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Electronic Design UPDATE: June 16, 2004


Electronic Design UPDATE e-Newsletter Electronic Design Magazine
PlanetEE ==> June 16, 2004



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Today's Table Of Contents:
1. Editor's View
* Nanotechnology -- Handle With Care
2. Focus On DSP
* Audio DSP, Bluetooth Transceiver Target Stereo Headsets
3. News From The Editors
* Rb Frequency Standard Has Programmable 50-MHz Output
* Complete Bluetooth Package For Laptops
* Seminar Will Discuss Hazardous Materials Rules
4. Upcoming Industry Events
* Plastic Optical Fiber World 2004
* International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology
* IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Symposium
5. Magazine Highlights: June 7, 2004
* Cover Story: Engineering Feature -- Managing Product Obsolescence -- Now You See It, Now You Don't
* Leapfrog: First Look -- Latest Nios CPU Targets 32-Bit Control Needs
* Leapfrog: First Look -- Mini Low-g Accelerometers Sport Five Functions
* Design View / Design Solution -- Programming FPGA Systems Doesn't Have To Be Difficult

Electronic Design UPDATE edited by John Novellino, Executive Editor


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1. Editor's View -- Exclusive to Electronic Design UPDATE

Nanotechnology -- Handle With Care

By Roger Allan

Market analyst Frost & Sullivan recently reported that "nanotechnology enthusiasts are steeling themselves for a backlash they anticipate as the public begins to catch on to the rapidly advancing field and its still largely unknown health impacts." While there's been scant evidence of nanotechnology's dangers to human health, the environment, and society, the little evidence uncovered so far has been alarming if not downright convincing. Researchers at DuPont Chemicals in Wilmington, Del., for example, found that single-walled nanotubes ended up deep in the tiny air sacs of rats' lungs, where they caused lesions indicative of toxicity. In 15% of those rats, the nanomaterials aggregated into lethal and suffocating clumps. In another study by a DuPont researcher at the company's Haskell Laboratory for Health and Environmental sciences and a researcher at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, nanotubes were mixed in with aerosols that were administered to rodents. Not only were signs of inflammation detected in the rodents' respiratory systems, but 15% of the rodents died of suffocation as well, although not from toxic reaction.

That's been enough to goad governments into action. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting about a dozen studies to fund under a $4 million solicitation for research proposals issued last July. Also, the United Kingdom has commissioned the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to complete a preliminary study of the risks and benefits of nanoparticles this year. While none of the other European governments has taken any action so far, concern is mounting among them too.

Private industry groups, academic circles, and other organizations are also getting involved. The Center for Biological and Environmental Technology at Rice University in Houston, the ETC Group in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the Greenpeace Environmental Trust in London, England, are also calling for more studies.

The concerns center on the properties of carbon nanotubes, which are fundamental nanomaterial building blocks whose tiny sizes allow them to penetrate deep into human skin and lungs, or linger in the environment undetected, as pollutants. Nanotechnology structures have feature sizes on the order of 1 nm and smaller (about the span of seven to 10 hydrogen atoms). So while nanotechnology is being heralded as the basis for the next industrial revolution, enabling everything from extremely small and sensitive diagnostic tools to super-strong materials and more efficient manufacturing processes, these same properties could be a double-edged sword. Remember the damage to humans from asbestos, which took decades to discover and prove? How about PCBs polluting our waterways, which also took quite a while to discover? One can also argue that the zillions of RF signals humming around us as we communicate via cell phones, satellites, and other gear may well be harming humans. But it may also take decades to find this out, by which time it may be too late to reverse the damage.

There's no such thing as a perfectly harmless technology. Individuals and society must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of technology's impact, and in most cases, the pros far outweigh the cons. The concern and debates about the pros and cons of nanotechnology are a healthy exercise in caution, even if they do not uncover radically dangerous situations. It is far better to err on the side of caution, even if few negative effects are ever discovered. This will allow us to monitor and regulate what needs to be done and will give us the confidence to adopt technological change without undue concern.

To comment on this Editor's View, go to Reader Comments at the foot of the Web page:

Electronic Design UPDATE ==>



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Check out the conference program at Register now and save $100.


********************** 2. Focus On DSP **********************

***Audio DSP, Bluetooth Transceiver Target Stereo Headsets A reference design for a wireless Bluetooth headset combines the BelaSigna 200 DSP audio processing subsystem from the Dspfactory and the SiW3500 single-chip Bluetooth transceiver (originally developed by Silicon Wave) from RF Micro Devices Inc. The BelaSigna 200 consumes only about 0.05 mW/MHz and supplies 200 MIPS peak when clocked at 33 MHz. The SiW3500 draws just 20 microA on standby and only 1.3 mA in ACL sniff mode, with 40-ms intervals. When transferring data in ACL mode the SiW3500's current drain averages 42 mA from a 3-V supply. In the system, the BelaSigna 200 single-chip DSP-based audio subsystem combines a 16-bit DSP core and a patented WOLA filterbank coprocessor for subband analysis and synthesis, windowing, time folding, and equalization. The chip includes the stereo audio chain, memory, and more. The reference design also accommodates telecom audio and can switch on-the-fly between mobile phones, portable audio players, and other Bluetooth devices. The design includes a headset development test board, a USB Class 1 adapter, and full documentation (schematics, Gerber files, complete bill of materials, charging circuit recommendations, royalty-free software, and a user guide).
RF Micro Devices Inc.

