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Developing Comprehensive, Cost-Effective Hardware and Software Solutions for the Cardiac Device Market

August 6, 2008 10:46 am | by Jose Villasenor Fernandez, M.D., Global Medical Applications Specialist, Freescale Semiconductor and David Niewolny, Medical Product Marketing Manager, Freescale Semiconductor | Articles | Comments

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 7.6 million were due to heart attacks, and 5.7 million were due to stroke. By 2015, an estimated 20 million people will die from cardiovascular disease every year, primarily from heart attacks and strokes. Many of these deaths may occur with no previous symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Embedded Systems: The 16-to-32-Bit Migration Gets Smoother(2)

August 4, 2008 12:30 pm | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

At one time, the gulf between 16- and 32-bit processors seemed wide and deep, so engineers had a difficult time making the transition from one realm to the other. Many processor manufacturers have helped eliminate that gulf and many development boards and tools simplify the migration between those realms.

Energizer Stays One Step Ahead by Catering to Diminutive Device Trend

July 31, 2008 9:55 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

“Quad A” may soon become part of the common vernacular. Although the AAAA battery (or Quad A) has been commercially available since 1989, it’s mostly been a niche product, difficult to find on shelves. But with consumer electronics moving towards smaller, more lightweight devices, with decreasing power requirements, the battery industry is adapting. Quad A has long been an internal industry standard for 9 V batteries (6 Quad A’s linked together, each generating 1.5 V, equals 9 V), but it could soon displace the AAA as the battery of choice for portable electronics.

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Semiconductor Highlight: Using A Current Monitor

July 28, 2008 10:01 am | by Peter Abiodun A. Bode, Senior Applications Engineer, Zetex Semiconductors | Articles | Comments

Traditionally, precision full wave rectifiers1 used in a range of instrumentation applications have employed between 7 and 9 discrete circuit components.  These are typically 2 op-amps, 2 diodes and 3 to 5 resistors.  This article will show that an alternative approach, using a standard current monitor IC, reduces the component count to just five and greatly simplifies circuit configuration and produces a more elegant overall solution.

Industry Focus: Defining Distributor Design

July 28, 2008 9:10 am | by Chris Keuling, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The electronics distributor plays an important role in the electronic components industry, selling engineers the components and subsystems they need to use in their designs. A growing number of distributors also provide value-added services such as design support to their customers. With the combined pressure of the shrinking design cycle and expanded technology availability, it’s important for engineers to be able to talk to someone who can help them throughout the design process. We recently cold-called a number of major distributors without identifying ourselves as press and simply asked what design services they perform.

Design Talk: Technology Solutions

July 28, 2008 6:30 am | Articles | Comments

Failures of semiconductor ICs are typically due to overvoltage or overcurrent for a given junction temperature. This overvoltage can be caused by an external factor or an uncontrolled switching inductance. The overcurrent failure can be caused by excess junction temperature due to excessive power losses and a poor thermal path or an abnormal load current. It is typical for a failure report to state Electrical Over Stress(EOS).

EPA Creates Bedlam With Amendment for Residential Light Fixtures

July 22, 2008 5:17 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Ayn Rand, one of capitalism’s greatest proponents, once said, “I am an innovator. This is a term of distinction, a term of honor, rather than something to hide or apologize for. Anyone who has new or valuable ideas to offer stands outside the intellectual status quo.” Governmental interference in private enterprise is always disastrous. What’s worse is when innovation is stifled by bureaucratic finagling and pc notions of impartiality (or as some would say, preventing a “competitive disadvantage”). You can’t give a chimp a skateboard and call him Tony Hawk.

Report Suggests Plug-in Hybrids Threaten to Strain Freshwater Resources

July 9, 2008 10:47 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Advanced technology vehicles are the wave of the future, but they aren’t the elegant solutions advocates posit them as. The conservation of one resource inevitably comes at the expense of another resource. A report by Carey W. King and Michael E. Webber of the University of Texas suggests that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will place a strain on the nation’s freshwater resources. The research compares miles driven with a conventional internal combustion engine vs. a PHEV.

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Brainstorm: Next Generation Displays

July 8, 2008 5:14 am | Articles | Comments

What technology trends do you feel will dominate the development of next-generation displays?

New Study Calls for World-Wide Reduction in Energy Consumption

July 3, 2008 8:42 am | by Jason Lomberg | Blogs | Comments

A Swiss Academic Study, “The 2000 Watt Society,” is gaining a lot of traction in the environmental movement.  First developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the latest treatise ("Smarter Living") was coordinated by Novatlantis, and is an urgent call to action.  In short, it proposes an overall reduction in energy consumption to the world-wide average of 2,000 watts per capita by the year 2050.  Naturally, the US bears the brunt of the scorn.

SMH: Wringing the Power Consumption Out of That FPGA

July 2, 2008 11:24 am | Articles | Comments

Computationally intensive DSP functions often require hardware acceleration. Increasingly, designers are implementing their DSP algorithms in FPGAs because they offer better performance than DSP processors. Benchmarks show that FPGAs execute turbocoding, GPS correlation, H264 and other DSP functions much more quickly than DSPs.

