Highlights of the Week – 2006.06.09

Here are some interesting articles I found this week:

A glimpse inside the Cell processor
IBM, Toshiba, and Sony created Cell, an amazing new multiprocessor microprocessor chip that will debut later this year in Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console, Toshiba’s high-end televisions, and IBM’s blade servers. Cell is the beginning of a new family tree for all three companies, and it promises to branch into consumer, computer, and embedded systems for many years to come. The article explains how the hardware works and what makes it special.

Windows CE 6 or Windows XP Embedded?
Windows CE 6 now supports 32K processes (instead of just 32 processes) and 2GB Virtual Memory per process (up from 32MB per process). These upgrades make Windows CE more in line with Windows XP Embedded. However, this doesn’t change the decision process for deciding which OS to use, Windows CE or Windows XP Embedded. XP Embedded is the obvious choice if you need to use existing desktop applications or drivers. This is because all technologies supported by Windows XP are also supported on Windows XP Embedded. On the other hand, CE should be the choice if you need a small footprint, require a hard real-time os, or will be using a processor like ARM, MIPS, or SH4.

Security Considerations for Embedded Operating Systems
The embedded operating system, because it controls the critical resources of the embedded computer, must satisfy specific assurance and functionality requirements in order to help achieve the highest levels of security. This article presents a tutorial on the fundamentals of the modern security evaluation methodology, Common Criteria, and shows how secure operating systems can thwart would-be hackers and limit damage when a system in penetrated.

Gartner sees IC slowdown, consolidation
Gartner Inc. reiterated its bullish chip forecast for 2006, but sees a slowdown and consolidation in the IC industry. Gartner projected the IC industry will grow 10.6 percent in 2006 over 2005. Chip sales will grow 14 percent in 2008, before falling to less than 1 percent growth in 2009.

Intel paid $10 million Patriot/Moore processor license
Intel agreed to a $10 million one-off payment to Patriot Scientific for the use of a portfolio of processor patents, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) paid about $2.95 million, also in a one-off payment, but other licensees have paid considerably more the 10-QSB form has revealed.

Study: Field-programmable logic rules
Programmable logic devices are continuing their onslaught, usurping more and more of the cell-based ASIC market, according to a recent study of the programmable logic market. When designers were asked what percentage of their design projects employ FPGAs, they said 81 percent of their projects include field-programmable gate arrays. They said they use complex programmable logic devices (CPLDs) in 69 percent of their projects, structured or platform ASICs in 28 percent, and cell-based ASICs in 27 percent.

Embedded software provider granted emulation patent

Zeidman Technologies Inc. has been granted a patent on technology connecting a hardware emulator or FPGA-based prototype to a live network by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The technology, commercialized in Zeidman’s Molasses software, is said to provide “on-the-fly” buffering, speed matching and protocol conversion. A relatively slow-running emulator or FPGA-based prototype that does not have an appropriate analog PHY interface can be easily connected to a personal computer that is running Molasses, then to a live network, enabling the emulator and network to communicate as if they were connected directly.