Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The first teardown of the iPhone 3G by Rapid Repair gives more details than the previously published specs. The Rapid Repair comparison chart shows the 3G has a 412MHz Samsung S3C6400 ARM11 and the 3G S has a Samsung S5PC100 ARM Cortex A8 at 600MHz.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Google Wave is the second Google project for the developers of Google Maps. It attempts to combine e-mail and instant messaging into a single system, but doesn't stop there. They also aim to combine documents with conversations and allow networked collaboration to create a new electronic object called a wave. A wave doesn't have a true physical representation but that is part of the design according to the Google Wave post on the Official Google Blog. With an electronic form the wave allows dynamic features like playback and rewind that are hard to navigate with paper documents.
Another interesting part of Wave is that it has an underlying open protocol called the Google Wave Federation Protocol. By opening up the protocol, Google is enabling companies to develop interoperable systems that use waves. That could allow consumer electronic start-ups to invent new web enabled devices. This can also allow some apps to be developed and delivered across mobile platforms. In the video you can also see Wave running on Android and iPhone at the 25:26 mark.
"The new product design you are working on will end up in a dumpster in 10 years." I read that years ago in an engineering magazine. The point was to think about the environment, but I was more shocked to realize my hard work would soon be worthless. It made me strive to design products that will have value well beyond the warranty period.
An unlikely area for product longevity is computer games because of the continuous advance of graphics technology. It may be partly nostalgia, but classic games live on. Surprisingly, its not in remakes with modern graphics, but in ports of the originals to new platforms like flash or mobile. Here is a flash Super Mario (also see Game Developers Compete to Give Mario Intelligence) or this Pac-Man for your cell.
The use of emulators like MAME with the original code means even the flaws are ported. Usually cheats are added to give unlimited lives or invincibility but now the bugs are being fixed as well. That code review and test cycle that was skipped 26 years ago is being done by volunteers. Don Hodges found and fixed a huge bug in Donkey Kong shown in the video and another in Pac-Man.
Thanks to Paras for sending me the link.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Before open hardware came along, the only schematics and layouts that were free to download were from reference designs like this capsense multimedia board from cypress or this potential handheld gaming board from Luminary Micro.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
A novel method of prototyping electronics that allows easy soldering is the Schmartboard. An example of this is shown 7:59 into the video. I just read an article about electronic prototyping in the latest issue of Electronic Design that mentioned Schmartboard was awarded patent 7,511,228 for this technology. I found the JTAG I/O SchmartBoard useful when I needed to create an adaptor to connect my prototype to a standard 0.1 inch JTAG cable. The RJ11/45 and USB connector board looks useful as well.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
DataSlide is publishing 160,000 IOPS and 500MB/s transfer rates for its new Hard Rectangular Drive technology. The technology has been proven in prototypes according to an article in the Register. ZDNet gives a few more details and mentions a similarity to IBM's Millipede project.
I have developed on a few different NXP (formerly Phillips) ARM7 processors in consumer electronics products. NXP has a great selection of processor families with a variety of feature sets in each family. This makes it possible to reuse code on different products or to design-in a new processor without changing vendors. For example, on a product using the LPC21xx we were able to change to a processor with more memory during software development without any problems and with a very minor schedule impact.
I just returned my LPC21xx development board to a client last week now that their product is in production. I was thinking about purchasing a replacement when out of the blue, I received a skype from NGX Technologies about a new low-cost LPC214x evaluation board they have developed. I haven't had a chance to evaluate it, but at under $50 (depending on exchange), it is much cheaper than any of the LPC214x boards I find online at the very useful LPC Tools website.
The concept of open hardware is not as mature or well-defined as open software, but that hasn't stopped the development of some very interesting embedded systems. Some are inexpensive designs for the hobbyist that resemble electronic kits like the Arduino. Other are very polished and expensive consumer electronics like Chumby, with a 1GHz Marvell PXA168 processor and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. Another is Bug Labs ARM11 based BUGbase with swappable BUGmodules available for a variety of applications. Of course, with open hardware you can build your own module too. Make magazine has a huge list of open hardware projects. The one thing they have in common is free access to the schematics and layout and should use only open source software, so you are free to build the entire design yourself.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
In 2006 Intel sold the mobile XScale processor business to Marvell "to focus its investments on its core businesses." Now they are re-entering the embedded market by acquiring embedded software company Wind River as "part of Intel's strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices." Links are to Intel press releases.
There is a lot of speculation about this acquisition and Intel's next embedded move, such as Intel looking to buy Marvell to re-aquire the mobile XScale, or an Android Linux smartphone that outperforms Google's.
One area that may be affected by the acquisition is the newly available embedded OS virtualization technology, Wind River Hypervisor. It is currently only available on Intel and Power-PC processors, but support for other non-Intel processors is planned. This article at LinuxDevices.com claims that might change and gives an overview of the technology. Hypervisor currently only supports Linux and VxWorks, both Wind River supported OSes.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The former ARM Developer's Conference is now billed as an engineering-oriented technical event and will focus on three areas
- Energy Efficiency
- MCU & Tools
- Internet Everywhere
- artificial evolution
- evolutionary neural networks
- genetic programming
- fuzzy logic
- temporal difference learning
- human ingenuity
- hybrids of the above
The IEEE Consumer Electronics Society is holding its first Games Innovation Conference in London on August 25-28, 2009. Focusing on both technology and creativity in games this international conference is for almost everyone involved in creating and studying games including 'researchers and practitioners'...'from different disciplines in acedamia and industry.'
The makers of Mathematica have created a website to "make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything." They need some help at the moment and will give you a link to participate if you find something the site is missing like digital filter, frequency spectrum, Hamming window, or impulse function.
Wolfram Alpha is currently more powerful than using Google's built in calculator but I find the interface to be cumbersome. If you perform more than one calculation the history function can interfere with your text input and you lose the focus from the text entry box after each result.
It does look useful for learning about mathematical functions, try epi*x for example, you can see a quick graph and they give a lot of useful formulae like series representations and integrals.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The new iPhone 3GS has just been introduced in a few different models. Here is a brief feature comparison to the iPhone 3G. 3GS Features include:
- 3 megapixel camera
- 30 fps video with third-party application integration
- photo and video geotagging
- digital compass
- proximity sensor
- ambient light sensor
- assisted GPS
- 7.2 Mbps HSDPA (not available from AT&T until later this year)
- OpenGL ES 2.0 3D
- hands free voice control