Application-Specific Tablets Innovate the Industrial Market
By Ram Sathappan, EPOS business manager, Texas Instruments

tablet The tablet has been a part of the consumer computing market since it was first introduced on a global scale by Apple in 2010. The overwhelming initial adoption by consumers laid the ground work for tablet use in enterprise, but the conversion was slow at first. Today this hesitation has subsided, and tablet computing in many business sectors is growing exponentially. Manufacturers are able to create application-specific design capabilities that tailor tablets to each industry that uses it. They are being created with the hardware and software needed for operational applications in everything from retail stores to healthcare. More...

Five Verification Steps to Low-Power Success
By Thomas L. Anderson, Vice President, Marketing, Breker Verification Systems

electric helicopter Talk to anyone who’s ever had a failure in low-power design for an SoC and the stories will horrify you. Entire portions of the chip power down but cannot be re-powered without a hardware reset. A functional unit goes off into uncharted territory because it tries to interpret the invalid signals from another unit that is powered down. Worst of all are the chips that self-destruct on the tester because they draw more power than the silicon can handle. Your tester need not become a toaster; by following five steps in your verification process, you can reduce most of the risk associated with low-power design. More...

The Future of Electric Aircraft
By Dr. Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx

electric helicopter It can only fly for 15 minutes but it is a breakthrough all the same. Improved batteries have finally made a manned electric helicopter a reality. It follows rapidly on announcements of all electric fixed wing aircraft from Germany (PC-Aero), France (EADS), Italy (SkySpark), China (Luneec) and the USA (Sonex etc) and an historic 24 hour flight by Solar Impulse powered entirely by the sun. Solar Impulse has the wingspan of an Airbus (over 200 feet) and carries 11,628 solar cells to power four motors. More...

Calling All Designers: Time to Get Creative with Cellular Functionality
Joseph Byrne, Senior Analyst, The Linley Group

generic 3G feature phone Cellular handsets play the roles of MP3-player, TV, radio, navigator, camera, web browser, PDA, and, yes, telephone. Feature-creep provides opportunities for the system designer but semiconductor integration takes them away at the same time. The hottest new feature in handsets is GPS to enable navigation features and location-based services. But the standalone GPS chip is going away, as suppliers of Bluetooth chips integrate the GPS function in their offerings. More...

Status of Photovoltaic Technology
John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief, Low-Power Design

solar panels Last Friday I attended a very informative solar technology workshop put on by the IEEE at Freescale in Austin. It brought together experts in both microelectronics and solar technology who provided a wealth of information about both fields and the intersection between them. Dr. Jeffrey Mazer, an engineer with NIST, spoke on the “Status of Photovoltaic Technology and the DOE / EERE Photovoltaics Program.” Mazer spent much of his time explaining the physics and the different architectures for both silicon and thin film PV cells. The real imperative for the technology is to increase efficiency while bringing down costs. The bottom line, in short, is economic. More...

The Electronics Industry: The Power to Change
By John East, President and CEO, Actel Corporation

earth If Thomas Edison had known what his initial inventions would spawn, would he be delighted or horrified? The answer is probably a little bit of both. Given the amazing technological innovations over the past 150 years, and the dramatic improvements to our everyday quality of life, Mr. Edison surely would be pleased. However, these technological advances have come at a price. More...

What Can Engineers Do About Global Warming?
John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief, Low-Power Design

earth On November 17, 2007 the UN released the final report of its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. Normally understated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, described climate change as “the defining challenge of our age.” The ministerial meeting in Bali a few months later resulted in agreement that something needs to be done soon. The devil is in the details, of course, but it's finally possible to be cautiously optimistic. More...

Cell Phones Still Provide Opportunities for Specialized Analog and Mixed-Signal ICs
By Stephan Ohr, Research Director, Analog and Power, Gartner Technology and Service Provider Research

Despite the worldwide economic downturn, which will reduce the number of mobile handsets produced in the next year or so, the proliferation of feature-laden 3G phones will provide slots for analog and mixed-signal devices. We anticipate opportunities for video and audio output devices, mobile TV, high-resolution camera modules, global positioning systems and Bluetooth transceivers?in addition to the proliferation of specialized power management ICs. The popularity of the Apple iPhone and iPhone 3G, in addition, has spurred a raft of look-alike products featuring positional sensors and touch screen controllers.More...

