Thursday, September 27, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Researchers seek to patent 'memory doubler' algorithm"

In the opening scene of "Johnny Mnemonic," the film version of the William Gibson short story, Keanu Reeves loads a "memory doubler" to increase his brain implant's storage capacity. Now a new "memory doubler" algorithm for embedded RAM has been invented by NEC Laboratories America, Inc. and Northwestern University. Dubbed Crames, for Compressed RAM for Embedded Systems, the memory doubler partitions existing RAM into a solid-state disk that has two-time compression with minimal latency. Crames will be unveiled in an NEC smart cellphone to be introduced in Japan this fall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Neutrons image quantum states"

Last week scientists reported that the neutron was not electrically neutral after all. Now, this week, neutrons are reported to enable images to be made of "spooky" quantum states where a binary "1" and a binary "0" can be simultaneously maintained. The researchers, led by the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN), showed the world's first images of quantum entanglement in the prestigious scientific publication, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"ALGORITHMS: Kaufman award honors Brayton"

Design automation pioneer Robert Brayton is to receive the Nobel Prize of the EDA Industry--the Phil Kaufman Award 2007. Brayton is credited with seminal contributions to the fundamental design automation algorithms used to fabricate integrated circuits, ranging from logic synthesis to the silicon compiler.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Musicians harness DSPs to craft guitar effects"

If you see the band Sparta during its current nationwide tour with Velvet Revolver, then you may wonder how Sparta's lead guitarist so quickly switches from the distortion-drenched tone on "Erase it Again" to the sweet vibe of "Air." The answer is not that roadies are running around connecting different amps between songs, but that Sparta's lead guitarist, Keeley Davis, is harnessing a Freescale DSP in a guitar effects "POD" from Line 6 that instantly swaps preset tones.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Physicist: steroid use can pop home runs 50%"

A professor in solid-state physics, who ordinarily studies subjects such as thin-film deposition on semiconductors, took some time off to study home run hitters who take steroids. The Tufts University (Medford, Mass.) professor's surprising finding was that the use of steroids that add just 10 percent to muscle mass would increase bat speed by only 5 percent, enough to raise a slugger's home run production by a surprising 50 percent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"ENERGY: Scientists charged! The neutron's not so neutral after all"

Every engineering student is taught that electrons have a negative charge, protons a positive charge and neutrons are electrically neutral. Now, scientists claim to have discovered that neutrons are not as neutral as they thought. Using data confirmed by three separate particle accelerators, University of Washington researchers claim that neutrons have three layers of charge--negative/positive/negative--that together sum to zero, accounting for the historical belief that neutrons are neutral. However, the new, more detailed understanding of how that neutrality comes about could enable a new breed of nuclear energy generators and weaponry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Electronics help predict global warming"

Earth's vast polar ice caps reflect sunlight, keeping the planet cool. As they melt, global warming accelerates. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the ice-packed caps may disappear between 2050 and 2100, but the panel admits that its prediction of the year they completely melt is only a guess. Now, by making detailed measurements of the polar ice's permeability, using models originally conceived for solid-state semiconductors, scientists are refining global warming predictions. University of Utah mathematician Ken Golden is currently on an Australian research ship in the Antarctic, pioneering the electronic modeling of ice permeability.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"CHIPS:Freescale soups up Fords"

Freescale Semiconductor unveiled an automotive-qualified version of its i.MX31 applications processor. The processor meets Automotive Electronics Council Q100 specs, demonstrating the ability to operate within a "40 C to 85 C temperature range. Ford Motor Co.'s 2008 models will use the Freescale i.MX31 processor in their Windows CE-based in-car communication and entertainment system, called SYNC.

"CHIPS: IBM touts single-chip phone"

Seven RF front-end functions can be integrated onto a single CMOS chip using silicon-on-insulator technology, according IBM Corp., which unveiled its CMOS 7RF SOI semiconductor technology Wednesday (Sept. 12). IBM said it would provide the single-chip CMOS solution for RF front ends used in cellphones. RF front-end functions in cellphones are currently handled by five to seven chips, including at least two using expensive gallium arsenide technologies. IBM claims its RF front-end will reduce costs by eliminating the need for GaAs as well as by reducing chip counts in wireless devices. IBM predicts its customers, cellphone chip set makers, will initially utilize its technology to reduce chip counts to two or three chip sets before implementing a single-chip solution.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Airline flights get less turbulent"

If you have flown American skies lately, you may have noticed shorter, smoother trips east of the Rockies. That's because a new turbulence detection and avoidance system is being tested (so far with success) by select United Airlines flights. New turbulence analysis software designed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) maps patches of rough air and compares the maps against the real-time flight paths of airliners. Alerts are sent to pilots giving them advance notice and presenting alternative routes enabling them to thread paths between turbulent regions without changing their arrival times. This should not only result in smoother flights but also save fuel and reduce delays on the ground.

Friday, September 07, 2007

"ENERGY: Photonic thruster pulses into existence"

Photonic thrusters have been imagined by engineers for about 35 years, but a recent demonstration of an experimental spacecraft propulsion system using a laser-based thruster will be described at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics's annual Space 2007 Conference (Sept. 18, Long Beach, Calif.). NASA funded the successful testing of the photonic laser propulsion (PLP) system earlier this year by the Bae Institute (Tustin, Calif.) Bae claims to have removed the last stumbling block to using photonic thrusters for spacecraft propulsion, by integrating an optical cavity into a laser that traps the beamed photons, thereby amplifying their light pressure by 3000-times.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"NANOTECH: Initiative aims to reduce cost, power usage of embedded microchips"

The Institute for Sustainable Nanoelectronics, a joint effort aimed at lowering the cost and power consumption of embedded microchips with nanoscale solutions, was recently founded with $2.6 million in seed money. The Singapore institution will reflect the joint efforts of Houston's Rice University and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. The centerpiece to the initiative is the probabilistic CMOS, which Rice researcher Krishna Palem has demonstrated running a cell phone display using five times less power than conventional embedded chips.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"ALGORITHMS: Bootstrapped learning beats AI"

SRI International recently has won the role of system integrator for a new approach to AI funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (Darpa). Called Bootstrapped Learning, the initial phase begins immediately, funded by a $10 million, 15-month plan to develop the cornerstone for the program: a learning system called Phased Learning through Analyzing, Teaching and Observation (Plato). If all phases of the development program are completed, up to $27 million will be invested in the program by Darpa over the next 3 1/4 years. Bootstrapped Leaning scraps the unachievable goals originally set for AI expert systems in favor of a feasible one: learning a task from a human instructor, such as teaching an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to fly itself.