Guest Blogger

Dianne Kibbey
Dianne Kibbey
Head of Community, element14

Survey: C/C++ Preferred Language among EEs

 
April 7th, 2014 by Dianne Kibbey

Everyone loves a good language war. I am, of course, talking about programming languages. Despite the myriad of programming languages available in the modern electronics industry today, C and C++, first developed in the 1970s and 1980s, are still viewed as the most important starting points for engineers.

element14, an online community of more than 220,000 design engineers and hobbyists, recently conducted a survey of preferred programming languages and more than 100 respondents submitted their answers. About 54% of those surveyed deemed C/C++ the most important, with Python as the second most popular choice garnering 18% of the vote.

The remaining languages scored as follows:

  • Assembly (9% of the vote)
  • Java (8% of the vote)
  • BASIC (4% of the vote)
  • HTML/CSS (2% of the vote)
  • PHP (1% of the vote)

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What future for the DATE conference?

 
April 7th, 2014 by Matthieu Wipliez

Two weeks ago my associate and myself attended the DATE conference to meet people and try to get new leads. This year, the conference took place in Dresden, Germany, which is at the heart of the “Silicon Saxony”, with no less than 40,000 jobs mostly in the semiconductor industry, so we were expecting a lot. If you’re not familiar with the conference, according to their website, “DATE combines the world’s favorite electronic systems design and test conference with an international exhibition for electronic design, automation and test, from system-level hardware and software implementation right down to integrated circuit design.” We had high expectations, and in the end we were quite disappointed. Granted, receptions (exhibition reception and DATE party) featured very good food and the party even included a visit of Volkswagen’s awesome luxury car plant. The staff was professional and nice, and we were lucky to have a neighbor who gave us an interesting perspective and helpful advice. What about the actual exhibition?

First, DATE is not cheap. Special start-up price is 2K€ ($2.7K). I just looked up DAC, it has a special “first exhibitor” package, for a mere $1.5K. DAC is about three times bigger, too. Concerning attendance, I was able to find numbers here and on the websites for the previous editions. There were 625 exhibition visitors in 2010, increased to 890 in 2011 (probably due to the presence of GlobalFoundries), and 800 in 2012 and 2013; the number of conference attendees has been around 1,300 and now is around 1,400. I couldn’t find any other statistics. By contrast, DAC compiles in-depth statistics about its visitors, including demographics and an event audit.

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EDACafe Call for Bloggers – Extend Your Reach and Exposure!

 
March 24th, 2014 by Sanjay Gangal

Do you have something to share with the EDA community, such as opinions, thought-provoking topics, or commentary? EDACafe.com, the leading electronic design industry web portal is seeking the following types of blogging contributor categories:

  • Industry Expert/Consultant Blog
    • Provide thought leadership, industry expertise
    • Benefit by promoting yourself and your expertise
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Guest Blog
    • Tied to an existing blog on EDACafe
    • Write one blog post or post periodically
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Custom Blog
    • Will have a unique name and identity
    • Produce at least one blog post per month
    • No cost involved if the articles are not promotional in nature
  • Custom Corporate Blog
    • Industry-leading companies, such as software and hardware vendors, service bureaus, etc.
    • Multiple logins for publishing blog entries from multiple authors
    • Cost is $700/month or $6,000/year.

EDACafe has 75,000 unique visitors per month; as well as 30,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and EDA Weekly. Translation: People like to spend time at EDACafe.

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The CAD Team – Unsung heroes in a successful tapeout

 
March 14th, 2014 by Amit Varde

For most of my career, I worked as a CAD and design flow engineer. In the fall of 2012, I moved to a different role, as an applications and support manager at ClioSoft Inc. In my opinion, this was a very good opportunity for me to work with other CAD engineers and teams. 

Having worked with different CAD teams in my career, I have often felt that the CAD engineers do not get the credit that they richly deserve for the effort they put in. Most CAD engineers did not plan on being CAD engineers when they graduated from college. What moved them in the direction of CAD is the “discovery” that they had an excellent understanding of UNIX, design methodology and programming and also had good communication skills.

