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QuiXilica V5 Architecture for Demanding I/O Processing

By Andrew Reddig

There is an insatiable demand for increased signal performance by military sensor data processing applications for communications, radar, and electronic warfare. More channels, increased processing capabilities, higher memory performance, and greater communications bandwidth are required continually by sensors. Advanced applications in radar, EW, ELINT, SIGINT, and telecom require the performance offered by the very latest component technologies of FPGAs, memories, communications standards, etc. To get the best out of these latest technologies, the TEK Microsystems’ QuiXilica V5 Architecture encompasses a holistic architectural philosophy — resulting in an advanced family of products that serves the needs of demanding sensor I/O applications. The QuiXilica V5 Architecture features three Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs, DDR3 SDRAM, and the latest enhancements in flexible I/O communication modules (SFP+ and QSFP). These components are carefully interconnected and balanced into an architecture optimized for target applications in sensor I/O processing.

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Solid State Drive Trends and Forecasts for 2009

By Joanne De Peralta

The worldwide outlook for 2009 is not a positive one. The global economic crisis has pushed forecasts down to very conservative figures for most industries — including the Solid State Drive Market. Recently, IDC adjusted its Worldwide 2008-2012 Solid State Drive Forecast Update to factor in the effects of the financial crisis that hit major economies in 2008. IDC expects continued slowdown of more economies in 2009. As the world feels the weight of this global recession, IT spending is expected to decrease and business road maps are also likely to extend.

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Seven Ways to Become a Highly Effective Developer

By Steve Miller

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen R. Covey in 1989, 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 Developer, will discuss the seven habits and frame them for highly effective developers.

The seven habits of highly effective people are:

  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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Debugging Analog Mixed Signal Circuits

Introduction

All levels of IC design have been impacted by increasing pressure on production costs and time to market. In this situation, one of the major challenges is to avoid silicon failure or yield loss. A widely accepted statistic today is that almost half of all designs fail at first silicon. Failure costs include new mask generations, additional engineering time, and the potential miss of a large part of the market window for a product. Therefore, first-pass silicon success and high design yield has become a fundamental requirement for IC designs, and is, quite naturally, driving an increasing need for integrated circuit verification and debugging solutions.

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Software and the Art of Business Unusual

By Michel Genard

The semiconductor industry has been slowed by the current economic crisis. According to Gartner, worldwide semiconductor revenue growth in 2009 is expected to be 1%, down by approximately 7 percentage points from previous estimates. Even with the very weak economic environment, semiconductor growth was surprisingly strong until recently. However, the industry is changing this quarter. According to Gartner, there is strong evidence to suggest that the semiconductor industry will see negative growth starting in the fourth quarter of 2008, and that this will continue throughout most of 2009.

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Rapid Prototyping in a Collaborative Environment

By Dave Robertson

Large organizations often struggle with innovation. Developing prototypes in either hardware or software often needs to bring together design teams and system architects who can be spread out across the world, and making this a fast and efficient process can be a struggle. Now software configuration management (SCM) tools are being used to speed up the prototyping process dramatically.

The development of prototypes increasingly requires the creation and management of many different types of files, from the output of EDA tools to hardware designs and software code, and related documentation. As these go through many different revisions at the hands of multiple design teams across the world, using the right SCM tool can help capture, organize, and manage this complex array of data to reduce the prototyping time and the overall development time.

For example, leading 3D graphics and PC chipset designer NVIDIA is using a SCM tool to capture all the information that is generated as part of the prototyping process. This allows designers to track back through many different variants, dead-ends and thought experiments to make sure no innovation is lost and to make the most of all the design expertise in teams around the world.

Similarly a global TV chip developer is also using an SCM tool to develop custom variants of its software quickly for different customers in different parts of the world.

SCM for Rapid Prototyping

A prototype development has many different elements: from graphical behavioral models, through the VHDL for the hardware design and C text files for the middleware and applications, to the EDA design files for the hardware and the libraries. Then there’s compiled binary code for the software, not forgetting all the test and verification files for both the hardware and software. Handling the hundreds of core files from teams around the world with skill sets ranging from digital logic, analogue design and power management, to operating systems, drivers and applications code is a tremendous task that can take significant engineering time.

This is where an SCM tool comes into play. To be effective, the tool has to be both fast and secure, but easy to use to provide minimal cost and interruption to the user. Saving files must be quick and easy, otherwise designers will not use the system, and any time and management advantages are lost. Similarly the latest edits from teams around the world should be available as soon as possible otherwise time is lost by having to sort out competing revisions. Also, all revisions have to be stored safely and securely using the minimum amount of storage space.

This leads to the idea of the ‘lazy copy’ — which is vital for rapid prototyping. This recognizes that when a variant is first created it is identical to the original. Only when a variant file is modified is a new version created — and then only to record the differences between it and the original.

