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Hackaday Prize Entry: Very, Very Small Logic

Distributed Feeds - June 4, 2015 - 10:00pm

Despite the existence of FPGAs and CPLDs, there’s still a necessity for very small programmable logic devices. GALs, PALs, and other old tech just won’t cut it, though, and so we are left with a new generation of programmable devices that aren’t microcontrollers or CPUs. The GreenPAC from Silego fill this niche quite nicely, with the ability to implement counters, ADCs, logic glue, level shifting, and comparators in a single chip. For any homebrew electronics tinkerer, these devices have one very obvious problem: they’re really, really small. The smallest GreenPAC device has 12 pins stuffed into a 1.6 x 1.6mm QFN package. You’re not hand soldering this thing.

For [Nick Johnson]’s Hackaday Prize entry, he’s taking these small programmable logic chips and making it easy to create your own custom ICs. Basically, it’s a breakout board for GreenPAC devices that stuffs these tiny chips onto a much more reasonable DIP package.

Breakouts aren’t enough, and to program these small chips, [Nick] is also building a board based on an ARM microcontroller. With USB input, a way to generate the 7.5V used for programming, and a breadboard friendly format, this programmer will tell these tiny chips what to do.

Not many people are building stuff with PALs and GALs anymore, but there are still a lot of work that can be done with small programmable chips. There’s certainly a place for tiny programmable logic chips like this, and anything that gets them in to the hands of more people is okay in our book.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:
Categories: Planet FPGA

PhD Project / Research Guidance & Consulting for VLSI Design (FPGA / Embedded / Matlab / NS2), in Pune India

Distributed Feeds - June 4, 2015 - 12:40am

Know your Technical Consultant ..
* 1.5+ decades industry experience in N.America (U.S & Canada) & India, in the following areas. For more information .. About Me.

Semiconductor Design Consulting
* FPGA Design
* System-on-Chip(SoC) Design (Using FPGA & MicroController)
* FPGA Prototyping
* Emulation (ICE)

Electronics System Design Consulting
* SoC Design
* HW – SW Co-Design using Matlab – FPGA
* NS2 Modeling for network simulations

Consulting Verticals
– Data Processing (CPU Design)
– Cryptography (Encryption / Decryption)
– Memory Management sub-systems
– Communication Protocols (SPI,I2C,PCI,rs232..)
– DO-254 Avionics Design
– Digital Image Processing
– Digital Signal Processing
– Network Simulation
– Network-on-Chip
– Wireless Networks

Consulting Highlights
– Guidance from Researching the topic to Silicon Implementation on FPGA / MicroController / SoC
– Remote Guidance through Skype / 1:1 Guidance in the office
– Remote training through Skype / 1:1 Training in the office

Consulting/ Training Delivery
Offline: Pune, Maharashtra, India
Online: Skype / Webex

For more information, Please Contact Me.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Solving Rubik's Cube With An FPGA

Distributed Feeds - June 2, 2015 - 4:00pm

For their final project for ECE 5760 at Cornell, [Alex], [Sungjoon], and [Rameez] are solving Rubik’s Cubes. They’re doing it with an FPGA, with homebrew robot arms to twist and turn a rainbow cube into the correct position.

First, the mechanical portion of the build. The team are using a system of three robot arms positioned on the left, right, and back faces of the cube relative to a camera. When a cube is placed in the jaws of this robot, the NTSC camera data is fed into an FPGA, where a Nios II soft core handles the actual detection of the cube faces, the solver algorithm, and the controller to send servo commands to the robot arms.

The algorithm used for solving the cube is CFOP – solve the white cross, the white corners, the middle layer, the top face, and finally the entire cube. In practice, the robot ended up taking between 60-70 moves. This is not the most efficient algorithm; the Thistethwaite algorithm only requires 52 moves. There’s a reason for this apparent inefficiency – the Thistlethwaite algorithm requires large look-up tables.

Once the cube is scanned and the correct moves are computed, the soft core in sends commands out through the FPGA’s GPIO pins. Each cube can be solved in under three minutes after it has been scanned, but the team ran into problems with scanning accuracy. It’s a problem that can be fixed with the right lighting setup and better aberrant cubie detection, and a great final project using FPGAs.

