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Round-up 2013: Best of semiconductors, electronics and solar

December 31, 2013 Comments off

Virtex UltraScale device.

Virtex UltraScale device.

Friends, here’s a review of 2013! There have been the usual hits and misses, globally, while in India, the electronics and semiconductor industries really need to do a lot more! Enjoy, and here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous 2014! Be safe and stay safe!!

DEC. 2013
What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

How’s global semicon industry performing in sub-20nm era?

Xilinx announces 20nm All Programmable UltraSCALE portfolio

Dr. Wally Rhines: Watch out for 14/16nm technologies in 2014!

Outlook 2014: Xilinx bets big on 28nm

NOV. 2013
Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech

Connecting intelligence today for connected world: ARM

India poses huge opportunity for DLP: TI

SEMICON Europa 2013: Where does Europe stand in 450mm path?

OCT. 2013
Apple’s done it again, wth iPad Air!

IEF 2013: New markets and opportunities in sub-20nm era!

SEPT. 2013
ST intros STM32F4 series high-performance Cortex-M4 MCUs

Great, India’s having fabs! But, is the tech choice right?

G450C

G450C

Now, India to have two semicon fabs!

Higher levels of abstraction growth area for EDA

AUG. 2013
Moore’s Law could come to an end within next decade: POET

What’s happening with 450mm: G450C update and status

300mm is the new 200mm!

JULY 2013
Xilinx tapes-out first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture

JUNE 2013
EC’s goal: Reach 20 percent share in chip manufacturing by 2020!
Read more…

Altera Nios II processor gets Wind River Linux support

March 5, 2009 Comments off

Wind River recently announced the Wind River Linux support for Altera’s Nios II embedded processor.

Commenting on the Nios II processor adoptiion, Mikeson Wang, Product Marketing Manager, Asia Pacific, Altera Corp., in Hong Kong, highlighted that it has over 20,000 licensees worldwide, and is used by each one of the top 20 OEMs. The Nios II processor happens to be the industry’s #1 soft core CPU, as per Gartner Dataquest. There exists a very vibrant Nios Forum community of over 10,000 users. It is also used by developers in all Altera markets.

Wind River delivers Linux support for the Nios II processor also means that the #1 FPGA processor is now supported by best-in-class embedded Linux. Also, Nios II plus embedded Linux = BOM cost reduction.

It is a compelling alternative to discrete off-the-shelf processors. Wind River customers have access to Altera’s full spectrum of FPGA and HardCopy ASIC solutions as well.

Wang added that the Nios II is popular because of providing design flexibility. Being a custom fit solution, it is also easy to modify hardware at any time.

Why Linux + Nios II
There are several reasons. First, it provides cost reduction through integration. Users can replace the existing CPU with an FPGA running Embedded Linux. Next, it provides protection from processor obsolescence. This in turn, protects the software legacy code, which happens to be a customer’s biggest investment.

This combination also allows design flexibility. Besides providing access to open source software, the time to market gets reduced as well.

Highlighting the reasons for the Altera-Wind River partnership, he added that Wind River is the best-in-class Linux partner, with worldwide sales, support, training and service infrastructure. Wind River is also the no. 1 embedded OS supplier for the communications market.

Altera itself has a strong presence in the communications market. Also, the FPGA processor use is a growing trend in embedded applications; and Nios II is leading FPGA soft processor. There is also a significant overlap of Altera and Wind River’s customer base, such as Huawei, ZTE, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, etc., to name a few.

Deliveables include:
Altera
* Cyclone III FPGA Development Kit (3C120)
– DK-DEV-3C120
* Linux Hardware Reference Design (Quartus II Project)
– Current design: 125 MHz in 3C120
– Nios II performance: 150 – 300 DMIPS *

Wind River
* Wind River Linux Distribution
* Wind River Workbench for Nios II
– Workbench IDE with Nios II Support
– GNU Tool Chain, Board Support Package
* Flash files (HW & SW for 3C120 board)

The Cyclone III FPGA development kit is a complete platform for prototyping embedded systems.

