Friday, November 30, 2012

#MEMS: "Tini-tiny microphones go HD"

When the iPhone 5 announced support for wideband voice, only Sprint in the U.S. supported it, but by this time next year nearly every carrier worldwide will be hawking the crystal clear sounds of HD audio.To meet that growing demand for wideband handsets, Bosch Group company Akustica has announced an extensive line of MEMS microphones that enable HD audio to be adapted to any smartphone, tablet or other mobile device: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Akustica sports a new family of HD mics with super-wide frequency response and crystal clear voice reception with four varieties for use with nearly any existing or future consumer electronics device.

Here is what EETimes says about HD audio for mobile: Akustica unveiled a new family of high-definition (HD) the MEMS Executive Congress . Now wideband voice can be received and transmitted by any smartphone, tablet, laptop or hybrid convertible that switches to these pin-compatible HD mics...
Further Reading

#MEMS: "Atom 'Clover Trail' Perfect for Windows 8"

Intel claims that its "Clover Trail" Atom processor enables tablet computers to extend their battery lifetimes even longer than that nine-hours an iPad typically gets--citing 10-to-18 hour battery lifetimes for Atom-powered tablets from Lenova, Asus and others: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Windows 8 tablets powered by Intel’s Atom Z2760 processor, code named “Clover Trail” can extend battery lifetime up to three weeks in standby mode or 10 hours watching HD video. Source: Intel

Here is what Intel says about Atom for Windows 8 tablets: Intel’s Atom “Clover Trail” processor has breen custom-tailored for Window 8 tablets, according to Intel, which claims extended battery lifetimes for mobile devices using it at the to MEMS Executive Congress 2012...
Further Reading

Thursday, November 29, 2012

#MEMS: "Nintendo Claims World's Most Accurate Game Controller"

Nintendo's game-changing GamePad controller for its Wii U gaming console sports the world's most accurate MEMS sensor technologies that combine accelerometers and gyroscopes with an automotive-quality magnetometer from PNI Sensors: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

PNI Sensor's ultra-precise geomagnetic sensors are house in three separate packages--for X, Y and Z--to provide automotive-grade sensing for the world's most accurate gaming controller from Nintendo.

Here is what EETimes says about the world's most accurate gaming controller from Nintendo: STMicroelectronics and PNI Sensor collaborated on a new ultra-fine resolution e-compass that makesw Nintendo's new Wii-U GamePad controller the most accurate in the world...
Further Reading

Monday, November 26, 2012

#ROBOTICS: "1000 Robot Makers Debut Worldwide"

Nearly a thousand robot companies are already hawking their wares to a global population of about one million working robots. All the manufacturing, service and personal robotics vendors are detailed in an interactive online map created by The Robot Report: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Red markers are industrial robot makers; Blue with an "S" are service robots used by corporations and governments; Blue with a "P" are service robots for personal and private use; Green markers represent robotic start-up companies and Yellow shows where the top 20 robotics-focused universities and research labs are located. Visit the interactive map listing each company's, name, country and website by clicking Further Reading below.
Here is what The Robot Report says about robotics companies: Presented on this map are 977 robot manufacturers and the top 20 robotics universities and research facilities. Every type of company; every facet of the industry; most industrialized countries of the world are represented. From big companies like KUKA, ABB and Fanuc to start-ups like Redwood Robotics in California and Etnamatica in Sicily; from Iceland to Western Australia. These companies are robot makers; they may or may not also be robot users. That's for another map.
Red markers reflect 200+ industrial robot makers; Green is for the 170+ start-up companies; and Blue is separated into two groups: "S" for service robots for governmental and corporate use while "P" covers service robots for private or personal use. Yellow is used to show the location of the top 20 robotic research and educational facilities. A country-by-country table is shown below.
The global map does not cover an additional 825 ancillary businesses such as image systems, software developers, engineering and consulting firms, integrators and resellers, designers, servo, laser and stereo camera providers, etc. Nor does it cover 225 other educational facilities and research labs. These can be found in our Ancillary Businesses and Educational and Research Facilities Directories.
The map is also limited by my own research capabilities, language translation limitations, and scarcity of information about robotics companies in emerging countries. It show a single entry for a company headquarters regardless how many branches, subsidiaries and locations that company might have.
In spite of all those caveats, at first glance I was impressed by the sheer quantity of the markers. One can easily see that many of the start-ups and service robotics companies are located near prominent Yellow-marked universities and research labs in clusters surrounding Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Harvard, UC Berkeley, Stanford and Willow Garage, the University of Tokyo and TITECH, etc. Or areas of innovation and energy like Seoul, Korea, Israel and New York City.
Red markers - industrial robot makers - stand out for their predominance in the industrial sections of the world: Germany, Switzerland and Central and Western Europe and the UK, Japan, Korea and the Great Lakes area of the US.
Blue markers - service robots (every other type of robot except industrial) are everywhere as are Green start-up markers. These are the emerging robotics companies in non-industrial robotics: robots used in healthcare, scientific labs, for defense and security, in academia, as toys, for remote presence and autonomous mobility underwater, on the ground and in the air and for a myriad of other uses.
Further Reading