********************** 3. News -- From The Editors **********************

Rb Frequency Standard Has Programmable 50-MHz Output With an atomic time base boasting a stability of 5 X 10exp-11 per month, the 2965AR rubidium (Rb) frequency standard combines a 50-MHz direct digital synthesizer along with 10-MHz and 5-MHz outputs. Three front-panel baby n connectors (BNCs) supply 1-V rms sine waves into 50 ohms. Rear-panel BNCs handle TTL-compatible 1-pps input and output signals. The instrument uses an auto-adaptive disciplining algorithm, which requires no user intervention, to track the 1-pps input from a GPS1 smart antenna or other source to discipline the rubidium oscillator. Simple text commands through an RS-232 interface program the synthesized output from 100 Hz to 50 MHz in 1 microHz steps. For communications applications, the instrument generates 1.2288-MHz (CDMA), 1.544-MHz (T1), 2.048-MHz (E1), 10.23-MHz, and 13-MHz (GSM) signals without reconfiguration or recalibration. The 2965AR lists for $3995, and the GPS1 antenna costs $1295. Delivery is from stock to six weeks.

Novatech Instruments Inc.

Complete Bluetooth Package For Laptops The All-in-One Bluetooth wireless technology package for laptop PCs includes Taiyo Yuden's Bluetooth V1.2-compliant Coextistence Module, chip antenna, and Bluetooth protocol stacks. The module implements new functions like Faster Connection, Adaptive Frequency Hopping, and Enhanced Synchronous Channel Operation. It also supports Intel's WCS Phase-II Coexistence specification. The 2.4-GHz antenna, which has regulatory approval for each country of destination, provides a dedicated connector interface with the PC motherboard. The protocol stacks enable the module to work in a laptop or desktop PC, supporting peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, and audio and video applications. An evaluation sample of the All-in-One Bluetooth V1.2 Coexistence Module, antenna, and protocol stacks will be available in the third quarter with delivery in two to three weeks at a price of $50.

Taiyo Yuden

Seminar Will Discuss Hazardous Materials Rules A trio of companies that work with electronic OEMs will present a free half-day seminar next month on a pair of European Union (EU) directives that will greatly limit the use of lead and other hazardous materials in electrical equipment. Titled "Introduction to Lead Free," the seminar will discuss the EU directives on the Restriction of Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). The event is scheduled to be held at NRC's Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters. NRC distributes electromechanical and passive electronic components. Cosponsors include Design Chain Associates of San Francisco, a supply-chain consultant for electronic OEMs, and EPTAC Corp. of Manchester, N.H., which provides electronic production training. The directives take effect July 1, 2006 and impact all equipment shipped within and into the EU. For more information, contact Dennis Eisen of NRC Electronics at (561) 241-8600, ext. 307.

NRC Electronics Inc. ==>

********************** 4. Upcoming Industry Events **********************

June 23-25, POF (Plastic Optical Fiber) World 2004 San Jose, Calif.

Aug. 2-6, International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology Denver, Colo.

Aug. 9-13, IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Symposium (EMC2004) Santa Clara, Calif.

********************** 5. Magazine Highlights **********************
In case you missed them, here are some of the high points of our most recent issue.

June 7, 2004:

* Cover Story: Engineering Feature -- Managing Product Obsolescence -- Now You See It, Now You Don't Impending international lead-free mandates are putting pressure on chip manufacturers to better manage their product portfolios.

* Leapfrog: First Look -- Latest Nios CPU Targets 32-Bit Control Needs

* Leapfrog: First Look -- Mini Low-g Accelerometers Sport Five Functions

* Design View / Design Solution -- Programming FPGA Systems Doesn't Have To Be Difficult

For the complete Table of Contents, go to Electronic Design ==>


Ahead of the Curve: Virtual Probes Uncover The Secrets Inside FPGAs In Minutes, Not Hours By Paul G. Schreier

A new expert viewpoint brought to Electronic Design by Agilent Technologies

May 24 issue, page 37



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Editorial: Lucinda Mattera, A
ssociate Chief Editor: mailto:[email protected]
Advertising/Sponsorship Opportunities: Bill Baumann, Associate Publisher: mailto:[email protected]


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