One of my problems is that I'm juggling too many metaphorical balls in the air. (In case you don’t know, metaphorical balls are much harder to work with than the real ones.) Another one of my problems is that I can't juggle. The bottom line is that there are far more things to be done than I have time to do them. One of the side effects of this is that I cannot attend all of the conferences I would like to, and if I did, I wouldn’t have enough time to write about it. It's like sitting on the horns of a dilemma -- and a dilemma with very big, sharp, pointy horns at that.
Thus it is that I'm sitting here with a little tear rolling down my cheek at the realization that I won’t be able to attend FPGA 2014 -- the 22nd ACM/SIGDA International Symposium on Field-Programmable Gate Arrays -- which takes place next week, February 26 to 28, at the Monterey Conference Center in (where else?) Monterey, Calif.
The point is that, in addition to all sorts of technical presentations on things like new FPGA architectures and tools and applications, for the first time ever at one of these conferences there will be a topic on FPGAs for Mobile Applications.
The reason this is so interesting is that, historically, the conference has tended to be dominated by "bigger, faster, more complicated" FPGA technologies -- like 3D FPGAs, for example. Of course, high-end FPGAs have a huge role to play in things like communications infrastructure and advanced radar and machine vision and suchlike, but they don’t tend to appear in consumer/handheld products (there's not much call for a product containing a silicon chip that drains the battery in 0.1 seconds). More recently, new FPGA technologies have begun to emerge, such as the iCE40 FPGA family from Lattice Semiconductor, which comprises ultra-low-density (ULD) devices whose low cost, small footprint, and extremely small power consumption makes them ideal for a tremendous range of handheld and battery-powered applications.
In fact, it looks as if Lattice may have cracked the code for getting FPGAs into these high-volume applications. Did you see Lattice's 2013 earnings report? It boasted a 180% increase in consumer alone!
All I know is that I would really like to be able to attend FPGA 2014, and I would really, really like to be able to hear what they have to say at this Will FPGAs Crack Mobile? panel. Are you attending FPGA 2014? If so, maybe you could sit in on this panel discussion and then email me to let me know what was said.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting