Technology Watch

Home help: How robots could provide a solution to our ... 26/11/2013

No-one's getting any younger and we have a lot more people getting old. By 2060, the number of people in the European Union aged 65 and over will ...

Easy access: How the hobbyist end of the electronics world ... 13/08/2013

When the Pi first appeared, its clear target market was education. It did not take long for companies to realise its potential as a mass produced, ...
Image 1 comment

The body electric: Why is wearable technology not ... 25/06/2013

It's taking time for wearable technology to move from technological curiosity to practical reality. Some of the obstacles are practical; others are ...

A different audience: Designers look to crowdfunding to get ... 23/04/2013

Not so long ago, getting a business venture off the ground involved one course of action: grovelling to a bank manager in the hopes they would offer ...

Why is getting hold of open source hardware so difficult? 12/03/2013

During the past 30 years, open source software has moved from being a fringe activity to a core component of the industry.

Everything, everywhere: Soon humans will be marooned in a ... 22/01/2013

Computing is now well on its way to becoming invisible, a prospect that the late Mark Weiser, former PARC chief technology officer, saw more than 20 ...

Methods designers can use to enable low power radio ... 27/11/2012

Short range, low power radio is a hotbed of anarchy amid the highly regulated sections of the radio spectrum, reserved for access by the military, ...

Component size and communication speed propel PCB design 09/10/2012

Viewed from the outside, the world of the printed circuit board (PCB) seems to move very slowly. The core technologies used in PCB fabrication have ...

Electromechanical relays still have much to offer 14/08/2012

Large scale digital logic began not with the vacuum tube but the electromechanical relay. Although vacuum tubes were available at the time – and were ...

As designs become more complex, the logic analyser is ... 26/06/2012

The logic analyser had a difficult birth. It only came about as a result of the struggle by Hewlett Packard to keep pace with Tektronix oscilloscopes ...

As technology becomes more complex, so too does working out ... 24/04/2012

Visibility is everything in debug, but it is hard to achieve in the world of embedded systems. Compared to desktop work, where a software monitor can ...

Creating the software that drives embedded system design 13/03/2012

The term 'embedded system' dates back to a time when most things had code buried deep inside. The user interface might be nothing more than a ...

Understanding the benefits and pitfalls of modern ... 24/01/2012

In a world where everything is connected to everything else by the internet, the need to keep secrets has never been so strong. Traditionally, the ...

The world of serial communications between PCs and ... 23/11/2011

When you consider how difficult it was to hook up peripherals to a PC in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is little wonder that the Universal ...

Fuel cell yet to breakthrough despite holding great promise 23/11/2011

The fuel cell is one of those technologies that never quite makes it to the mainstream. Yet it is almost as old as the battery that many want it to ...

The internet's patch job 10/11/2011

Practically every year, networking experts claim the internet is about to run out of room, but the truth is the internet has been close to running ...

The analogue barrier 10/11/2011

The trend in RF design over the past 20 years has clearly been towards greater levels of digitisation in order to squeeze more capacity out of some ...

Fibreglass fighting back as a pcb substrate 25/10/2011

It says something for the status of FR4 as an everyday material that people notice when a printed circuit board (PCB) is not green. Yet both the ...

Quartz faces losing its lock 25/10/2011

Wherever you go in electronics, you cannot avoid silicon, although its pre-eminent status is coming under threat. Its amorphous oxide is only just ...

A/D converter architectures still up to the challenge 11/10/2011

Electronics design may have gone strongly digital, but the world with which most systems deal remains unreservedly analogue. As more ...

C secure for some time 11/10/2011

C was never meant to take over the world, yet it has done more than any other high-level language to displace assembly language as programmer's tool ...

The future's bright: How the led could enable a range of ... 27/09/2011

The light-emitting diode (LED) has revolutionised the look of electronic products, with each new extension in the range of colours on offer providing ...

Models of freedom: How the most widely used EDA tool has ... 27/09/2011

Earlier this year, the Computer History Museum in California held a 40th birthday party for the SPICE analogue modelling simulator – the most longest ...

Capacitors continue to evolve 13/09/2011

Few passive components exist in the sheer variety of forms that the capacitor has taken. Simple in principle, the design of the capacitor involves a ...

Holistic power supply designs gain popularity 13/09/2011

The question of efficiency is never far away when looking at power supply design, even though it might be trumped by cost when the final choice is ...

