feature article archive
Subscribe Now

Flipping the Script on 5G Networking

Let’s start out by simplifying the name. Since “Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 for Networking” is kinda’ a mouthful, they gave us the shortcut “Intel FPGA PAC N3000” – shorter and suitably opaque. But, when it comes to 5G deployment, nothing is as simple as we’d like it to be. We’ve spent a lot of time on the radio end of 5G, discussing beamforming, massive MIMO, millimeter waves and the like. But all those extra towers pushing and pulling so much data are gonna put some major stress on the network itself. IP … Read More → "Flipping the Script on 5G Networking"

Will the 5G IoT Race be Won Solely by Marketing?

Create the hype, but don’t ever believe it. – Simon Cowell

Despite the tons of early hype, the worldwide 5G race has just begun. In a race to announce the first operational 5G network in the US, cellular communications vendors AT&T and Verizon have both initiated limited 5G cellular trials in a handful of cities. AT&T’s 5G trials started in twelve cities along the East coast of the US and will spread to San Francisco and San Jose later in 2019. Verizon’s trial cities include Sacramento, Los … Read More → "Will the 5G IoT Race be Won Solely by Marketing?"

Renesas Bundles 64-Bit Chips with 10-Year Linux

“Linux is only free if your time has no value.” – Jamie Zawinski

Chip giant Renesas has created a whole new line of high-end microprocessors that sit at the tippy top of the company’s product range, so let’s talk about… the software.

In a reversal of normal hardware protocol, Renesas is making a big deal about the software support for its new chips, with particular emphasis on the Linux port. It is a differentiating feature, just not one that most CPU companies talk about. </ … Read More → "Renesas Bundles 64-Bit Chips with 10-Year Linux"

Bridging to 3 nm

We got away with lax discipline for a long time. Like an out-of-control classroom, we had kids at the front of the class paying attention, while, as you got towards the back, kids were passing notes, tossing spitwads, flying paper planes, and even simply leaving class. The only discipline was imposed from the front; the back and the sides of the room had no enforcement mechanism.

We’re talking, of course, about planar transistors. The gate touched one edge of the channel – the top edge – and that was it. It … Read More → "Bridging to 3 nm"

Who Will Win AI at the Edge?

We’ve written a lot about AI in the cloud, and we’ve discussed data center solutions such as GPUs, high-end FPGAs, and dedicated AI chips such as Intel’s Nervana. For many applications, training and inferencing CNNs and other AI-based systems in cloud data centers is the only way to get the compute power required to crunch the vast data sets and complex models. But, for perhaps an even larger set of applications, cloud-based inference is not practical. We may need latency that cannot be achieved by shipping data upstream to be analyzed. We may … Read More → "Who Will Win AI at the Edge?"

Pimping My Variac Autotransformer (Actually, it’s a Philmore)

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

I’ve wanted an autotransformer for electronic troubleshooting work for a while. Autotransformers are variable transformers that let you bring the AC voltage up slowly on a piece of gear under test. I owned a Radio Shack/Micronta variable transformer for decades, but it didn’t survive my move to California during the dot-com boom and subsequent bust. I’ve waited nearly 20 years to replace it. Recently, I happened to see an inexpensive autotransformer in the Cogwell eBay store. Cogwell … Read More → "Pimping My Variac Autotransformer (Actually, it’s a Philmore)"

ARM Floats Helium for Cortex-M

“I’m sorry, but neon just doesn’t look good on anybody!” — Tiffani Thiessen

First there was Neon, now there’s Helium. ARM has pulled the wraps off a package of DSP and machine-learning extensions for its low-end Cortex-M processors, sort of like Neon but not. Whereas Neon added DSP features to the Cortex-A family, Helium adds similar, but different, features to Cortex-M. So, Helium is lighter than Neon.

Atomic weights aside, Helium will add a substantial boost to the performance and capabilities of future Cortex-M … Read More → "ARM Floats Helium for Cortex-M"

In Memoriam: Dr. Bernard Peuto, Architect of Zilog’s Z8000 and Z8

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…” – “We’ll Meet Again,” Vera Lynn

My friend Bernard Peuto passed away this month. We first met two decades ago when I moved to California to join the Microprocessor Report. Bernard was acting president of the organization from 1997 to 1999, and he helped me substantially during the transition period following the subsequent departure of the Microprocessor Report’s founder Michael Slater. At that … Read More → "In Memoriam: Dr. Bernard Peuto, Architect of Zilog’s Z8000 and Z8"

Small, Selective Gas Sensors

One of the annual features at the MEMS and Sensors Executive Congress is the Technology Showcase, where 5 start-ups (or start-upoids) give quick presentations about their new ideas in exchange for visibility and prizes. One of this year’s contenders was Abhishek Motayed of n5 Sensors, who presented what looked like a promising new gas sensor platform. The nature of the event is such that you can’t go into much detail, so I had a conversation with him after the conference to get a better sense of the state of current gas sensors and how his technology might change … Read More → "Small, Selective Gas Sensors"

News Flash: Itanic Still Sinking

May the odds be ever in your favor. – The Hunger Games

Intel announced the name of its IA-64 processor in October, 1999. The company’s future 64-bit, VLIW processor would be known as the “Itanium.” Overnight, Usenet boffins christened it the “Itanic,” and the name stuck. The Register has long used the name, and my friend Nick Tredennick often used the term at Microprocessor Forums. Understandably, Intel was not enamored of the nickname.

That was two decades … Read More → "News Flash: Itanic Still Sinking"

featured blogs
Mar 20, 2019
In this week's Whiteboard Wednesdays video, Rong Chen talks about the 5G use cases and PHY processing and highlights the B20 DSP features which enable efficient control and DSP processing for 5G... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community s...
Mar 19, 2019
Deeper Dive into Non-Trivial Bug Escapes and Safety Critical Designs This blog is a continuation of a series of blogs related to the 2018 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study (click here).  In my previous blog (click here), I presented verification results fin...
Mar 19, 2019
As one of the great superheroes learned '€“ '€œwith great power comes great responsibility.'€ Even without '€œspidey-sense'€ and the ability to scale tall buildings with webbing, there is still power to be wielded with Samtec'€™s new mPOWER'„¢ connectors'€¦w...
Jan 25, 2019
Let'€™s face it: We'€™re addicted to SRAM. It'€™s big, it'€™s power-hungry, but it'€™s fast. And no matter how much we complain about it, we still use it. Because we don'€™t have anything better in the mainstream yet. We'€™ve looked at attempts to improve conven...