In part one of this article series, I suggested that datacenter architectures could benefit from revisiting the parallel computing innovations of the 1980s, and I waxed lyrically about the Transputer, which struck a chord with a surprising number of readers - including one reader who wrote “we built a fabulous Transputer board … didn’t sell many of them … I haven’t thought about it for decades.” It was a heartfelt email, though I am not clear if that was because of his fond memory of the Transputer or the commercial failure of his product. In any event, I firmly stand by my belief that much could be learned and leveraged from revolutionary parallel computing architectures.
In mobile computing, I observed that quad+ core CPUs are vastly underutilized in the majority of real-world applications (the notable exception being gaming). Virtually all of these apps are built on a simple client-server model, taking fractional advantage of mobile CPU horsepower.
Self-driving Cars Might Be Better Than What We Have Now
When you're driving at 182 MPH, don't slam on the brakes and expect to survive.
That thought flitted briefly through my mind as I watched the concrete wall surrounding Daytona International Speedway approach my car window at, well, 182 MPH.
This is the sort of thing that happens to me in the winter months, when the racetracks are too wet, the tires are too cold, and the carburetor is too finicky. I wasn’t really racing at the real Daytona. Oh, no. A strong sense of self-preservation runs in my family. That’s why we’re still here. Rather, I was joystick-ing my way around a PlayStation version of the big Florida racetrack, but that was now coming to an abrupt halt.
Part 2 - Mentor Xpedition
Mentor Graphics is number one in PCB design tools. They want me to tell you that. They want me to tell you that - even after reading about my disdain for marketing the market share of your product. So - there ya go. They’re number one. Why does this matter? Well, they rightfully point out that nobody ever got fired for buying the leading tool, and that EDA can be a fickle business. If an EDA tool is number one (they observe), the company selling it probably cares about it deeply and will want to go the distance to support you and make you happy. Point taken.
However, since we’re all engineers here, the thing that matters the most - by FAR - is whether the tool is robust and reliable in helping you get your engineering job done. In this case - that means helping you be as productive as possible designing the heck out of your PCB. Luckily, besides being number one, Mentor has done a very respectable job of that as well. Now, however, they think that’s not enough. They’re launching a big ’ol ambitious program to upgrade their PCB design suite - in a clear effort to fend off the similarly ambitious competitors (Cadence, Zuken, Altium, et al) who are coming full-tilt right at them.
RTI Updates Their DDS System
The Internet of Things (IoT) is all about Things talking to people and to other Things. This relationship between Things and other Things and People is vague enough that pretty much any product, from transistors to toilet paper, can be marketed as somehow helping to enable the IoT.
While that confusion suggests that some ordering of the IoT might be helpful to those trying to comprehend it (which I’ve attempted before and was originally planning to update), that very scattered nature can make intercommunication between Things a challenge.
Most of the way we’ve approached the IoT has been from a consumer-centric standpoint. Like the smart home concept. Such systems typically involve some kind of hierarchical arrangement: Things that talk to Hubs or the Cloud, on the one hand, and Computers and Phones that talk to the Cloud (and, by proxy, the Things) on the other hand. Perhaps the Phones talk to nearby Things directly, using WiFi.
In this week's Fish Fry in-depth executive interview, I sit down with Synapse design CEO Satish Bagalkotkar. Satish and I chat about how today's rocky global economic climate has affected the electronics industry and how he sees the role of design services changing in the future. Also this week, we investigate a new Addicted Products toaster that may change the face of intelligent devices forever.
Ambient Backscatter Concept Proven
The piper will be paid.
You can do all kinds of things to reduce currents in your wireless sensor node or other module that will be sending a signal. Heck, you can magically make it draw zero power, and still the piper will be paid.
Because when it comes time to transmit that data, then, by definition, you will expend power. That power is required to send your message from you over the air to wherever. That doesn’t happen for free. And it’s typically the most power-hungry part of a well-defined, optimized wireless module. There may be ways to get that transmission power down (like through envelope tracking), but even if you make it 100% efficient, that simply means that the only power used is the power of the signal. Which means you’ll still need to pony up that power.
Or does it?