Lithography the biggest roadblock to Moore’s Law 09/08/2011

After years of cheating death, the use of conventional optical lithography for defining the features on integrated circuits looks to be running out ...

Seeking perfection: The growing role of verification in SoC ... 09/08/2011

Verification has consumed the lion's share of the time and cost in chip design for at least the past decade. The reason is clear: once the design has ...

The economics of chip manufacture on advanced technologies 26/07/2011

In a speech to the International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM) in 1975, Gordon Moore set out the path which the semiconductor industry would follow ...

Hardware-software codesign remains tomorrow’s technology 26/07/2011

Around 15 years ago, Mentor Graphics made an acquisition that signalled the future for electronic design automation (EDA). The bad news is that ...

Virtual memory gains importance as more data stays on chip 12/07/2011

Ever since the first general-purpose computers appeared, programmers have looked for ways to expand the amount of memory they could address without ...

Power without responsibility: The challenges involved in ... 12/07/2011

You can find out a lot about an electric motor simply by moving it. The vibrations produced don't just result in an irritating noise; they can also ...

DRAM refresher: Problems the technology is set to encounter 29/06/2011

Ten years after being asked to pen a short article on trends for the magazine Electronics in 1965, Intel's Gordon Moore was invited to the ...

Chip design discovery is easier than you think 29/06/2011

The inscrutable black surface of a chip does not seem to give much information away much to the observer. But information on what is inside is just ...

Flash remains undisputed non volatile memory leader 14/06/2011

If you were to draw up a list of properties for the ideal non-volatile memory, you probably would not start with those associated with flash. Flash ...

EMC legislation continues to evolve 14/06/2011

The flurry of activity and worry that heralded the implementation of the EMC Directive has been followed by 15 years of relative calm, even though ...

Chipmakers move to 3d to create successor to multichip ... 24/05/2011

Moore's Law has been in danger for some years now, but claims of its demise remain exaggerated. Even with optical lithography, manufacturers reckon ...

Datatypes based on 8bit chunks cut cost, but what about ... 24/05/2011

Prior to the launch by IBM of its System/360, there was no consensus on what should be the basic word-length of a computer.

Practical applications for metamaterials beyond the ... 10/05/2011

In the late 1960s, Russian physicist Victor Veselago pondered whether two key electromagnetic properties could ever be negative. In conventional ...

The measures chip makers are taking to continue to use ... 10/05/2011

We have an industry that relies on using light with a wavelength close to 200nm to draw features as narrow as 30nm on chips.

Applications for photonics beyond the communications sector 26/04/2011

Some ten years ago, just before the internet bubble burst, all the talk in photonics was about telecommunications. The one time darlings of the stock ...

Designing for extreme temperatures 26/04/2011

For decades, electronics design has relied on the temperatures inside a system never getting too far away from room temperature, even when those ...

Implications for interface design when software and ... 22/03/2011

When Toyota was forced to recall thousands of its vehicles after a spate of accidents and unexplained surges in acceleration, suspicion soon fell on ...

Power transistor designers find innovative ways to boost ... 22/03/2011

In the world of low power semiconductors, everything seems so simple. Transistors divide cleanly into two families that seem to have little in ...

Virtualisation in the embedded systems market 08/03/2011

Chris Edwards outlines the benefits of virtualisation in the embedded systems market.

How interrupt handling is being offloaded from ... 08/03/2011

Chris Edwards explains how interrupt handling is being offloaded from microcontrollers.

Why timing is everything when writing embedded software 22/02/2011

Real time scheduling is one of the trickiest areas for any embedded designer to tackle. Superficially, it is simple: make sure every task with a ...

Power saving with more accurate ac motor control 22/02/2011

Electric motors in the developed world are consuming an enormous amount of energy. According to a report prepared in 2002 by Steven Nadel and ...

Multicore processors: How can you programme them? 07/02/2011

Chipmakers want you to buy multicore processors that, on paper at least, deliver much greater performance than their single core predecessors. The ...

Multicore processors: Some of the technical issues 07/02/2011

When, in the mid 1960s, founder Gordon Moore noticed how quickly transistors were shrinking on silicon wafers, he concentrated purely on how much ...

Is there life after silicon? 25/01/2011

Silicon is running out of steam. Chris Edwards takes a look at what materials might be used in the future.