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A young entrepreneur’s take on EDA

 
February 20th, 2014 by Matthieu Wipliez

You’ve all read many times the opinions of EDA veterans concerning this industry, so for a change I’ll humor you with my opinion as a young entrepreneur and EDA company founder. This post originally appeared on my company’s official blog (see original post). What prompted me to write this piece is Gabe’s article on Starting A New EDA Company.

In his post, Gabe is hoping for “disruption” and “a new business model”, yet he notes the “total lack of new ideas from younger people”. Hmm. Well I’m young, and I certainly do think that younger people have lots of ideas, and that they’re actually having a huge success, it’s just that it’s happening in other industries, like, for instance, the software industry. I’m talking about the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatnot. Now why is that? Why are young people having success in software but not so much in semiconductor? Could it be that there is something specific about the semiconductor industry? After all, until its recent acquisition by Cadence, Forte was still called a start-up. After 16 years (it was founded in 1998). And VCs seem to agree that the money is elsewhere. So what is it?

It turns out that to create a “new successful EDA company”, you should “understand thoroughly the application industry [your company] serves”. Ok, but how is it possible for young people to do that exactly? The semiconductor industry today is mainly about designing SoCs, and that requires many different skills and companies and people working together. It takes years to become proficient in designing quality hardware with RTL, and this is only the first step to making a chip! Then you need to learn about verification (and SystemC, and SystemVerilog, and UVM, and equivalence checking, and I don’t know what else, after all I’m not a verification engineer!), and back-end, and DFT, etc. How are you supposed to thoroughly understand all this without 10 or 15 years of experience?

Maybe this explains that. I have the impression that the semiconductor industry has kind of an “old” feeling attached to it, as if the hardware industry were lagging behind the software industry. Remember when all you had was proprietary software products that were incompatible with each other? This is EDA today. Where else do you need an NDA to read a datasheet or a tool’s documentation? Where else are you forbidden to compare competing products? Sad but true: for example if you read Xilinx’s license, you will see in section 4. Restrictions, sub-section (b) General Restrictions, the following: “Licensee is not licensed to, and agrees not to: (iii) publish or disclose the results of any benchmarking of the Software”. Cadence goes further in its website’s terms of use: “Any postings to chat rooms, forums, message boards, contests, or similar information you submit, as well as any computer code, bug fix, or other creative idea you provide, shall be deemed, and shall remain, the property of Cadence“.

This kind of attitude is part of the problem. Let’s take another example. Most EDA software use the same licensing program, the well-known FlexLM. That stuff is 26 years old. Surely by now you’d imagine we would have a better solution? Well there are alternatives. So why does EDA keep using this one? Is it because this industry is a conservative triumvirate? Is it because these three are just too big? But being a behemoth has never prevented innovation! Agreed, it does make it more difficult, because of the innovator’s dilemma, but many bigger companies still manage to innovate a lot. Google’s revenue for 2013 is about $60 billion, that’s respectively around 30, 40, and 60 times the revenue of Synopsys, Cadence, and Mentor Graphics. If being big does not prevent innovation, what else could?

I think this is a cultural problem. We have a kind of chicken and egg problem, with users who have become afraid of change (including new EDA software) because change has all too often caused problems, and with companies that do not change things because they fear this is is going to cause problems or to make users angry. And in the end, users are the ones who give you money, so you try to listen to them. That’s actually fine, as long as you keep in mind that only a small percentage of users are actually innovators and early adopters, and these are the ones willing to change first; if you convince them, you have a much better chance of convincing the others (more or less easily, see Crossing the Chasm, and the post I wrote about this Are you pre-chasm?). This is a distinctive trait of the semiconductor industry in my opinion: we seem to hear the late majority (to quote the original research, “older and fairly conservative”) voice its opinion much more than one would otherwise expect.

Despite all that, though, I love writing EDA software for all hardware designers who are open to the possibility of improving their design flow. It makes me pretty happy when I meet or talk with them :-) And of course I love designing hardware with the C~ language that we created!

