Who Controls the Power?

Open Power Foundation Aims to Make PowerPC More Plentiful

by Jim Turley

Once upon a time, there were many little RISC processors frolicking in the deep green microprocessor forest. There was the jaunty little ARM. The bright little SPARC. The mighty little MIPS. The aristocratic little PowerPC. And so many others. They all played and laughed and had ever such a good time.

Then, one by one, the happy little RISC processors started disappearing. Were they gobbled up by the big, bad CISC processor that lurked in the woods? Did they cross over the Wheatstone Bridge and into another land? Or did they just get lost in the tall grass, wandering aimlessly until their mommies and daddies forgot about them?

 

Don’t Pass Me By

Project Ara Dev Boards and the Internet of Moving Things

by Amelia Dalton

The pedal is to the metal, our motor is running, and Fish Fry is hitting the open road. At the wheel this week is mCube CEO Ben Lee. Ben and I discuss the future of the IoT market, the details of mCube's super tiny accelerometers, and where you can find a truly unique golf course where you play above the clouds. Also joining our Fish Fryin' caravan this week, is an exciting update from the folks at Google's Project Ara (and you won't want to miss this!) Last but certainly not least, we round out this episode with a little ride down Static Timing and Constraint Validation Lane. Buckle up my friends, it's gonna be a wild ride!

 

Off to the Android Races

New EEMBC Benchmark Measures Android Speed

by Jim Turley

“I don’t always benchmark my Android devices. But when I do, I prefer AndEBench-Pro.” – The Most Boring Man in the World Benchmarking, like economics, is a dismal science. Both are important and both are more complicated than the casual observer may expect. EEMBC is an expert at one of these.

The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark consortium (the second E is purely decorative) is a nonprofit group approaching its 20th birthday. The merry band of benchmarkers has expanded beyond its original remit of creating tiny benchmark kernels for stressing CPU cores, and it now offers a whole catalog of benchmarks large and small for just about anything. There’s an automotive benchmark, a Web browser benchmark, and now two different Android benchmarks.

 

And Then There Was One

InvenSense Scoops up Movea, Trusted Positioning

by Bryon Moyer

Once upon a time, roughly a month ago, there were sensor makers, who made sensors and did some amount of their own sensor fusion software, and there were separate companies (note plural) that made “sensor fusion” software that wasn’t tied to any specific brand of sensor.

Why did we need this? Well, let’s review for anyone that hasn’t been following the scene in detail. You can take, for example, the output of an accelerometer and the output of a gyroscope and “fuse” them together to provide an overall orientation result in terms of quaternions. It takes software to do this – the sensor fusion software referred to above. In this case, the algorithms implement well-known mathematical relationships to provide their result. Companies aren’t likely to compete based on these specific algorithms, except to the extent that they can do them faster or, more importantly, with lower power.

 

X Marks the Spot

Thwarting Pirates with AI and X-fest 2014

by Amelia Dalton

At Attention Ye Salty Dogs! Hoist the mizzen mast, Fish Fry is ready to set sail! This week Jim Beneke comes aboard our mighty Fish Fryin’ ship to plot a course to X-fest - the yearly how-to training sessions from Avnet and Xilinx for FPGA, DSP, SoC and embedded systems designers. Join us as we dig into X-fest’s treasure trove of deep tech seminars, trainings, and much more. Then, in keeping with our pirateous parade, we delve into the details of a new pirate-busting radarrrr called WatchStander, and check out how artificial intelligence plays an important role in WatchStander’s modus operandi.

 

Wireless Wramblings

Changing the World with Cell Phones?

by Dick Selwood

Deciding what to write about for EEJournal is difficult. It is not that there is a lack of stories, but picking just one topic out of the many that are competing for my attention every day is sometimes close to impossible. But occasionally there are signals that just cannot be ignored. In the last few days these signals have all been pointing at wireless.

The biggest single signal was the Cambridge Wireless "Future of Wireless" conference. Cambridge Wireless is a community (its word – not mine) of "nearly 400 companies across the globe interested in the development and application of wireless and mobile technologies to solve business problems". Within the community, there is an active programme of events, many organised by one or more of the twenty Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

 

Tesla, Edison, and the Patent Office

Positive and Negative Poles in the World of Electricity

by Jim Turley

Elon Musk is a guy so rich that he builds real-life rocket ships for fun.

He also builds electric cars. Or, more accurately, he built a company, Tesla Motors, that builds electric cars. Before that, he made money by handling other people’s money via PayPal. He grew up in Canada, so he’s also a nice guy.

Evidently Mr. Musk is also something of a philanthropist, because last month he gave away Tesla’s patents. Yup, just gave ’em away. Want to build an electric car that competes with Tesla’s? Knock yourself out; here’s the key technology you’ll be needing.

 

chipKITs™ and JPEGs

IP in Space and Open Source Board Buildin’

by Amelia Dalton

It's time to break out the sparklers, an arc welder or two, and your best space suit - Fish Fry is here to celebrate! We're ringing in Fish Fry's 100th podcast episode with an ode to two of our favorite subjects: open source embedded system development and photos from from the Mars Rover. First up, Marc McComb (Microchip) introduces us to the chipKIT™ Platform. Marc and I jump feet first into the chipKIT™ platform ecosystem and check out what this open source platform is all about. Also this week, Fish Fry welcomes Nikos Zervas, of COO CAST, Inc. Nikos brings us some interesting details about how CAST IP found itself in the Mars Rover and (with the help of CAST's JPEG Encoder IP) why our view of the Red Planet will never be the same.

We're giving away five PIXI kits (courtesy of Maxim Integrated Products) but you'll have to listen to the podcast to find out how to enter to win!

 

IoT Needs Better B&Bs

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

While top-flight bed & breakfasts would no doubt do a world of good for many IoT developers, the “B&B” in the title refers to BANDWIDTH and BATTERIES. Given all the ink spilled on IoT, these are two topics that do not receive the attention they deserve. The third important yet underserved topic is IoT security, and that will get a separate article of its own.

IoT bandwidth falls into the growing category of “challenges that need to be solved, and the sooner the better.” Many IoT devices rely on Bluetooth (BT), which will work until it doesn’t and that point is rapidly approaching. BT was invented and has evolved as a reasonable solution for a personal area network (PAN). The prime use model is your mobile phone and earpiece, heart-rate monitor, fitness band, cycling cadence-speed sensor, smartwatch, and the like.

 

Crossbar RRAM Tweaks Nonvolatile Memory

Unique Resistive Technology Set to Challenge NAND Flash

by Jim Turley

I gotta say, memory chips are boring.

And that’s coming from a guy who lives and works in the chip business. Sure, I can get all excited about microprocessor chips. I can generally keep my eyes open through a discussion of interface chips. I’ve even been known to nod occasionally when the topic turns to cryptography chips. But memory? Give me some toothpicks for my eyelids.

But out in the real world of non-technical humanoids, “memory chip” is about the only semiconductor-related phrase that average people know. They pick it up from TV, movies, and science-fiction shows, I assume, and are given to understand that “memory banks” are something the bad guys hack. Those old enough to remember watching 2001: A Space Odyssey recall that HAL’s memory was stored in something that looked like clear-glass audio cassette cases. Sigh.

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