Embedded.com Weekly Newsletter: Jan. 11-15, 2010 - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Weekly Newsletter: Jan. 11-15, 2010



The Embedded Newsletter is delivered to youfree of charge from the staff of Embedded.com. To view the Embedded.com site , visit: http://www.embedded.com
In the afterglow of CES, there is a lot of good news for embeddeddevelopers. And some troublingbad news if columnist Michael Barr is right.

The good news is that a lot of electronics firms are moreoptimistic about the coming year, some planning to ride the Apple tablet wave, othersplacing their bets on video in everything from mobile TV devices and 3D TV to Internet-connected HDTV and video phones . Giving somecredence to this optimism are recent market reports indicating that theIC market will boom in 2010 dueto broadband-enabled cell phone and PC shipments, and that mobile CEshipments will grow 55-fold by 2014 .

The bad news, according to columnist Michael Barr, is that embedded systemsprogrammers earn failing grades in C programming , based on aworld wide multiple choice survey.

That means we all have a lot of work to do. Embedded.com's job is toprovide you with the information to allow you to do a better job. Amodest step in this direction is my Editor'sTop Pick this week: “Deterministicdynamic memory allocation and fragmentation in C & C++ .”

Because power issues are a critical element in many embeddedconsumer and mobile devices, I have also included a Design Focus on such topics as optimizing powerconsumption in single battery designs , digital power controldesign , solving VoIP power supply problems,efficient power switch designand FPGA power supply design .

On the lighter side there are twoUnder The Hood Teardowns : Google's Nexus One Smartphone and Logitech's Ultimate Ears 700 earphones .There is also an online video of anARM vs Atom demonstration . Good reading, viewing andlearning!! (Embedded.com EditorBernard Cole, bccole@acm.org ).

VIDEO FEATURE – Intel Atom versus ARM Cortex-A9
The ARMflix channel on Youtube has provided a side-by-side performance comparison of a netbook based on the Intel Atom processor and a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 development board.
Intel's Core processor family makes deeper dive into embedded computing
Turbo Boost and Hyper Threading technologies combine to ECC and seven-year lifecycles on latest microprocessors.
A guide to the shifting 3-D TV landscape
With one eye the consumer electronics industry sees 3-D TV as an opportunity to revive sagging revenues, and with the other it sees a complex set of unresolved technical issues.
A real star is coming to ESC
Dr. Michio Kaku, star of the Science Channel's “Physics of the Impossible” will provide ESC Keynote Address
Annual mobile broadband CE shipments to grow 55-fold to 2014
Annual shipments of broadband-enabled mobile consumer electronics are set to increase 55-fold between 2008 and 2014, according to market research firm ABI Research.
Prepare for 2010 demand surge, says analyst
Looking forward to 2010 Bill McClean of IC Insights (Scottsdale, Ariz.) observed that both PC and cellphone unit volume shipments are forecast to increase at double-digit rates in 2010 and that this indicates an IC market boom is coming.
  BREAK POINT by Jack Ganssle
The Uncelebrated Engineer
Though engineers can't get no respect, we are the builders of the modern world.
  BARR CODE by Michael Barr
Embedded systems programmers worldwide earn failing grades in C
In industry surveys, more than 80% of embedded software developers report using either C or C++ as their primary programming language. Yet as a group, they earned a failing grade on a multiple-choice evaluation of their firmware-related C knowledge.
  UNDER THE HOOD: Teardown
Ear bud headphones jam lots of complexity in a tiny package
Dual speakers and other components are all squeezed into a device that fits in your ear.
Google smartphone teardown reveals few surprises
Google's Nexus One smartphone carries an estimated bill of materials cost of $174.15 and features chips from Qualcomm, Synaptics and Samsung, among others, according to a teardown analysis conducted by market research firm iSuppli.
  EDITOR'S TOP PICK by Bernard Cole, Embedded.com Editor
Deterministic dynamic memory allocation & fragmentation in C & C++
Colin Walls details the problems with dynamic memory allocation, which tends to be non-deterministic, leading to unexpected allocation failures and describes an approach that resolves such issues.
Configurable applications processor tackles multiple mobile environments
While PMIC's can improve space efficiency and battery life, they tend to suit a particular vendor's mobile environment.
  DESIGN FOCUS: Power Management
Optimize power consumption with efficient single cell battery voltage conversion
Using the ATtiny3U MCU to build a smart battery management subsystem to achieve efficient sing-cell voltage conversion using multiple current modes.
Simplify DC/DC controllers digital power control design in multi-load applications
Understand how digital control of analog power can affect multirail topology and approaches
Easily create multiple negative output voltages
Use an innovative topology and circuit design to solve the VoIP power-supply challenge
Achieving high efficiency with power switches
This how-to describes the general features of the asymmetric PWM half-bridge converters with current doubler and synchronous rectifier. In addition, one example with some experimental results, is shown using FSFA-series, Fairchild's Green Power Switches for asymmetric-controlled topologies.
Power Supply Design Considerations for Modern FPGAs
Today's FPGAs tend to operate at lower voltages and higher currents than their predecessors. Consequently, power supply requirements may be more demanding, requiring special attention to features deemed less important in past generations. Failure to consider the output voltage, sequencing, power on, and soft-start requirements, can result in unreliable power up or potential damage to the FPGA.
  CES 2010: News Roundup
IC firms look to ride Apple tablet wave
Chip vendors at the Consumer Electronics Show are pushing products built into mobile computers with a tablet form factor, hoping to ride the wave of buzz expected to be generated by Apple's rumored tablet media pad.
TV makers hear video phones ringing
TV makers want to morph the big-screen HDTV into a 3-D capable, Internet-connected video phone, but details on how they will do it were scarce in a series of back-to-back press events before the official opening of the Consumer Electronics Show.
Apple, Qualcomm seen as winners of CES trends
In the wake of the Consumer Electronics Show, analysts are upbeat on the outlook for consumer systems, especially those tied to emerging mobile devices and 3DTV, and singled out Apple and Qualcomm as two of the big winners from the trends at the show.

What was hot, cold and in between at CES
Here's our take on what was hot and what was not at CES. If you attended, or have strong opinions based on what you have been reading, we invite you to chime in with your own picks and pans.
  EDITOR'S NOTE: Continuing Your Education
Two new online courses you might want to sign up for: Fundamentals of Audio Networking, on the basics of networked audio, and Fundamentals of Storage, on the evolution of storage and the advantages and drawbacks of current storage strategies such as RAID, SAN and NAS.

Also, be sure to register for ESC Silicon Valley, where we've added a second Build Your Own Embedded System (BYOES) track. When you register you get a multi-core board with classes to program it. Then, at a second set of classes, attendees get a Freescale Tower system.

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