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Does 2+2=4? Microchip announces PolarFire 2; You Do the Math

Microchip previewed its PolarFire 2 mid-range SoC FPGA family at the RISC-V Summit last month in two presentations including a keynote given by Bruce Weyer, the company’s Corporate VP for FPGAs. Although the company provided very few product details, it dropped many hints. So many hints, in fact, that I can give you the information I’ve collected based on these hints, tell you what I think, and let you come to your own conclusions. I’ll give you the “2”s and let you check my math, but then you’ll need to add the “2”s … Read More → "Does 2+2=4? Microchip announces PolarFire 2; You Do the Math"

A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 9: The General Instruments PIC1650

I almost did not write this chapter in the ongoing saga of early microcontroller history. That’s not because the PIC1650 microcontroller isn’t important, just that it was not very important in its first incarnation. General Instrument Microelectronics (GI) envisioned the PIC1650 microcontroller as a peripheral chip for its 16-bit CP1600 microprocessor. In fact, “PIC” originally stood for “peripheral interface chip,” but the company eventually changed that meaning to “programmable intelligent computer.” Neither the CP1600 microprocessor nor the PIC1650 microcontroller made much impact on the industry during the 1970s. However, GI went through a couple … Read More → "A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 9: The General Instruments PIC1650"

Introducing SafeConnect Connectivity and Glitch Sign-Off from Real Intent

Sometimes I cast my mind back longingly to my early days as a design engineer when things were so much simpler than they are now. When I was working on my first ASIC, there was no thought of using functional blocks of intellectual property (IP) from third-party vendors because there were no such things as functional blocks of IP from third-party vendors.

Similarly, we didn’t talk in terms of things like “connectivity fabric” because all we had was wires that connected our logic gates and registers together.

< … Read More → "Introducing SafeConnect Connectivity and Glitch Sign-Off from Real Intent"

Are Agricultural Drones Poised to be the Next Big Thing?

The latest research indicates that Homo sapiens—the species to which you, your humble narrator, and all other living human beings on this planet belong (even the French)—first made its appearance sometime around 300,000 years ago (possibly on a Wednesday morning, but don’t hold me to that).

It took most of the past 300,000 years for our population to reach 1 billion people, a milestone the United Nations (UN) organization estimates occurred in 1804. It took only 123 years after that before the population doubled to 2 billion souls in 1927, and just 33 more years … Read More → "Are Agricultural Drones Poised to be the Next Big Thing?"

Lattice Strides Into the Mid-Range FPGA Arena With Avant

Lattice Semiconductor is moving upscale with its new mid-range Avant FPGA platform. After spending the last several years taking low-end market share from its bigger FPGA competitors, essentially while they weren’t looking, Lattice has decided that a similar opportunity awaits in mid-range programmable-logic parts. I think the jury is out there. … Read More → "Lattice Strides Into the Mid-Range FPGA Arena With Avant"

A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 8: The Intel 8051

Intel introduced the successor to its 8048 microcontroller, the 8051, in 1980. It’s become the immortal microcontroller, and it was all because an applications engineer forgot to bring his wallet to work one day and asked his boss at Intel to buy lunch.

Intel announced the 8048 microcontroller in 1976. The design’s largest weakness, limited memory addressability, reared its head within the first year. In one sense, that’s a great problem to have because it suggests that customers wanted even more of a good thing. Intel sold $7 million worth of 8048 and 8748 microcontrollers … Read More → "A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 8: The Intel 8051"

Arduino 0s and 1s, LOW and HIGH, False and True, and Other Stuff

It’s common to hear engineers and computer boffins say that digital computers are based on 0s and 1s, but what does this actually mean? On the one hand, this is relatively simple; I mean, 0 and 1, how hard can it be? On the other hand, there are so many layers to this metaphorical onion that, much like a corporeal onion, it can make your eyes water. … Read More → "Arduino 0s and 1s, LOW and HIGH, False and True, and Other Stuff"

A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 7: The Zilog Z8

When Federico Faggin arrived at Intel in 1970, he immediately discovered that he’d stepped into a royal mess. He’d left Fairchild Semiconductor and accepted the position at Intel before being fully briefed on the custom chip set project for Busicom that would eventually become the first commercially successful microprocessor, the 4004. Faggin had developed a silicon-gate MOS process technology at Fairchild, knew it was vastly superior to the metal-gate technology everyone was using at the time, and had inferred that Intel planned to use silicon-gate technology from watching some of the thirty or so people who’ … Read More → "A History of Early Microcontrollers, Part 7: The Zilog Z8"

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