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A Google for Components

“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” — Eric Hoffer

It’s not often that you get to solve two problems at once. Or that one product serves two markets simultaneously. But that’s the clever business strategy behind a new search engine that helps PCB designers find component footprints while also giving component makers new insight into design wins. 

Meet SnapEDA</ … Read More → "A Google for Components"

Distributed On-Chip Temperature Sensors Improve Performance and Reliability

I’m starting to fear the world is passing me by. When I designed my first ASIC in 1980, it was a Toshiba gate array device implemented at the 5 µm technology node, which was pretty much state-of-the-art for general-purpose digital ASIC designs at the time.

As I recall, this device contained around 2,000 equivalent gates (2-input NAND gates). My design was captured at the gate and register level using pencil and paper (many, many sheets thereof). Once the design had passed functional verification and timing verification, it was sent to the drawing … Read More → "Distributed On-Chip Temperature Sensors Improve Performance and Reliability"

WattIQ Uses Its Power for Good

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” – Yogi Berra

Think of a big pharmaceutical laboratory. People in white lab coats. Big shiny pieces of equipment humming. Lots of high-tech centrifuges, spectrometers, and analyzers. Everything’s clean. Even the refrigerators look special. 

You know what you don’t see? A network. 

Turns out, all those advanced pieces of equipment don’t talk to each other, nor do they connect to any central laboratory-wide network. Each one … Read More → "WattIQ Uses Its Power for Good"

Apollo 11 vs. the USB Charger

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

We all know that computers get faster over time, but it’s sobering to realize just how much faster they’ve gotten. 

Next month will mark the 51st anniversary of the first crewed landing on the moon, thanks to the Apollo 11 astronauts and all the engineers and scientists who put them there. By now most of us have heard … Read More → "Apollo 11 vs. the USB Charger"

Making FPGA SoC Easier

There are about a zillion SoCs on the market today, perhaps even a zillion and a half, we haven’t counted in awhile. Of course most of them are built on various forms of ARM MCUs or applications processors, and the line card includes a zillion squared permutations with various collections of peripherals and interfaces parked alongside the processor. It can be a dizzying experience to design a system around one, tediously comparing what’s on the chip to what you think you’ll need.

But, if you take the … Read More → "Making FPGA SoC Easier"

GAP9 for ML at the Edge

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” – Mark Twain

When we last checked up on GreenWaves, the French company had just launched its very first chip, the GAP8 processor. They’ve kept busy in the intervening two years by working on its successor, the GAP9. And it’s a big update. 

The concept is still the same. Build a low-cost, low-power processor for … Read More → "GAP9 for ML at the Edge"

Automotive Cameras Avoid the Pedestrian

“While the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!” – Ansel Adams

Highway signs flicker. We just don’t notice it. 

This was one of the takeaways from a long discussion about camera sensors for automotive applications. Cars have cameras in them now, some outward facing and some inward facing. They’re used for different purposes (more on that in a moment), but the outward-facing ones have a slew of problems to deal with that I’d never considered. One … Read More → "Automotive Cameras Avoid the Pedestrian"

You’re Not My Type!

When I was a student at university, in those dim and distant days we used to call the 1970s, my degree in Control Engineering involved two periods out in industry. I think they call this a co-op course in the USA. We used to refer to this sort of thing as a “sandwich course” in the UK. Some programs were known as “thin sandwiches” because they featured multiple cycles of six weeks at college followed by six weeks in the real world. My course was of the “thick sandwich” variety, in which we spent a year … Read More → "You’re Not My Type!"

Alternate Roads to Flexible Electronics

“Set goals but be flexible.” — Clemantine Wamariya

How flexible is flexible? Marketing people describe their products as “robust and flexible.” Then there are flexible pricing models, flexible shipment schedules, flexible deployments, and flexible morals. 

But what if the processor, memory, and the rest of circuitry were all literally flexible – what if they could fold, crease, and bend around corners? 

It seems like the perfect solution for tightly packed consumer items like smartphones, cameras, tablets, laptops, and … Read More → "Alternate Roads to Flexible Electronics"

Hap, Hap, Haptics 101

“Anything that keeps me off balance is vital.” – Brie Larson

The dictionary defines haptics as “the use of technology that stimulates the senses of touch and motion, especially… the sensations that would be felt by a user interacting directly with physical objects.” Me, I think of it as the buzzing from my cellphone. 

A vibrating phone or pager was probably everyone’s first introduction to haptics, and it’s still the most common usage. But there’s a lot more you can … Read More → "Hap, Hap, Haptics 101"

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