watch, Apple Watch …

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

Well, holy cow: when Apple does a wearable, they REALLY do a wearable. Plenty of kudos, plenty of TBDs and a few issues in the big announcement. Let’s break it down using the framework I dropped some weeks back while lamenting the state of journalism.

“My point here is that the wrist is VERY PERSONAL real estate.”

Major kudos. Apple Watch (the product formerly known as iWatch) will be available in a dizzying array of sizes, metals, colors, and bands. Apple Watch is JEWELRY. The attention to detail—even if you consider nothing but the bands—is extraordinary, even when viewed through the lens of a beautifully designed piece of jewelry. (Next time you’re in an Apple store, take a look at the wall o’ cases selected by Apple; that ought to give you a sense of how very wrong these elements could have gone.)

 

AMD Fails to Impress

Hierofalcon Processor Does Pretty Much What It’s Supposed To

by Jim Turley

I really wanted to like this chip. But then I talked to the manufacturer.

Let me explain. Your humble servants here at Electronic Engineering Journal talk to a lot of people at a lot of different companies. That’s what we do. The vendors tell us about their whizzy new chip, or new software, or new business venture, or whatever. We listen politely at first, knowing that the vendor will – quite rightly – present the product in its best possible light. That’s their job.

Now, if we were working for some other publications or online journals I could name, we’d just print whatever the vendor told us. “New chip promises to revolutionize Internet of Things!” or “Software update is a game-changer!” or “Company reveals new product and you’ll never guess what happens next!” We’ve all seen those types of breathless (and brainless) headlines. But here at EEJ we like to do a little better. That’s our job.

 

The Beat Goes On

The Cadence of IoT and the Sound of a Single Atom

by Amelia Dalton

The music is loud, the rhythm - infectious, but it's the backbeat that has us tapping our toes and coming back for more. We're all jamming to the same IoT tune, but what keeps the cadence in 4/4 time? My guest this week is Phil Callahan from Silicon Labs and we discuss this dance called IoT, from the internet infrastructure laying down its chord progression to the super cool demo solos Silicon Labs will be showing at this year's X-fest. Also this week, we check out another musical melody that has finally revealed...the sound of a single atom.

 

The World According to FRAM

TI’s FRAM MCUs and ADI’s X-fest Demos

by Amelia Dalton

In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a fast tour of the world, with interesting stops in FRAM, high-speed ADCs, and remote RF transceivers. Don’t know what FRAM is? Fear not. Will Cooper from Texas Instruments tells us all about this amazing not-so-new non-volatile memory technology, which is really cool - even if I don’t quite agree with his basketball loyalties. Then we’re off to analog land with Robin Getz from Analog Devices where we chat about remote RF transceivers, high-speed ADCs, motor control demos, and a whole lot more. Check it out!

 

Assault on Batteries

The Internet of Things is Going to Need a Lot of Juice

by Jim Turley

I had dinner with a real venture capitalist the other evening, and lived to tell about it. I can’t tell you everything we discussed that night (wink, wink), but I can say that we had a good talk about batteries. No, really.

The VC in question is a partner at one of the primo Sand Hill Road firms and, as usual, he was the smartest guy in the room. Or at least, at my table. The conversation ranged from food, to wine, to rusty cars, to a recent acquisition by Apple. He talks very fast, uses his hands a lot, and compulsively checks his phone during lulls in the conversation. I guess if I could make (or lose) millions of dollars on one call, I’d check my messages a lot, too.

 

The Price of Ignorance

Let’s Get Rich Selling Overpriced Electronics!

by Jim Turley

Apparently, $48,000 speaker wire is a real thing. You can also find $5,000 boxes for “cleansing” the AC power going into your audio gear. (Be sure to order the $1000 power cord to go with it.) Just the thing to complement the $15,000 granite turntable for your old vinyl records.

Audiophiles must be real idiots. And rich idiots – the best kind.

You can now get “oxygen free” speaker wire with gold-plated contacts, carbon fiber ends, several layers of shielding, and your choice of clockwise or counterclockwise twist (for your left and right speakers, obviously). All for the price of a Porsche.

 

Lean Green Energy Harvesting Machine

PMICs and Biofuel Micro Trigeneration

by Amelia Dalton

In the venerable words of Kermit the Frog, "It's not that easy being green", but in this week's Fish Fry we're going to show you that being green may be getting a whole lot easier. We examine a new Micro Trigeneration Prototyping system coming out of the University of Newcastle that aims to cool, heat, and provide electricity to your home using unprocessed plant oils. Tom Sparkman (Spansion) and I also explore Spansion's super green new family of power management integrated circuits for energy harvesting targeted at the IoT market.

 

iWatch, You Speculate Incessantly

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

I held out as long possible before writing anything iWatch related. The irony is that I am iFatigued with everyone iGuessing about an iUnnanounced product, and yet here I am contributing to the noise. ¡iCaramba! The proverbial last straw: I read a piece comparing Microsoft’s unannounced wearable to Apple’s unannounced wearable. OMG.

And AFTER deciding to write this piece—but before I could start—another piece appeared with the declarative headline “Here’s Everything We Know About the iWatch.” And because I cannot make up stuff this good, apparently the things we KNOW include:

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