Video demo below.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Analysts Wrangle Over Intel-Altera Merger Benefits and Value Proposition

Distributed Feeds - June 2, 2015 - 9:15am

intelinsideIntel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) may have a game changer on its hands with the acquisition of Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) now finalized. The $54 per share offer is for $16.7 billion and represents a little more than 10% of Intel’s $158 billion market cap. Many firms on Wall Street have seen their analysts reiterate their Buy ratings on Intel. Still, the deal is not being universally endorsed.

BMO Capital Markets downgraded Intel to Market Perform from Outperform based on a lack of deal vision. BMO further said that it was cutting the price target all the way to $33 from $40 based on the deal. BMO simply struggles with how it will add value for Intel shareholders long term. Based on trends of Altera before the deal, the firm just does not believe Intel’s post-merger growth assumptions.

24/7 Wall St. tracked several other analyst calls Tuesday morning (some of which are outlined in more detail below):

  • Jefferies reiterated its Buy rating with a $48 price target.
  • Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and $40 price target.
  • Canaccord Genuity maintained its Buy rating and $39 price target.
  • S&P Capital IQ maintained its Buy rating.
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating and $38 price objective.

ALSO READ: 5 More Semiconductor Merger Candidates After Altera

On Intel, Canaccord Genuity said that it was maintaining its Buy rating and keeping its $39 price target. The note introduction from analyst Matthew Ramsay said:

While the price tag appears steep, the acquisition does not change our overall bullish long-term fundamental thesis as we begin meetings with Intel management and PC supply chain participants at Computex in Taiwan today that should shed light on whether Windows 10 and new Skylake product launches can drive the more robust 2H/15 PC implied by Intel’s full-year guidance.

We maintain our bullish view on Intel fundamentals highlighted by sustained foundry advantages and strong secular momentum supporting 15%+ DCG and ~20% IoTG growth potential. While Mobile losses remain heavy, we believe Intel’s modem/SoC technology is gradually closing the gap in a quickly thinning herd of competitors with the business nearing transitions to SoFIA that should eliminate the need for costly subsidies beginning 2H/15 with underappreciated cost synergy potential in the combined Mobile/PC business.

Credit Suisse was also positive. Analyst John Pitzer maintained his Buy rating $40 price target. His note said:

The transaction is valued at $16.7 bb (EV of $15.5 bb) or ~28 times 2016 EV/EBITDA a ~108% premium to its peer group. INTC expects the transaction to be financed with cash/debt, to close in 6-9 months, and to be accretive in the 1st year after close – 60% of the synergies to come from Rev and 40% from OpEx. Our analysis suggests $0.06-$0.10 accretion.

ALSO READ: Could AMD Go to Zero?

Credit Suisse further said that the firm has mixed views on the acquisition, with specifics on the more critical side as follows:

(1) valuation appears rich – we estimate a buyback would be $0.25-0.40 accretive, INTC appears to be paying > 20 years of accumulated Altera operating cash flow,

(2) Intel’s expected future Revenue CAGR of ~7% for Altera appears aggressive vs. Altera’s CAGR from 2010-2015 of negative 2.7%, and dilutive to Intel DCG/IoT CAGR of ~14%/~18% respectively,

(3) manufacturing synergies are apparent but only relevant to N+ technology which is expected to only be ~10% by 2018.

ALSO READ: 5 Key Analyst Stock Picks With 50% or More Upside

What offsets the concerns at Credit Suisse are the following issues:

(1) even if only defensive (note Company says offensive) protecting DCG footprint should be a strategic imperative,

(2) SAM expansion of $11 billion in IoT is under-appreciated by investors,

(3) discrete acceleration application is at least a $1 billion total addressable market but integrated FPGA/CPU likely opens up new applications, price points, ROI especially since DCG is NOT performance saturated,

(4) Altera is a long duration asset in a stable duopoly with better than industry margins and cash flow,

(5) its world view of Semiconductor Revenue to Global GDP inflecting higher would argue a “land-grab” strategy is likely to have significant future returns.

