Posted by henk hamoen on March 16, 2011
Remember the 80s TV show Knight Rider with David Hasselhoff (Michael Knight) as the hero saving the world from the “bad guys”? He had this super cool car, equipped with a futuristic computer in the dashboard called KITT. KITT was Michael’s partner, it was almost ‘human’ – could talk, think, and even make jokes.
We all knew it was fake yet it was such appealing technology! An automobile that would drive by itself, a computer you can talk with, and fabulous communication devices like Michael’s small ‘watch’ that he used for communication with KITT. It was so futuristic and impossible.
The future is getting closer all the time. In most consumer devices today, we see embedded processing power ranging from small processors inside kitchen appliances to substantial subsystems that are connecting us more seamlessly to the digital realm, and the trend continues.
At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, many new products were introduced. Cool technology that is available today for consumers (us!), not just for the hero in a TV show. One of my favorites was the new phone (or camera?) introduced by LG (HYPERLINK). This handheld device provides a 3D camera and a true 3D display. Yes, a 3D display and you don’t even need glasses to see the effect. There were tons of electronic devices at the show that have some form of wireless communication embedded. WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth and NFC that will further enhance the consumer experience increasing our access to the cloud: to pictures, music, documents, secure banking, TV, and to each other.
OK, so it is not quite KITT, but we are fast moving in that direction. What is driving the innovation? Display technology? Software? Hardware? Yes, all of the above is driving a great new consumer experience, powered by innovative semiconductor technology. While consumers are seeing wondrous new products in shops today, the semiconductor industry is already working on tomorrow’s products which will be even more eye popping.
With this rapid pace of change and innovation, subsystems that can be implemented quickly and reused easily will play an important role in speeding the time-to-market of new semiconductor devices. There just isn’t enough time to design and re-design everything that will be needed to make the semiconductor devices that make KITT real. Audio, video, wireless and many other subsystems will be behind the rapid pace of change that is driving new technology that will bring faster internet, better video and stunning audio to the products of the future.
Wait, is that KITT?
Aw it’s just a Prius, but it’s driving itself!
The future keeps getting closer.
At the age of 10 Mike begged his father to get him a computer. Never mind that at the time computers were the size of a large office and cost millions of dollars. Yes, Mike is no spring chicken and he didn’t get the computer, although his father did give him an abacus telling him that it would enable him to use the computer that he already had between his ears, which was not appreciated. Whether it was due to the trauma that resulted from using an abacus or just Mike’s love of anything electronic he has spent the last 30 years or so designing, building, and programming computers, microprocessors, and microcontrollers and developing applications that run on them. And his fascination continues with the definition of new processors and architectures in his search for the holy grail of computing: infinite performance at zero power consumption. Statistically speaking he is convinced it is just a matter of time.
Allen started in the ‘semiconductor IP industry’ before it was called the ‘semiconductor IP industry’. Back then, it was about ‘megafunctions’, ‘megablocks’ or MegaMacros™ (as trademarked by the pioneering UK IP company Allen was with… no, not that UK company). The biggest of these ‘mega’ things was an 8051! Today, of course, IP blocks are much larger and much more complex. And, it’s about the software, as well as the hardware. It’s also about working with a set of partners, sometimes called an ecosystem or community. Allen has been doing that for many years and is enjoying working with old and new friends on the ARC processor ecosystem.