Category Archives: Business

Embedded FPGAs Offer SoC Flexibility

By Dave Lammers – It was back in 1985 that Ross Freeman invented the FPGA, gaining a fundamental patent (#4,870,302) that promised engineers the ability to use “open gates” that could be “programmed to add new functionality, adapt to changing standards or specifications, and make last-minute design changes.”

Freeman, a co-founder of Xilinx, died in 1989, too soon to see the emerging development of embedded field programmable logic arrays (eFPGAs). The IP cores offer system-on-chip (SoC) designers an ability to create hardware accelerators and to support changing algorithms. Proponents claim the approach provides advantages to artificial intelligence (AI) processors, automotive ICs, and the SoCs used in data centers, software-defined networks, 5G wireless, encryption, and other emerging applications.

With mask costs escalating rapidly, eFPGAs offer a way to customize SoCs without spinning new silicon. While eFPGAs cannot compete with custom silicon in terms of die area, the flexibility, speed, and power consumption are proving attractive.

Achronix Semiconductor (Santa Clara, Calif.) has branched out from its early base in stand-alone FPGAs, using Intel’s 22nm process, to an IP model. It is emphasizing its embeddable Speedcore eFPGAs that can be added to SoCs using TSMC’s 16FF foundry process. 7nm IP cores are under development.

Efinix Inc. (Santa Clara recently rolled out its Efinix Programmable Accelerator (EPA) technology.

Efinix (efinixinc.com) claims that its programmable arrays can either compete with established stand-alone FPGAs on performance, but at half the power, or can be added as IP cores to SoCs. The Efinix Programmable Accelerator technology can provide a look up table (LUT)-based logic cell or a routing switch, among other functions, the company said. more> https://goo.gl/nXqYvV

The Case Against Free-Market Capitalism

By Ngaire Woods – Free-market capitalism is on trial.

Just a quarter-century ago, the debate about economic systems – state-managed socialism or liberal democracy and capitalism – seemed to have been settled. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, the case was closed – or so it seemed.

Since then, the rise of China has belied the view that a state-led strategy will always fail, and the global financial crisis exposed the perils of inadequately regulated markets. In 2017, few of the world’s fastest-growing economies (Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Djibouti, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and the Philippines) have free markets. And many free-market economies are suffering from growth slowdowns and rapidly rising inequality.

The conservative case, eloquently articulated by Theresa May, is that a free-market economy, operating under the right rules and regulations, is the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created. If that claim is true, the only logical conclusion is that we are doing it wrong.

So what measures are needed to get it right? more> https://goo.gl/ioQAAD

Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department

With an isolated leader, a demoralized diplomatic corps and a president dismantling international relations one tweet at a time, American foreign policy is adrift in the world.
By Jason Zengerle – Tillerson was originally recommended to the Trump team by the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both mandarins of the Republican foreign-policy establishment who had consulted for Exxon Mobil, on the grounds that his vast knowledge of foreign governments and their leaders made him a perfect fit for the job. “The expectation was that Tillerson would be a grown-up and provide ballast,” says a 30-year veteran of the Foreign Service, “that he was someone who believed in America being the glue that created global stability and would be interested in upholding the world order as we have it.”

In a few short months, Tillerson had rid the State Department of much of its last several decades of diplomatic experience, though it was not really clear to what end.

The new secretary of state, it soon became evident, had an easier time firing people than hiring them — a consequence of the election that delivered him to Foggy Bottom.

In the past few months, the pace of nominations for the State Department has picked up. But even so, few of the nominees have qualifications that match those of their predecessors. more> https://goo.gl/qE5XZS

Updates from GE

A Bright Idea: How LEDs Are Helping JPMorgan Chase Become Carbon Neutral
By Bruce Watson – When Mike Norton took over as managing director of real estate at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2015, he took on a weighty responsibility that included finding an efficient and sustainable way to oversee the branding, maintenance, upkeep and design of 6,000 branches and commercial properties around the world. It was a complex task that turned on a simple item: the light bulb.

Norton started talking to the energy management company Current, powered by GE. They devised a plan for a system focusing on improving energy efficiency, productivity and sustainability in nearly 4,500 Chase branches across the U.S. In 2016, that proposal turned into a deal for the world’s largest LED lighting installation, a project covering 25 million square feet of real estate that would eventually lead to energy savings equivalent to taking 27,000 cars off the road.

One year later, Current by GE has installed LEDs in 2,500 Chase branches. The original plan estimated that the installation would lead to 12 percent energy savings. But in reality, the savings have ranged from 15 to 50 percent, depending on the branch.

“It’s common sense: You take a 100-watt phosphorus light bulb and replace it with a 4-watt LED, and it’s going to lower energy usage by quite a bit,” Norton says. more> https://goo.gl/1UiEwV

Why Cities Shouldn’t Bend Over Backwards for Corporations

By Rick Paulas – In early 2010, the city of Topeka, Kansas, was in trouble. The city’s unemployment rate had risen to unprecedented levels. Some in the mayor’s office thought that a lack of affordable broadband Internet access wasn’t helping. Mayor Bill Bunten tried to remedy the situation by changing the city’s name to Google.

“There was a feeding frenzy, so Google was in the position to say, ‘If we don’t get what we want, we’ll go elsewhere,'” says Tony Grubesic, a professor of policy analytics at Arizona State University who has studied Google Fiber’s effects on Kansas City. “Google was in the driver’s seat.”