S&P Capital IQ maintained its Buy rating:

We think Altera presents greater opportunities within the attractive Data Center arena and believe Intel will enhance Altera’s products through their existing manufacturing relationship. While Intel will need to leverage its balance sheet, we think its substantial cash position and cash flow generation provides ample financial flexibility. We like Altera’s diversified end-market exposure. Intel sees the deal, expected to close in 6 to 9 months, being accretive to EPS/FCF in the first year.

ALSO READ: 10 Stocks to Own for the Next Decade

Categories: Planet FPGA

Could AMD Go to Zero?

Distributed Feeds - June 2, 2015 - 4:10am

AMD LogoIntel Corp.’s (NASDAQ: INTC) $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) is meant to bolster its position in data centers and the Internet of Things, both potentially very lucrative markets, and is moreover expected to provide a boost to earnings and free cash flow in the first year after closing. It also highlights in just how much better shape Intel is than rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD), which has nowhere near that kind of money to spend on acquisitions.

Like Intel, AMD has suffered from the continued decline in personal computer (PC) shipments. However, Intel’s considerably larger size gives it a pricing edge and has allowed it to weather this tough environment much better than AMD, which has been struggling to turn a profit over the past few years. In fact, its net income has not been in the black since 2011. This is reflected in its stock price, which is down more than 42% over the past year and is hovering near all-time lows at $2.14.

The company’s latest earnings report showed few signs of improvement. First-quarter revenue declined by a hefty 26% year-over-year and 17% sequentially, with the figure of $1.03 billion missing the $1.05 billion consensus estimate. The net loss for the period totaled $73 million, with the loss per share of $0.09 also below calls for a loss of $0.05. Next quarter, the company expects revenue to contract by another 3%.

ALSO READ: 4 Chip Stocks That Could Be Huge Internet of Things Winners

The company’s poor performance over the past few years has eaten into its balance sheet. Between 2011 and 2014, the company’s total cash fell from $1.765 billion to $1.040 billion. Until recently, it has managed to keep its cash reserves above $1 billion, but as of the latest quarter, these dropped by $134 million to $906 million, which can be seen as another red flag. At the same time, its debt has risen by $56 million to $2.27 billion. According to Yahoo! Finance, its total debt to equity ratio is now at an incredible 13,341.

The amount of money the company can spend on research and development is also dwindling, which is extremely problematic as R&D spend is crucial for chip makers dependent on innovation to remain competitive. Between 2011 and 2014, R&D spending fell from around $1.45 billion to $1.03 billion. For reference, Intel’s R&D spend rose from $8.35 billion to $11.53 billion over the same period.

As such, there are very few reasons to be optimistic about AMD’s prospects at the moment. Unless the company finds a way to reboot sales growth, and shore up its bottom line and balance sheet, it is very likely that the stock will face more downside.

ALSO READ: 5 More Semiconductor Merger Candidates After Altera

Categories: Planet FPGA

Intel Buys Altera For $16.7 Billion

Distributed Feeds - June 1, 2015 - 1:00pm

Intel, CPU manufacturer we all know and love, will buy Altera, makers of fine FPGAs, for $16.7 Billion.

While most of the news about this deal focuses on the future of FPGAs in the datacenter, getting Altera IP into Intel fab houses is equally interesting. Intel is the current king of putting transistors on a piece of silicon, and Intel’s ability to put a massive amount of transistors on a chip means FPGAs will become even more capable – more gates, more blocks, and more memory. The most capable Altera FPGAs are being made with a 28nm process; Intel could theoretically double the number of gates with the 14nm process used on the new Broadwell CPUs. There is most likely someone at Xilinx tearing their hair out right now, chain-smoking next to a pot of coffee.

