Distributing Data, Machine to Machine

RTI Updates Their DDS System

by Bryon Moyer

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.

 

Design Services and Smarty Pants Toasters

by Amelia Dalton

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.

 

Communications Out of Thin Air

Ambient Backscatter Concept Proven

by Bryon Moyer

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?

 

Qualcomm: the Intel of Cellphones

In the Mobile Modem Market, There’s a Different 500-pound Gorilla

by Jim Turley

In the computer world, we’re long accustomed to Intel’s being the overwhelmingly dominant supplier. If you use the words “computer chip” or “microprocessor” around normal people, they reflexively think of Intel, the way most people equate “Coke” with fizzy cola drinks or “NSA” with creepy surveillance.

It’s a different reality with cellphone makers. In that world, Qualcomm is the proverbial 500-pound gorilla. The San Diego–based company makes 58% of all the baseband chips used in cellphones around the world, regardless of country, wireless standard, or price level. That means Qualcomm alone sells more chips than its dozen or so competitors combined.

 

Board Revolution

Part 1 - Cadence Allegro TimingVision

by Kevin Morris

They say timing is everything, and when designing digital electronics, “they” are absolutely correct. Unless we can get the timing right on every path in our project, we’re going nowhere fast. Timing closure runs the gamut of our engineering tasks - from the inside of our FPGAs through our boards and out into the world.

With the proliferation of high-speed interfaces into common standards like DDR, PCI and others, even “normal” PCB design can involve complex timing issues, and resolving all of them at once can be a bit like squeezing a balloon. We have paths that need to meet minimum or maximum delay specifications, groups of paths that must be equal length, differential pairs that must be routed together, and phase alignment corrections that must be applied. And, all of these need to be handled during PCB routing - at the same time that we’re struggling with things like getting from point A to point B, minimizing the number of vias and layers, navigating our way out of complex BGA pin fields, and applying our sense of aesthetics to our work.

 

Signing Off on Standards

Do Standards Always Make Sense?

by Bryon Moyer

Not long ago, we took a look at the issue of RTL sign-off. Within that discussion was the consideration that this might go for standardization with a body like Accellera or Si2. The issue was broached by Atrenta, but it’s also a topic that Real Intent has been paying attention to, and I had a follow-on discussion with them (one outcome of which was their response to the article).

Another outcome was to get me thinking about, or rethinking, the appropriateness of subjecting something like RTL sign-off to a standard.

I’ll do one of my usual over-simplification things now: It seems like people can be split into two groups. The larger group by far consists of those folks that simply want to get along and live their lives, and this can often be done by getting together and agreeing on how things should be done in situations where it will make things easier for everyone.


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