How Would You Save Some of the Industry’s Basket Cases?
You finally get the phone call. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are on speakerphone, calling you while you grill hot dogs in the backyard. Beer in one hand, BBQ tongs in the other (and Bluetooth headset in your ear), you shoot the breeze with your ol’ buddies Bill and Steve.
“So, [insert your name here], what’dya say? Do you want to come be the new CEO of Microsoft? Of course, you’d have to move to Redmond, but we could make that worth your while. Company car… big salary… corner office(s)… Do we have a deal?”
Would you take the job? In this scenario, Satya Nadella remains EVP of the company’s Cloud and Enterprise group, reporting to you. You would oversee all of Microsoft’s worldwide operations, controlling business strategy, technical development, licensing terms – you name it.
New Kinetis Families and a Major Acquisition Equal 900+ Parts
They say change is good, so Freescale must be the best microprocessor company in the whole world.
What hasn’t this company done? It’s change its name, changed its processor architecture(s), changed its financial structure, changed its management (repeatedly), and totally reorganized its product lines, business units, and development structure. In between, I’m sure they’ve changed the office wallpaper and the filter in the break-room coffee maker. I remember sitting down to a meeting with some Freescale marketing types. They glanced across the table at my hand-scribbled org chart of their company and asked politely, “Could we have a copy of that, please?” Seems they were as confused about the company’s structure as I was.
Sage DA Automates Design Rule Test Creation
It wasn’t too long ago that we took a look at a new tool from Sage DA that could be used to create design rules in an automated fashion so that the resulting rules will be clean and consistent. It also provided a way to iron out any ambiguities in a design rule manual.
For those of you less deeply embedded in this space, what we’re talking about here is the ability to check a new chip design’s layout to make sure it doesn’t violate manufacturing rules. In order to be able to do that, we need to have a set of rules to test whether a specific IC meets the constraints of a given process. That way you ensure that no lines are too thin or spaces too narrow. (Oi, if only it were that simple.)
A Hot DATE in Dresden
The Dresden conference centre was designed to represent a stark modern contrast to the restored Baroque buildings of the old town of Dresden. For some reason, the architects decided to build a curved building with one floor on a slope, cutting through other, flat, floors. The entrance is up a long flight of stairs, exposed to the wind and rain blowing across the river Elbe. The conference rooms are all provided with wonderful glass walls overlooking the river, which have to be blacked out if you want to be able to see the information projected onto the screen.
However, it is the the main conference venue for Silicon Saxony, a “cluster” of high tech companies ranging from semiconductor manufacturers Global Foundries and Infineon to a wide range of supporting and related businesses: over 300 companies are part of the network. And it is where, in alternate years, the academic community engaged in EDA make their spring pilgrimage to the DATE Conference.
Microchip’s Small, Cheap PIC16 MCUs Prove There’s Life in 8-bitters
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the lab…
The chip designers at Microchip must have a lot of time on their hands. Either that, or the company keeps several design teams working in parallel. Whatever the process, these guys keep cranking out new microcontrollers faster than we can keep track of them.
Exhibit A is the new batch of 8-bit (sort of) MCUs called the PIC16something-or-other. There’s no point in trying to memorize Microchip’s part numbers because they never make any sense anyway. Like Mercedes-Benz, the company long ago passed the point where the naming system follows any rational progression. But if you’re doing a Google search, you’ll want to look up PIC16F1703 through PIC16F1719, or PIC16LF1703–19. Oh, never mind.
New PowerVR GPU Includes Ray-Tracing Hardware
Ray tracing is one of those cool things that computer geeks often play with at some point in their careers. I fiddled with ray-tracing software a number of years ago and decided that (a) it was pretty cool technology, and (b) I was no good at it.
If you’re not into graphics, “ray tracing” is a way of producing computer graphics by mathematically calculating how rays of light would actually bounce around a scene if it were real. That is, instead of a graphic artist drawing the scene on his/her computer, you instead model the scene and let physics take its course. Got a desk over here, a few walls over there, and some sunlight coming through the window? Splendid. Let the ray-tracing software take over and it will tell you how the scene appears.
No, We’re Not There Yet. Am I Gonna Have to Turn This Thing Around?
OK, folks, SPIE Advanced Litho happened last month, so it must be time for… wait for it… wait for it… wait for it…
That’s the best clue I can think of.
Still waiting for it? Yup, we are. EUV is the thing we’re awaiting, of course.
So this is the obligatory update on the The Technology that Will Finally Save the Imminent End of Moore’s Law. Which would, of course, be disastrous. Ending Moore’s Law, that is. I mean, what other unifying theme could then be used on all technology presentations everywhere no matter how dissimilar?
In the Mobile Modem Market, There’s a Different 500-pound Gorilla
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.
Do Standards Always Make Sense?
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.
It was the best of tools, it was the worst of tools, it was the age of verification, it was the age of RTL power estimation. As we navigate through these tumultuous times of electronic design, we need a design tool compass to help show us the way and Fish Fry is here to set the course. Frank Schirrmeister (Cadence Design Systems) and I hunt for the deep dark secrets of ARM-based design verification and examine how Cadence’s Palladium Emulation system fits into the verification landscape. Norman Chang (VP - Ansys) and I dip into the murky waters of ESD and together we swim toward a new solution that can make the most troublesome paths in our designs a little easier to navigate.