In summary, the Wind River-Altera partnership helps reduce system cost and TTM, and increases system flexibility. Altera and Wind River already share several customers, and hence, this is a win-win partnership. The strategic partnership with Wind River complements Altera’s silicon, soft processor and FPGA development, besides, Wind River’s industry-leading embedded Linux distribution.

How will this partnership boost FPGA sales? According to Wang: “The current weak demand is due to recession. We see weak demand in every segment. However, we are still outperforming the market.”

Although leading-edge FPGAs are scaling to 40nm and beyond, have the tools caught up with these new and complex processes? Wang added that the process does not have any significant impact.

TI Beagle Board for Indian open source developers and hobbyists

October 18, 2008 Comments off

Texas Instruments recently introduced the pocket-size, USB-powered Beagle Board based on TI’s OMAP3530 applications processor. It features an ARM Cortex-A8 core, 2D/3D graphics engine and high-performance TMS320C64x+ digital signal processor (DSP) core.

This will help open source developers and hobbyists in India to realize their creative design ideas without being restricted by expensive hardware development tools, lackluster performance capabilities, high power consumption or stifled design environments, according to Khasim Syed Mohammed, Lead Developer for Open Platforms, Texas Instruments India Pvt. Ltd.

He added: “It helps us in learning cutting edge technology, innovating new ideas and executing them. Beagle board should be used to explore the growing demand in areas like medical, security, infotainment, navigation, education, signal processing, mobile devices and communication.”

Important for India
This initiative is particularly important in India where students can use the board to learn, show case their efforts and global recognition for their innovations.

Innovators in India should use this opportunity to prototype their ideas using the specification software hardware openly available in a never before package. It is important for the student community to learn new technologies, explore new areas and innovate. This initiative by TI also helps startups in India who want to explore the OMAP hardware but have limited support base for their requirements.

Passionate open source developers and hobbyists in India can realize their creative design ideas without being restricted by expensive hardware development tools, lackluster performance capabilities, high power consumption or stifled design environments.

Open platform innovators have the expandability of desktop machines without the expense, bulk or noise with the Beagle board, which is a powerful, low-cost and fan-less embedded system development board smaller than the size of an index card.

Board named after Beagle
The board is named after a popular breed of dogs, Beagle. It has been designed it to be one of the shortest pocket sized OMAP3530 boards. TI is encouraging the Open community to treat this as a pet, which is easy to carry and can be USB powered so that development is made easy and can perform high end applications at very less power.

Inspired to create a small, open source development board, a small group of enthusiastic engineers worked together on the concept and realization of the Beagle board. The resulting 3×3-inch board bridges desktop and embedded development by allowing developers to use the same peripherals and usage mode for almost limitless expansion. Developers are able to design exactly according to their specifications and collaborate with the community on creative new applications.

Mohammed said: “There is a growing need for development support in the Open Community. The Open Community is capable and passionate to work on industry’s high end processors and architectures and build innovative applications and prototypes for mobile, portable infotainment, portable navigation, medical, home security and many such applications. Another important reason for this initiative was the cost implications in owning a high end platform which was restricting them in exploring many such ideas/applications.”

Beagleboard is a global initiative to address the growing needs of the Open community to help them innovate and explore new areas by providing them access to leading hardware and software, giving them a forum to present their views and thoughts, showcasing their efforts for global appreciation, maintain community’s contribution.

Developers can quickly maximize their design concepts by tapping into the expertise and support of some of the industry’s top Linux programmers already experimenting with the Beagle board. With communities hosting the latest updates and codes, live forums and chats for easy collaboration, developers have easy access to support and exchange of ideas. Users are encouraged to join active, existing communities already participating in the project.

Developers, go parallel, or perish, says Intel

May 22, 2008 Comments off

Parallelism or parallel computing involves the simultaneous use of more than one computer or processor to execute a program. Ideally, parallel processing makes a program run faster as there are more engines (CPUs) running it.

India has been slow off the blocks as far as parallelism is concerned. Intel is undertaking various programs to ensure that software developers in Inda keep pace with the latest developments.

