SANTA CLARA, Calif. Silicon blocks for the emerging USB 3.0 interface and software tools to ease the job of power integrity design grabbed my attention on the show floor at DesignCon.
Stephane Hauradou, co-founder and chief technology officer of PLDA Inc., gave me a demo of his USB 3.0 block running in an FPGA with throughput of about 3.5 Gbits/s.
The demo showed USB 3.0 is performing within shooting distance of the 5 Gbit/s theoretical maximum of the spec. Hauradou said he is supplying his silicon blocks to chip makers now who expect to field their products late this year.
Separately, engineers from Foxconn described techniques to create low cost connectors for the USB 3.0 interconnect in a paper presented at DesignCon.
I turned around to find signal integrity guru Eric Bogatin hanging out at the Mentor Graphics booth where the company was demonstrating its just released HyperLynx PI 8.0. Bogatin provided some perspective on the significance of the product in a short video that included a demo.
The video also includes a brief tip of the hat to Bogatin's own recent launch of his first sci-fi novel, Shadow Engineer.
I briefly bumped into two other notables on the show floor. Lee Ritchey, another SI guru, also mentioned the new Mentor power tool when I asked him what he saw of interest on the show floor. In fact, when I talked with him he said it was the only thing of interest he had seen—at least up to that point.
I also had the pleasure of chatting with Wally Rhines briefly. I made the affable Rhines recount much of his DesignCon keynote, which I had missed, an upbeat take on the industry which concluded that the current downturn will be a breeding ground for innovations.
He confessed part of his optimism owes a debt to Sand Hill Road which keeps churning out new startups with new concepts, helping to expand the electronics industry. Indeed, each time the chip industry comes up to a new node, some startup develops one of the key enabling EDA tools for it—and one of the top EDA companies promptly buys the startup, he noted.
Rhines note two other major ingredients to the recession innovation cycle we are now entering. One, he said, is the drop in prices that brings on new capabilities; the other is the elbow grease born of sheer desperation and the will to survive.