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#MEMS: "Windows 8 Tablets Sport Snazzy Sensors"

Microsoft does tablets right, at least in the sensor category, since it has mandated that all touchscreen-based tablets and convertibles using its Windows 8 operating system have at least nine MEMS sensors. As a result, the revolutionary apps that made the iPad famous can not be more easily ported to the Microsoft camp since they already have the necessary sensors: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

The ultra-low power Intel Atom “Clover Trail” Z2760 processor, designed especially for Windows 8, powers the Acer Iconia Tab. SOURCE: Microsoft

Here is what Windows8Center says about sensors for tablets: Tablets for Windows 8 span the spectrum of power/cost, but MS-mandates maker sure all have the MEMS sensors that made the iPad famous, according to presenters at the MEMS Executive Congress (MEC, Scottdale, Ariz.) where manufacturers of accelerometers, gyroscopes and digital compasses gather annually...
Further Reading

Thursday, November 15, 2012

#MEMS: "Bosch hawks world's smallest altimeter"

Bosch Sensortec has transferred its portfolio of high-precision automotive MEMS expertise to craft mass-market versions for consumer devices, the latest of which is the world's smallest barometric sensor: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Bosch claims its 2-by-2.5-by-.95 millimeter package (right) has a 65 percent smaller footprint than the last generation.

Designed for use as an altimeter smart enough to tell smartphone users what floor they are on in the mall, Bosch's BMP280 measures a tiny 2-by-2.5 millimeters, but gives an accurate reading of altitude to within a resolution of 10 centimeters...
Further Reading

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#CHIPS: "Xeon Phi Supercharging Green HPCs"

Intel is taking multi-processing mainstream by beginning to deliver its Xeon Phi 60-core massively parallel processor chip in its PCIe bus coprocessor form-factor for Xeon-powered servers and workstations. For under $2000 users can have their own personal supercomputer, and high-performance computer (HPC) builders now have a component for massively parallel processors that are nevertheless compact and energy efficient: R. Colin Johnson

Intel’s Xeon Phi now comes is two flavors–the 3100 (top) which offers screaming speed at 300 Watts, and the the 5110P (bottom) which at 225 Watts does not require a fan.

Here is what GoParallel says about Intel's Xeon Phi: In a turning point in the high-performance computer (HPC) market, Intel has started delivery of its Xeon Phi many-integrated-core (MIC) processors, set for volume production by Jan. 2013. By incorporating as many as 60-cores into each Xeon Phi coprocessor, future supercomputers multiply performance at a fraction of the current cost and power consumption, solidifying Intel’s lead in green HPCs for the foreseeable future.
Further Reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#MEMS: "Unified sensor interface sought"

With dozens of MEMS sensors studding smartphones, tablets and other mass-market devices, the MIPI Alliance is aiming to create a sensor-networking standard that reduces the number of pins needed on processors to interface to sensor from dozens to just two: R. Colin Johnson

Today it takes up to 23 pins (top) on an SoC to manage all the MEMS sensors attached, but by drafting a universal interface, the MIPI Alliance hopes to reduce the required pins (click on image to expand).
Source: MIPI Alliance

Here is what EETimes says about a sensor interface standard: A standards development group is exploring the feasibility of a new interface standard that would enable even multiple degree-of-freedom arrays of micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) sensors to use a simple common interface.

Such an interface—which would be used by accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, altimeters, compasses, proximity sensors and non-MEMS sensors like GPS, near field communication, fingerprint identification, and the touchscreen itself—would require agreement from all interested parties on what protocols need to be recognized, according to the MIPI Alliance. The organization recently announced an open "birds of a feather" group to investigate the requirements for integrating multiple sensors into mobile systems...
Further Reading

#CHIPS: "Xeon Phi Wins Top 10 Supercomputer Slot"

Intel already dominated the Top500 Supercomputer List with over 76 percent of the winners using its Xeon processors, but its lead is lengthening now that its massively parallel Xeon Phi has made the Top10 spot in 2012: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Intel processors powered 76% of the Top500 Supercomputer Sites worldwide.

Here is what GoParallel says about the Top500 List: Intel’s massively parallel Xeon Phi coprocessor powered a Top 10 Supercomputer on the 20th anniversary of the Top500 Supercomputer List. At 2.6-petaFLOPS, Stampede ranked seventh out of 500 supercomputers, one of only 23 petaflop-caliber systems on this year’s list.

Located at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas (Austin), Stampede is powered by a Dell PowerEdge C8220 chassis using Xeon E5 main and Xeon Phi coprocessors. Only 62 of the Top500 supercomputers used coprocessor technologies to perform acceleration this year, including eight using advanced prototypes of Intel’s forthcoming Xeon Phi.

The other Xeon Phi based winners in the Top 100 included...
Further Reading

Thursday, November 08, 2012

#MEMS: "Sensor to prevent smart-meter tampering"

MEMS sensors have become so inexpensive that even specialized functions have been targeted by suppliers like Freescale Semiconductor, which announced its smart-meter tamper-prevention sensor at the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 (Nov. 7-9, Scottsdale, Ariz.): R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Freescale's three-axis accelerometer optimized for sensing tilt can be used to prevent tampering with stationary smart meters.