This means that variants with any number of files can be created quickly without consuming additional storage — a key advantage in fast prototyping, where system architects and product developers can be working on separate ideas that are alongside the mainstream development. These files have to be protected until they are ready to be introduced back into the main design. This can be a problem for some systems, but this is vital to allow the engineers to innovate and prototype in the way they want to. However, copying the main stream of the design to create a new branch only works if the tool uses the differences, rather than duplicating gigabytes of storage each time.

All of this requires a robust and highly sophisticated repository and caching system to allow users to manage all the variants and branches — another management headache for effective rapid prototyping.

Global chip development companies are already using these tools throughout their organizations to allow rapid prototyping and collaboration across multiple, global sites. Managing the vast array of files that are generated frees up both management and engineering time and allows prototypes to be developed faster and more efficiently with fewer revisions and fewer bugs, bringing the right products to market faster.

About the author
Dave Robertson is director of European operations for Perforce Software. He has 20 years experience in developing software and in selling and marketing software development tools with vendors both in Europe and the U.S. Dave has held his role since 1999 and is responsible for all aspects of the Perforce Software business in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

From Quality Assurance to Total Quality Management: the Future of Automated Test Standardization

By Moshe Moskovich,
Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer,
QualiSystems

Design verification and quality assurance processes are the backbone of successful product development. Whatever the product, the ultimate goals are the same: to reduce development costs and accelerate time to market without affecting product quality.

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Linux Kernel Tuning for IP Version 6 Networking

By Madepogu Rajendra Prasad
Senior Software Engineer, HCL Technologies, NOIDA
Madepogu Rajendra Prasad

Abstract
This paper describes the procedure for enhancing the Linux operating system with Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) networking feature. This paper also describes the linux kernel with IPV6 networking support, booting linux desktop machines with new IPV6 network supportive kernel, and its graphical representation. This paper lists the procedure to test the IPv6 enabled linux desktop kernel. The resultant IPv6 enabled linux kernels scale over Internet Protocol version 4 linux kernels in terms of built-in security support (IPSEC), efficient routing, address auto configuration, automated network (router) renumbering, and built in mobility support(MIPv6).

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Functional Test Automation without Programming

by Eitan Lavie, Product Manager, QualiSystems

Introduction
The need for functional test automation is increasing. Many companies have developed ‘homegrown’ software solutions to meet their automation requirements. Over time, these solutions have expanded to include additional features like data aggregation, analysis, reporting, monitoring, etc. In addition, a number of commercial test automation tools are available. Until recently, there was no single solution that addressed the totality of manufacturers’ needs.

Discussion
Currently, automated test development is costly in terms of time and resources. To create an automated test sequence for product testing, an engineer must first study the product to define the necessary test sequences and equipment, before specifying these requirements to the company’s in-house software team. The engineer then needs to test the sequence developed by the software team.

A system which allowed engineers to create the entire test sequence without programming would clearly offer major cost and time savings. By allowing skilled resources to be used for more complex, product-specific, development, the product’s time-to-market would be reduced, and quality improved. To facilitate creation of such test sequences, a programming-free interface is needed, that could allow construction via wizards and simple graphic tools. In contrast to the simple UI, the hardware interfacing, drivers, execution engines, data collection tools and reporting must be powerful enough to supply the complete coverage required for thorough testing.

However, test engineers need more than just an automated test development and execution tool. The definition of test automation must expand to include test procedure automation, to maximize its role in optimizing and streamlining the product manufacturing process. This expanded definition stipulates that the automation tool be able to produce and manage all the test methodology requirements, including: test sequence and documentation management; requirement traceability/test coverage; test result collection; automated troubleshooting and reporting; equipment tracking; version control; user permissions; execution schedulers; and real-time status display – both of tests and of test cycles.

Currently, many companies are diverting considerable R&D resources from the development of their products, and allocating them for the development of testing solutions. The upshot of this “side development” is a bloated product development overhead in terms of both person hours and time-to-market. A complete software solution that permits test engineers to directly improve and update automated test sequences will significantly reduce total test time. Importantly, such a system can ameliorate product quality by allowing engineers to create complex, comprehensive tests that react to real-time issues arising during product design, verification and validation.

The TestShell Suite
QualiSystems designed the TestShell application suite to provide a solution to the complete test process. TestShell’s automated test builder gives engineers the freedom to create complex tests without programming. R&D resources are therefore redirected to product design and development. TestShell’s automated test execution tools include distributed stations and testing farms, network and database tools, collection and synchronization of all test data; and business intelligence tools allowing automatic analysis of test results in reporting and web displays. TestShell turns testing from a bottleneck into a complete quality optimization solution.

Porting Linux Kernel on PPC Target Boards

by Madepogu Rajendra Prasad, HCL Technologies

Abstract
This paper describes the procedure for porting embedded Linux to PPC based custom boards, which means making the operating system work on unfamiliar hardware. This paper also describes the procedure for setting up the development environment on host PC, obtaining kernel source, configuring the Linux kernel, how to cross compile Linux kernel, and how to load and run linux kernel on PPC based custom boards. The resulting embedded systems are used as application-specific computers that interact with the physical world.

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