What's New on Embedded.com: March 11 - 17, 2011 - Embedded.com

What’s New on Embedded.com: March 11 – 17, 2011

Embedded Newsletter for 03-17-11

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March 17, 2011

 Issue Highlights

Higher education: Degree by iPad?

Don't call Japan, the line is busy

Japan quake: Tracking the status of fabs in wake of disaster

Updated: Japan nuke plants still unstable

Editor's Note

I was preparing this newsletter just about the time the first news came in about Japan’s triple whammy this week – devastating earthquakes, monster Tsunami waves, and near-calamitous nuclear plant breakdowns.

The biggest stories I was considering at the time included Apple’s iPad 2 and A5 processor, Intel’s cloud computing plans, unsecure wireless smartphone connectivity, and secure access key control. I was also reading Higher education: Degree by iPad? Jack Ganssle’s newest column on the financial cuts in higher education in the United States.

For quite a while the newsletter and Jack’s column – and the thoughts the latter triggered – were driven from my mind, as I tried to take in the devastation in Japan. Even more than the videos and radio reports, what bought the disaster home to me was “Don’t call Japan, the line is busy,” by Junko Yoshida, editor in chief of EETimes, who I have known for about 20 years.

In this story she describes trying to make contact by telephone and Internet with her family in Japan. But professional journalist that she is, she also tries to draw something larger from it, some lessons for the future.  I look forward to what else she has to say as she sorts through her reactions in coming weeks.

In Jack’s column , he discusses the devastating cuts being proposed in university education in the U.S. in response to the economic tsunami the world has been experiencing for the last two years. Compare that to Japan, where, in the face of the same economic mess, it has not cut back education spending. And I don’t think that even in the midst of dealing with the consequences of this earthquake Japan will ever do so.

They know (as Intel’s Bob Noyce said in U.S. congressional testimony years ago ) that unlike most financial investments a company – or a country – makes, the one that gives back a 1000-fold is in the education of its employees and citizens. Considering the cutbacks in higher education in the U.S., obviously we did not listen. But the Japanese did. I do not believe education ever will be something they cut back on when those renewable resources are what will allow them to recover from this most recent devastation. (Embedded.com Editor Bernard Cole, , 928-525-9087 )

Design How Tos

Tackling power supply noise challenges in automotive MCUs

Semiconductor designs are sensitive to power supply variations and microcontrollers must be able to handle supply non-linearity robustly and come out of reset in a known condition. Here are some steps to take to make sure that happens.

Secure access key control through challenge & response

In this Product How-To, Maxim's Bernhard Linke examines keys for physical access control, evaluating them for their strengths and weaknesses and details how the company's MCU-based challenge & response key ICs can be used to overcome the limitations of static data keys.

Shrinking radios for millimeter-scale computers

In order to realize true mm-scale wireless systems, a team at the University of Michigan is developing fully-integrated 1mm3 radios and antennas with strict limits on peak-power and energy/bit, and that eliminate the need for an external crystal reference.

Test tools to empower engineers for PCIe 3.0 designs

The introduction of PCI Express 3.0. will mean that new test tools will be needed to ensure the hardware and software are functional and work together and here is a survey of the hardware and software tools for validation, compliance and general testing.

Using PCI Express as a fabric for interconnect clustering

A number of interconnect technologies are vying to replace GbE, with the top contenders being 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), InfiniBand (IB) and PCI Express (PCIe). The latter, with its advanced capabilities, makes a strong case for becoming the ideal backplane interconnect solution.

Delivering optimized motor control for 1.5-kW applications with a uMini-DIP package

Understand how inverterized motor control can meet energy and efficiency requirements for household appliances

Achieve thermal management in robust systems with fan speed control

Here's an article that provides the basics of heat generation and heat transfer, and then shows how to implement a fan-control system for a thermal management system that can truly take the heat.

Understanding the concepts of synchronization and holdover

In packet-based networks, when the timing or synchronization reference is temporarily lost, a network's ability to maintain time or “holdover” becomes critical to ensure optimal network performance. Here is an explanation of both concepts as well as a discussion on what the future must bring.

Fragmented frame buffer graphics ease cluster display requirements

A new approach removes the need to store complete frame buffers in RAM, thereby reducing RAM size needed to support large displays. This method also allows images to be stored at an optimum resolution, thus reducing the non-volatile memory requirement as well.

Product News

STM32L ultra-low-power ARM Cortex-M3 MCUs for Energy-Lite apps

STMicroelectronics has announced the extension of its 32-bit STM32L series of microcontrollers to include devices with memory densities of 256 and 384 Kbytes, offering a Flash memory range from 32 up to 384 Kbytes for embedded applications.

PoL regulator replaces linear counterparts

Micropower's converters are specifically designed to replace inefficient linear regulators (LM78xx type) for board level applications that require miniature size, high efficiency, high reliability and low cost.

PSR/SSR mixed PWM controller keeps standby power under 10mW for portable device chargers

Fairchild Semiconductor developed the FAN302HL PWM controller for low standby power charger applications. Incorporating mWSaver technology, the device features patented technologies that allow the FAN302HL to minimize standby input power consumption to <10mW@230VAC, exceeding ENERGY STAR Program Requirements for Computers Version 5.0 efficiency standards.

Maxim launches new energy-measurement SoC for AC/DC power supplies in servers and data com equipment

The 78M6613 from Teridian Semiconductor/Maxim Integrated Products is the industry's first SoC energy-measurement solution for AC/DC power supplies that brings a higher level of management and control to servers and other equipment in data centers, enabling the capture and reporting of real-time energy data and providing the ability to quantify where energy is needed, being used, and being stranded.

Renesas targets ultra low power with RX200

The first member in a new ultra low power family of MCUs from Renesas extends the RX range in to portable appliances.


Don't call Japan, the line is busy

For as long as the first 18 hours after I learned about Japan's tsunami, I was unable to track down my own family members back in Japan, find out where they were, and whether they were safe.

Higher education: Degree by iPad?

Should Web-based delivery replace the university classroom?

Skim milk

How do you make smartphones into trustworthy platforms?

UVM—the star of DVCon 2011

What's all the buzz about Universal Verification Methodology?

Constructors and object definitions

C++ compilers generate translate object definitions into constructor calls. Dan explains what to expect from the generated code.

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