Part 3 of Max's epic voyage of discovery at Multicore Expo 2006 (in which we go to lunch).
Hi there, how's your day going? Things are pretty hectic here at the Multicore Expo 2006. Although not a large conference ("small, but perfectly formed," as they say), this little scamp is proving to be very interesting. Not the least that there are attendees from all over the world: Europe, India, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and even the east coast of the USA.
Anyway, I just returned from lunch, which I spent with Rudy Lauwereins from IMEC. This Belgium-based company is incredibly interesting because they have 1,400 people focused on developing technologies today that won’t hit the market for several years.
For example, one division is working on the 45 nm and 32 nm technology nodes for silicon chips (and they're just about to start work on the 22 nm node). Meanwhile, another division is working on applications whose power consumption is in the range of 100s of microamps to only a few milliamps. The example Rudy gave me is that of incredibly small wireless sensor nodes that don’t have batteries (they use MEMS technology to salvage energy from their surrounding environment); these little rapscallions gather data, perform signal processing on that data, and then transmit the results to a central server. Thus, they mix analog, digital, RF, and MEMS – wow!
But the reason Rudy is here at the Multicore Expo is the IMEC division that focuses on multicore systems (both the hardware design tools and software development tools). One of their recent innovations is a configurable core that you can include into your system-on-chip (SoC) design. This core features a very long instruction word (VLIW) processor coupled with an array of ALUs/MACs (you can see where this fits in the scheme of things by checking out the illustration in my Computing Universe paper).
And now I'm back at the expo listening to the afternoon sessions. The president from picoChip just let slip that they are going to be introducing really cool on Thursday (this was just before a loyal picoChip employee executed a football tackle and dragged him off the stage before he could say anything more). What will happen next, I wonder?
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