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Analog Advancements

Two ongoing questions have plagued analog design for many years:

  • How can we design analog circuits more quickly and more portably?
  • How can we keep up with the growth in circuit size while still providing gold-standard sign-off simulation in a “reasonable” time? The meaning of “reasonable” being somewhat fluid…

At this summer’s DAC, I had a couple of conversations, each dealing with one of these questions. No Holy Grails have been … Read More → "Analog Advancements"

IBM Gives Away PowerPC; Goes Open Source

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben

Remember PowerPC?

Nah, me neither. But now it can be yours. For free. Srsly. 

IBM has released the Power Architecture instruction set to the Linux Foundation, making it freely available to anyone who wants it. It’s a no-cost, royalty-free license to the ISA much like the one for RISC-V and other open-source processors. Starting now, you can design your own PowerPC processor without first paying a hefty … Read More → "IBM Gives Away PowerPC; Goes Open Source"

Goldilocks Process Windows

One of the tricky bits when launching a new process is figuring out what the process window is.  For anyone new to the concept, the window is the range of variation that’s allowable for a given process parameter. Go outside that range, and a die – or a wafer – or a lot – may fail. It’s best if you can have a wide window, because then you can tolerate lots of variability. If the window is too narrow, then you’re spending all your time trying to thwart that variation and keep the equipment in the … Read More → "Goldilocks Process Windows"

Bluetooth Hack for Bad Guys

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Bluetooth. And, to be perfectly honest, it leans a bit more toward the “hate” end of the spectrum. As a consumer using various Bluetooth-enabled devices, I’ve experienced the frustration (shared by many, I’m sure) of flaky and unreliable pairing, mysterious behavior, and general lack of user-friendliness. Much of this is the less-than-optimal design of systems using the standard, but a good chunk of the problem likely lies with Bluetooth itself.

Take a deep breath. Bluetooth has been hacked.</ … Read More → "Bluetooth Hack for Bad Guys"

Thank You for Your Service

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!” – Robert Burns

We dread calling customer service because we know it’ll be a uniformly bad experience. The customer service “technicians” seem like ill-informed drones reciting canned suggestions in response to predetermined diagnostic questions, with no real idea how to – or incentive to – actually help us solve a problem. 

Customer service and tech support probably aren’t even staffed by the product company’s own employees. As … Read More → "Thank You for Your Service"

How Do We Tackle Chip Security?

Security was huge at this summer’s DAC. By that, I don’t mean that you had to get frisked to get in; I mean that it was a hot topic of discussion. It came together at a luncheon hosted by the Accellera standards body, with further depth in a separate discussion with Accellera. The highest-level take-away would be… that we – and you – have a lot of work to do. The good news is that concrete steps may be underway.

The lunch panel was supposed to be about IP security, … Read More → "How Do We Tackle Chip Security?"

Acceleration Battlefield

The market for accelerating specialized data center workloads is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years. The acceleration market was estimated to be in the two-billion-dollar range in 2018, and it is expected to grow to a staggering $21 billion by 2023 – around a 50% CAGR. This growth is not unexpected. The world is producing data at an exponentially growing rate. Estimates are that something like 90% of all the world’s data has been generated just in the last couple of years. And, in that same “very recent” time frame, AI technology has evolved to the point where … Read More → "Acceleration Battlefield"

Another Fine Mesh

“There is no shame is being ambivalent about almost everything in your life.” – Louis Theroux

Hey, kids, let’s all make something! If your STEM summer camp counselor has got you soldering instead of swimming, chances are you’re building some sort of home-automation appliance. Which means you’re probably hacking hardware, slinging code, and testing network compatibility. Well, Silicon Labs has got just the campfire kit for you. 

It’s called EFR32MG12P, but to its camp friends, it’s Read More → "Another Fine Mesh"

More AI Moves into EDA

Anyone who’s anyone has at least one AI angle working for them. Unwilling to settle for just one angle, Mentor Graphics discussed two angles at this summer’s DAC. As an EDA company, they have two specific opportunities to find value with AI. One is to improve the design tools they provide; the other is to create design tools specifically for AI designs. Very different things (although the latter might be used internally to benefit the former). We’re covering the first today; we’ll look at the second one Read More → "More AI Moves into EDA"

Super-Reliable Inertial Sensors for Smart Cars

“A man with a watch always knows the time. A man with two is never certain” – anonymous

They say you should never go camping without a compass, but don’t ever go with two. Either pack one compass or three, but not two. Because if they ever differ, which one will you believe?  

Aceinna follows a similar strategy with its automotive IMU (Read More → "Super-Reliable Inertial Sensors for Smart Cars"

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