Industry Focus- Wireless USB's Easy Data Transfer in Consumer Electronics

July 2, 2008 6:51 am | Articles | Comments

The growing multimedia capabilities of consumer electronics are placing new demands on bulk data transfer between devices. Now WiMedia-standard Ultra Wideband (UWB) is entering the mainstream in laptops and computer peripherals, so consumers can easily transfer files without complex network configuration, and without cables.

Embedded Systems: ESC Update

July 1, 2008 12:50 pm | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

If you have not recently--or ever--attended the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, you owe it to yourself and your company to go. This conference and its many exhibits give you opportunities to talk with colleagues and technical experts. Unlike some shows, vendors send their engineering gurus to ESC, so when you stop at an exhibit you can talk about hardware and software with fellow engineers who speak your languages. You will get a taste of some of the products introduced at ESC in this column. Our online column includes information about more new products announced at the show.

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Innovative Technology to Maximize Output of Solar Panels

July 1, 2008 6:14 am | by Jason Lomberg | Blogs | Comments

In 1839, French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the “photovoltaic” effect, or the natural phenomenon which allows the conversion of solar into electrical energy. Over the next 150 years, this inexorably led to solar-powered satellites, solar cars, and solar-panel technology for domestic use. Among their many strengths, financial savings (after the initial investment), environmental conservation, and minimal upkeep, solar panels always suffered weaknesses inherent in a technology that relies on a giant ball of ionized gas 150 million kilometers away.

Nextreme Strives to Increase Efficiency of Heat-to-Power Conversion

June 30, 2008 10:47 am | Blogs | Comments

With soaring energy costs, all sectors are feeling the crunch, including the thermoelectrics industry. But Nextreme Thermal Solutions has a plan to stem the tide. One potential solution is to convert a system’s thermal energy byproduct into a functional resource. Using a grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund, Nextreme plans to optimize their thin-film growth process with the goal of doubling the power output of a single device from 250mW to 500mW.

Embedded Systems: Two Routes Lead to Software Defined Radio

June 30, 2008 6:35 am | Articles | Comments

A bit of C code that runs on a microprocessor does not create a software-defined radio (SDR). Most SDRs use a traditional signal-sampling technique, followed by much software massaging of data. But semiconductor companies can now put more of the analog signal-handling elements on a chip. This column provides an update on both techniques.

Brainstorm: Environmental Design

June 27, 2008 7:54 am | Articles | Comments

What is the balance, for the engineer, between an environmentally efficient vehicle in operation, and the other aspects of manufacturing, material, and their environmental cost and impact?

Chip Uses Novel Sleep Mode to Set Low-Power Record

June 24, 2008 4:23 am | Product Releases | Comments

A low-power microchip developed at the University of Michigan uses 30,000 times less power in sleep mode and 10 times less in active mode than comparable chips now on the market.The Phoenix Processor, which sets a low-power record, is intended for use in cutting-edge sensor-based devices such as medical implants, environment monitors or surveillance equipment. The chip consumes just 30 picowatts during sleep mode.

Design Talk: Elegant Design

June 16, 2008 5:04 am | Articles | Comments

Design is a balance struck between style, functionality, technology, and construction (often as a compromise). But what makes a design “elegant”? The iPod is inarguably an elegant design, but then again so is the standard wooden mousetrap. This month we’re running some articles on design and comments on “elegant” design. Let us know if you agree with the authors or add comments of your own at www.ecnmag.com/designtalk-elegant-design.aspx

Design Talk: Technology Applied

June 13, 2008 5:13 am | Articles | Comments

One issue facing design engineers is echnology selection. Choosing a device today is more than just an exercise in packaging and pin out, there are often multiple technologies and/or methodologies to choose from. Here is a collection of viewpoints from a group of engineers on how they select tech.

Researchers demonstrate 'avalanche effect' in solar cells

June 12, 2008 10:55 am | Blogs | Comments

Researchers at TU Delft (Netherlands) and the FOM Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter have found irrefutable proof that the so-called avalanche effect by electrons occurs in specific, very small semiconducting crystals.

Brainstorm-Skills

May 27, 2008 6:15 am | Articles | Comments

American EE students need exposure to new technologies and design techniques that did not exist 10 to 15 years ago, but are also under fire for not having a solid grasp of basic science and math skills. How do you feel the issue can be addressed to create engineers able to deal with competition and design pressures in the new disruptive engineering environment?

ESC Update(2)

May 19, 2008 1:45 pm | Articles | Comments

“Challenge X” Vehicles Strut Their Stuff In Manhattan

May 19, 2008 6:56 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

It may have been a cold and damp morning in Manhattan, but that didn’t damp the passions of the participants in the Challenge X national collegiate engineering competition. This year’s challenge, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and General Motors, focuses on technology integration and full-vehicle development of advanced alternate-technology drivetrain and subsystems. By participating in the Challenge X program, the students gain real-world engineering skills and hands-on learning to better prepare them for a future career in engineering.

ECN Brainstorm: Near-field Communications

May 16, 2008 8:14 am | Articles | Comments

For line of sight near-field bidirectional wireless communication applications would you rather use IrDA light-based methodologies or RF?

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