Like Flash, But Different

by Jim Turley

As status symbols go, memory chips are about as low as you can get. Even in the nerdy world of embedded chips and software, memories are low on sex appeal, low on differentiation, and low on most designers’ list of interesting devices. They are, in a word, generic.

So what’s new and exciting in the world of embedded memories? Uh... nothing, really. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile reexamining your assumptions about memory and memory types. There’s a decades-old memory technology that perhaps has been overlooked for too long.


The Twitter of Things?

Developments in Embedded WiFi

by Bryon Moyer

The internet has been a massive game-changer for humanity. It started as a way for people to get information, then a quicker way to communicate, then a way to do business. And now… well, perhaps we’ve come full circle back to getting information. But it’s become clear that there is such a thing as too much information. Thanks to ubiquitous access to the many ways of keeping in touch with those people whom you know are interested in your every move, your every thought, your every… synaptic firing, we can all practically live in each other’s brains.

We can now know when you started breakfast, what you had for breakfast, whether you liked it, when you finished, and whether you cleaned the dishes after or just put them in a heap for later. We could, if you wanted, receive a record of every chew. We know when you’re excited, when you’re bored, when the weather is great, when you trimmed that carbuncle, when that ingrown hair started festering, when you learned that… well, it might just get to be a bit more than we need. But as far as you’re concerned, we’re all just dying to hear all this stuff.


Building ‘Image Format Conversion’ Designs for Broadcast Systems

by Suhel Dhanani & Girish Malipeddi, Altera Corporation

Image format conversion is commonly implemented within various broadcast infrastructure systems such as servers, switchers, head-end encoders, and specialty studio displays.

At the basic level, the need for image format conversion is driven by the multitude of input image formats that must be converted to high definition (HD) or a different resolution before being stored, encoded, or displayed.

The broadcast infrastructure is a fragmented market with every vendor having slightly different ‘image format conversion’ requirements – be it the number of channels, the output resolution, progressive vs. interlaced image processing, etc. Also different characteristics are important within different sub-segments. While overall delay is very important in switcher applications, latency is a key factor for displays and video-conferencing systems. Server system requirements are more about image quality and have a higher priority than latency.


Kicking a Dead Horse

FPGAs Going the Distance Against ASIC

by Kevin Morris

Imagine seeing the following copy in a modern ad: "The new BMW 5-series sedan outperforms the horse and buggy in every important way. Your family will travel farther in a day and arrive less fatigued thanks to our superior cruising speed, climate-controlled cabin, and luxurious upholstery. It's so much easier to use as well - no more hitching up the team before you start, and no more watering, feeding, and grooming at the end of the day. You just turn the key and drive away. Simple as that. So, before you snap up that new stallion you've been eyeing - consider a car instead."

You'd probably feel like our Bavarian auto-marketers were out of touch with the times. Certainly, there was a time when the main mission of the auto industry was replacement of horse-drawn conveyances, but there came a time when the automobile won, and marketers shifted their sights to more serious competition.


Finding Waldo

A Look at Silicon Debug – After You’ve Got Silicon

by Bryon Moyer

Hey Mike… Come here a sec… We need your help.

Sure. What is it?

Need you to find someone.

OK… who and where?

Name’s Waldo. Here’s his background. He’s in New York City.

New York City?? I’m supposed to find him there? Just like that?

Yup. Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that. You did a great job last time.

Last time? Are you serious? That was Tonopah! There’s, like, three main ways in and out. A handful of city streets. And great visibility, so even if someone takes the back road, you can spot them 20 miles away from the air.

How can you even compare that to New York City?? And besides, if you’ve been on his case, why did you lose him in the first place?


Quantum of Solids

A Look at the Rapidly Evolving State of MRRG

by Bryon Moyer

The speed of light is a bitch. In America we like to think there are no limits. That’s what allowed the pioneers to conquer the West. That’s what allowed those with foggy bottoms to split the atom. That’s what allowed financial whiz kids to take the 3rd derivative of the anticipated interest rate trajectories of the 12 least-popular indices, integrate them over those periods during maturation when transaction density was expected to be heaviest, insure them based on the peak harmonic components of the betting fluctuation spectra for the next three superbowls, muddle for three minutes, add a Cointreau float and a splash of EVOO, and offer up an exciting new investment vehicle that just can’t fail.

Yeah, we can do all that, but, so far, the speed of light has proven impenetrable. Which, quite frankly, pisses us off. We really don’t cope well when anything so trivial gets in the way of the immediate desires of anyone with a sizeable birthright and friends in high places. But as far as we can tell, traditional communication can proceed only as fast as the speed of light. And so, given our extensive history in beating the odds, we immediately set off to figure out who we have to pay to get around the limit. So far that hasn’t worked (although we keep trying).

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