News of this buy out comes about a week after Avago bought Broadcom in the biggest semiconductor deal ever, and a few months after NXP and Freescale merged. Cash Rules Everything Around Semiconductors, it seems.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Analyzing 5 More Semiconductor Merger Candidates After Altera

Distributed Feeds - June 1, 2015 - 9:55am

micro chipThe semiconductor arena has been abuzz with mergers and acquisitions, whether the deals come about or fall through. There have been a few big winners in this space so far, with a couple big acquisitions solidified in just the past week alone, but this leaves more room for mergers to happen in the future. Some of the companies reviewed here are not necessarily acquisition targets but potentially acquirers themselves.

Previously 24/7 Wall St. noted that it was always concerned about the reality of a merger between Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) and Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR). The reason is regulatory oversight. Intel is considered the de facto king of processors in personal computers (PCs), but so far efforts to expand elsewhere have not been blocked. That could be good news for the industry.

The concern is that, as mentioned, the Intel-Altera deal will create a ripple around the chip space. In some ways, it is fairly easy to argue that the acquisition by Intel would create a World War I reaction: if Intel mobilizes, then its rivals have to mobilize. This is why we considered the rumors about ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) as driven by the possibility of an Altera-Intel deal. Although it would appear that Intel is reacting as, Avago Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) and Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) struck first with their merger.

The fact that Altera is being acquired by Intel means that there could be another buyer that wants Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX). There was a slight market cap differential here: Xilinx is worth $12.5 billion and Altera is currently worth just under $16 billion. Or there is another tact here, perhaps that Xilinx will look at acquiring a company. Xilinx shares were up 2% at $40.37 on Monday.

Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: SWKS) may be on the lookout to do a deal that would help diversify the company away from its dependence on the mobile market. On May 22, the company was started as Neutral with a price target of $108 (versus a $103.89 close) at Goldman Sachs. Skyworks was also one of the best performing stocks at the beginning of the year. Skyworks shares were up 1% at $110.40 on Monday.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) has been the subject of merger rumors in the past, but it has been a long time since anyone has heard any of that. Also Citigroup recently started coverage with a Sell rating for Marvell, which could get in the way with any merger aspirations. Marvell shares were up over 2% at $14.37 on Monday.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) and Tokyo Electron announced in late April that they have agreed to terminate their merger. In accordance with the agreement, no termination fees will be payable by either party. The merger was originally announced in September 2013.

Basically, this decision came after the U.S. Department of Justice advised the parties that the coordinated remedy proposal submitted to all regulators would not be sufficient to replace the competition lost from the merger. Based on the Justice Department’s position, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron determined that there is no realistic prospect for the completion of the merger.

At the same time as the announcement of the merger termination, Applied Materials announced a $3 billion share repurchase program that will take place over the next three years. It would only make sense that if regulators thought Tokyo Electron would create an anti-competitive chip equipment environment, then perhaps Applied Materials is seeking a smaller acquisition. Applied Materials shares were up almost 1% at $20.30 on Monday.

ARM Holdings was the only one of the would-be chip merger designees that was down on the day. Its American depositary shares were down by 0.5% at $53.00, perhaps because its valuation is always considered to be so high.

Categories: Planet FPGA

More Monday Acquisition Madness

Distributed Feeds - June 1, 2015 - 9:00am

MergerThe market has been flooded with news of mergers and acquisitions, and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. In the most recent example, Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) has announced that it will acquire OM Group Inc. (NYSE: OMG).

Under the terms of the deal, OM Group will be acquired for $34 per share, which represents a premium of roughly 28% compared to Friday’s closing price of $26.54.

In a separate transaction, Platform Specialty Products Corp. (NYSE: PAH) will acquire OM’s Electronic Chemicals and Photomasks businesses, from the Apollo Funds for a total cash consideration of $365 million. Platform believes there is a synergy opportunity in excess of $20 million over the next two years. After these secondary transactions, the Apollo Funds will own OM’s Magnetic Technologies, Battery Technologies and Advanced Organics businesses.

Joseph M. Scaminace, chairman and CEO of OM Group, commented on the acquisition:

Last year, we launched a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, resulting in our Board of Directors unanimously concluding that this acquisition of the Company is the best course of action to maximize value for OM Group stockholders.

