Configurable Thoughts

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Mike Thompson

Posts by Mike Thompson:


I Seen Em’

And, they will be everywhere! The world is going to sensors in a big way. You currently interact with 50-100 daily. By 2020 this will be something like 1000 or so. Impossible you say. No, actually this is happening. Semico Research is estimating that 30 billion will be shipped in 2017. Welcome to your Brave New World.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, 8-Bit Microcontroller, Application Software, Embedded, Hardware Extensions, IP, microcontroller, Microprocessors, Subsystems


When 8-Bits Is Not Enough

There comes a time in every SoC designer’s life that the marketing guys start complaining that they are losing sockets to the competition, because the chip that you designed no longer has enough performance. Nothing lasts forever and this is especially true with electronics. What is state-of-the-art today is destined to be your Momma’s electronics, and sooner than you think. The performance demands for electronic applications increase at a constant rate. This is due to the combination of more stuff being added to applications over time, the convergence of functions from multiple devices into one device and the natural tendency that we all have to be less tolerant of slow functionality the longer we use a product. Oh yes, and the constant demand by marketing that engineering increase performance because they can’t think of anything else to do to beat the competition.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, 8-Bit Microcontroller, Embedded, IP, microcontroller, Microprocessors


Does Size Matter?

Well of course that depends on what you are talking about. In the world of microprocessors size does matter. Not only does size equate to cost, but also to power consumption. Depending on the design that you are doing both can be major considerations. There can also be size considerations for the amount of memory that will be used with the processor making code density a critical parameter. If the only thing that you care about in a design is performance then size maybe doesn’t matter, but then again maybe it does. It used to be that I would have customers tell me that performance is all that mattered. I don’t hear that so much anymore – in fact it is rare.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, 8-Bit Microcontroller, IP, microcontroller, Microprocessors


Sensing Your World

Sensors are becoming more prolific and changing the way that you interact with your world. That smart phone in your pocket is a good example. A lot of what you can do with it is the result of sophisticated sensors that are built into it. For instance, the accelerometer inside determines the orientation in which you are holding the phone so the screen can switch making it easier to read. It also makes games that you control by moving the phone and applications like a bubble level possible. The accelerometer is actually a very sophisticated piece of technology, which is true of many of the sensors that are being developed today.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, 8-Bit Microcontroller, Application Software, Embedded, Hardware Extensions, IP, microcontroller, Microprocessors, Uncategorized


Is VLIW Dead?

VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) machines first appeared in the early 1980’s. They were used primarily as scientific super computers. At the time with semiconductors still in their infancy and process geometries measured in microns it made sense to bolt two (or more) execution units together and tolerate the software and real-time inefficiencies that this creates. There were few better options at the time if you wanted to increase performance. Pushing the problem off to the compiler made sense because there were fundamental limitations on the number of transistors that you could put on a chip and by extension the level of functionality that could be implemented.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, Compilers, Microprocessors, multimedia, Uncategorized


In just a few short years

On May 7, 1997 Intel introduced the Pentium II at 233MHz. That was the state of the art for microprocessors and computers just 13 years ago. Today if I gave you a computer with a Pentium II you wouldn’t be able to use it. It is not capable of running a modern operating system.  Microprocessors and software has been transformed over the past 13 years.  The processors that are embedded in our electronic gadget have been transformed as well.  For example, a microprocessor (ARC 601) that we released for deeply embedded applications just over a year ago, runs at 532MHz in 65G process and occupies less than four hundreds of a square millimeter (0.039mm2). This ultra-compact processor in many ways has more performance than the Pentium II had but it can fit 2 ½ times in the dot at the end of a sentence in a 12 point font.

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Posted in 32-bit Processors, Microprocessors, Operating Systems