Category Archives: Articles

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Speeding FPGA Prototype Debug Process with Active Debug and Full Visibility

By Joe Gianelli and Tom Huang

System integration continues to drive the semiconductor design market. This is most obvious when looking at the increased system integration associated with System on Chip (SoC) design over the last few years. Integrating complex hardware features with complex software applications onto one silicon device makes the validation process for today’s SoC designs a tricky one to say the least.

What have been increasingly popular to aid in this complex validation process are FPGA prototype systems. They run extremely fast, almost as fast as the production SoC, and have doubled in capacity every 18 months for the last 5 years. They also enable real world system interfaces to DDRAM, PCI, Ethernet, while using high-speed serial interfaces over 10 Gb/s.

Despite their current strides in speed, capacity, and real world high-speed interfaces, using these FPGA devices to help verify and validate SoC designs are difficult at best due to the many and long FPGA P&R compile times and poor visibility. InPA Systems proposes to address these issues with their active debug and full visibility technology.

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Selecting the Right Computer on Module Vendor

By Maheshwari

Engineers have always been faced with the question of whether or not a Computer-on-Module (COM) company is the right vendor to partner with. To help with the decision, I have written an article to help engineers select the ideal COM partner.

Target Usage
First, it is important to identify the applications for which a Computer-on-Module will be used for. Engineers have a range of applications and want to have the computer on module working across different applications. Obviously, engineers prefer not to develop expertise with several different COMs. To avoid this situation, engineers need to focus on the target applications. Think about the applications that will most likely be deployed in the next couple of years and determine if the COM will work with the apps. Once this is done, short list the vendors that can provide the COMs that meet the requirements.

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35 Test Cases for User Interface Testing

By Steve Miller

A test case in applications development is a set of conditions or variables under which a tester will determine whether an application or software system is working correctly or not. When testing user interfaces, it is easy to overlook test cases that would be helpful for a more thoroughly tested solution. The following list identifies twenty test cases that should be considered when testing user interfaces.

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Intel ATOM Processor Technology for Embedded Designs

Shrinking product development cycles coupled with demanding product requirements and increasingly complex design implementations can overwhelm a design team. The technical risk of employing new, complex, high-speed processor technology can often deter engineers from incorporating new technology in product designs.

Intel Corporation’s ATOM processor and low power chipset solution is a technology choice which cannot be overlooked. The ATOM processor has the potential for wide application in deeply embedded, low power, fanless industrial, medical, communications, automotive, and consumer applications. The technology demands attention.

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Direct Digital Synthesis Components

Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) is a method for generating arbitrary frequency sine waves with high accuracy and spectral purity. The ability to generate spectrally pure sine waves at programmable arbitrary frequencies is useful for instrumentation, communications products, and other applications. Today’s Direct Digital Synthesis components (DDS) provide highly accurate, spectrally pure sine wave generation with reasonable power requirements. Modern DDS components have added communications features such as chirp programming, FM modulation, AM modulation, programmable gain settings, and the ability to generate period digital data strobes. All terrific features for an electronic engineer’s bag of tricks.

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Automated Testing Framework for Automation Success

By Steve Miller

This article discusses the key ingredients of an automated testing framework that can lead to test automation success.

Why Automate Test Cases?
Even though many companies run their regression test cases manually, it may make more sense to automate regression test cases. It makes sense to automate test cases when engineers can no longer run the regression test cases on each build created. For example, if developers are doing daily or weekly builds of the code for quality assurance and they cannot quickly run the regression test cases with each build, then it is time to consider automating them.

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Custom Industrial Controller or Programmable Logic Controller?

By Paul Nickelsberg

Designers use Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) extensively for industrial control applications. A PLC features a general processor architecture, a general input / output architecture, a general mechanical architecture, and a general software development architecture. Industrial designer engineers, factory automation engineers, and industrial controls developers can meet their needs with generalized solutions. However, there are times when the generalized architecture of a PLC is unsuitable.

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The Secret to Choosing USB Devices for Industrial Applications

By Casper Yang

Thanks to its ease of use and versatility, Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the most popular interface in the IT industry today. In recent years, USB has also gained popularity in industrial applications as more and more devices support the interface. However, industrial operations are more demanding than the typical office application and require additional considerations. For example, a factory floor may be subject to extreme temperatures that are too hot for a consumer-grade USB hub to handle. Industrial applications also require a higher level of reliability because system downtime is not only costly, but potentially dangerous. To ensure that USB devices meet these demands, system engineers should consider several factors when selecting a USB device for industrial environments.

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Single Board Computers

Single Board Computers (SBCs) have developed rapidly due to miniaturization technology, which implements more functionality in smaller spaces. The technological progression of “integrated circuit” (IC) technology, which has created the SBC by reducing sizes for the central processing unit (CPU), program memory and disk controller units, so they can be stored on smaller “large scale integration” (LSI) chips. The SBC has replaced multiple circuit boards with one single circuit board.

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Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Project Manager

By Steve Miller

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen R. Covey) has helped millions of people establish great habits for achieving true interdependent effectiveness in their life and their jobs. This article, Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Project Manager, will discuss the seven habits and frame them for highly effective project managers. Below are the 7 habits:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

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