ESC Silicon Valley

Systems Design

Stephen Evanczuk
Contributing Editor
A 50,000-foot view of system technological advancements, design tips and news that will give designers solid technical advice and information for robust system-level designs. This site also covers the latest board-level embedded hardware, development tools, and related software.

7 cardinal sins of embedded software development

The opposite of best practices are development sins. Here are seven of the worst. Read More...

Summer reading list for embedded developers - 2015

To address the need to keep their skills current, here's a summer reading list that embedded developers might want to at least peruse or, better still, add to their library. Read More...

Address E-band cost and reliability issues in MMIC packaging

High component cost and low production yield limit E-band usage in applications like 77-GHz collision-avoidance systems to luxury cars; a new approach can change that. Read More...

Introduction to AXIe

New to AXIe? Larry Desjardin offers this primer on AXIe basics. Read More...

PCIe cards generate signals to 625 Msamples/s

The M4i.660x series from Spectrum Instrumentation let you add arbitrary waveforms to a PC-based automated test system. Read More...

JTAG Boundary scan: Four test cases

Learn how an engineering design consulting company used Boundary scan to solve problems in four microprocessor-based boards. Read More...

5 forbidden C features that aren't (necessarily)

Technology changes can obsolete what used to be standard practice. Here are five C functions worth reconsidering. Read More...

Embedded development survey reveals trends, concerns for engineers

While many things remain the same, there are changes afoot in such things as processor size, operating system choices, and developer concerns as embedded development evolves, the Embedded Market Study finds. Read More...

Which buses control your test instruments?

Unless you're still living in the dark ages, you probably use some communications bus to control test equipment and collect measurements. Which do you use? There are numerous choices, so tell us which you use in our informal poll. Read More...

The technology of measuring distance and speed

Canadian company Leddar Tech has developed a technology for measuring the distance and speed of objects using pulsed infrared light. Senior Technical Editor Martin Rowe spoke with Leddar Tech's director of R&D to how the technology works. Read More...

Dev kit enables functional safety exploration

Targeting industrial and medical safety-critical designers, this low-cost development kit features the Hercules safety processor. Read More...

Return path discontinuities and EMI: Understand the relationship

It’s conventional wisdom that a solid, continuous return path provides a better result in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This article discusses the relationship between return path discontinuities and EMC. Read More...

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Circuit gates pulse train without truncating

This Design Idea accomplishes asynchronous gating without the worry of shortened pulses. Read More...

3 pins, 3 LEDs, 3 buttons

This LED multiplexing scheme allows for switches in the matrix too. Read More...

Facilitate oscilloscope debug of small microcontroller systems

A probe-to-the-metal approach is often the best way to debug a small µC system, and here’s some code to help out. Read More...

LabVIEW real-time seismic alert system

National Instrument’s LabVIEW has uses beyond instrument control, as demonstrated by this Web app. Read More...

Zener level-shifter drives high-side switch

Simplify a high-side driver by replacing a transistor with a Zener diode. Read More...

Replace a rotary switch with a potentiometer

Why use an expensive rotary switch with your microcontroller when you can use a cheap pot instead? Read More...

One wire brings power & data to LCD module

If you need to connect a small remote LCD display, or your µC has run out of I/O pins, here’s a good, cheap solution. Read More...

Single-cycle logarithms & antilogs

Here are some very fast log (and antilog) blocks well-suited to FPGA implementation. Read More...

Double-speed interpolation

Low-end micros can still benefit from little coding tricks. This one lets you "pan" between two signals or values more quickly than an explicit solution. Read More...

Adaptive rotary encoder distinguishes fine from coarse

Need a rotary panel control that automatically switches between fine and coarse adjustment? It's here. Read More...

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Address E-band cost and reliability issues in MMIC packaging

High component cost and low production yield limit E-band usage in applications like 77-GHz collision-avoidance systems to luxury cars; a new approach can change that. Read More...

Development kit eases 32-bit digital-control design

Based on the DelfinoTMS320F28377S microcontroller, the LaunchPad evaluation platform from Texas Instruments offers 200-MHz of 32-bit floating-point performance, integrated accelerators, and various analog and control peripherals for less than $30 to aid the development of digital power and motor-control systems. Read More...

PCIe cards generate signals to 625 Msamples/s

The M4i.660x series from Spectrum Instrumentation let you add arbitrary waveforms to a PC-based automated test system. Read More...

Noncontact position sensor touts dual-function capability

UK-based Gill Sensors & Controls has introduced its Blade25 noncontacting inductive position sensor into the North American market, a solid-state device that offers both linear and rotary position feedback in a single compact package. Read More...

Dev kit enables functional safety exploration

Targeting industrial and medical safety-critical designers, this low-cost development kit features the Hercules safety processor. Read More...

Samsung's Mid-Power flip-chip LEDs foreshadow a larger battle ahead

Samsung's recently announced family of flip-chip mid-power LEDs and aggressive roadmap for its chip scale packaging technology are both signs that the Korean electronics giant intends to defend its market share against growing competition. Read More...

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Teardown Preview: Inside the Apple iPhone 5

Until we can lay our hands on a real iPhone 5 and do a real teardown, let's take a look at what others are saying and render an opinion on the reliability of their comments. Read More...

Teardown: High-voltage Li-ion battery stack management - the drive for safe power

At the heart of the Chevrolet Volt, a sophisticated Li-ion battery stack management system ensures the safety and reliability of a multi-cell Li-ion battery stack capable of delivering power on demand to the Chevy Volt drive system. Read More...

Teardown: iPhone 5s

Go inside the iPhone 5s to see the tech, the parts, what's better, and what's the same, as iFixit tears it down. Read More...

