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Posted by on in Software Developer


Building software is hard: successfully bringing a new software product from conception to market is harder. Building a successful software company that develops and markets multiple software products is harder still.

The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are over. Simply creating a great piece of software and waiting for the customers to knock on your door no longer works – if it ever did.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_img12-4.gifAnecdotal mentions of hefty sums of more than $25m just to buy one mask set and total design costs reaching into many hundred million dollars, seem to mark out ASIC design as a rich person’s game. But these figures are only for the leading-edge processes typically used for high volume consumer products like smartphones.

For internet of things (IoT) applications, where integration levels are lower and the need to interface with the real world mandates the use of analogue circuitry, mature “more than Moore” process technologies are more suitable. Here the costs and risks of using ASIC technology are very different.

ASIC design and production has actually become cheaper for many projects, to the point that many people who used to believe field-programmable gate arrays or microcontrollers coupled with discrete analogue devices were their only options are finding out that the dedicated ASIC approach is more cost-effective.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_download-2_20160720-053121_1.pngFollowing Apple into the IC design market, Google Inc is buying a chip design team company Agnilux Inc., according to reports. The chip design firm was established by former design engineers who had been brought into Apple and then quit to form their own company.

Agnilux was founded in about December 2008 but very little is known about the company except that the name is compound of the Sanskrit word for fire—agni—and the Latin word for light—lux.

It was speculated that the design team could be proposing to reduce server power consumption by designing a multiprocessing ARM chip as a server engine, just as the team when working at Apple is believed to have worked with an ARM architectural license to improve power efficiency and extend battery life.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_programmer.gifWhen I published "The Zen Programmer" book in 2013 [6], a manager from a big company sent me an email. In this book I describe how I applied Zen to my daily work and how I am able to keep balance despite how hard I work.

The manager told me that almost everything I wrote was just plain wrong. For example, I believe that there is nothing like a career one can have; he responded that my career would be successful if I just would do what my manager commanded. "Jump if your boss tells you to jump", he wrote.

This certainly is not how I want to live. A career is an illusion, a theoretical term, but Life is not. "Making a career" is sometimes just the wrong thing to run after, and that can cause serious harm to you.

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Handheld PCs, PDAs and smart cell phones are showing up in new applications every day. These new products are made possible by the adoption of wireless technology and the internet. Taxi and delivery services, vendors at fairs and swap meets and many other mobile merchants are now able to accept credit cards in the field.

Semtek Corp, a San Diego based company that manufactures credit card readers, was developing a new product. “Our new reader had to be small, very low power and low cost,” remarked Dennis Mos, VP Sales and Marketing at Semtek.

Size, power and cost are all benefits of ASIC technology; however, developing an ASIC, particularly a Mixed Signal ASIC, can be expensive and time consuming. Such an undertaking may prove especially risky for new product like Semtek’s wireless credit card reader. Many engineering managers are of the mind that ASIC’s are best left to the “Big Boys.” And considering the high cost of tools, masks and fabrication they are probably correct, but not completely.

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General Partitioning Guidelines for Validation of Large ASIC Designs On FPGA
Today, a lot of the system-on-chip (SoC) designs depend on Field-...
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