Put Up or Shut Up
By Greg Spirakis, Panel Chair, 46th Design Automation Conference

The EDA community is often criticized for not doing a good job of responding to the user community. The perceived attitude among designers is that EDA developers are more interested in coming up with “novel” algorithms rather than solving the problems of the design community. I don’t happen to think this criticism is fair. Most EDA developers are genuinely interested in solving problems although, often times, there are legitimate differences of opinion as to how to best approach a particular situation. More...

Staying the Course: A Proactive Customer Approach in Reactive Times
By Dave Doherty, Vice President, Semiconductor Products, Digi-Key Corporation

Within the wireless components market, pressure to grow sales and margin has never been greater. Computer and intelligent handset technologies are becoming an integral part of everyday life. Continued expansion of major contract manufacturers to meet consumer-driven needs means that distributors must rely on fewer customers for larger orders. More...

The Parallel Flow to Implementation: Verification
By Lauro Rizzatti, General Manager of EVE-USA

By consensus within the electronics industry and designers worldwide, verification consumes 70 percent or more of the development cycle.  Digital media, telecommunications and mobile communications designs require massive amounts of verification to move meaningful data in and out of them.  As we hit smaller process technologies, multicore architectures and increased reliance on embedded software content in chips, the time needed for verification may get worse still. More...

Device Boundaries are Blurring
David Chamberlain, Principal Analyst, Wireless, In-Stat

For the past dozen years or so, In-Stat, and many other firms, have wrestled with the increasing overlap among consumer electronic devices: cell phones include the functions of portable media players; music players now include cell phones; personal computers get smaller and more portable, while personal digital assistants (PDAs) get more capable. The three device types crashing together are cell phones, ultra-mobile computing devices and personal entertainment devices. Even though the word "convergence" has been overused to the point that it has lost its meaning, the lines among these devices are blurring as they add similar capabilities and functions. More...

2009 in Portable Design—the EDA Perspective
Walden C. Rhines, Chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics

Portable design will continue to be a major driver of new EDA solutions in 2009, with an emphasis on increasing designer productivity, speeding time to market, and reducing power consumption. We’ll see improvements in four key areas: system- and architecture-level design exploration, power-aware functional verification, power-optimizing IC implementation, and rapid power-aware software development. More...

FPGAs to the Rescue
Denny Steele, Director of Marketing and Applications, Silicon Blue

Every system designer today worries about three things: size, power and cost; for a designer of a portable device these are can be nightmares. We as consumers want every feature we can get in our MP3 players, GPS units and smart phones. Of course, we want to pay nothing for these devices, we want them to be small enough to blend in with the surroundings, and we don’t want to ever recharge their batteries in our lifetime! But, to the system designer’s dismay, each added feature increases size, cost, and power. More...

Collaboration Key to Future Semi Advances
Kazu Yamada, Vice President, Custom SOC Solutions Strategic Business Unit, NEC Electronics America, Inc.

If there’s any lesson to be learned from the recent evolution of the consumer electronics industry, it’s never underestimate the ability of portable system designers to find new and innovative ways to increase functionality and reduce system footprints. Today’s tiny MP3 players, 3G phones and personal navigation devices (PNDs) offer ample evidence of their skill. More...

The Future of Mobile Power
Rick Zarr, Chief Technologist, PowerWise Products and Technology, National Semiconductor

It is difficult to summarize the impact of the myriad of mobile devices that are carried around in the pockets of modern society, but for sure they have made us more connected, informed and interesting.  What we do know is that these devices require power to operate and for the foreseeable future will continue to do so.  The question is how much energy and from what sources will future mobile devices draw their power. More...

Future Trends in Power Management
Wendy Lockhart, Principal Engineer, Market Communications, Actel Corporation

As the features, complexity and capabilities of electronics systems have evolved over time, so have the requirements for power management in these systems. Evolving from board-level power generation to system-wide power management, and now to system management, the technology for addressing power concerns in electronic systems has increased in complexity along with the systems they supply. More...

Future Trends in Power Management
Andy Dykstra, Power Market Development Manager, Texas Instruments

In today’s world of power management products, two opposing forces wage battle. First, fierce commoditization of products used in high-volume products has driven the selling price dramatically lower over the past several years. Second, customers are increasingly demanding higher system integration and functionality. More...

The Mobile Web
John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief, Low-Power Design

According to reports, 40 percent of U.S. mobile customers surf the Internet using their mobile phones. My guess is that 100% of them spend at least some of that time cursing under their breath. More...

Radio Sport
John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief, Low-Power Design

You know you’re a true tech geek when you play at what they pay you to do at work—or in my case, write about. More...