Experts At The Table: The Reliability Factor

By Ed Sperling Low-Power Engineering sat down to discuss reliability with Ken O’Neill, director of high reliability product marketing at Actel; Brani Buric, executive vice president at Virage Logic; Bob Smith, vice president of marketing at Magma, and John Sanguinetti, chief technology officer at Forte Design Systems. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. LPE: Do chips become ... » read more

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

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

Defining Reliability In Low-Power Designs

By Ann Steffora Mutschler Having a clear understanding of what reliability means for a particular low-power application can make a significant difference when it comes to communicating with engineering team members and customers. Is reliability simply a question of how long a device can run without errors? And what happens to reliability when power modeling, verification and other design tec... » read more

FPGA Vendors Throw Kitchen Sink at Power-Consumption Issues

By Brian Fuller In the storied history of semiconductors, each era finds vendors generally attaching their strategy to a trendy application segment to differentiate themselves. For years, IC vendors were “computer companies.” Then they were in the “communications” business and more recently they were all about “consumer.” But the evolution of technology has forced a re-assessm... » read more

Lines Blur Between Processor And Microcontroller

By Ed Sperling Big changes are happening in the microcontroller market. That statement alone should give pause for most design engineers and raise their level of skepticism. In the past, microcontrollers were a steady business but not exactly an interesting one. That was before the big push toward “green” and the 65nm process node. And it was before vendors began adding logic and more fun... » read more

Soft Errors Create Tough Problems

By Ed Sperling Single event upsets used to be as rare as some elements on the Periodic Table, with the damage they could cause relegated more to theory than reality. Not anymore. At 90nm, what was theory became reality. And at 45nm, the events are becoming far more common, often affecting multiple bits in increasingly dense arrays of memory and now, increasingly, in the logic. Known alter... » read more

Moore’s Law Splinters

By Ed Sperling Moore’s Law continues progressing at a rate of one node every two years or so, but the number of companies that are adhering to that schedule is becoming much harder to pinpoint. Even the nodes themselves are becoming fuzzy. While Intel is looking at 32nm as the next node after 45nm, TSMC is looking at 28nm as the next node after 40nm. And there are likely to be extensions wi... » read more

Writing Application Software Directly To The Metal

By Ed Sperling How necessary is an operating system? That question would have been considered superfluous a decade ago, possibly even blasphemous and career-limiting. But it now is beginning to surface in low-power discussions, particularly in compute-intensive applications where performance and power are both critical. General-purpose operating systems constantly call on the processor fo... » read more

Plumbing 101: Current Leakage And What to Do About It

By Brian Fuller Rising demand for mobile products and the march of Moore’s Law have created conditions for a perfect storm that threatens to swamp electronics designs and the market growth those designs target. The catalyst for that storm is leakage, which worsens the smaller devices become. Even in an “off” state, systems can leak like poorly insulated houses. But as the nation think... » read more

← Older posts Newer posts →