Electronic Design UPDATE: February 9, 2005

Feb. 9, 2005
Editor's View: Looking For A Change? Try A Kit, by William Wong, Embedded/Systems/Software Editor. Major changes have been occurring in development kits over the past two years. Kits used to be rather expensive or difficult to come by...

Electronic Design UPDATE e-Newsletter Electronic Design Magazine PlanetEE ==> www.planetee.com February 9, 2005


*************************ADVERTISEMENT***************************** Digi Offers Easy Embedded Device Networking Maximize your initial investment by adding embedded wired and wireless Ethernet in a single development effort. Digi Connect ME (TM) is pin-compatible and interchangeable with Digi Connect Wi-ME (TM), for a future-proof, fully customizable solution. Built on NetSilicon (R) 32-bit NET+ARM technology, Digi Connect embedded modules provide a seamless migration path to a fully integrated system-on-chip solution. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=110D:1001CD ******************************************************************* Today's Table Of Contents: 1. Editor's View *Looking For A Change? Try A Kit 2. Focus On Embedded *EPIC Board Targets Medical Devices 3. News From The Editors *Hardware/Software Combo Diversifies USB Flash Drive *JFETs Offer Low Noise At High And Low Frequencies *Briefings Bring China To California 4. Upcoming Industry Events *Embedded Systems Conference *Design, Automation and Test in Europe *SID International Symposium 2005 5. Magazine Highlights: February 3, 2005 *Cover Story: Engineering Feature -- Think Small: Can You Meet The Design Challenges At 90 nm And Below? *Leapfrog: First Look -- Class D Amplifiers Challenge "Golden Ears" *Leapfrog: First Look -- DSOs Reveal Serial I/O Secrets *Design View/Design Solution -- Design-For-Test The Smart Way: dFT With A "Big T" And "Little d" Electronic Design UPDATE edited by Lisa Maliniak, eMedia Editor ******************************************************************* THOUGHT YOU'D MISSED THEM? DON'T WORRY, THEY'RE ARCHIVED Electronic Design's webcasts are available online: Next-Generation In-House PCB Prototyping: Produce your own PCB prototypes without the use of hazardous chemicals. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1117:1001CD Selecting the Best ASIC Solution, II: Panelists from Fujitsu, NEC, Toshiba, and Xilinx continue their discussion on ASICs. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111C:1001CD Selecting the Best ASIC Solution, I: Dave Bursky discusses the selection process with a panel of ASIC manufacturers. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111A:1001CD *** BE SURE TO VISIT Electronic Design's Web site, where the power of Electronic Design is a mouse click away! Read our Web exclusives, enjoy our Quick Poll, discover Featured Vendors, access our archives, share viewpoints in our Forums, explore our e-newsletters, and more. TAKE OUR CURRENT QUICK POLL: How important to you is power integrity as an SoC design constraint? -- Top priority -- On par with speed and area -- A growing concern -- Not on the radar screen -- What's power integrity? Go to Electronic Design ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111F:1001CD ******************************************************************* 1. Editor's View -- Exclusive to Electronic Design UPDATE ******************************************************************* Looking For A Change? Try A Kit By William Wong, Embedded/Systems/Software Editor Major changes have been occurring in development kits over the past two years. Kits used to be rather expensive or difficult to come by. Low-cost kits were often minimal collections of hardware with extremely poor software offerings. Now, you can find products for less than $50 with substantial software development tools as part of the package. Checking out these new products has never been easier. I have been doing hands-on reviews of a number of kits in EiED Online ( http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=110E:1001CD ). The kits have been inexpensive and typically have a common theme: open-source tools such as a GNU tool suite ( http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1124:1001CD ). Not only does open-source software (OSS) make the kits less expensive, it also provides a common base that makes it easier to evaluate competing products because you don't have to learn a new toolset each time. Eclipse ( http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1122:1001CD ) is quickly becoming the platform choice for GUI embedded development tools. For embedded kits, Eclipse's C/C++ Development Tool (CDT) has been a godsend. CDT uses the GNU GCC compiler, which has versions for almost every processor on the planet. Commercial compilers often generate more compact and more efficient code, but these are minor issues for product evaluation purposes. Likewise, Eclipse is the tool of choice for a growing number of developers, so there's often no software-development learning curve when evaluating a kit based on Eclipse. Low-cost hardware and development tools are only part of the puzzle. Network stacks and operating systems also are needed. Never fear, OSS is here. There are even low-end alternatives, such as uCLinux. Vendors typically follow suit and include their device drivers in source form. All this leads to the throwaway approach to system evaluation, which