Electronics & Computers

Smart Reset ICs

STMicroelectronics (Geneva, Switzerland) has introduced a new line of Smart Reset™ chips. The integrated circuits reset ‘frozen’ gadgets, such as mobile phones, media players, and other portable consumer devices.

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Battery Simulation Software

Using its low-power EFM32 Gecko microcontrollers, Energy Micro (Oslo, Norway) has introduced a software tool that enables designers to predict battery cell life expectancy. The free energyAware™ Battery Estimator provides a simulation of total system energy usage, taking into account actual battery source, MCU energy modes, peripherals employed, and external circuit components.

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DRAM-on-Logic IC

Imec (Leuven, Belgium) has demonstrated 3D integrated DRAM-on-logic for lowpower mobile applications. The 3D stack technology consists of Imec’s proprietary logic CMOS IC, on top of which a commercial DRAM is stacked using through-silicon vias (TSVs) and micro-bumps. Heaters were integrated to test the impact of hotspots on DRAM refresh times. The chip contains test structures for monitoring thermo-mechanical stress in a 3D stack, electro-static discharge (ESD) hazards, electrical characteristics of TSVs and micro-bumps, and fault models for TSVs.

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Implementing PCI Express on PC/104-Size Modules

As PC/104 celebrates its 20th anniversary as an open standard this year, it continues to grow in terms of new design-ins, applications, and integration of the latest technology. In today’s fast paced, throw-away world, this is a remarkable achievement. PC/104 users typically demand a long product life cycle of seven years or more, so for two decades, these small, stackable, embedded computer systems have found applications in military, medical, industrial, transportation, communications, pipelines, mining, utilities and a host of other industries. However, as technology changes and becomes more powerful and complex, challenges arise in implementation. This has never been truer than for the different implementation strategies for PCI Express on PC/104 size modules.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software, Reliability
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COM Express Revision 2.0: What’s new in the latest specification?

The COM Express specification was first released in 2005. Its main target was, and still is, to define the mandatory requirements of COM Express modules and carrier boards as far as it is necessary to ensure interoperability between the products of different vendors. Nevertheless, with continuous technical progress, there is also the need for adjustments of the common interface — that being the COM Express connector.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Connectors and terminals, Performance upgrades, Parts, Reliability
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Using High-Level Language to Implement Floating-Point Calculations on FPGAs

The scientific community is interested in using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for scientific computations because they can be targeted for specific applications and achieve greater throughput at a lower power cost. However, these gains can usually only be achieved by a user with expert knowledge of hardware design. Therefore, despite improvements in FPGA technology that have allowed their use to become attractive for a wider range of applications, inexperience with hardware design remains a barrier for many.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Integrated circuits, Technician training
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Managing Security in FPGA-Based Embedded Systems

Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) combine the programmability of processors with the performance of custom hardware. As they become more common in critical embedded systems, new techniques are necessary to manage security in FPGA designs. Because FPGAs can provide a useful balance between performance, rapid time to market, and flexibility, they have become the primary source of computation in many critical embedded systems. However, techniques beyond bitstream encryption are necessary to ensure FPGA design security.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Cyber security, Integrated circuits, Safety critical systems
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CMOS-Memristor Hybrid Nanoelectronics

The memristor is the fourth fundamental passive electronic device in addition to the resistor, capacitor, and inductor. By integrating with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices, memristors show promise for development of revolutionary new nanoelectronic computing architectures with significantly reduced size and extremely low consumed power. The proposed effort explores a novel, high-payoff nanotechnology area that exploits crossbar nanoelectronic logic elements as well as the recently demonstrated phenomena of memristance. Specifically, the goal of this project was to explore CMOS-memristor hybrid nanoelectronic circuits for memory, FPGA, DSP, analog, and neuromorphic applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Downsizing, Architecture, Semiconductor devices, Energy consumption, Nanotechnology
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Dynamically Reconfigurable Software-Defined Radio for GNSS Applications

Historically, the military has used special- purpose Global Positioning System (GPS) radios for radio navigation. This has the disadvantage of locking users into fixed technology solutions designed to meet a fixed set of requirements. Software Defined Radios (SDR) have the advantage of being able to easily adapt to provide new capabilities using current-generation technology. Continued improvements in SDR technology are enabling their use for Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) applications that require small-form-factor, low-power designs. This has the added benefit of allowing the signal processing algorithms for future GPS signals to be included in the GNSS SDR design without changing or modifying the hardware of the GPS receiver.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Global positioning systems, Global positioning systems (GPS), Radio equipment, Military vehicles and equipment, Satellites
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32-Bit Microcontrollers

Microchip Technology (Chandler, AZ) has announced low-pincount, 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers (MCUs) that provide 61 DMIPS of performance in packages 5 × 5 mm. The PIC32 “MX1” and “MX2” MCUs feature dedicated audio and capacitive-sensing peripherals.

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