The Making of FPGA Journal

(and what you can do about it)

by Kevin Morris


My client, ArrayMaster, is announcing a new member of their popular FPGA family aimed specifically at developers of drum-playing monkey toys. The new PercussivePrimate (tm) series of FPGAs can reduce the development time for the average drum-playing monkey toy (DPMT) by up to 67% while increasing battery life and allowing the developer to add key, product-differentiating features such as user-programmable beats. The new hard-wired animatronic IP blocks with built-in rhythm generator PLLs allow developers to have DPMT development platforms literally up and drumming within minutes.

If you have a few minutes, our DPMT product-line manager would like to pre-brief you this week for next Monday's announcement.


Don the PR Dude


Guarding Against Interlopers

M’Licious RTL: In da House?

by Bryon Moyer

As you approach the entrance, you know you’re in the right place. You almost feel it before you hear it. A few more steps and there remains no doubt. The unmistakable thump of some serious bass brings with it the promise of some serious hip-hop.

This club is much like any of a number of similar clubs you can find anywhere in any major metropolis. As with any musical event, the evening starts with the little-known people, the upstarts, those that feel they have something to say and need to prove that what they have is worth saying. And, as the night advances, you move into the established names, the ones people pay money to see.


Counting the Cost of 2008

by Dick Selwood

It’s been a funny old year, has 2008. Traditionally this is the time to pull your chair close to the fire, grab a glass of mulled wine and tell ghost stories. We won’t do that this year: no yarn we could spin would chill your bones half as effectively as the news about sub-prime mortgages, Ponzi schemes/scams, financial meltdowns, factory closures and Reductions in Force.

(Interestingly, a quick Google search show that the use of the term, Reduction in Force, seems to be mainly in press releases from North America. I suppose it is easier on the corporate Human Resources’ tongues than to use words like “lay-off” or “fire.”)


Auld Langxiety II

This Time, It's For Real

by Kevin Morris

Should 2008 be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should global economic downturns be ignored, and days of auld lang syne?

A few years ago, in the United States, tax laws were passed that made it attractive to "flip" houses by buying them, fixing them up, and quickly selling them for a big profit - mostly tax-free profit. Many Americans made substantial amounts of money by moving every year or two to a different residence and reaping the rewards. Of course, all this rapid turnover and appreciation in the housing market pushed home prices up quickly. Soon, in many areas, the average home buyer could not afford the average home. This was not good for real-estate and mortgage companies. They needed to be constantly selling properties and writing new mortgages to make a profit. They came to the rescue of the average home buyer by creating new mortgages with very aggressive terms, allowing people to qualify for home purchases they could not otherwise afford. Sometimes, these loans had artificially low interest rates, reduced first-year payments, and even negative amortization as part of the "magic" that allowed consumers to qualify for credit they could not normally manage. As long as property values continued to rise at an unnatural rate, however, everybody would be safe.


Layout-Aware Diagnosis of IC Failures

Better failure and yield analysis by incorporating layout information into scan logic diagnosis tools

by Dr. Martin Keim, Mentor Graphics Corporation

With increasing size and complexity of ICs and limitations in traditional physical failure analysis tools, failure analysis engineers need help determining the root cause of a specific failing die. Yield engineers, on the other hand, need to be able to identify systematic yield limiters that may be disguised as random failures caused by complex interactions between the manufacturing process and specific design patterns. A failure diagnosis tool that provides high accuracy and resolution, as well as meaningful defect classifications, can be of high value to both engineers’ jobs.


And That Makes 1

A Look Back at 2008

by Bryon Moyer

A look outside confirms it. The sky ranges from dull white to steely dark gray. An occasional glimpse of blue is quickly corrected to bring it into conformance with the surrounding severity. The sound of the traffic is enhanced by the swish of tire on wet road. And it’s cold. By California standards, anyway… Yup, it’s winter. No, you don’t see this in the travel guides, but as the old year gives way to the new, Silicon Valley receives – hopefully – its annual drink of water from the skies, and would-be outdoor adventurers, confined to close quarters, are given to musing on the waning year. As shall we this week.

All in all, it’s been a chaotic, tumultuous year, characterized by both dread and hope. And not even the staid world of semiconductors has been immune to what might be seen as excesses confined to the more high-flying daredevil businesses like hoardingbanking, mismanagementinvestment, and fraudspeculation. But the year started on a much more pedestrian level as the first 45-nm designs worked their way towards production – and made it into the world, bringing to fruition yet another round of miniaturization.

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