Securing Those Devices

 
January 23rd, 2014 by Rob van Blommestein

Stories of data hacking have been dominating the news lately.  It seems that hackers are getting smarter and more bold, but what is also making it easier for hackers is that more and more of our everyday devices are connected to the internet making unauthorized access to these devices much easier to achieve and harder to detect.  The Internet of Things is giving rise to a whole new set of security concerns.

As consumers and businesses become more vulnerable to attack, they need to feel more confident that the electronic machines they are using are more secure regardless of the ubiquitous nature of an all-connected world.

In order for providers of these devices to achieve this attack-proof status, they need to invest heavily in design and verification solutions that can secure their hardware designs.  However, this added investment comes at a cost.  That cost is time. We as consumers still want the latest and greatest electronic gadgetry earlier and earlier putting even more pressure on already hyper-stringent time-to-market targets for electronic providers.

Even with these added pressures, current methods for verifying that the hardware can withstand attack are essentially inadequate due to their non-exhaustive nature. Simulation and emulation methods can leave many corner cases left unchecked and thus exposing the hardware to attackers.

This is where formal analysis can come into play.  Formal verification is exhaustive and therefore can find every possible scenario that could leave the hardware device open to hackers.

At DVCon 2014 Jasper technical experts Victor Markus Purri and Lawrence Loh are giving a tutorial on “Formally Verifying Security Aspects of SoC Designs” showing how formal analysis can be applied to this area.

You can register for this tutorial at http://dvcon.org/content/rates.

You can also download our white paper on Security Path Verification to learn more  – http://jasper-da.com/resource-library/technical-white-papers.

 

 

Titanium Technology:Creating Porous Materials from Powdered Titanium

 
December 6th, 2013 by Adam Prattler

Photo credits: mush

The Titanium Technologies Platform in New Zealand is getting some attention around the world for their work with new ways to use titanium. This is exciting news for a lot of people involved with businesses that use the material for one reason or another. Specifically, the group has developed a way to make porous materials from powdered titanium. This is going to open up a lot of applications in the aerospace industry not to mention marine engineering and possible biomedical uses.

According to initial research and results, some are saying that new titanium based products are going to open up a huge market in New Zealand in the coming years. This brings up an interesting point – whether or not other countries around the world will try to duplicate the technology on their own in order to find even newer ways to use titanium in an industrial sense.

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5 Unique Japanese Gadgets You Can Buy (But Do You Really Want To?)

 
November 24th, 2013 by Adam Prattler

Got cash to spare? Want to be the talk of town by acquiring some nifty chindogu? If your answer is a resounding yes, then check out our short list of unique japanese innovations you can fill up your collection with. Yatta!

Photo Credits:techeblog

1. Japanese kissing training device – Brought to you by Zima, a cocktail brand with an added twist, Kiss-a-Zima lets you (somewhat) make out with hot Japanese idols Aya Kiguchi, Yukina Kinoshita or Yutaka Teshima – kissing ronins can attach the nifty silicone lips (molded after said idols) to the cocktail bottle and smooch away.

Photo Credits:Japantrendshop

2. Talking fridge toys – Lonely and bored each time you open the refrigerator? Now with Fridgeezoo Fridge Pets, you don’t have to shed tears of boredom whenever you make the pilgrimage to the ice box. Not only are they friendly and chatty, your very own fridge pets (choose from Polar Bear, Walrus, Penguin and Seal) also gently remind you whenever the fridge is left open too long!

Photo Credits: LaughingSquid

3. Anti-loneliness ramen bowl – Useful or just plain anti-social, this anti-loneliness ramen bowl features an iPhone dock that allows your smartphone to be perched precariously on the edge of your bowl. We can’t make up our mind whether it’s smart or just plain sad. ForeverAlone.jpg, anyone?

 

Photo Credits: Animal Designer

4. Gotochi Dissection Animals – Cute keychains are the norm in the Land of the Rising Sun, but keychains of animals (think: panda, fish, cow, pig and the like) that allow you take apart piece by piece, organs and all? We think this would make heartfelt gifts for biology students but other than that, we’ll pass for now.