Corporations pitting cities against one another to get the best deals won’t stop anytime soon. Cities are currently courting Amazon in hopes of becoming the site of the company’s second headquarters.

Tucson sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos; Birmingham built huge Amazon boxes downtown; Stonecrest, Georgia, voted to give the corporation 345 acres that it’s dubbed “the city of Amazon“; and New Jersey is trying to push through a $5 billion tax break. more> https://goo.gl/Yxj2sA

The only job a robot couldn’t do

By Daniel Carter – The gig economy is growing rapidly, but it’s also changing how we think about what it means to work. Uber and other online platforms are making the case for a future in which work happens in little on-demand bursts — you need a ride, and someone appears to give you that ride. Instead of a salary and benefits like health insurance, the worker gets paid only for the time they’re actually driving you around.

I’m a researcher who studies how people work and I have a hard time endorsing this vision of the future. When I see Favor delivery drivers waiting to pick up a to-go order, I imagine a future in which half of us stand in line while the other half sit on couches. And then I imagine a future in which all these mundane tasks are automated: the cars drive themselves, the burritos fly in our windows on drones. And I wonder how companies are going to make money when there are no jobs and we can’t afford to buy a burrito or pay for a ride home from the bar. more> https://goo.gl/gXoUXd

Five reasons why “downtown universities” matter for economic growth

By Scott Andes – The value of the nation’s higher education system is usually expressed as just that—education. But while the educational mission of America’s colleges and universities is critical, often missed or neglected by local and national policymakers is the value of these institutions to economic growth. This is particularly true for those universities located near major employment neighborhoods of large cities.

Here are five reasons these universities matter for economic growth:

  1. Research universities are essential for innovation, and innovation is essential for economic growth.
  2. Universities located in urban areas produce more patents, corporate partnerships, and startups.
  3. Universities located within innovation districts build on existing urban assets.
  4. Downtown universities specialize in research.
  5. Downtown universities still have a lot of room to improve their outcomes.

As the country searches for new sources of innovation, jobs, and growth, policy makers should consider how some of its oldest institutions—research universities—are best positioned for the new economy. more> https://goo.gl/nXEPk4

Are Internet companies complicit in promoting hateful and harmful content?

By Hany Farid – In 2016, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter announced that they would work together to develop new technology to quickly identify and remove extremism-related content from their platforms. Despite some progress, serious problems remain.

First, we need a fast and effective method to remove content. Once content has been identified, reported, and determined to be illegal or in violation of terms of service, it should be immediately removed (Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for a maximum of two hours from notification to take-down).

Fourth, we need to invest in human resources. While advances in machine learning hold promise, these technologies – as technology companies will admit – are not yet nearly accurate enough to operate across the breadth and depth of the internet. There are more than a billion uploads to Facebook each day and 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube each minute of the day.

This means that any machine-learning based solution will have to be paired with a significant team of human analysts that can resolve complex and often subtle issues of intent and meaning that are still out of reach of even the most sophisticated machine learning solutions. more> https://goo.gl/X2ACdL

The Coming Software Apocalypse

By James Somers – “When we had electromechanical systems, we used to be able to test them exhaustively,” says Nancy Leveson, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying software safety for 35 years. She became known for her report on the Therac-25, a radiation-therapy machine that killed six patients because of a software error. “We used to be able to think through all the things it could do, all the states it could get into.

Software is different. Just by editing the text in a file somewhere, the same hunk of silicon can become an autopilot or an inventory-control system. This flexibility is software’s miracle, and its curse. Because it can be changed cheaply, software is constantly changed; and because it’s unmoored from anything physical—a program that is a thousand times more complex than another takes up the same actual space—it tends to grow without bound. “The problem,” Leveson wrote in a book, “is that we are attempting to build systems that are beyond our ability to intellectually manage.” more> https://goo.gl/XSu4jU

Updates from Siemens

Declarative Configuration when Change is Constant
By Dave McLeish – Change is a double-edged sword. To set the scene let’s first focus on recent change for the good as relates to our own domain of product lifecycle management (PLM). In the past few years, increased mobility with smart phones and tablets has provided new opportunities for mobile access to PLM. Adoption of familiar user interface (UI) patterns from everyday life (shopping cart, smart search) and enhanced possibilities for user experience through touch and virtual assistants have enabled more of the “extended enterprise” to embrace PLM. From the shop floor where there’s touch screen access to work instructions to executives empowered to simply search, sign off and interact with dashboards on their device of choice, increasingly the whole enterprise can contribute to and view the digital thread from product development to delivery.

At the heart of this change for the good is the rich web-based access to PLM that has been made possible by html5. Rich capabilities that have meant we can begin to reimagine how we collaborate and deliver products from inception, through realization and utilization. Zero-install rich, browser-based solutions remove the need for desktop install and reduce the IT deployment overhead through firewall friendly standard https requirements.

But developing in the browser has its challenges when targeting rich capabilities over high latency WAN and with limited memory resources. Arguably the greatest challenge is managing change. Whilst the emergence of HTML5 and CSS3 among other standards have provided a reliable basis for developing web solutions, the same cannot be said for much of the web development space. more> https://goo.gl/NjgcsC

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