Finding the Right Prototype

Carbon Design Systems Announces the Carbon System Exchange

by Bryon Moyer

So I hear you’re going to try to build an SoC. Good luck; you’ve got lots of work ahead.

First you have to come up with an architecture. Then you need to design all of the blocks yourself. Then you need to write all of the software that’s going to run on this beastie. By yourself.

That’s the easy part. When you’re done with that, you have to verify the whole thing. Yes, you have to design everything and finish it all before you can start your verification. I just hope you don’t make any mistakes at the early architecture level.

So, okay then, off you go like a good lad.

 

Over the FR4 and Through the Woods

To Grandma's PCB We Go

by Amelia Dalton

This week’s Fish Fry is all about your next PCB design. From power integrity to mixed-signal place and route, from Gerber files to schematics, from output pins over the FR4 and through the vias, to grandma’s house we go. My first guest this week is Greg Lebsack from Tanner EDA, and we discuss why you want a digital place and route tool, integrating ye ol’ analog into your next design, and what Tanner EDA brings to the mixed-signal party. Next up, we bring in Hemant Shah from Cadence Design Systems to chat about one of the biggest pain points of PCB design: the hand off to manufacturing. Hemant and I investigate a rapidly expanding industry consortium that is hoping to change all of that awful file hand off once and for all.

 

A Sale of Thirty-Two Bitties

AMD’s Multi-pronged Strategy Is Certainly Different, But Is It Better?

by Jim Turley

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair… we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”   Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Is AMD the best microprocessor maker in the world, or the worst? Is the company more competitive than it’s ever been, or about to hit bottom? Are they blazing a trail to success, or on the road to perdition?

Or the real question: Are you planning to buy AMD chips or aren’t you?

 

FPGAs Cool Off the Datacenter

Xilinx Heats Up the Race

by Kevin Morris

The problem is programming.

If it were just a straight-up race to see what kind of chip delivers the most processing for the least power, FPGAs would have won long ago. A custom hardware version of just about any algorithm you can name, carefully optimized for FPGA LUT fabric, will run much faster, with less latency and far less power, than anything you can do with any conventional processor.

But what about GPUs?

Yes, that includes GPUs - especially the power part. And these days, it’s getting more and more to the point that power is the ONLY part. In big-iron computing applications such as large datacenters, you could always add more cores, servers, or processors. But you can’t add more processing if you can’t pipe more power into the building or get more heat out. Many datacenters are running up against exactly that issue right now. That’s why you see huge server farms constructed where power is cheap and abundant. And, for the companies that need giant server farms, power is usually the largest business expense.

 

Managing Encryption

HCC Embedded Strikes Efficiency/Freedom Balance

by Bryon Moyer

We humans are funny creatures. When it comes to how we organize ourselves, we like for someone to be in charge. But we don’t want them to be too much in charge. Exactly how that balance is set is a point of constant friction around the world, and there’s no one right setpoint for everyone or every culture.

System design inherits this ambivalence. We don’t want chaos, but we want maximal individual freedom and flexibility. So we want standards, but not too many. And we like reference designs, but we want to be able to customize them and make them our own.

It’s all about adding value: we all want to build something that’s uniquely us. From a business standpoint, we’re hoping that “that special something” will excite customers and become a sales differentiator. But, while we want to put our custom touches on it, we don’t want to develop everything from scratch, and we tend to eschew redundancy as being inefficient (unless it’s a requirement for safety purposes, in which case we go along begrudgingly).

 

Paging Dr. MEMS

Merit Systems and MEMS in the Medical Machine

by Amelia Dalton

Last week, we investigated how new MEMS-enhanced devices are changing the way we interact with our tennis rackets, beer kegs, and video games (you know, the important stuff), but this week, we’re going past the world of CE to a land where the power budgets are tight, the BOMs are tighter, and the number of sensors soars into the millions. Yep, we’re talking about MEMS in the medical machine. My guest is Rick Russell, President of Merit Sensor Systems. Rick is here to introduce us to a whole new world of pressure sensors, explain why Merit has their own wafer fab, and map out where the MEMS market is headed in the future. Then, keeping with our medical theme, we also check out a new MEMS-enhanced eating-sensing earpiece looking for some Indigogo cash that will not only listen to your bites but also have you talking to your food. 


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