ALSO READ: 3 Specialty Pharma Stocks That Could Be Acquired in 2015

He continued:

Our transformation over the past several years created an attractive portfolio of differentiated businesses with a strong foundation. The transactions we are announcing today will deliver significant and immediate cash value for our stockholders. The Apollo Funds and Platform add financial resources and global operating experience to support the execution of strategies driving the growth and competitiveness of these businesses over the long term.

Earlier on Monday, 24/7 Wall St. covered the Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) acquisition of Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR). The terms of the agreement broke down to an all-cash transaction with Intel buying Altera at $54 per share. The total value of the transaction is $16.7 billion. The deal has been unanimously approved by the boards of both Intel and Altera.

In February, Intel had made moves to acquire Altera with an offering price of what was said to be $58 per share. After that offer, both companies entered into a non-disclosure agreement. At that time, Intel reviewed Altera’s non-public information and then revised its offer to $54 per share.

All the merger interest seems to have been initially rekindled by the Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) acquisition by Avago Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO). This deal was valued at $37 billion and is considered to be one of the largest tech acquisitions.

Monday morning, Apollo shares were down 0.3% at $22.13, in a 52-week trading range of $20.02 to $28.93. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $26.17.

Shares of OM were up nearly 28% to $33.89. The consensus price target is $36.00 and the 52-week trading range is $21.87 to $34.18.

ALSO READ: 5 Key Analyst Stock Picks With 50% or More Upside

Categories: Planet FPGA

What Intel Is Getting in the Altera Acquisition

Distributed Feeds - June 1, 2015 - 7:20am

Intel logoThe reported standstill period between Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) and Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) has come to an end. With the end of this period came a definitive agreement between the two companies for Intel to acquire Altera. The goal is for the combined companies to enhance Altera’s products through design and manufacturing improvements based on Intel’s integrated device manufacturing model.

The terms of the agreement broke down to an all-cash transaction with Intel buying Altera at $54 per share. The total value of the transaction is $16.7 billion. The deal has been unanimously approved by the boards of both Intel and Altera.

In February, Intel had made moves to acquire Altera with an offering price of what was said to be $58 per share. After that offer, both companies entered into a non-disclosure agreement. At that time, Intel reviewed Altera’s non-public information and then revised its offer to $54 per share.

This new deal comes on the heels of the recently announced acquisition of Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) by Avago Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) that seemingly rekindled merger interest and speculation within the semiconductor segment. This deal was valued at $37 billion and is considered one of the largest tech acquisitions.

ALSO READ: The 6 Stocks Punishing the Dow in 2015

Prior to the end of the standstill pact, Altera shareholders were encouraged by TIG Advisors in early May to vote against board member T. Michael Nevens. TIG Advisors also said that Altera’s board may use the upcoming foundry decision as a poison pill to ward off any attempts by Intel. The firm even went as far to say that the board of directors had failed the shareholders, denying them an immediate value opportunity. It appears that TIG will get what it wants after all.

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, commented on the acquisition:

With this acquisition, we will harness the power of Moore’s Law to make the next generation of solutions not just better, but able to do more. Whether to enable new growth in the network, large cloud data centers or IoT segments, our customers expect better performance at lower costs. This is the promise of Moore’s Law and it’s the innovation enabled by Intel and Altera joining forces. We look forward to working with the talented team at Altera to deliver this value to our customers and stockholders.

Early Monday, shares of Intel were down about 1% at $34.11, in a 52-week trading range of $27.12 to $37.90. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $34.86.

Altera shares were up 6% at $51.84. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $39.36, and a previous 52-week trading range of $30.47 to $50.10.

ALSO READ: 5 Key Analyst Stock Picks With 50% or More Upside

Categories: Planet FPGA

Why an Intel-Altera Merger Is Making Sense Again

Distributed Feeds - May 29, 2015 - 8:00am

intelinsideIn the recent past, merger discussions between Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) and Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) did not lead to a successful deal. However, with the reported standstill pact coming to an end on June 1, there is a growing belief that a more aggressive or even hostile approach could be coming from Intel.

The recently announced acquisition of Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) by Avago Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) has seemingly rekindled merger interest and speculation within the semiconductor segment. This deal was valued at $37 billion and is considered one of the largest tech acquisitions.