Here is what EETimes says about MEMS sensors for tamper prevention: Sensing "tilt" in old style pinball machines used a mechanical ball-in-tube sensor, but the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) version should harness a tri-axis accelerometer, according to Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

At the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 here, Freescale rolled out a tilt sensor— Xtrinsic MMA8491Q—that the company says could be used for a modern version of tilt-detection in pinball. But the target application for the device is preventing tampering in smart meters.
Further Reading

#MEMS: market growth outpacing competitors

Instead of beginning to wane, the exponential growth of MEMS devices is just starting, according to analysts at the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 (Nov. 7-9, Scottsdale, Ariz.), who predict that a dozen new types of MEMS device will keep the market vitalized for the foreseeable future: R. Colin Johnson

News MEMS devices take a decade to mature (right) with the bulk of next-generation MEMS innovations still in the formative stages (left).

Here is what EETimes says about the MEMS market: Micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) have revolutionized every market in which they have become successful, but the trend is just beginning, according to analysts speaking on a panel at the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 here.

Analysts project rapid growth for the types of MEMS already in widespread use. But, by later this decade, several more types of MEMS devices are expected to be in production, creating more potential for exponential growth.
Further Reading

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

#MARKETS: "10 electronics visionaries to watch"

EE Times is celebrating its 40th anniversary, with special articles to celebrate the innovators who made the electronics industry what it is today, as well as the visionaries who are taking it forward: R. Colin Johnson

David Shepler was the Jeopardy Challenge Program Manager at IBM Research (shown here giving pointers to the human contestants on how to compete against Watson--IBM’s pioneering artificial-intelligence technology)...More recently, Shepler became program manager for IBM's Smarter Energy Research Institute, which is developing predictive analytics, system optimization and advanced computation models that will help define the smart grid of the future.

Here is what EETimes says about the future movers-and-shakers of electronics technology: Predicting the future is always fraught with peril, but the visionaries featured here are boldly going where no one has gone before.

To be sure, the personalities featured in this slideshow are not unique--in each category dozens of other pioneers could have been used in lieu of those chosen. Nevertheless, the pioneering vision and unflinching dedication of those featured in this slideshow serve as a shining example of how to “do” the future right.
Further Reading

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

#CHIPS: "Moore's Law goes biotech"

EE Times is celebrating its 40th anniversary, with this special articles honoring Gordon Moore whose Law may be faltering, but whose legacy will live on as long as semiconductors are king: R. Colin Johnson

Here is what EETimes says: Gordon Moore captivated a generation with his prophetic foreshadowing that the density of semiconductor devices would double every year or two -- a prediction that has been so dependable that commentators have enshrined it as: Moore's Law.

And even as we approach the end of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), when bottom-up molecular self-assembly is predicted to take over from today's top-down subtractive lithography -- the density of new devices is still expected to double every few years, extending Moore's legacy indefinitely even in new fields such as biotechnology.
Further Reading

Monday, November 05, 2012

#MARKETS: "Future Tech--from 3-D chips to cognitive computing"

With EE Times celebrating its 40th anniversary, a series of special articles are featuring the innovators who made the electronics industry what it is today and tomorrow: R. Colin Johnson

3-D chip stacks--here a Hybrid Memory Cube from Micron--will dominate the future of semiconductors.

Here is what EETimes says about the technologies defining our future: We picked ten technologies representative of trends which we expect will redefine our industry as well as the way we expect to interact in an increasingly interactive world. Admittedly, there are dozens of other examples we could have chosen with equal validity. We welcome your comments on our choices.

A few software-related trends were included because they are enabled by electronic technologies. We intentionally resisted including the deluge of “social media” and related trends that are merely popular uses of electronic devices.
Further Reading

Friday, November 02, 2012

#WINDOWS-8: "What You Need to Know BEFORE Upgrading"

If you have not upgraded to Windows 8 yet--and even if you have--you should read this post about the new security measures that solve existing problems, but still leave the door open malware creeping in from the new Metro-style user interface: R. Colin Johnson

Windows 8 security is hardened, but unfamiliarity with its new "Metro-style" interface could trick unsophisticated users into running programs that pretend to be patches to fix problems that don’t exist, but instead install malware. And since all applications submitted to Windows 8′s Windows Store must be digitally “signed” malware authors will be encouraging to try and steal digital certificates.

Here is what SlashDot says about Windows 8 security: Windows 8 features tightened cyber-security, suggests Aryeh Goretsky, distinguished researcher at anti-malware vendor ESET and a member of its Zeroday Emergency Response Team. In addition to enhanced versions of existing security measures, the next-generation operating system includes several new capabilities that thwart specific, hard-to-combat threats. Despite those new capabilities, bad actors could still inject malware by exploiting users unfamiliar with new features of Windows 8, so read on to find out what you can do to keep data safe...
Further Reading