Key Xilinx and Intel/Altera Strategies Diverge
When there are only two competitors in a race, the tactics change dramatically. Winning is no longer necessarily a matter of simply going as fast as possible. In bicycle match sprints, the winning strategy is actually to stay behind, drafting the leading bike until seconds before the finish line, then catapulting past for the win with a burst of speed built in the wind shadow of the unfortunate leader. In yacht match racing, “covering” is the proven way to victory - mimicking the moves of the rival, and only rarely taking the risk of diverging in order to gain the advantage.
The high-end FPGA market has always been a match race between Xilinx and Altera. For decades, the two companies have jockeyed for position, each trying to outsmart and outrun their adversary with both technological prowess and marketing cunning.
Silexica Picks Up Parallelization and Mapping
It’s been quiet on the multicore parallelization front for a while. We looked at one example a couple times several years ago: Vector Fabrics*. We looked at the overall problem of extracting parallelism and then some advances in Vector Fabrics’ tools at the time. I include those links here because they go into some detail on the nature of many of the challenges – details I won’t repeat here.
But Vector Fabrics went out of business after they finally ran out of runway. Following a couple quiet years, I had a conversation at ARM TechCon with a company called Silexica doing surprisingly familiar things.
Micro Analog and On-Demand Power Management
He'd been here before, many times. He had procrastinated until he couldn’t put it off any longer. It had to be done. After a few cans of Mountain Dew and a giant sigh, he dove in. The experience wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I know you’ve been through it too. Choosing the right power supply for your next design can be a drag, searching through part numbers until your eyes glaze, only to come up with a solution that (most of the time) is still not quite right. In this episode of Fish Fry, we welcome Kapil Shankar from AnDAPT. Kapil and I take an in-depth look at AnDAPT 's on-demand power management solution. Also in this week’s Kickstarter Corner, we check out a new fundraising campaign called JeVois: Open-Source Quad-Core Smart Machine Vision Camera that could bring open-source machine vision to your next Raspberry Pi or Arduino project.
Ilika Tweaks the Formula
It’s been quite a while since we looked at solid-state lithium batteries. They sounded like such a hot topic a few years ago, and then it got deafeningly quiet. Almost, anyway. A conversation with Ilika at the MEMS Executive Congress suggests that there may still be life in this technology.
We started the conversation back in 2012 after speaking with IPS, a company marketing flexible batteries roughly the size of a postage stamp. What differentiated them was the use of LiPON as a solid-state electrolyte in place of the usual liquid electrolyte. I’ll let you click that older IPS link to see more detail on how this works, since this aspect of the technology hasn’t really changed much.
Annual Statistics for the Semiconductor Industry Looking Rosy
Things are looking up in the chip business. The trend lines are pointing up and to the right, sales are up, investment is up, employment is mostly up, and the Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook good.” And if you can’t trust a Magic 8-Ball, well…
Much of this good news comes from the number crunchers at SIA, the Semiconductor Industry Association. The SIA takes a decidedly American look at the worldwide semiconductor industry, but its numbers are globally illuminating, nonetheless.
A New Leader for Electronic Design
During the fifty-year history of Moore’s Law, technological progress in electronics has served two distinct masters. While the industry produces an enormous range of technologies, deployed in countless systems and addressing innumerable application domains, there has always been one clear driver, one prototype system, one application that rules them all and bends our collective innovative energies to its will.