Back in February, Intel had made moves to acquire Altera with an offering price of what was said to be $58 per share. After this offer, both companies entered into a non-disclosure agreement. At that time, Intel reviewed Altera’s non-public information and then revised its offer to $54 per share.

Both companies already work together fairly closely, according to Sunit Rikhi, vice president and general manager of Intel Custom Foundry:

Our close collaboration enables us to work together in many areas related to semiconductor manufacturing and packaging. Together, both companies are building off one another’s expertise with the primary focus on building industry-disrupting products.

ALSO READ: 4 Chip Stocks That Could Be Huge Internet of Things Winners

Just this week, Intel and Altera announced that they would be collaborating on the development of multi-die devices that leverage Intel’s world-class package and assembly capabilities and Altera’s leading-edge programmable logic technology. The collaboration is an extension of the foundry relationship between Altera and Intel, in which Intel is manufacturing some of Altera’s products.

However, Altera shareholders were encouraged by TIG Advisors in early May to vote against a board member (T. Michael Nevens) and said that Altera’s board may use the upcoming foundry decision as a poison pill to ward off any attempts by Intel. TIG even went as far to say that the board of directors had failed the shareholders, denying them an immediate value opportunity.

All this might not matter in just a few short days when the standstill pact expires. Intel already has had a good look at Altera, and whether it is willing to acquire Altera remains a mystery for now. Should Intel petition shareholders, we might see negotiations become hostile.

Ultimately, any Altera deal is likely to come down to the price. This is also assuming that there are no regulatory issues in the United States or in international jurisdictions, but that assumption likely should not be taken for granted in the current regulatory environment.

Shares of Altera were up about 4% at $48.85 on Friday morning, in a 52-week trading range of $30.47 to $49.80. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $39.36. The company currently has a market cap of $14.7 billion.

Intel shares were up only 1.2% at $34.43. The consensus price target is $34.86, and the 52-week trading range is $26.72 to $37.90. Intel has a market cap of $164.6 billion.

ALSO READ: 10 Stocks to Own for the Next Decade

As a reminder, speculators will drive shares up, even without knowing whether any talks are likely or planned. That standstill agreement expiration sure coincides at an interesting time when you consider the Broadcom-Avago merger timing.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Avago (AVGO) and Broadcom (BRCM) ...and Intel/Altera

Distributed Feeds - May 29, 2015 - 6:11am

Two days ago the rumor hit Wall Street that chipmaker and serial acquirer AVGO had found its newest target, BRCM.  Yesterday the offer was announced:  cash and AVGO stock, in approximately 45/55 proportions, totaling $37 billion.

my thoughts

When customers in a given industry group become bigger and more powerful, the natural response among suppliers is to do the same.  This is part of what is going on here.  More than that, AVGO appears to seek out companies whose technological virtuosity far outstrips their management skills.  So it gains not only the marketing benefit of size but also the rewards of improving the profitability of firms whose main virtue has been their intellectual property.

What’s striking about this deal is that in revenue terms AVGO is more than doubling its size.  Although I have no intention of selling the AVGO shares I own, experience says that acquirers often bite off more than they can chew when they make the jump from small acquisitions to super-size ones like this.

One of AVGO’s rumored other targets had been Xilinx (XLNX), the junior partner with Altera (ALTR) in the field programmable gate array duopoly.  I had thought that ALTR would feel more favorably disposed to overtures being made by Intel (INTC), given the possibility that AVGO would buy XLNX and turn the firm into a much more aggressive competitor.  That threat is now gone.  INTC must now rely on pressure on ALTR management from its major shareholders (shareholders are, after all, legally the owners of ALTR and the employers of management) to return to the negotiating table.

As a practical matter, managements have a lot of autonomy, despite the fact that we the shareholders are, technically speaking, the bosses.  Wall Street seems to believe that ALTR is holding out for a higher price from INTC.  While that may be the rhetoric being used, I think the real issue is more basic.  Who would want to go from being the master of all he surveys as the top dog (and treated as a demigod) at a major publicly traded company to being a near-invisible division head in a conglomerate?

