Fans of Heavy Metal Will Like TI’s New Delfino MCU
Are you into heavy metal? Do power generation, motor control, PLCs, robotics, and automation rock your socks off? Does spinning metallica make you want to raise your fist and yell? Then grab your lighters, motörheads. Stuff’s about to get real.
The number of this beast is F2837xD (it probably means something if you say it backwards), and it comes out of Texas. Dallas, to be exact, and more specifically, TI. Within the walls of TI’s black metal warehouse it’s called Delfino because, well, F2837xD is too hard to pronounce when you’re sober.
Apparently That Makes Sense
A simple-sounding-yet-bizarre notion has been frequenting certain optical research spots. It’s the concept of a “lens-free” imaging system. I’ve found no mentions that bother to explain exactly what that means.
Perhaps that’s because it should be obvious: you need no lens. Duh…
You know, it’s been a long time since I studied optics in college physics. And once my career was plotted on the digital scale, my mathematical tendencies have been spoiled by a solution space that gives you a 50:50 chance of being right just by guessing. Things are either 1 or 0. (OK, or Z or X. Fine. Happy?)
Indoor Location System Knows Where Your Treasure is Buried
As first-world problems go, losing your car keys is a bad one. Losing a whole warehouse full of shippable merchandise is probably worse, but warehouses typically have lots of people standing around watching over the goods. But what do you do when you’ve lost your car keys somewhere inside the warehouse? Needle, meet haystack. Not so easy now, huh? What are you going to do?
If you’ve planned ahead, you’d have little badges on your keys – badges stuffed with technology designed by DecaWave. The Dublin, Ireland startup has created an itty-bitty little chip it calls the ScenSor that’s designed to solve this, and much larger, problems.
Assigning Blame After Accidents
In Britain a four-year-old boy was allowed to starve to death, and his body wasn’t found for two years. After his mother was sentenced to prison a few months ago, an inquiry was held into how the various local agencies and the police had dealt with the matter. I have no knowledge as to how competent the inquiry was, but when the report was published, it was violently attacked by the press and by government sources because no individual was blamed.
“So what has this to do with electronics?” I can hear you asking.
Sloppy Coding Practices Led to a Fatal Crash
You’ve probably heard by now about the lawsuit against Toyota regarding its electronic engine control. The jury found the automaker guilty of writing fatally sloppy code, and, based on what the software forensics experts found, I’d have to agree.
This case is fundamentally different from the “unintended acceleration” fiasco that embroiled a certain German carmaker back in 1986. That scare was entirely bogus and made-up, and it was fueled by an ill-considered “60 Minutes” exposé that aired in the days when Americans watched only three TV channels. Sales of the affected cars plummeted, and it took more than two decades for the company to recover. An engineering spokesman for the carmaker told reporters, “I’m not saying that we can’t find the problem with the cars. I’m saying there is no problem with the cars.” He was dead right – there was no problem with the cars – but the remark was viewed as arrogant hubris, and it just made the situation worse.
In the Short and Long Term
It’s time to take another look at the grid, yet another part of our world that is supposed to be getting smarter. And, for this update, there are two decidedly distinct aspects to address: the here-and-now – bits that can be used today, in particular for smart meters; and the yet-to-come – a look at some insights provided by Imec last month into their view of where things are going.
SoC me ASAP
The obvious main theme for what’s become available in the last few months has everything to do with SoCs and platforms for smart meters. Now, smart meters are, for some of us, old news. I’ve seen the battles, I’ve seen the chained-and-padlocked analog meters, and, well, all of that has disappeared from the headlines. Every house I’ve been in for the last several years has had a smart meter. So… we’re done with smart meters. Right?
Microchip’s New PIC32MZ Puts Progress in Perspective
Sometimes the smallest things can knock you back on your heels and make you go, “Wow.”
Sure, we work in an industry of constant innovation. Computers get faster all the time, software gets more impressive, Internet startups come and go… we thrive on change and “destructive creation.” But still, you look around sometimes and wonder how we got here.
Not that long ago, the computer world was in the midst of a big RISC-versus-CISC battle. Would those newfangled RISC machines overturn our ideas of processor design and software’s role in computer architecture? Whole companies were founded on the basis of new CPU instruction sets. Fortunes were won and lost. Research went into overdrive. Stanford University produced MIPS, while, barely 20 miles away across San Francisco Bay, academic and athletic rival UC Berkeley’s SPARC joined the charge.
Express Logic GUIX Brings Graphics to Embedded Interfaces
Maybe it’s a left-brain/right-brain thing. Programmers usually aren’t very good user-interface designers. Drawing all those windows, buttons, and scroll bars gives most developers the willies.
Enter GUIX, a new GUI-design tool from Express Logic, the people who make the ThreadX real-time operating system. GUIX brings lightweight GUI widgets to smallish embedded systems, allowing programmers to stick to their programming and leave the GUI gooeyness to the liberal-arts majors.
TI’s ’C129 Chips Connect GUI to the Cloud
Texans know clouds. Whether he’s a rancher or a farmer, your basic Texas agriculturalist makes his living looking at the sky and knowing which way the wind blows. And in Texas, it blows a lot. (Trivia: You can tell a rancher from a farmer by his hat. Ranchers wear cowboy hats; farmers wear ball caps.)
And that ol’ Texas wind is blowing clouds right up into Dallas, home of Texas Instruments. The clouds have blown through the marketing department and straight into engineering. And after stirring up a little dust, out blows a new MCU family.
New Low-end x86 MCU Line Emerging from the Lab
Intel is going subatomic in its charge to empower embedded systems.
Last week the company teased out a few hints about a new low-end product line called Quark. Quark is like Atom, but smaller. (Get it? Quark? Atom? It’s nerdy.) Like Atom, Quark chips will be x86-based embedded processors, but, unlike Atom, they’ll be more like an MCU or SoC. Indeed, the first (and so far, only) Quark chip revealed has “SoC” right in its name.
Like real quarks, the Intel version is hard to capture and pin down. The company has revealed almost nothing about Quark’s features or technical merits, preferring instead to just telegraph its intention to enter the market for “intelligent systems” that need x86 compatibility.