Taking on the tough hardware challenges in nextgen embedded systems

One of the areas we pay great attention to on Embedded.com are the problems of hardware design at the chip, board, packaging and interconnect level. Included in this week's Tech Focus newsletter are a selection of some of the articles and papers we have published on the many problems faced and their possible solutions. My Editor's Top Picks of representative articles on such issues include:

Signal versus power integrity in high-speed embedded design
Analysis of both signal integrity and power integrity is vital to a successful high-speed digital design. Here's some perspective on why this is so and why in embedded designs the two need not be working a cross-purposes.

Practical EMI troubleshooting with a mixed domain oscilloscope
How to use a mixed domain oscilloscope to test and troubleshoot high performance, wirelessly connected embedded systems designs for electromagnetic interference problems.

Innovative defense techniques for damping digital to RF crosstalk
Many mobile devices have multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) on-board antennas, presenting many challenges to signal integrity. Here is one approach to design that reduces noise significantly and makes comm links more immune to interference.

But each year about the time of DesignCon, my admiration and respect for hardware designers takes a quantum leap when I get a look at some of the papers presented and some of the mind-numbingly complex design problems they describe.

At this year’s 2015 DesignCon next week, Jan 27-30, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, the many hardware design problems faced in nextgen embedded systems run the gamut. Be sure to register to attend.  Included in this week's Tech Focus newsletter is a roundup of various activities at the show that should help you make some decisions about which tracks and papers deserve your full attention. The tracks that most interested me include: System Co-Design: Chip/Package/Board: Modeling and Simulation , Wireless and Photonic Integration , and Detect and Mitigate Jitter, Crosstalk, and Noise .

Out of the many papers to be presented at DesignCon, here are a few that piqued my interest:

My Product Failed EMI – Now What Do I Do? by Kenneth Wyatt of Wyatt Technical Services LLC, who will discuss simple electromagnetic interference tools and pre-compliances tests that may be performed prior to compliance testing, and that will often identify issues early. Many of these tools, he says, are low cost or simple DIY projects.

Connectivity 2.0. in which Gary McCormack of Keyssa Inc. will describe a novel method of implementing signal connectivity between electronic systems that uses an ultra-low-power EHF electromagnetic carrier combined with dielectric conduction. He says it sits between conventional galvanic connectors and wireless connectivity, and combines the best attributes of both approaches.

Implementation of Advanced Serial Links by Arun Vaidyanath, Director of Systems Engineering at Rambus Inc. He will address the integration of high-speed serial link IP blocks, including PMA, PCS and MAC, as well as the challenges of implementation and validation. He'll discuss methods for automated measurement with on-chip infrastructure to provide testing process simplification and higher accuracy results for high-throughput and small form factor systems.

While DesignCon is normally considered as the technical conference of choice for specialists in all varieties of hardware design from the chip to the board level, it is also a useful conference for software developers to attend. That is because embedded design is a team effort and you cannot separate out the hardware from the software issues. Design choices software developers make can have a profound impact on the hardware design at all levels and vice versa, and they need to understand the impact of those choices. Some presentations I spotted that I think might help software developers include:

A Holistic Approach to IC, Package and Board Co-Optimization John Park, Methodology Architect at Mentor Graphics.

Trends and Challenges Driving Future System and SoC Architectures. Steve Woo, Vice President, Solutions Marketing, Rambus Inc.

Moving Towards the Light: a Photonic Extensions API for Open Access. This is a panel session that includes Kevin Nesmith and Susan Carver of the Silicon Integration Initiative, and Pieter Dumon and Martin Fiers of Luceda Photonics. They'll introduce silicon photonics technology and explain how it is different than traditional electro-optic devices. They will go into detail on a new Python language-based application programming Interface to make it easier for developers to implement photonics in their design flow.

There will be several keynote speakers as well. Because of his broad academic and industry experience, I would pay particular attention to the keynote byThomas H. Lee Ph.D, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University. He worked his way through MIT at places like Frank Kent's TV and Radio Service, Sym-Tek Systems, and Hughes Aircraft. His 1989 doctoral thesis described the world's first CMOS radio. Previous to Stanford, he worked at Analog Devices and Rambus and is the founder or co-founder of such companies as Sinepower Unlimited, Matrix Semiconductor, Aspendos Communications, ZeroG Wireless and Ayla Networks. Because of this eclectic background he is sure to have developed some unique perspectives that will help you make sense of the abundance of technology solutions available.

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. If you want to see a calendar of topics for the weekly Tech Focus newsletter or have a topic you would like to see covered, he welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call 928-525-9087.

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