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Eeek Alors! Radiation Hardened eFPGA IP

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of my friends in Embedded Space (where no one can hear you scream) tend to live on the microcontroller (MCU) side of the fence. To put this another way, relatively few of my chums don their “I’m an FPGA Designer” T-Shirts before heading off to work in the morning.

A few years ago as I pen these words, I realized that I was spending an inordinate amount of my time explaining what FPGAs are and how they work their magic to members of the MCU fraternity ( … Read More → "Eeek Alors! Radiation Hardened eFPGA IP"

Old Man Yells at Clouds, 2020 Edition

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – unknown (but not Albert Einstein)

It’s sad to see a little kid cry on Christmas morning. He unwraps his new PlayStation 4, plugs it in, grabs the controller in anticipation of playing his first game and then… waits helplessly for over two hours while it downloads a huge firmware update. Thank you, Sony, for deciding that updates happen on your schedule, whenever and wherever you decide. Great out-of-box experience, guys.</ … Read More → "Old Man Yells at Clouds, 2020 Edition"

A Brave New World of Analog Artificial Neural Networks (AANNs)

It can be a funny old world when you come to think about it. I remember when I was a young engineer and industry pundits portentously predicted the passing of analog electronics, which resulted in students not wanting to study a dying field, which resulted in universities not bothering to offer courses. Perhaps not surprisingly, the fact that analog continued to go from strength to strength proved to be a tad embarrassing to all concerned, not least that — due to so few people studying it — there quickly grew to be a dearth of engineers who have … Read More → "A Brave New World of Analog Artificial Neural Networks (AANNs)"

Do You Work at a Tech Company? Are You Sure?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke

Surprise pop quiz! Don’t worry, it’s an open-book test, you can read your notes, and there’s no grading at the end. Easy, then. Ready? 

Question: Do you work at a tech company? 

If your answer is, “Of course I work for a tech company,” you might be right. But you might also be wrong, and it probably depends on whom you ask. … Read More → "Do You Work at a Tech Company? Are You Sure?"

ARM’s Sleight of Hand

When you want to unload some rusty old lawn furniture, you have a lot of choices. You can list them on eBay or Craigslist. You can put an ad in your local newspaper or Nextdoor.com, or post a few pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter to see if you get any nibbles. Or just leave it out by the curb and wait for some bozo to come along and take it off your hands. 

But, if you’re selling an original Rembrandt oil painting, your choices are somewhat … Read More → "ARM’s Sleight of Hand"

Spinning Rust Gets an Upgrade

“… we used cassette tape [in school] because we didn’t have floppy disk drives.” – Parker Harris, co-founder of Salesforce.com

When you say, “I have Linux on my hard drive,” it means you have the operating system image stored on disk. Soon, though, it could mean it’s running on your hard drive. The drive itself will be running Linux. Yikes. 

That’ … Read More → "Spinning Rust Gets an Upgrade"

Laser Imaging PCB Solder Masks is a Game Changer

I was just chatting with the guys and gals at Limata. These clever little scamps specialize in creating affordable laser direct imaging (LDI) solutions for printed circuit boards (PCBs). The exciting news is that they are about to turn the industry on its head because they’ve just introduced the ability to LDI the solder mask — all inks and colors — a feat no one else has previously managed.

Things have certainly changed in the PCB world since I started out as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young … Read More → "Laser Imaging PCB Solder Masks is a Game Changer"

Wireless Chargers Present Ethical Dilemmas

“… spooky action at a distance.” – Albert Einstein

I’ll admit, I’m biased on this one. Back when I had a real job, with an office and employees and everything, one of my engineers came to me with a proposal. Seems he’d developed something in his spare time that could do “ wireless battery charging at a distance.” Ooh, that sounds pretty cool. Tell me more. He’d already applied for a patent and he wanted the company’s help in developing it further. This could be the … Read More → "Wireless Chargers Present Ethical Dilemmas"

Loose Lips Sink MIPS

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.” – Grateful Dead

If you think designing a microprocessor is complicated, try following its ownership saga. The tangled trail of licensing rights, ownership, royalties, and politics surrounding the MIPS microprocessor family took another weird turn last week, with the result that MIPS is now in Chinese hands. Sort of. 

As the Reuters news agency reports</ … Read More → "Loose Lips Sink MIPS"

Microchip’s New CoaXPress 2.0 Chips Speed Machine Vision

It’s funny how, when you keep on hearing stories about companies heading in one direction, the news that someone is going the other way makes you sit up and pay attention. It reminds me of that old saying: “‘Dog bites a man’ is not news; ‘Man bites a dog’ is news.”

In my case, for the past couple of years I’ve been talking with companies who have been explaining how everything is racing to the edge — security on the edge, computing on the edge, artificial intelligence (AI) on the edge, machine vision on the edge, … Read More → "Microchip’s New CoaXPress 2.0 Chips Speed Machine Vision"

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