October 2009


The FPGA Alternative


By Geoffrey James Until a few years ago, SoC designers focused almost exclusively on ASICs. While it was theoretically possible to create an SoC design for an FPGA, the programmable chips were too bulky and pricey to be useful for much more than prototyping. Today, however, designers are increasingly turning to FPGAs for their SOC targets for production systems. Why the sudden upsurge in So... » read more

The Five Percent Solution


By Jack Harding When it comes to internal operations, “Do it yourself is dead.” By internal operations I mean all those activities from netlist to EOL (end of life). After all, nobody makes their own EDA tools or wafers. So, why are there a thousand companies with teams of 5 to 200 all doing the same job and, in many cases, poorly? How good can you be at making one or two 65 or 40 nm ch... » read more

Outsourcing’s New Face


By Ed Sperling As the semiconductor industry digs out from one of the worst downturns in decades, the business of semiconductor design and engineering is changing. While the architecture and features are still being developed by chip companies, the actual work of developing the chip increasingly is being done by third parties. Outsourcing is hardly new concept in business. In the early pa... » read more

SpyGlass Application In An FPGA To ASIC Conversion Flow


Mapping from a field programmable gate array (FPGA) to an application specific IC (ASIC) is subject to some limitations. This white paper identifies some of the most common limitations in this mapping process and shows how the use of Atrenta’s GuideWareTM methodologies and SpyGlass® product family help the designer quickly identify and address these limitations. FPGAs are a perfect platfo... » read more

The Abstraction of Test


By Ann Steffora Mutschler By now, semiconductor design abstraction is old hat to many engineers, but mention the term “semiconductor test abstraction” and expect a blank stare in return. Design complexity, enormous design size, and short market windows have put tremendous pressure on test to occur earlier rather than later. Even at the RTL level, where hardware test typically has not ... » read more

Design By Consensus


By Cheryl Ajluni On Monday, October 12, the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) announced the results of a survey of professional forecasters regarding the economy. Their consensus was clear: the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression has ended. While many Americans still think the country’s economy is in poor shape, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll taken between O... » read more

Making Connections


By Ed Sperling The world is still full of engineers who can build fast interconnects to things like PCI Express or USB 2.0 who can create complex schematics for determining the connections between a processor core, memory, logic and various IP blocks on a piece of silicon. But over the next several years, many of those engineers will have to figure out new ways to make a living. The numbe... » read more

Relocating Intelligence


For the past couple of decades, intelligence in a system was largely a function of the logic in a processor. That may change, given some of the disparate discussions now under way across the electronics industry. Putting all the intelligence in one place can make the design process more efficient, but it doesn’t necessarily make the system more efficient, either from a performance or pow... » read more

An Uneven Rise From The Ashes


There are signs that we are emerging strongly from the recession, and signs that we are still staggering. So which is correct? Unfortunately, it’s both. The problem with the bulk of the electronics market now devoted to consumer spending is that there’s no compelling need to upgrade. There will always be replacements. Cell phones break. Cars fall apart. Even desktop computers burn up. Bu... » read more

We Changed Our Name


Low-Power Design today changes its name to Low-Power Engineering reflecting a broader context for low-power issues that extend well beyond the confines of just design. We discovered the need for this change several months ago—and many stories after launching Low-Power Design. Polls of our readers and our sponsors, which we conduct on a regular basis, showed our name was too narrow for the ... » read more

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