 5. Marriage-Hunting Bra – To boost Japan’s rapidly declining marriage rate, the Marriage-Hunting Bra or Konkatsu Bra features a marriage-countdown digital clock right smack in between your future wife’s mammary glands. Want to stop the countdown? In the words of Beyonce, you gotta “put a ring on it”.

Sara Xiang is Japanese gadgets and toys collector. She has more than 200 pieces in her home. In her spare time she become active in  social media marketing, personally she likes melbourne digital agency.

Why Cloud Hosting Software Is The Future Of Online Business?

 
November 24th, 2013 by Adam Prattler

 

Photo Credits: Qarea

For many fledgling companies, creating future-oriented models for data storage, business operations and training is the difference between ultimate success and resounding failure. But with the incredible number of innovations in online technology, it’s difficult to determine what will be the next wave and what will cost precious time and expense to establish, only to vanish with passing trends. The “cloud” is more than a buzzword; it’s a philosophy of efficient storage and accessible software that will shape the generation of entrepreneurs yet to arrive. Software companies have invested billions in the idea that applications do not require physical servers or even an in-house team to govern them. Software as a Service (SaaS), the evolution of cloud computing promises to make cumbersome server requirements obsolete.

Cheaper

A Cloud hosting system will save on one key area: utilities. Without the constant drain of bulky servers and multiple large hardware devices, your company will maintain energy efficiency and cut the electricity bill by a significant amount. The physical space saved may also give you room to host more employees, an extra conference room or any other resource you can squeeze into the place where your towers once were.

Photo Credits: hp

Always Available

Cloud hosting software can be accessed anywhere, meaning your employees only need a reliable remote device to get going on projects and critical updates. Since software services can be accessed through any one of several electronic devices, your flexibility will increase. These devices enable a “Bring your own device” (BYOD) method for your office, and make your business portable so that global employees can get your business message and access its information easily adopted. You can also cut the number of PCs in your office this way, saving more on resource expenditure.

Focus on Core Business

Cloud hosting software offers an insulated online platform that allows your company to handle any up-tick in the workload without directly affecting overall system execution. Instead of managing constant server issues, you can get to the business of your business.  Cloud software environments like Salesforce outsource your help issues and development problems to a  sleek team that might not otherwise be affordable as paid full-time employees, particularly for modest and growing organizations.

More storage capacity

Another advantage of cloud software is the added storage capacity you’ll have for your business-specific data. Now that you aren’t running several applications from a local server to handle e-mail and other needs, you can keep your data files at the office. Most cloud hosting companies offer tiers of storage depending on the amount of space you need, and will likely adjust those requirements as you go, giving you the option go bigger or smaller as your requirements change. The best part of creating this elasticity within your business is the jump it gives you on competitors who will frequently struggle to migrate large amounts of data from one system to another.


Photo Credits: Cloud Online Business

Less training time

No more wasting time bringing new employees through an extensive training process with in-house software application. Give them log-in credentials, show them the ropes with a pre-made training document from your cloud hosting company and watch it go. Some cloud hosting software companies will even offer training managers as part of the implementation process. Use it! Don’t bog your tech team down with yet another system to learn and then instruct when you can defer to the experts.

 

Choose the Cloud

For all the reasons listed, cloud hosting software is one of the most practical business innovations since the internet itself. Why spend time choosing from hundred of software applications, hiring countless IT managers and buying outdated devices? Invest the research hours in a complete cloud hosting software package that suits the objectives of your operation. Whether it’s a support and messaging service or a more intricate software solution, it will invariably make things simpler. Rather than pouring excess capital in the changing devices that litter the infrastructure landscape, find a group of companies to evolve with your business. Cloud software makes your business compact and ready for an approaching horizon.

Zara Hasan is a technology and finance writer and she is a housewife. His sample work can is present finance funding.

Timeline of Audio Formats

 
November 22nd, 2013 by Adam Prattler

Short History of Different Formats to Record Audio

Photo by alexkerhead / Flickr

Recording audio only goes back just over a hundred years, but since a method to store sounds was first invented in 1877, the technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Today, people have access to a variety of different audio formats, including WAV files, MP3 files and more. By looking at the birth of audio recording, it’s easier to see where digital audio may be heading in the future.

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