Just What Does That Mean?
Qualcomm Atheros recently announced a new platform for the home (and, in the future, for business). It’s partly predicated on the fact that we’re consuming lots of bits over the interwebs. But that just merits a faster packet processor, and this is more than that: This is an “internet processor.” Exactly what is an internet processor? I was frankly wondering whether it was the classic marketing case of “define a new category so that you’re the only one in it,” but upon further musing, I don’t think it’s quite that – although a precise definition still eludes me.
I had a hard time sorting through this, partly because, really, I’m not holding up my end of the technology burden here. I’m not a gamer. I don’t have a regular TV. I simply connect to the internet and use a big monitor as my screen.
Distinguishing You from Your Phone
The Holidays can be a challenging time in the US. Particularly for people that don’t like shopping, this is not a favorite time of year. Count a big portion of the male population in that group of hapless souls that gird up their courage and wade into the miasma that is the local mall.
So here you sit, in your car in the mall parking lot, watching the steady stream of people going in empty-handed, coming out loaded with booty. That’s your competition. If they buy more than you do, you lose. And if you don’t hurry, they’re going to buy the cool stuff – and you lose some more.
Element14's 2013 Community Awards and CES Decompression
With the Consumer Electronics Show drawing to a close, it's time to reflect and decompress. In this week's Fish Fry, we meditate on the electronic engineering wonders and winners of the 2013 element14 Annual Community Awards with Dianne Kibbey of element14. And, if you're still tense after a solid week in the consumer electronics playground, you are certain to enjoy the soothing waters of PADS board design software. This week, we unveil a whole new way to binge on your favorite Chalk Talk webcasts with the launch of an exciting new series that might make you rethink your board design strategy.
Taking Circuits Beyond Flexible
We’re careening down a road towards pervasive electronics. Heck, at this rate, we’re going to end up so far away from our primal roots that we’ll be completely helpless during a power outage. But insinuating those circuits everywhere doesn’t work so well with these clunky printed circuit boards that we’ve relied on for so many years.
No, these things will need to fit everywhere – wearable is obvious, but wearable is just the start. We’ll also be fashioning circuits into shapes that fit the items and the styles we like rather than vice versa. But that means that we need to be able to shape the circuits accordingly. And that means one of two things: either fabs have to be able to build circuits on arbitrarily-shaped 3D surfaces – unlikely – or we’ll need to create flat circuits and then make them fit these shapes after the fact.
Combo Windows + Android Systems Have Lackluster Appeal
This week, people flocking to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be treated to their first look at a new kind of PC that dual-boots Windows 8 and Android. Imagine, a machine that runs Windows one minute and Android the next.
Sounds like the worst of both worlds, if you ask me. A triumph of marketing over engineering. The coppery taste of desperation has replaced product innovation.
Nobody’s saying anything official yet, so there’s a bit of speculation baked into all this, but the concept is pretty straightforward. Take a Windows 8 computer (please), and load an x86 port of Android onto it. Let the user toggle back and forth between the two operating systems by tapping the screen, making a swipe gesture, or using the keyboard – whatever. Voila! You’ve got both Windows and Android at your fingertips, with the vast software libraries of both at your command.
Fryin’ up Some Semis with Mike Gianfagna
In this week’s Fish Fry, we’re throwing some FR4 on the barbie and frying up a side of silicon -- eSilicon to be exact. My guest is EE Master Chef Mike Gianfagna from eSilicon. Mike always joins Fish Fry around this time of year, and this year we are discussing the state of the semiconductor union: what’s keeping us hungry for Moore, and what trends are boiling on high. Also this week, we check out a new crowdsourcing event called “The Iron Man Factory” that could make your dreams (and mine) of a 3D printed Iron Man suit a reality...if they can get Marvel to agree to it.
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!