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Bad Speakers Cast a Bigger Shadow

Let’s face it: a lot of the speakers we have these days are crappy. I know how my laptop sounds; I used to attribute that partly to what I assumed was a cheap sound card (since, why would you put an expensive one in something with crappy speakers?). Later, I retired that laptop for use as a “gateway” for things like Netflix and Pandora, driving into a monitor that also had speakers. And those speakers also sucked.

But when I connected the laptop audio to real speakers, suddenly I got rich sound like … Read More → "Bad Speakers Cast a Bigger Shadow"

Establishing 3D IC Standards – Or Not

For those of you watching 3D IC advancements, there’s a discussion you might want to come join next week at DesignCon in Santa Clara. Bill Bayer and Sumit DasGupta of Si2 have assembled a panel from Qualcomm, Sematech, Si2, and Xilinx, plus Jim Hogan, to discuss what, if anything, needs to be standardized in the 3D IC world in order to help it build a head of steam.

Standards cut both ways. Done well, they reduce chaos and help provide some direction for market participants. This makes folks less cautious about adopting and driving the … Read More → "Establishing 3D IC Standards – Or Not"

Extending Macrocell Life

One of the ways the mobile world is trying to expand its reach and bandwidth is by moving to femtocells. Unlike macro-, micro-, and picocells, which remain outdoors and use the mobile backhaul infrastructure, femtocells typically plug into your home DSL or cable internet, completely bypassing the typical outdoor cellular infrastructure. Makes life easier for the carrier (and harder for the landline provider).

But Ubidyne has just announced active antenna technology that they say mitigates the need to change the cell structure: instead, operators can make better … Read More → "Extending Macrocell Life"

A Faster Fourier Transform

We all had to learn about Fourier transforms in college. That scared some of us away to the safe, contained world of digital logic. But many of you carried on with it, and the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) became one of your basic tools.

In fact, at least in the FPGA world, it became the poster child for, “Look what we can do!” Whether it was IP or C-to-RTL or speed, it was always demonstrated on an FFT. Which makes sense, since many digital signal processing functions were moving into FPGAs for performance.

Read More → "A Faster Fourier Transform"

Speeding up FLASH

Most of what you hear about FLASH developments relates to capacity. But bandwidth is becoming more critical as we stream more data around – particularly for applications where FLASH is replacing a hard drive. Yes, FLASH is already faster than a disk, but moving to solid-state storage – especially in growing data-intensive areas like cloud computing – will ramp up expectations on how much we can shove down that poor memory’s throat. Digital fois gras anyone?

At least this is how Cadence sees things happening (well, except for the fois gras part). They’ve … Read More → "Speeding up FLASH"

Kionix IMU News 2

There was more MEMS news today, this time from Kionix, a Cornell spin-off that positions itself among the top 3 providers of accelerometers, along with ST and Bosch.

They announced, among other things, a new accelerator/gyro combo – their first – and a new accelerometer sense element.

Combos aren’t new; we’ve discussed the fact that some integration is monolithic, but not in this case. They use separate chips. Of course, than means that alignment is critical when packaging … Read More → "Kionix IMU News 2"

More Selective Light Sensing

Smartphones and other similar devices have a number of sensors on them for different purposes. In particular, there are two light-oriented ones that work differently and accomplish different things.

One is an ambient light sensor; it helps decide how bright or dim to make the screen, or perhaps whether your keyboard needs some backlight.

The other is the proximity detector. It works in conjunction with a small IR LED; the sensor measures the reflections of light from that LED to decide whether the sensor is near… something. This is typically used to shut off … Read More → "More Selective Light Sensing"

All-in-one Image Platform

Even as we’re about to discuss more about gestures and motion, CEVA has announced a vision platform explicitly designed for mobile devices and with a specific eye to gesture recognition and other advanced applications.

The idea is to take the raw camera images directly onto its L2 memory and then do, at the very least, your basic image processing before sending completed jpegs or video files directly out to DDR memory, integrating all of the various functions in one engine and with only one trip out to memory.

But beyond this, further processing … Read More → "All-in-one Image Platform"

Is the radio handover not alread

Is the radio handover not already happening in the US? It is on FM in Europe. To quote the venerable BBC, “If you listen to FM radio while travelling around the country, you may often need to retune your radio to another frequency for the same station. Many car radios have RDS (Radio Data System), which automatically tunes to the strongest FM signal, so you don’t need to retune the radio manually.” The same thing happens across other European countries.

Read More → "Is the radio handover not alread"
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