I find this blog on FPGAs (Field-programmable Gate Arrays) (http://blog.earthtron.com/5-intriguing-uses-of-fpga-in-green-technology) most intriguing based on the evolutionary progress of FPGAs. I am not surprised at some of the applications in green technology because, as illustrated in a 2012 National Instruments white paper, the following benefits continue to propel the growth of FPGAs in electronic component testing industry.
- Performance-Utilizing the similarities between FPGAs and other hardware, FPGAs have increased their performance to outperform digital signal processors (DSPs). This is done by allowing for simultaneous procedures and increasing the output per a given amount of time. All of this can be done at a lower cost than in DSPs*. This is done by altering the hardware to allow increased control of the inputs and outputs (I/O). In turn, this creates the ability to more closely match the constraints of the systems and decrease the systems’ response times.
- Time to market-The improved FPGAs drastically improve prototyping capability and speed. For example, the hardware allows for concepts to be analyzed prior to fabrication. This lets the iterative design process be reduced to mere hours. Different types of I/O hardware can also be purchased commercially (COTS) with an imbedded FPGA chip for user-programming. This, along with prebuilt functions (IP cores) and higher-level software and teaching tools make advanced control and signal processing more accessible to less experienced users.
- Cost-Using FPGA hardware is much cheaper than using custom ASIC (Application-specific Integrated Circuit) designs. The ASIC expenses are unjustifiable for companies that use them for testing systems currently in development. Using programmable silicone reduces costs to almost nil. The FPGA is also cheaper than ASIC when used in systems with changing requirements.
- Reliability-FPGAs do not use operating systems. This reduces the layers of abstraction and issues with multitasking that occur in processor-based systems as well as removing the imbedded control of the memory and bandwidth. FPGAs ultimately reduce the necessity of driver layers – who control hardware resources, – which in turn decreases the risk when trying to run several time critical tasks at once. FPGAs, instead, run multiple tasks simultaneously with dedicated hardware for each task.
- Long-term maintenance-FPGA chips are also superior with respect to ASIC when it comes to forward compatibility and maintenance. FPGAs are field-upgradable, which can be beneficial in use with systems, like digital communications, whose protocols can change. This allows the chips’ functions to be enhanced without needing to change the layout or hardware of the board.
*FPGAs for DSP (BDTI Industry Report), 2nd ed. (Berkeley Design Technology Inc., 2006)
If you get a chance, I recommend that you read “When it Comes to Counterfeit Part Prevention, Semantics Matter” – a blog post by Kevin Sink. He discusses the need for the revisions to the DFAR regulations that are currently underway.
The DFAR regulations are positive tools detailing how to purchase manage and dispose of components. In addition, the introduction of the AS6171 standard will be an important aid to quality-control testing and providing standardize techniques and practices.
Department of Defense published a new rule aimed at preventing counterfeit electronic parts from entering the military supply chain at any level.
The final version of the rule can be found in the Federal Register as: Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Detection and Avoidance of Counterfeit Electronic Parts-Further Implementation (DFARS Case 2014-D005) https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/08/02/2016-17956/defense-federal-acquisition-regulation-supplement-detection-and-avoidance-of-counterfeit-electronic#h-4. The final version was drafted after a period of public commnet. It includes some changes in terminology to match industry standard terms and well as changes in requirements.
I strongly feel that AS6171 will be a paramount aid to the future of quality-control testing and providing standardize techniques and practices. In uncovering counterfeit electronic component product. I also feel participating in these mandatory requirements shows a good faith effort in the purchasing, managing and disposal of the electronic components in question.
This article describes the bill being considered by Congress that would amend existing export administration regulations. The change is that nonworking or non-tested used electronic items would be classified as electronic waste, so that they cannot be exported unless specific conditions are met.
I believe that one of the specific conditions that should be met for any electronic component that is disassembled and prepared for export is that the component be tested with a thorough risk mitigation and counterfeit test program with traceable paperwork results.
I just read this post on the Earthtron blog about Xilinx’s new Field Programmable Gate Arrays. I strongly believe Xilinx has made great strides to improve the Kintex-7 Line.
Reducing power consumption by 40% will strengthen applications from long distance WAN support to improving live events such as radio and satellite feeds. These are paramount improvements in actual real time applications to move toward an Internet-of-Things.
Electronic Products and Technology, ept.ca, one of Canada’s Leading Electronics websites published two articles that outline the risks of buying and using counterfeit components. The articles are Why Buy Authentic? The Case Against Counterfeit Products and Protecting Yourself from Counterfeit and Gray Market Components.
In addition to the practices and precautions mentioned in the articles, it is strongly recommended that any components that are purchased without an authentic manufacturers C of C Certificate of compliance should undergo Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts: Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation testing in accordance with SAE Aerospace standard AS6081.
In Xerox Launches Printed Memory Products to Combat Counterfeiting, they describe two new printed electronic label products that can be used to track parts from factory to end-user.
I commend Xerox for this ground breaking endeavor in anti-counterfeit technology.
I feel that this rewritable memory is paramount in tracking a component’s authenticity and how it has been handled during distribution.
The cryptographic security is an inexpensive process and will be very difficult to copy.
I would like to commend JEDEC on issuing JESD243 last month. This standard sets best practices that will make a difference in the ongoing fight to mitigate counterfeit product distribution. You can read JEDEC’s announcement of the standard here.
Not only do I feel it is an outstanding resource to manufacturers but more importantly its defined standards of a product return policy as well as a return verification and prohibition on the restocking of confirmed counterfeit parts is a great asset in tackling the never ending epidemic of counterfeit product distribution.
Researchers at the University of Michigan are using mice to determine how neural networks really work.
According to the Earthtron Blog ( http://blog.earthtron.com/tiny-leds-allow-researchers-to-map-the-brain), researchers placed light-emitting diodes (LEDs) into mice brains, “allowing researchers to determine how stimuli to one neuron affects other neurons in the area. Each LED is less than a tenth of a millimeter wide, approximately the same size as a neuron.” Continue reading
Three Chinese nationals were arrested for trafficking in stolen Intel and Xilinx chips. A US undercover agent initially expressed interest in buying the electronic components for use on US Navy submarines. Later in the process , the undercover agent expressed concern about being caught using stolen semiconductors. The traffickers then offered up counterfeit parts to him instead of the stolen components.
Stolen components or counterfeit components — either one brings it own set of problems if they enter the US military supply stream and are eventually used in place of authentic parts.
“The Justice Department and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting those who would supply our armed forces with counterfeit electronic components, as well as those who attempt to steal sophisticated U.S. military components and distribute them places unknown,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly, in announcing the charges.
Both counterfeit and stolen parts are indeed serious issues,. To read the full article see, http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/fbi-arrests-counterfeit-chip-traffickers-2015-12/