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Is an Instruction Set an API?

No less an authority than the United States Supreme Court just ruled that a program’s application programming interface can be copied under the doctrine of copyright “fair use.” Google copied thousands of lines of Oracle’s code in order to implement its own version of the Java API without actually licensing the official Java API. The Court ruled that Google didn’t need a license because it’s okay to duplicate the API without … Read More → "Is an Instruction Set an API?"

Predictive Maintenance Evaluation Kit for Smart Buildings

One of the myriad problems I face — in addition to (a) being persistently pursued by gaggles of groupies and (b) the fact that all of my groupies are cranky, cantankerous, and curmudgeonly old engineers of the male persuasion — is that of being inundated by barrages of information from companies scattered around the globe.

Being only human (although it pains me to say so), I tend to focus on whomever is jumping up and down and shouting the loudest. As a result, companies who aren’t “pinging” me on a regular … Read More → "Predictive Maintenance Evaluation Kit for Smart Buildings"

Clever Hack Finds Mystery CPU Instructions

In the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, a team of doctors and scientists gets miniaturized and injected into the bloodstream of a human patient. They and their yellow submarine navigate past heart valves, battle corpuscles, and swim in tear ducts. It provides an inside look into biological workings most of us never see. 

An enterprising Hungarian engineer, Can Bölük at Verilave, has … Read More → "Clever Hack Finds Mystery CPU Instructions"

The First Emulators of Spring

It’s the season of rebirth. The sun is out. Flowers are in bloom. Birds busily build nests while semiconductor verification teams emerge from their long winter hibernation, ready to tool up for the challenges of the next process generation. Billions of unverified gates give shelter to countless bugs awaiting anxious design teams as they prepare for summer’s tape-outs and struggle to bring new software up on wobbly legs.

Yep, the first emulators and prototyping platforms of spring have arrived, and – failing to be greeted with their own shadows – … Read More → "The First Emulators of Spring"

Parsing Google v. Oracle: What’s It Really Mean?

It’s okay to duplicate an API, even if you have to snarf 11,500 lines of somebody else’s code to do it.

That’s the gist of the ruling from the United States Supreme Court in the long-running case of Google v. Oracle. Left unanswered is the larger question of whether software is even protected by copyright in the first place. But if it is, cloning an API falls under the heading of “fair use.” 

It may seem a bit odd to us amateur … Read More → "Parsing Google v. Oracle: What’s It Really Mean?"

ID for the IoT? We Need the IDoT!

When most people hear the term “counterfeiting,” their knee-jerk reaction is to think of currency, the counterfeiting of which is as old as the concept of money itself. Around 400 BC, for example, metal coins in Greece were often counterfeited by covering a cheap-and-cheerful material with a thin layer of a more precious metal.

Or take the original American colonies. Throughout northeastern America, Native Americans would employ shell beads known as wampum as a form of currency. White shells came from quahog (a large, rounded edible clam found on the Atlantic coast of North America), while blueish/purplish-black … Read More → "ID for the IoT? We Need the IDoT!"

AMD Details Potential Ryzen Attack Vector

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, if you publish it in the manual, right? AMD has taken a “white hat” approach to a possible security risk in its newest Zen 3 processors by publishing a white paper that describes the problem. Although there’s no known exploit in the field, AMD appears to be heading off any problems by detailing how, when, and where the problem might occur, and what … Read More → "AMD Details Potential Ryzen Attack Vector"

ARMv9: Fashionably Late

Silicon Valley is like Milan. One is the US center of high tech, the other is the fashion capital of Italy. The Valley has its product rollouts and Milan has its runway shows. Both are glamorous, slick, professionally produced events designed to generate excitement but tell you almost nothing about the actual product. They’re teases; entertainment for the press corps documenting the industry’s every move. 

So it was that last week nearly a hundred of my colleagues and I assembled – virtually, of course – to witness the carefully choreographed … Read More → "ARMv9: Fashionably Late"

Want to Learn AI? But Where to Go?

I once worked for a large computer manufacturer that considered itself to be a “big cheese” in its headquarters’ hometown. For some reason, the folks who donned the undergarments of authority and strode the corridors of power decided to have a blitz on the local media channels — including newspapers, radio, and television — to remind the hoi polloi as to who we were and what we did. At the end of this campaign, the bigwigs (those sporting the biggest wigs) sponsored a survey and were chagrined to discover that — when questioned — the vast majority of local residents … Read More → "Want to Learn AI? But Where to Go?"

Micron Bails, Intel Does Optane Alone

There are a lot of ways to do nonvolatile memory. I mean, a lot of ways. There’s flash memory, of course, but also magneto-resistive memory, phase-change memories, resistive RAM, ROMs, PROMs, EPROMs, EEPROMs, ferroelectric memories, holographic memories, battery-backed SRAM, spinning hard disks, floppy disks, knots on a piece of string… You get the idea. 

Very few of these interesting and innovative technologies ever succeed in the market. The high failure rate isn’t because the technologies don’t work. … Read More → "Micron Bails, Intel Does Optane Alone"

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