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Embedded Systems: C and C++ Tools Reduce Code Errors

November 19, 2008 8:44 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Programmers now have many tools that help reduce or eliminate problems. Unfortunately, they might not know these tools exist. "In 1998, the UK's Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) published their standard for the C language to promote 'safe C' in the UK automotive industry," explained Chris Tapp, a field-applications engineer at LDRA. "The software industry has seen MISRA-C as a way to encourage good programming practice, focus on coding rules, and ensure well designed and tested safe code."

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Semiconductor Highlight: Leadless Packages Empower Your Design

November 19, 2008 6:15 am | by Ian Moulding, Business Manager, Diodes Incorporated | Comments

Semiconductor packaging has evolved from the through-hole packages of the 1970’s, through  surface mount leaded packaging in the 1990’s to leadless package technologies of today such as quad/dual flat no leads (QFN/DFN), ball grid arrays (BGA) and chip scale packaging (CSP). It can be argued that it is semiconductor package innovations such as these that have allowed the industry to exploit the successive IC process shrinks and achieve product performances that were previously unobtainable.

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Holiday wishes

November 18, 2008 8:46 am | by Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

As Halloween blurs into the great amorphous mass that is the combined orgy of Thanksgiving eating and Christmas Holiday shopping, we take the time to look at some of the things we’d like to see in our holiday gift baskets. Beyond the obligatory wishes for world peace and international understanding, there are some nice toys out there, too.

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On the Light Side: Optical Sensors Aid Oil Drilling

November 17, 2008 10:00 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

If you’re not familiar with the modern oil industry, you might think that drilling for oil still resembles the scene in the movie “Giant”, where James Dean’s character hits a classic Texas gusher. The truth is that it’s much harder than that to get oil out of the ground these days. Most of the oil exists in a solid form, trapped in rock crevices or layers of sand. And oil drilling companies are using light to help get it out.

Semiconductor Highlight: Solutions for Complex DC/DC Power Conversion Needs

November 17, 2008 6:03 am | by Ingrid Kugler & Alfred Hesener, Fairchild Semiconductor | Comments

In embedded DC-DC converters in industrial applications like test and measurement equipment or embedded computing, the system architecture can be quite complex, with many different output voltage and current, ripple, EMI and power sequencing requirements. This article will explore the impact of the choice of the converter power stages in DC-DC applications.

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Brainstorm: Holiday Wish List

November 13, 2008 6:15 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Comments

As the holidays approach, what product or technology is on your wish list?

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Issues and Answers

November 11, 2008 11:37 am | Comments

Compliance and compatibility are critical factors in the design of medical electronics equipment. The following are responses to questions posed by ECN regarding how vendors address certification issues and what types of testing are required.

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Low-Power is Life Saver for Medical Electronics Devices

November 11, 2008 11:24 am | by Steve Kennelly, Microchip Technology Inc. | Comments

Designers of portable medical devices face unique challenges. Their chosen field is known for regulatory scrutiny, protracted design and life cycles, and a need for unparalleled robustness in the finished product. In addition, design objectives that are common to all electronics can have special significance when it comes to medical devices. For example, low power consumption is always an objective for designers of portable electronics. Less power means a smaller and lighter battery, which enhances portability.

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Design Talk: The New Face of Test Part 2

November 3, 2008 10:42 am | Comments

Software-defined instrumentation is the new face of automated test. Scientists and engineers performing leading-edge research and designing custom measurement and control systems have used software-defined instruments, also known as virtual instruments, for more than 20 years. Software-defined instruments were critical for these often one-of-a-kind applications due to their unique system requirements.

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On The Light Side: The CellScope(2)

November 3, 2008 5:50 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

Somewhere in Africa, a traveling health worker arrives at a remote village and finds a patient who may have malaria. The nearest health clinic is hundreds of miles away, and it will take days to get there. Diagnosis requires a trained clinician to examine a blood sample under a microscope, but how can you make that happen? Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to create a digital microscope that will capture high magnification images, record additional medical information, and transmit the entire package of data wirelessly to the distant clinic.

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On the Lightside: SID Mobile Displays Conference

October 30, 2008 11:48 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

If Mae West were to deliver one of her most famous lines today, she might ask if you’ve got a portable consumer electronic device in your pocket. (And for the record, the original inquiry was about a gun, not a pickle as is widely misquoted.) Between our mobile phones, MP3 players, PNDs (portable navigation devices), and other indispensible gadgets, it’s a wonder that we’re not seeing pinstripe suits with cargo pants.

Industry Focus: Perfect Vision

October 29, 2008 7:07 am | by P. Lindsay Powell, Business Development Manager, 3M Electronic Solutions Division | Comments

In many quality control operations, the human eye has been replaced by the unblinking lens of the digital camera. A machine vision (MV) system is intended for non-contact optical sensing and is ideal for use in quality control (QC) systems for quality assurance (QA). Industries exploiting MV include automotive component manufacturing, electronics assembly, semi-conductor production, food processing and pharmaceuticals manufacturing.

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Embedded Systems: Take a New Look at Ada

October 28, 2008 11:14 am | by Robert Dewar, President and CEO, AdaCore | Comments

The world of computer technology has two incompatible characteristics. First, many computer systems have long lives. Second, students and many engineers pay attention to only the latest technologies and they believe old technologies have died out. The "yesterday's-fashion” phenomenon has applied to the Ada programming language, too. If engineers have heard of Ada at all, they may assume it is an old US Department of Defense technology that disappeared long ago.

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Cover Story- Power Factor Correction Goes Digital

October 28, 2008 10:41 am | by Vinaya Skanda, Senior Applications Engineer, Microchip Technology. | Comments

Most power-conversion applications require a DC source, which uses a rectifier that draws non-sinusoidal line currents. As a result, line-current harmonics have become a significant problem and they lead to overheating of transformers and inductive equipment, degradation of system voltages and increased stress on components. In addition, stringent limits imposed on harmonic currents by international groups make the need to improve power quality even more important. Power-factor correction (PFC) can help solve these problems.

Should Energy Star exist?

October 28, 2008 7:20 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

The recent Energy Star controversy must inevitably be discussed in a broader context. To sum up current events: on June 2nd, the EPA violated Energy Policy Act (EPACT) 2005 by releasing a “technical amendment” (version 4.2) to their Energy Star solid state lighting criteria without consulting “interested parties” (i.e. industry).

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