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The Programmable Base Station

Today there are 1.6 billion wireless subscribers in the world with the number anticipated to grow to 2.6 billion in the next 5 years. These numbers show that wireless subscriptions have already surpassed the number of internet users (expected to top 1 billion by mid-2005) and will represent a 37% penetration rate of the entire world population by 2010! To support this growth, wireless infrastructure deployments will also have to experience tremendous growth during the next few years.

Even with this growth, the wireless infrastructure industry can still be classified as entering a mature life cycle phase as we are beginning to see … Read More → "The Programmable Base Station"

Mayday Mayhem

If March winds bring April showers, then April showers must somehow give rise to new announcements in programmable logic and structured ASIC. From tools to technology to applications, let’s sail through some of the most interesting announcements this week to pick up on the latest trends. There continue to be significant advances in the design tools, silicon technology, and applications for FPGAs and customizable logic devices. A close look at this week’s news serves to highlight the direction that the industry is currently taking.

As FPGAs continue their migration from glue logic devices to central … Read More → "Mayday Mayhem"

Power

For years it was like a slogan. “FPGAs are nice, but they’re power hogs.” For the customers that kept the lights on, however, buying thousands of FPGAs for backplane-based, rack-mounted equipment with monster power supplies and plenty of cooling, considerations like performance, I/O, and density far outweighed power as a design-in concern. If a new FPGA family offered a 50% performance increase or doubled the LUT count over the previous generation, damn the heatsinks and full-speed ahead. Designers rolled FPGAs in with reckless abandon.

Today, however, forces are conspiring to bring power concerns off of the … Read More → "Power"

Square Root of Two to the Fortieth

The athlete leans for the tape, pouring his last ounce of energy into the final instant. The crowd is on its feet. A flurry of flashguns trigger, trying to capture the historic moment on digital film. There’s a brief pause as all eyes move up to the giant high-resolution display for the results. The numbers flash on the screen “Square Root of Two to the Fortieth!” The sportscaster’s voice breaks as he shouts with excitement. It’s official – a world record. The most progress ever in the history of progress itself!</ … Read More → "Square Root of Two to the Fortieth"

E. Thomas Hart

Tom Hart took physics in school and was a Bombardier-Navigator in the U.S. Navy. He knows that with proper focus you can take advantage of an exponential ratio to deliver many times more energy to a target than even a much larger unfocused source. As Chairman, President, and CEO of QuickLogic, he applies that same principle in leading his company to success. In a programmable logic industry that is blasting its light in all directions, trying to illuminate every square inch of the digital design landscape, Hart’s QuickLogic is a spotlight, concentrating its resources on solving … Read More → "E. Thomas Hart"

A Bevy of Boards

Choosing your FPGA development board used to be simple and straightforward. You selected a device for your project, called up your distributor, and a few days and dollars later you were the proud owner of “the kit,” which included the standard development board, a version of the design software, and maybe a reference design or two. Your new board had an FPGA in the middle, some configuration circuitry and perhaps a couple of peripherals, and a few standard connectors along the edges.

As time passed, your demands increased. With the newer generations of FPGAs, you needed more … Read More → "A Bevy of Boards"

The Real Fear Factor

Dealing with mass quantities of unsavory bugs is commonplace in both reality TV and modern-day chip design. And, the “fear factor” for both is the same, too: failure to do so in the time specified can put an end to a contestant’s 15 minutes of fame or cost a designer his or her job.

In the era of the system on chip (SoC), dealing with tens of millions of gates is a given for hardware design teams, but the time-to-market game is getting more complex and fraught with danger due to the explosion in embedded software. … Read More → "The Real Fear Factor"

Cray Goes FPGA

When I was in college, I knew the future of supercomputing. The supercomputers of the 21st century would be massive, gleaming masterpieces of technology. They would not be installed into buildings, but rather buildings would be designed and constructed around them – particularly to house the cooling systems. The design specifics were fuzzy, but I was reasonably sure that very low temperatures would be involved for either superconducting connectivity, SQUIDs, or Josephson junction-esque switching. Silicon would certainly have been long abandoned in favor of Gallium Arsenide or some even more exotic semiconductor material. I believed that Cray, Inc., as the … Read More → "Cray Goes FPGA"

Clock Watching

In the mythological “good old days” when many FPGA designs were nothing more than simple state machines, clocking was simple. Your average design had a single ticker oscillating merrily away at single-digit megahertz. Skew was something you did to vegetables when barbecuing shish kabobs, gating was an activity that applied to upscale housing developments, false paths were something you only ran into while hiking, and derived clocks were the two-dollar wristwatches you gave away at tradeshows with your company logo on them.

Now that the revolution has come, new alarms are starting to sound. Clocks are no … Read More → "Clock Watching"

Free Tool Friday

What can you get for free? In this age of rapid technological evolution, it is not uncommon for valuable, cutting-edge technology to find its way into the “free cell phone” category. In an effort to market their wares, technology companies often find themselves offering high-value products at little or no cost in order to remove barriers to adoption of their principal products. Such is the case with design tools for FPGA. Most FPGA vendors offer sophisticated tool suites, either by free download or at an extremely low cost, in order to entice new designers to check out their chips … Read More → "Free Tool Friday"

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