Tuesday at MemCon

June 23rd, 2009

This year’s attendance at Denali’s MemCon seems at least as big as last year’s.  I don’t have actual numbers but the presentation hall was nearly full – and it is a big hall.

Phase Change Memory

I found the first two presentations to be the most interesting.  The first was by Ed Doller, the CTO at Numonyx.

Ed Doller speaking at MemCon09

Ed Doller speaking at MemCon09

Sorry about the photo, Ed.

Ed talked about Numonyx’s new Phase Change Memory (PCM).  PCM is a non-volatile memory technology that is about 100 times faster than flash.  It is also about 1,000 times more durable – and when failures do occur, it is during write cycles, when corrective action can be taken.  Power requirements are similar.  For now, it looks like PCM could find a niche as a new level in memory subsystem architecture.  Its future will depend on density and price improvements.

Numonyx has been the sole supplier of phase change memory until today, when Samsung announced they will be producing pin compatible devices.


The second talk that captured my interest was by Anu Murthy of SanDisk.  Her talk was titled “Storage in Operator Netbooks” but it covered more than that. Read the rest of this entry »

MemCon Next Week

June 19th, 2009

For those of you living near Silicon Valley, this is a reminder that Denali MemCon is next week.  Running Monday through Wednesday, June 22-24, it will include talks on NAND Flash Controllers, Solid State Drives (SSDs), DDR3 DRAM, and low power memory subsystems.  The conference is being held at the Hyatt on Great America Parkway in Santa Clara. Registration is free.

See you there.

Model Requests

May 17th, 2009

We have on the FMF website, a model request form.  Many of you have already used this form and I thank you.  At this time I would like to explain what happens when an engineer requests a model.

It begins with a user filling out the on-line form.  The minimum required information is your name, email and company along with the component manufacturer’s name and the part number.  The reason for requiring the manufacturer’s name and part number are obvious.  The reason we need your information will be explained below.

When the form is submitted, an email is sent to Free Model Foundry.  When I receive the email, I first check to see if we already have a model of that part or an equivalent.  If we do I respond to the requestor suggesting he try the existing model.  If not, I check the manufacturer’s website to see if they have already published a model.  Usually, they have not.

Assuming no model is found anywhere, I send an email to someone at the manufacturer.  This is where it gets tricky.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Value of Integrated Schematic Libraries

April 26th, 2009

Why talk about schematic libraries in a blog focused on system verification?  Most systems (printed circuit boards on up) are still designed using schematic capture software.

I was talking to a manager at a medical devices company the other day about his company’s schematic symbol library.  Like most libraries, it contained schematic symbols and a few “extra bits” of data such as internal part numbers and references to the PCB footprints.  I then asked if his engineers typically ran signal integrity analysis and functional verification.  He said yes, these were common tasks.  Finally, I asked how the engineers passed the correct model names into the SI tool and how they brought the VHDL/Verilog models and correct timing into the simulations and was told “Its a manual process”.

A well planned schematic library provides all the hooks needed for downstream design and verification processes including functional simulation and signal integrity analysis.  All the major “big company” design systems support these capabilities.  But none of them do it out of the box. Read the rest of this entry »

Embedded Systems Conference – Follow Up

April 5th, 2009

I was able to spend a third day (Wednesday) at the Embedded Systems Conference before more pressing work caught up with me.  It was a very busy show with roughly 175 presentations and 230 exhibitors.  Here are the primary impressions I took away:

Energy harvesting, the ability to extract energy from the ambient environment, is becoming much more of an enabling technology.  This is not so much because energy harvesting techniques have improved as it is because low power electronics have progressed to the point where very small amounts of energy are now useful.  Micro-controllers and RF modules can now run on micro-amps of current and extremely low duty cycles.  Applications demonstrated ranged from wireless sensor meshes to wireless light switches.

Software has become the dominant area of embedded systems development.  This may not be news to you but, Read the rest of this entry »