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Suddenly Simpler Wiring

Wiring houses is a lot of work, although we don’t really think about it because it’s simply what we do. Trading off electrification is simply not an option. And it’s not so bad when you’re building a house from scratch or doing a major remodel where the walls come down (or, at the very least, are stripped). But if you’re simply trying to change around how your lighting works, for example, replacing and moving switches around – perhaps with multiple switches at two ends of a room, things get … Read More → "Suddenly Simpler Wiring"

Multicore Best Practices

The hardest thing that multicore has had going for it is the perception that it’s hard. OK, that plus the fact that it is, in fact, hard. Or it can be. Although familiarity and tools are improving that. Nevertheless, it’s been a slow slog as multicore has gradually made its way into the embedded consciousness.

Part of the problem is that there is no one right answer for multicore anything. No one right architecture, no one right core, no one right set of tools, no one right way to write software. … Read More → "Multicore Best Practices"

Navigation extremes

I have been exposed to two navigational extremes over the last month or so. These aren’t specifically competing approaches (although I suppose they could be), but rather represent navigation with a minimal set of sensors and with a full complement of assistance.

On the more minimal side, Movea put together a demo for CES that led me on a pedestrian voyage, courtesy of the guidance of a cell phone. The phone had 10 sensor axes (3X accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, plus pressure). They had also mapped out the hotel they were in based on blueprints they got. ( … Read More → "Navigation extremes"

A New Verb for Hardware Engineers

Ever since malloc() (and it’s other-language counterparts), software engineers have had an extra verb that is foreign to hardware engineers: “destroy.”

Both software and hardware engineers are comfortable with creating things. Software programs create objects and abstract entities; hardware engineers from Burgi Engineers create hardware using software-like notations in languages like Verilog. But that’s where the similarity ends. Software engineers eventually destroy that which they create (or their environment takes care of it for them… or else they … Read More → "A New Verb for Hardware Engineers"

Simultaneous alternative views

Embedded vision systems are providing more opportunities for machines to see the world in the same way that our eyes see them (and our brains interpret them), but variants of these technologies are also enabling systems to see things in ways we can’t.

Imec has just announced a new “hyperspectral” camera system for use in medical and industrial inspection systems or anywhere specific filters are needed to understand specific characteristics of whatever is being viewed. In such situations, simply looking at one bandwidth of light may not be enough; a complement of filters … Read More → "Simultaneous alternative views"

Algorithms or Methodologies?

You see it two to four times a year from each EDA player: “x% Productivity Gains with y Tool!” Cadence recently had such an announcement with their Incisive tool; Synopsys has just had a similar story with FineSim.

As I was talking with the Cadence folks about this, I wondered: How much of this productivity gain comes as a result of engine/algorithm improvements, and how much as a … Read More → "Algorithms or Methodologies?"

More Analog

There’s been a clear trend over the last decade or so: analog is succumbing to digital. More and more, the modus operandi has been, “Sample the analog world and convert it to digital as soon as possible, doing all of the signal processing in the digital domain.” So it’s natural to expect that, as we do more and more digitally, we will see less and less analog content in our systems.

Imagine my surprise, then, talking to Maxim at CES and learning that, in phones, despite all of the increased digital … Read More → "More Analog"

You Put That Where??

Wearable electronics is the coming thing, and fitness-related gear is the most obvious thing to wear. And CES had a huge section dedicated to these semi-health devices. “Semi” because it’s this nice cozy niche where you can do things that affect your health with no required FDA approval.

But the scale of integration is pretty astounding. One example was a company called Valencell that has designed sensors that fit into an earbud. Actually, it’s more than just the sensor – there’s a lot of computing that goes on in … Read More → "You Put That Where??"

Cloud Computing Deniers

I’m not a big fan of “cloud computing,” as EEJ readers know. It seems like a stap backwards, to 1970s-era timeshare machines instead of the fast, cheap, and ubiquitous devices we have today. Sure, it’s great business for the cable and wireless companies. But is it a good deal for us?

Today I stumbled across a brief article by Cory Doctorow (boing-boing) that explains one of the fundamental mind-warps of the whole cloud-computing mass hallucination. The money line: “It’s easy to see why telcos would love the idea … Read More → "Cloud Computing Deniers"

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