Intel has been developing microprocessors for a long time. James Reinders, Chief Software Evangelist and Director of Intel Software Development Products, said: “You can double performance and reduce power. Power consumption in a microprocessor isn’t something that the industry wants. The solution is to add cores.”

There are bandwidth challenges with multicore. Intel will be adding QuickPath technology later this year. Providing point-to-point high-speed links to distributed shared memory, the Intel QuickPath technology unleashes the parallel processing performance of next-generation Intel 45nm microarchitectures (codenamed Nehalem and Tukwila). These microarchitectures, built from the ground up, will be the first to use the Intel QuickPath interconnect system and can see significant improvements in overall performance.

Reinders added, “We will also go to eight cores this year. We are looking at working with developers, so that they can take advantage of the cores. We need to look at how they can make parallel programming more flexible.”

Tech challenges
Intel has been seeing pretty strong trends of users using parallelism or perhaps, trying to figure out how to use it best. The most active areas where parallelism is currently being used are in scientific applications and high-performance computing. The challenge is in the high-performance computing area, which involves lot of digital media content, said Reinders.

Indian scenario
Commenting on the scenario in India, Narendra Bhandari, Director, Intel Software and Solutions Group, said: “In India, we have been interacting with the telecom software companies. They have gone on to build parallelism, and actually delivered to local customers.”

Reinders further added: “In Karnataka, we have interacted with an educational software company. We have tools that analyze what their programs do. Very quickly, they agree to discuss, and three to five weeks later, they are able to release new patches of their products.”

Citing Tally as an example, Bhandari said: “We were able help Tally look at their applications. As the data load increases, challenges increase as well. They have since seen dramatic improvements in their applications. Yet another example is an animation company. We looked at their rendering. In two months or less, they saw the results. We showed them where the paradigm was shifting.”

According to Intel, the interest levels in the adoption of the tools, as per the downloads and sales, etc., has gone up from 3x to 5x. “Traffic is quite high on our software network portal. This is the traffic to the geeky portion of Intel. All of these trends indicate that the awareness regarding parallelism has been very good in India,” added Reinders.

Two of Intel’s customers have applauded the company for its good work in parallelism — the Institute of Mathematical Sciences of India (IMSI) in Chennai and Philips Medical.

Training programs
Intel launched a University program two years ago (Go Parallel or Perish). As of the end of 2007, 407 institutions globally have signed up. About 200 of these are from India. According to Reinders, most of the professors that Intel meets do touch upon parallelism in their classes. “We’ve also seen improvements at the UG level.”

Bhandari added that Intel has a generation of programmers who have written code with non-parallel environments. “Parallelism skill is now going to be critical. The curriculum changes at institutes do not happen overnight. However, IIT-Kanpur built a curriculum two years ago and open sourced it,” he pointed out. “We also talked to NIIT. We introduced parallelism in their curriculum. This was 18 months ago. Elements of our courses are also going on at G-NIIT. The NIITs have large scale and scope,” he added.

Open Source
The fact that Intel does a lot of work on open source is perhaps, not well publicized. Reinders noted: “We do a lot of work in Open Source, and are right behind IBM and Red Hat. Linux eats up more power. The impact is the same on laptops and servers. We came up with seven different patches. Cutting power consumption on Linux devices is something that Intel is good at.”

Intel also does a lot of seminars and other software partner programs. Reinders said: “Our focus is more toward the developer community. DRDO and BHEL are some of the customers in India who have benefited from our software development.”

Three programmer challenges
According to Intel, programmers have three immediate challenges with parallelism: scalability, correctness and maiintainability. The rules of the thumb, as outlined by Intel are:

• Think parallel.
• Program using abstraction.
• Program in tasks (chores), not threads (cores).
• Design with the option to turn concurrency off.
• Avoid using locks.
• Use tools and libraries designed to help with concurrency.
• Use scalable memory allocators.
• Design to scale through increased workloads.

Parallelism offers new doors. Creativity is required to open these new doors. Developers would do well to look for these doors. Without any doubt, parallelism is central to Intel’s products. Multi-core needs parallel applications. Therefore, developers need to learn to either think and go or be parallel, or perish!

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