Teardown: The power inverter - from sunlight to power grid

This teardown of a solar inverter card traces the path of harvested DC power from the photovoltaic panel, through boost conversion, power inverter and massive filtering of the created AC power signal required by the power grid. Surrounded by monitoring and microcontroller magic along with safety standard adherence, we uncover the mysteries of solar energy harvesting electronics. Read More...

Teardown: Analog rules over digital in noise-canceling headphones

Dig deeper into these headphones that deliver decent audio at relatively low cost and better yet, effective active noise reduction. Read More...

A closer look at LSI’s MegaRAID SAS 9260CV-4i controller

The MegaRAID controller's innovative use of CacheVault technology solves the problem of system reliability during power outages with a greener solution that uses existing power instead of batteries. Read More...

Integration amassed: analyzing a NAS

This hands-on project showcases the second generation of Western Digital's My Book World Edition NAS (network-attached storage) device, so named because it is potentially accessible by a user from anywhere in the world. Read More...

Tiny computer holds embedded treasure

The Waysmall series from Gumstix offers designers a line of Linux-based computer systems that easily fit into the palm of your hand. Housed in an 83×36×15-mm plastic case, these miniature systems provide XScale processing power along with an MMC (MultiMedia Card) slot, two serial ports, one USB client port, a power interface, and general-purpose I/O pins. Read More...

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Address E-band cost and reliability issues in MMIC packaging

High component cost and low production yield limit E-band usage in applications like 77-GHz collision-avoidance systems to luxury cars; a new approach can change that. Read More...

Field-oriented control by the numbers

Dave's tutorial on field-oriented control (FOC) for motors covers BLDC and AC inductive motor types used in robotics and industrial systems. Read More...

Defend encryption systems against side-channel attacks

Systems using encryption can still leak information that compromises data security unless properly protected. Read More...

PIC32 microcontrollers and the Digilent chipKIT - Projects, Pt 2

Taken from the latest book on how to program the PIC32 series, this excerpt describes how to use the popular chipKIT MX3 development board to build simple projects. Read More...

How to ground and power complex circuits

IDT’s Nicholaus Smith takes an in-depth look at application-based methods for grounding and powering complex circuits, specifically looking at how to optimize complex circuits from the point of view of power delivery, improved signal integrity, and properly grounded functional blocks to implement the final system. Read More...

PIC32 microcontrollers and the Digilent chipKIT - Projects, Pt 1

Taken from the latest book on how to program the PIC32 series, this excerpt describes how to use the popular chipKIT MX3 development board to build simple projects. Read More...

PIC32 microcontrollers and the Digilent chipKIT - The chipKIT MX3 development board, Pt. 2

Taken from the latest book on how to program the PIC32 series, this excerpt describes details of the popular chipKIT MX3 development board and associated Pmod peripherals modules. Read More...

PIC32 microcontrollers and the Digilent chipKIT - The chipKIT MX3 development board, Pt. 1

Taken from the latest book on how to program the PIC32 series, this excerpt describes details of the popular chipKIT MX3 development board and associated Pmod peripherals modules. Read More...

Solving the riddle of IO OBE/IBE timing

Timing of OBE and IBE pins of a pad has always intrigued design engineers for a multiple number of reasons. An incomplete understanding of the role played by OBE/IBE in an IO protocol can lead to catastrophic results. Read More...

Top systems design articles of 2014

Here are some of the most popular design articles and blog posts from EDN's Systems Design center during 2014. Read More...

Embedded security rises and falls with crypto key management

Embedded systems face unparalleled security threats, requiring solutions that extend more broadly into the system life cycle. Read More...

Multi-protocol, host-to-host communications enhanced by PCI Express-based fabrics

While tunneling a software protocol over any fabric can be an easy task, tunneling a hardware protocol such as Ethernet poses some new challenges. Read More...

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7 cardinal sins of embedded software development

The opposite of best practices are development sins. Here are seven of the worst. Read More...

Embedded development support needs expansion

Any embedded processor worth considering has a whole ecosystem of tool and software support, but with the IoT that ecosystem is going to have to become much larger. Read More...

Summer reading list for embedded developers - 2015

To address the need to keep their skills current, here's a summer reading list that embedded developers might want to at least peruse or, better still, add to their library. Read More...

Introduction to AXIe

New to AXIe? Larry Desjardin offers this primer on AXIe basics. Read More...

Tune up your embedded software design processs

Like a precision machine, your software development process can benefit from periodic tune-ups to keep it running smoothly. Read More...

5 forbidden C features that aren't (necessarily)

Technology changes can obsolete what used to be standard practice. Here are five C functions worth reconsidering. Read More...

OLEDs & on-shoring, LED streetlights: marvel or menace? LED-lit artificial skies

America's only OLED lighting fab adds 100 jobs, TI's DLP dev kit makes it easier than ever to develop LED-powered screenless TVs, interactive displays, and wearables, and Coelux's digital sky products top of the list of must-have accessories for any Billionaire's dream house (or their worst-case scenario underground bunker). All this and more rumor, innuendo and Lumen Lust in this week's Semi-Coherent Emissions. Read More...

Embedded development survey reveals trends, concerns for engineers

While many things remain the same, there are changes afoot in such things as processor size, operating system choices, and developer concerns as embedded development evolves, the Embedded Market Study finds. Read More...

The technology of measuring distance and speed

Canadian company Leddar Tech has developed a technology for measuring the distance and speed of objects using pulsed infrared light. Senior Technical Editor Martin Rowe spoke with Leddar Tech's director of R&D to how the technology works. Read More...

Insecure radio links and the end of Moore's Law discussed at DAC 2015

This recap from DAC 2015, taking place this week in San Francisco, covers radio security, the end of Moore's Law, FinFETs, and more. Read More...

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