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Understanding and Optimizing SoC Hardware Performance

Are you involved in developing SoCs? Are you banging your head against the wall, desperately trying to determine why you aren’t obtaining the performance promised by the providers of your processor, interconnect, and DDR memory controller IPs? Do I have good news for you? (Spoiler alert. The answer to the last question is a resounding “Yes!”)

In many ways I envy the young engineers who are coming up today because they have such awesome technologies to play with. On the hardware side, they can create sophisticated SoCs containing billions … Read More → "Understanding and Optimizing SoC Hardware Performance"

AMD Rocks with New Versal Gen 2 AI Edge SoC FPGAs

The awesome new AMD devices to which I’ve just been introduced have sparked a trip down memory lane (I know you’re surprised, because I pride myself on my laser-like focus that prevents me from wandering off into the weeds). I remember the 1970s and early 1980s when we thought the simple programmable logic devices (PLDs) of the time were so cool. Those were heady days when chip manufacturers tried to outdo each other by constantly coming up with new architectures based on different incarnations of AND and OR arrays. The chips’ creators also had lots … Read More → "AMD Rocks with New Versal Gen 2 AI Edge SoC FPGAs"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 3: Daisy, Valid, and Mentor Graphics – The CAE Era

By the end of the 1970s, the leading CAD companies, including Calma, Applicon, and Computervision had started to lose interest in the electronics market and turned to mechanical CAD. Quite possibly, this lack of interest reflected the demand by electronics and semiconductor companies for something more than efficient drafting systems. The drawings produced by CAD systems were fully capable of producing photomasks for circuit boards and ICs, but these systems understood polygons. They had no comprehension of the electronics these polygons represented. CAD systems might know the difference between a 14- and a 40-pin DIP, but they … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 3: Daisy, Valid, and Mentor Graphics – The CAE Era"

Will the Renesas RZ/V2H MPU Dominate Embedded AI Vision Applications?

I grew up in the age of 8-bit microprocessor units (MPUs). Consider the MOS Technology 6502, which was introduced in 1975, for example. This was the year I graduated from high school. I was 18 years old, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally clueless as to the ways of the world (to know me was to love me—this was long before I became the curmudgeonly, battered, bitter, broken man you see before you now).

In addition to its 8-bit data bus, the 6502 had a 16-bit data bus, thereby allowing it to address 64kB of memory. Based on … Read More → "Will the Renesas RZ/V2H MPU Dominate Embedded AI Vision Applications?"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 2: Calma, Applicon, Computervision, and the CAD Era

Commercial EDA companies started to appear in the 1960s, and a trend of sorts was set. In each new, more advanced generation of EDA tools, three companies tended to dominate. The first EDA generation was the era of digitization. Computers and digitizers started to displace drafting tables and mechanical drafting machines in all engineering disciplines including electrical and electronic engineering. The dominant EDA trio in this CAD (Computer Aided Design or Computer Aided Drafting) era consisted of Calma, Computervision, and Applicon.

Before delving into the history of these three pioneering companies, it’s … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 2: Calma, Applicon, Computervision, and the CAD Era"

Controlling the World with Raspberry Pi

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but on the off chance you’ve forgotten, I graduated from university in 1980. My degree was in Control Engineering. This was based on a core of math (oh, so much math), with “surrounding” subjects of electronics, mechanics, and hydraulics/fluidics.

In those days, most of the control algorithms with which I worked were things like proportional-integral-derivative (PID), the implementations of which were analog in nature. The only computer that physically resided in the engineering department was an analog monster that was not dissimilar … Read More → "Controlling the World with Raspberry Pi"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 1: DAC and the Big Bang

I can tell you from the start, it’s impossible to capture a comprehensive history of the EDA industry in a few articles. However, I can’t find any sort of comprehensive history for the industry, so I’ve used multiple sources plus my own experience working for many EDA and EDA-related companies and covering the EDA industry as an editor to create this 8-part article series. Someday, someone will write an entire book on the EDA industry’s history. For now, I offer this article series, written from a personal perspective.

Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 1: DAC and the Big Bang"

A Brave New World of Emulation and Software Prototyping

Like so many of the technologies we take for granted today, I managed to find myself embroiled in the very early days of hardware emulation. This refers to the process of imitating the behavior of one piece of hardware (typically a silicon chip you are in the process of designing) with another piece of hardware (typically a special-purpose emulation system).

For the purposes of these discussions, I’m going to throw the term application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) around with gusto and abandon. However, everything I say in this column is … Read More → "A Brave New World of Emulation and Software Prototyping"

Intuitive Machines sticks its moon landing (mostly), with emergency help from two on-board FPGAs

“The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” a Hugo-award-winning SF novel published by Robert Heinlein in 1966, is an apt title that explains why so many actual moon missions fail. Landing on the Earth’s moon safely is hard. The first spacecraft to crash on the moon was the USSR’s Luna 2 spacecraft. It “impacted” the moon in 1959, followed by the first US spacecraft to impact the moon, Ranger 4 in 1962. The Soviet Union failed to soft-land a craft on the moon several times before Luna 9 stuck its landing in 1966. Surveyor 1 from the US landed successfully later that same … Read More → "Intuitive Machines sticks its moon landing (mostly), with emergency help from two on-board FPGAs"

Reimagining Radar in the Form of High-Resolution 4D Sensing Systems

I know lots of engineers who could engineer me under the table, as it were. Hmmm, sometimes I read what I just wrote, and I think, “I wonder if anyone understands the meaning I’m attempting to impart,” like the “under the table” portion of the previous sentence, for example.

Well, fear not, because I am ever eager to waffle. Have you ever heard an expression along the lines of drinking someone under the table? The idea is that the person in question can hold their alcohol better than their … Read More → "Reimagining Radar in the Form of High-Resolution 4D Sensing Systems"

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