December 2008

Artificial Intelligence: This Time It’s For Real

AI used to be the stuff of science fiction, but cheap processing power and storage has made it a reality. To find out what's being developed, System-Level Design ( tracked down Rachel Goshorn, assistant professor of System Engineering at the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Science in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Check out what she has to s... » read more

Predictions for 2009

Once a year editors take on the job of setting the following year’s agenda and mapping significant changes before they happen. The nice thing is that by the time the year is over, most readers don’t remember what we said. Frequently, even we don’t remember what we said, but that’s beside the point.   Here are a half-dozen predictions for the upcoming year, reflecting changes in bot... » read more

The Trouble With On-Chip Interfaces

By Ed Sperling The trouble with standards is that many of them arise out of need rather than through careful planning, and often unilaterally. The typical scenario in chip design is that a company has an issue to solve, so it comes up with a solution. When it gets what it believes is critical mass behind the standard, the company that developed the solution opens it up to the rest of the ind... » read more

The ESL Conundrum

By Ann Steffora Mutschler As Moore’s Law continues its relentless march, the “electronic system level” (ESL), which is the next higher level of abstraction above the register transfer level (RTL), continues to be adopted as an answer to the ever-increasing complexity of designing semiconductors. Although ESL emerged about five years ago, the term itself still can confound the very commu... » read more

Moving Up The Food Chain

By Ed Sperling It used to be considered axiomatic that chip companies would be rewarded for spectacular technology, reflected in the market value of their components and in their stock price. But with stock prices routinely getting hammered even before the downturn, many companies have begun to re-think their mission. National Semiconductor, for one, is looking at creating modules rather than... » read more

Case Study: A Better Way To Predict Weather

By Ed Sperling Most of our weather predictions are developed from about 150 stationary government radar systems, which interlock and occasionally overlap to create a cohesive picture. The picture isn’t perfect—in fact, it’s probably the equivalent of looking at a large, grainy satellite photo—which creates plenty of wrong forecasts. But the system can track large storms across state bo... » read more

Exclusive Research: Where Are The Midsize Companies?

By Ed Sperling In the chip world it’s beginning to look like the erosion of the middle class, or at least the middle tier. The bulk of companies working in the semiconductor industry—from design to development—have annual revenues of either less than $10 million (26.2%) or more than $500 million (25.4%). The number between $10 million and $100 million is only 12.8%, while the number be... » read more

Outsourcing Creeps Down Into Systems

Offshoring started out as a less-expensive way of developing enterprise applications, but outsourced software development is beginning to move much deeper into the system-level design world. So far, development has evolved from just productivity applications to embedded software. Even large-scale system design is being outsourced. The next step is to outsource pieces of system-level designs, s... » read more

Can SaaS Really Make Chip Design Easier?

By Cheryl Ajluni Software as a Service (SaaS) is not a technology. It is a software deployment business model where an application is hosted as a service that is provided to customers across the Internet. Thanks to success stories from companies like Google,, WebEx, and TurboTax, among others, this business model has become quite popular and is now even being looked at by some E... » read more

What Happens When Ecosystems Stumble?

Economics and design generally are one step removed from each other, but the compression effect of the current design process, combined with extremely low stock prices and a shortage of hard cash are pushing these areas together like never before.   This is new ground, so the ultimate result is somewhat speculative. But given all the factors at play, it appears this downturn coupled with c... » read more

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