wasn't possible when evaluation kits cost $5000 and it took weeks to learn a new development package. It's now possible to do hands-on evaluations of competing products to decide which is more suitable for your application. This is especially helpful when exploring new wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and ZigBee. The low price of kits is important in these cases because multiple units are required for testing, and the radio modules are typically matched to an MCU. It's now reasonable for companies of any size to try two or three alternatives. Embedded developers looking to stay abreast of the latest technology can take advantage of these low-cost kits as well. Access to these kinds of tools was often limited to colleges or to projects that were directly related to your job. A complete kit can now be obtained for less money than a three-credit college course. On the downside, low-cost kits may have some rough edges. Everyone is generating them, and it does take time to do a good job. Dropping a couple of sample applications, some OSS tools, and an operating system on a CD and pairing it with a small circuit board is actually a substantial project. Getting it right takes some effort or talent or both. Of course, there ain't no such thing as free lunch (TANSTAAFL), a well known micro-economics term. All these packages are designed to get you to buy hardware and software. Looking for support for all this open software? It costs money, and it's usually worth the price. It's no longer sufficient to come up with a new chip and just sell it. Low-cost software support and evaluation kits are the norm. To comment on this Editor's View, go to Reader Comments at the foot of the Web page: Electronic Design UPDATE ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=110F:1001CD ******************************************************************* *************************ADVERTISEMENT***************************** NEW Low Cost USB DAQ from NI -- Starting at $145 Acquire and log data in minutes with new USB DAQ devices from National Instruments. With ready-to-run data logging software and driver software for LabVIEW included, taking measurements is simple. The hardware has all the functionality you need to acquire and generate analog signals, read and write digital signals, and perform timing operations, all starting at $145. Click here to find detailed specifications on these products: http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1118:1001CD ******************************************************************* ********************** 2. Focus On Embedded ********************** ***EPIC Board Targets Medical Devices VersaLogic's Gecko pc board conforms to the EPIC form-factor standard, which measures 4.5 by 6.5 in. The Gecko has a 500-MHz x86-compatibile AMD processor with up to 512 Mbytes of double-data-rate RAM and a removable Compact Flash storage socket. Peripherals include PS/2 mouse and keyboard interfaces, quad USB ports, dual serial port, and a parallel port. The network interface is 10/100BaseT Ethernet, and the video display supports analog and low-voltage differential-signaling flat-panel outputs for 18- and 24-bit video displays. An analog option adds eight 12-bit input channels. The board design minimizes radiated electromagnetic interference (EMI) via three ground planes within the pc board, minimized I/O trace lengths, on-board USB filters, and a single on-board clock source. Its low EMI meets FDA electromagnetic-compatibility (EMC) testing. Built-in transient voltage suppressor (TVS) devices provide enhanced electrostatic-discharge (ESD) protection for keyboard, mouse, USB, Ethernet, and 16 other digital I/O lines. The conduction-cooled board draws less than 5 W. PC/104+ cards provide expansion. Pricing starts at $682. VersaLogic supports the Gecko with a minimum five-year product lifespan guarantee. VersaLogic Corp. ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1120:1001CD ***************************** 3. News -- From The Editors ***************************** ***Hardware/Software Combo Diversifies USB Flash Drive The U3 platform promises to expand the USB flash drive market beyond storage. This hardware and software platform is the culmination of efforts by M-Systems and SanDisk Corp. What has followed is the creation of a new company known as U3. Its charter is to transform the USB flash drive market from simple storage devices into consumer products that people can use to carry, store, and launch their own applications and data on any PC wherever they go. Unveiled at last month's Consumer Electronics Show, the U3 multivendor standard platform includes a hardware specification as well as application programming interfaces (APIs). With these APIs, software developers can access the unique mobility and security features available on these flash drives. Each U3-based drive will contain a Launch Pad desktop interface to simplify the viewing, launching, downloading, and management of all U3-compliant applications stored on the devices. U3 ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1125:1001CD ***JFETs Offer Low Noise At High And Low Frequencies The LSK170 series of JFETs from Linear Integrated Systems Inc. is optimized to provide low noise at both high and low frequencies with a narrow range of IDSS and low capacitance. They're specifically designed for low-noise, high-input-impedance applications within the audio, instrumentation, medical, and sensors markets. The JFETS offer voltage noise of 1 nV/Hz at 1 kHz and 2 nV/Hz at 10 Hz (typical), and they have three grades of IDSS range: 2.6 to 6.0 mA, 6.0 to 12 mA, and 10 to 20 mA. Packaging includes surface-mount SOT-23 and through-hole TO-92 options. The LSK170 series is a pin-for-pin replacement of the Toshiba 2SK170 and an improved functional replacement for the Interfet IF1320, IF1330, IF1331, and IF4500. Pricing is set at $0.50 each in 1000-unit quantities, with delivery from stock. Linear Integrated Systems Inc. ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111E:1001CD ***Briefings Bring China To California Analysts from iSuppli Corp. along with top industry executives will share the latest electronics industry developments impacting China at iSuppli's California Winter Briefing series. The first of the two briefings will take place February 17 in Santa Clara, Calif., and the second on February 18 in Costa Mesa, Calif. Briefings will cover crucial issues facing China's electronics industry, including the wired broadband market, hot consumer markets, and the contract manufacturing industry. Among those attending will be industry executives from AMD, Agilent Technologies, Applied Materials, Hewlett-Packard, National Semiconductor, NEC, Renesas Technology, and the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association. iSuppli Corp. ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1115:1001CD ***************************** 4. Upcoming Industry Events ***************************** March 6-10, Embedded Systems Conference San Francisco, Calif. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1121:1001CD March 7-11, Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) Munich, Germany http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111D:1001CD May 22-27, Society for Information Displays (SID) International Symposium 2005 Boston, Mass. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1123:1001CD ************************ 5. Magazine Highlights ************************ In case you missed them, here are some of the high points of our most recent issue. February 3, 2005: * Cover Story: Engineering Feature -- Think Small: Can You Meet The Design Challenges At 90 nm And Below? While the transition from 130 to 90 nm has magnified some issues, scaling down to 45 nm and beyond will spawn even tougher design challenges. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1114:1001CD * Leapfrog: First Look -- Class D Amplifiers Challenge "Golden Ears" Audiophiles will find that delta-sigma modulation with closed-loop feedback makes a difference. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1110:1001CD * Leapfrog: First Look -- DSOs Reveal Serial I/O Secrets New probes and software simplify standards compliance. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1113:1001CD * Technology Report -- Power Integrity Comes Home To Roost At 90 nm IC designers moving to 90-nm processes can place power integrity atop their list of most worrisome design issues. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1112:1001CD * Design View/Design Solution -- Design-For-Test The Smart Way: dFT With A "Big T" And "Little d" http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1111:1001CD For the complete Table of Contents, go to Electronic Design ==> http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=1116:1001CD ******************************************************************* SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TO ELECTRONIC DESIGN If you're reading this e-newsletter, then you are either a current Electronic Design subscriber, or should be (145,000 of your peers are). To apply for or renew a subscription to Electronic Design absolutely FREE and without paperwork or hassle, click on the link below. http://nls.planetee.com/t?ctl=111B:1001CD *******************************************************************




Editorial: Mark David, Editor-in-Chief mailto:[email protected] Advertising/Sponsorship Opportunities: Bill Baumann, Publisher: mailto:[email protected]


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About the Author

William G. Wong | Senior Content Director - Electronic Design and Microwaves & RF

I am Editor of Electronic Design focusing on embedded, software, and systems. As Senior Content Director, I also manage Microwaves & RF and I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, programmers, developers and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our template and send to me along with a signed release form. 

Check out my blog, AltEmbedded on Electronic Design, as well as his latest articles on this site that are listed below. 

You can visit my social media via these links:

I earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters in Computer Science from Rutgers University. I still do a bit of programming using everything from C and C++ to Rust and Ada/SPARK. I do a bit of PHP programming for Drupal websites. I have posted a few Drupal modules.  

I still get a hand on software and electronic hardware. Some of this can be found on our Kit Close-Up video series. You can also see me on many of our TechXchange Talk videos. I am interested in a range of projects from robotics to artificial intelligence. 

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