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Creating Innovation in a Vacuum

“No matter where you go, there you are.” – Buckaroo Banzai

A new venture-backed startup is developing disruptive technology that promises to upend long-cherished beliefs about electronics, semiconductors, manufacturing processes, and power consumption. It eliminates or minimizes many of the expensive and time-consuming steps used in today’s billion-dollar semiconductor fabs, while also shifting power consumption numbers by several orders of magnitude. 

Backed by Silicon Valley venture-capital firms as well as private investors, the new company promises to heat up the market while … Read More → "Creating Innovation in a Vacuum"

HLS Powers AI Revolution

I started working in high-level synthesis (HLS) in 1994 which, assuming my math is correct, was 26 years ago. In those early days, we referred to the technology as “behavioral synthesis” because it relied on analyzing the desired behavior of a circuit in order to create a structural description rather than simply converting from a higher-level structural description to a lower-level one. 

HLS promised to replace thousands of lines of detailed RTL code with a few dozen lines of behavioral description as the primary design entry method. It brought the ability to … Read More → "HLS Powers AI Revolution"

IoT Connectivity on the Cheap

“Phone home.” – E.T., the extraterrestrial

Bigger, better, higher, faster. That’s the usual mantra for electronics innovation, where standing still is the same as running backwards. But there’s something to be said for slowing down and smelling the proverbial roses. It’s relaxing. And it’s cheap. 

Amid all the expensive and incessantly hyped build-out of 5G wireless networks (including some Read More → "IoT Connectivity on the Cheap"

Worried About Your SSD Data? Virtium Has You Covered!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the impermanence of data recently. A lot of my own documents and images that used to travel through time with me in the physical realm* – photographs, letters, journals – seem to have become lost in the mists of the past (*as opposed to using my time machine, which is currently hors de combat — you simply cannot lay your hands on spare parts in the time and place I currently hang my hat).

In some respects, the situation is worse in the case of computers, where things can be lurking … Read More → "Worried About Your SSD Data? Virtium Has You Covered!"

Setting Sensible Standards for IoT

“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.” – Patrick Lencioni

Setting standards must be lonely work. You meet, you discuss, you weigh options, and you write up prescriptions. And then you wait, hoping the industry will follow your lead and take your advice. If they do, great. And if not? Well, there’s always another hill to climb. 

One group that’s been doing this work for 20-odd years is Read More → "Setting Sensible Standards for IoT"

What Is bfloat16, Anyway?

“If you ever hear yourself saying, ‘I think I understand this,’ that means you don’t.” — Richard Feynman

Nothing about AI or machine learning is intuitive. Maybe that’s the point. 

An example is the sudden rise in popularity of something called “bfloat16,” a new way of representing numbers that holds magical appeal to AI/ML programmers – and, therefore for chipmakers as well. So, let’s look at bfloat16 for beginners. If you’re an experienced programmer, skip ahead. 

< … Read More → "What Is bfloat16, Anyway?"

Estimating Power Before You Start

“Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.” – Edward Tufte

Want to know how much energy your new battery device will consume? The answer may be in Paris. 

Wisebatt is an 11-person startup based in the French capital city, and they’ve produced a tool that estimates battery life and power consumption with remarkable accuracy. Remarkable, because you don’t have to give it very much information to go on. … Read More → "Estimating Power Before You Start"

Xilinx Boosts the Bandwidth

A few years ago, we all thought we were on the cusp of “enough” bandwidth. If everybody with a smartphone could stream HD video simultaneously, what else could we even want? Surely an infrastructure that could handle that task would be ready for whatever else we wanted to throw at it.

Oh, how wrong we were. 

Video still is the biggest bandwidth hog, but now we’re talking 4K and 8K at terrifying bit-rates. And, instead of just one smartphone per person, we’ve … Read More → "Xilinx Boosts the Bandwidth"

SiTime Oscillator Beats on Rocks

“What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew.” – Robert Browning

“We are in a somewhat uninteresting territory.” These are the words of Piyush Sevalia, Executive Vice President of Marketing for SiTime. You have to give the man points for honesty. 

He’s not wrong. SiTime is in a tough business, and a lot of their challenges aren’t technical, but evangelical. … Read More → "SiTime Oscillator Beats on Rocks"

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