Two (relatively) recent announcements from Brussels have made it clear that the European Union is serious about pushing back into the electronics business. One, which initially looks like a bureaucratic reshuffle with added jargon, is that three programs, ARTEMIS, ENIAC and EPoSS are being merged into a Joint Undertaking / Public Private Partnership to be called ECSEL. I will translate this in a moment. The other announcement was an aspirational target - that Europe should double chip manufacture to reach 20% of the world output, and more than domestic US output, by 2020.
Both these initiatives are being driven by the Euro Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, who has said, “I’m not a politician… I’m Dutch – I tell it bluntly.”
Fans of Heavy Metal Will Like TI’s New Delfino MCU
Are you into heavy metal? Do power generation, motor control, PLCs, robotics, and automation rock your socks off? Does spinning metallica make you want to raise your fist and yell? Then grab your lighters, motörheads. Stuff’s about to get real.
The number of this beast is F2837xD (it probably means something if you say it backwards), and it comes out of Texas. Dallas, to be exact, and more specifically, TI. Within the walls of TI’s black metal warehouse it’s called Delfino because, well, F2837xD is too hard to pronounce when you’re sober.
Talking Wearables with Jawbone VP Ivo Stivoric
Alright, Fish Fryers - let's do some visualization. You're wearing some kind of device. It's monitoring your vital signs, it's measuring your activity, and it knows if you've been naughty or nice. What names come to mind? Fitbit? Jawbone? BodyMedia? In this week's Fish Fry, my guest is none other than Ivo Stivoric. He's the former co-founder, CTO, and VP of New Products at BodyMedia, the current Vice President of Research and Development at Jawbone, and a Croatian dancer extraordinaire. Join us, won't you?
Not Just Software vs. Hardware
We recently took a look at Lattice’s approach to sensor hubs. We’ve seen many other ways of implementing sensor hubs in the past, but all of those were software-based; it was just a question of where the software executes. Lattice’s approach is hardware, and that raises all kinds of new questions.
The biggest red flag that it raises for me is that moving a task from software to hardware in the design phase is not trivial. (Trying to keep it with the software guys, using tools that automatically generate hardware is, for the most part, a quixotic goal that seems largely to have been lovingly placed back on the shelf.) In my quest to figure this part out, I found that there’s more to the sensor hub world than all-software and all-hardware. And that makes the design question even more complex.
Taiwanese CPU Company is Happy to Keep Cool, Cash Checks
You know that feeling when you discover a great little restaurant that nobody else knows about? Or listen to a terrific band that’s flying under the radar?
That’s how the designers of a few hundred million SoCs must feel. They’ve discovered the Andes, a small 32-bit microprocessor core that sits in the middle of a burgeoning array of small-scale electronic devices. Once known only to the Asian cognoscenti, Andes is going global, including a push into the United States. Who knows – Andes may even be seen in South America before long.
Ben Heck, UVM Primer, and Printing with Metal
The year is drawing to a close, and the snow is falling, but the friday fun is just heatin' up. Our first guest is none other than Ben Heck from element14's wildly popular engineering television series "The Ben Heck Show". Ben gives us an exclusive preview of the next season of "The Ben Heck Show" and lets us in on how he got into this crazy business. Also this week, author Ray Salemi is here to light our way to a special place called UVM land. He's written a new book called "The UVM Primer: A Step-by-Step Introduction to the Universal Verification Methodology" and he's here to break UVM down into its geeky bits and pieces. Finally, we close up this week's Fish Fry with a discussion about some innovative open source plans that could bring 3D metal printing right to your work bench. Saddle up, my friends, the fun is about to begin!
Indoor Location System Knows Where Your Treasure is Buried
As first-world problems go, losing your car keys is a bad one. Losing a whole warehouse full of shippable merchandise is probably worse, but warehouses typically have lots of people standing around watching over the goods. But what do you do when you’ve lost your car keys somewhere inside the warehouse? Needle, meet haystack. Not so easy now, huh? What are you going to do?
If you’ve planned ahead, you’d have little badges on your keys – badges stuffed with technology designed by DecaWave. The Dublin, Ireland startup has created an itty-bitty little chip it calls the ScenSor that’s designed to solve this, and much larger, problems.
This week's Fish Fry takes on Black Friday* -- no coupons needed, and no standing in line necessary! In honor of today's annual celebration of America's shopping obsession, we go behind-the-scenes to check out the engineering ideas (big and small) that drive this gift-giving season. Dianne Kibbey (element14) rolls in with a shopping cart chock-full of innovation from element14’s Smarter Life Challenge, and Rich Hoefle (Microchip Technology) delivers the goods on the world’s fastest single-core 32-bit MCUs. (Can you imagine our holiday gift-giving season without MCUs? Neither can I.)
Assigning Blame After Accidents
In Britain a four-year-old boy was allowed to starve to death, and his body wasn’t found for two years. After his mother was sentenced to prison a few months ago, an inquiry was held into how the various local agencies and the police had dealt with the matter. I have no knowledge as to how competent the inquiry was, but when the report was published, it was violently attacked by the press and by government sources because no individual was blamed.
“So what has this to do with electronics?” I can hear you asking.
Sloppy Coding Practices Led to a Fatal Crash
You’ve probably heard by now about the lawsuit against Toyota regarding its electronic engine control. The jury found the automaker guilty of writing fatally sloppy code, and, based on what the software forensics experts found, I’d have to agree.
This case is fundamentally different from the “unintended acceleration” fiasco that embroiled a certain German carmaker back in 1986. That scare was entirely bogus and made-up, and it was fueled by an ill-considered “60 Minutes” exposé that aired in the days when Americans watched only three TV channels. Sales of the affected cars plummeted, and it took more than two decades for the company to recover. An engineering spokesman for the carmaker told reporters, “I’m not saying that we can’t find the problem with the cars. I’m saying there is no problem with the cars.” He was dead right – there was no problem with the cars – but the remark was viewed as arrogant hubris, and it just made the situation worse.