Treading on Thin Air

Engineering the Second Generation

by Kevin Morris

Somewhere, in a nondescript cubicle in building number umpteen of a multi-billion-dollar multinational multi-technology conglomerate, an engineer sits at a lab bench staring at an eye diagram on six-figure scope. It’s the same every day. Any time he is not in a meeting or writing a status report, he sits in this lab and eats and breathes signal integrity. He has almost no concept of the end product that will incorporate his work. His entire universe is jitter, pre-emphasis, equalization, noise, amplitudes, and bit-error rates. For him, time stands still - in the picoseconds.

 

Processing Parallel Worlds

MIT Swarm Processor Shows Spectacular Early Results

by Jim Turley

Programming with parallelism is sometimes illustrated with a kitchen example. One cook working by himself has to do everything in sequence: turn on the stove, mix the batter, pour the sauce, grill the meat, etc. That’s serial programming with no parallelism. That’s how all computers worked until fairly recently.

But two cooks can work faster than one. While one stirs the batter, the other can be checking on the meat or seasoning the broth. Ideally, the work gets done twice as fast. In practice, it’s not usually that perfectly efficient, but, even so, two heads are almost always better than one.

 

Keeping the FCC and Open Source Happy

Prpl: Routers Can Be Secure and Open

by Bryon Moyer

The FCC is worried. You and they spend all this time and energy getting your radio certified, and then some bozo hacks in, changes how the radio works, and puts you out of spec.

And so, back in early 2015, the FCC issued some guidelines or questions regarding WiFi devices – particularly home routers – in an effort to ensure that your radio isn’t hackable.

 

Stand (Tall) and Deliver

Verific Language Parsers and Your Startup Success

by Amelia Dalton

Filed under “Don’t Try This at Home” or “Not to be Taken Lightly”, most EDA engineering teams don’t even consider building their own language front end. Most of you will know the name Verific and some probably have used their language parsers a time or two (or twenty), but many of you may not know that Verific also has a robust and comprehensive startup program. In this week’s Fish Fry, Rick Carlson and I chat about how your startup can stand out from the crowd with a little help from Verific. Rick also shares with us some Verific-assisted startup success stories and explains why the giraffe is Verific’s signature giveaway.

 

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Photonics May Be the Next Big Thing

by Jim Turley

“Begone, Prince of Insufficient Light!” -- Dogbert

Imagine describing electronics, and electrons, to an 8-year-old. “Electrons are really tiny little particles that move through the wires, see? And they can turn switches on and off, and do stuff, and… uh… perform magic tricks.”

 

To Err is Human

Holding Technology Accountable

by Kevin Morris

When a Tesla automobile using the new “Autopilot” feature struck a semi trailer resulting in the death of the driver, the inevitable questions began: “Should Tesla disable the feature?”, “Are self-driving cars a good idea?” Of course, the driver was using the feature beyond its recommended envelope. But the incident highlights an interesting quirk of humans. We want to make our own mistakes. When human error - particularly our OWN human error - causes a problem, we are brimming with forgiveness. After all, it could happen to anybody, really. It was a momentary lapse of concentration. We were tired. The kids were acting up. The situation was just too complicated. We were unlucky.

But when the mistake is made by someone else or - most importantly - by our technology, we are suddenly overwhelmed with righteous indignation. How could they have let that happen? What were the engineers thinking? Doesn’t anybody with half a brain DESIGN these things?

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