Categories: Planet FPGA

An Open Source Toolchain For iCE40 FPGAs

Distributed Feeds - May 29, 2015 - 4:00am

FPGAs are great, but open source they are not. All the players in FPGA land have their own proprietary tools for creating bitstream files, and synthesizing the HDL of your choice for any FPGA usually means agreeing to terms and conditions that nobody reads.

After months of work, and based on the previous work of [Clifford Wolf] and [Mathias Lasser], [Cotton Seed] has released a fully open source Verilog to bitstream development tool chain for the Lattice iCE40LP with support for more devices in the works.

Last March, we saw the reverse engineering of the Lattice ICE40 bitstream, but this is a far cry from a robust, mature development platform. Along with Yosys, also written by [Clifford Wolf] it’s relatively simple to go from Verilog to an FPGA that runs your own code.

Video demo below, and there’s a ton of documentation over on the Project IceStorm project page. You can pick up the relevant dev board for about $22 as well.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Dancing Mandelbrot Set on a FPGA

Distributed Feeds - May 26, 2015 - 1:01pm

This FPGA based build creates an interesting display which reacts to music. [Wancheng’s] Dancing Mandelbrot Set uses an FPGA and some math to generate a controllable fractal display.

The build produces a Mandelbrot Set with colours that are modified by an audio input. The Terasic DE2-115 development board, which hosts a Cyclone IV FPGA, provides all the IO and processing. On the input side, UART or an IR remote can be used to zoom in and out on the display. An audio input maps to the color control, and a VGA output allows for the result to be displayed in real time.

Dancing Mandelbrot Block DiagramOn the FPGA, a custom calculation engine, running at up to 150 MHz, does the math to generate the fractal. A Fast Fourier transform decomposes the audio input into frequencies, which are used to control the colors of the output image.

This build is best explained by watching, so check out the video after the break.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Electronics Bit Evolution In An FPGA Simulated "Game Of Life"

Distributed Feeds - May 24, 2015 - 12:21pm
On the Origin of Circuits Article #280 • Written by Alan Bellows ? Scroll to Continue ? Ever since I
Categories: Planet FPGA

Udemy Learning and FPGA Development

Distributed Feeds - May 20, 2015 - 5:22am

I recently signed up with Udemy which claims to be the world’s largest destination for on-line courses. A rather tall order and time will tell. However they do have a huge selection of courses available covering everything from programming to break dancing!! Some of courses are rather expensive but they regularly offer special promotional rates on a lot of these courses that does make them more attractive.

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I have just completed my first course a course created by a reader of this blog by the name of Jordan Christman. Jordan’s course entitled “VHDL and FPGA Development for Beginners and Intermediates” is an excellent introduction to VHDL and FPGA development. Jordan introduces the basics of FPGAs and VHDL before moving onto the development tools used and then takes a hands on approach developing, simulating and running simple designs on target hardware platforms. I can thoroughly recommended this course to anyone wanting to get into FPGA development. Well done Jordan.

Categories: Planet FPGA

Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Apple, Lumber Liquidators, Take-Two, Urban Outfitters, Apigee, Akamai, Intuit and More

Distributed Feeds - May 19, 2015 - 5:50am

Bull and BearStocks were indicated higher yet again on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hitting new highs. Tuesday’s news may be driven by overseas action rather than earnings, after a 3% gain in Shanghai. The one trend that keeps getting proven is that investors line up in droves to buy stocks on weakness. This trend is now nearing four years old. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each day of the week to find new trading and investment ideas. Some analyst calls cover stocks to buy, and others cover stocks to sell or avoid.

These are Tuesday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was reiterated as Buy with a $142.00 price target at Bernstein. Here was the Carl Icahn take on how to get Apple to $240, an even more ambitious view than his prior call (but, of course, he is also just talking up his book).

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LL) was downgraded to Hold from Buy by Cantor Fitzgerald. What is interesting here is that the firm only recently started its positive coverage, but now after earnings it notes that there are just too many regulatory and legal risks to justify its Buy rating, and the negative PR continues to gain momentum while the near-term picture looks cloudier.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $32 price target at Sterne Agee CRT after earnings. Credit Suisse maintained its Neutral rating and cut the price target to $28 from $32. Take-Two shares were up over 7% at $26.00 or so in early-bird trading indications.

Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan after poor earnings and guidance. It was maintained as Buy at Mizuho, but the target was cut to $36 from $43. Janney Capital Markets maintained its Buy rating but cut its fair value estimate to $45 from $48 in the call. Piper Jaffray downgraded it to Neutral from Overweight and slashed its price target to $36 from $53. Shares were down almost 15% around $34.80 in early Tuesday trading indications.

Apigee Corp. (NASDAQ: APIC) saw its quiet period end. It was started as Outperform with a $21 price target (versus a $14.42 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm said that its platform, leadership and domain expertise could drive strong, sustainable new customer and usage growth. JMP Securities started it as Outperform with a $19 price target. Nomura started it as Buy with an $18 price target. JPMorgan started it as Neutral and just with a $15 price target. Morgan Stanley started it as Overweight with a $19 price target.

ALSO READ: 4 Stocks That Should Thrive Under Higher Interest Rates

Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades for Tuesday were as follows:

Akamai Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) was downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

Carlisle Companies Inc. (NYSE: CSL) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Enphase Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH) was raised to Strong Buy from Buy and it was given a $20 price target (versus a $10.71 close) at Needham.

Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ: FITB) was raised to Outperform from Perform with a $25 price target (versus a $20.52 close) at Oppenheimer.

Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ: GLUU) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $9.00 from $7.00 at Stifel.

Healthways Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) was started as Outperform with a $150 price target (versus a $115.28 close) at BNP Paribas.

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $120 from $105 at RBC Capital Markets.

ALSO READ: 5 Analyst Stocks Under $10 With Massive Upside

MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) was raised to Overweight with a $110 price target (versus a $93.08 close) at Pacific Crest.

NetEase Inc. (NASDAQ: NTES) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ: NMRX) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) was raised to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY) was raised to Outperform from Neutral and the price target was raised to $43 from $38 at Credit Suisse.

Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) was raised to Overweight from Sector Weight with a $60 price target (versus a $46.61 close) at Pacific Crest.

In case you missed Monday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades, they were in shares of BP, Chevron, Chesapeake Energy, GoPro, Yelp and about a dozen more stocks.

We also had more detailed coverage on five standout stocks with Buy ratings and big upside to analyst price targets: Netflix, PDC Energy, Penn Gaming, Schnitzer Steel and WhiteWave Foods.

ALSO READ: Major Portfolio Changes for Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway

Categories: Planet FPGA

an Intel (INTC) - Altera (ALTR) deal re-emerging?

Distributed Feeds - May 19, 2015 - 4:30am

Market gossip is that ALTR recently refused a friendly offer from INTC at $53 a share.

Speculation resurfaced yesterday with rumors that talks have started up again.

The catalyst seems to be the fact that serial acquirer Avago (AVGO–I own shares) appears to be considering a bid for ALTR’s rival Xilinx (XLNX).

AVGO seems to have a knack for finding firms that have excellent technology but which, for one reason or another, find it difficult to achieve consistent profit growth.  AVGo buys them, reorganizes them and puts the profit machine into high gear.

In this case, the sub-industry involved is the sleepy world of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), dominated by the cozy duopoly of ALTR and little brother XLNX.  AS the name suggests, FPGAs are chips whose program structure is not hard-wired (those are application-specific integrated circuits–ASICs).  So they can be reprogrammed, upgraded, debugged…even after they’ve been put into machines that are now in use.  This allows manufacturers to get, say, cutting-edge telecom equipment into customers’ hands very quickly.  The drawback is cost.

The AVGO move suggests the FPGA arena is about to become considerably more competitive.   AVGO/XLNX would be four times the size of ALTR, implying easier access to capital and the ability to offer a much wider variety of products to customers than ALTR.  This suggests ALTR realizes the status won’t be quo for much longer and it needs to be part of a bigger entity in order to compete.

To my mind, the big winner in all this would be INTC.

Categories: Planet FPGA

FPGAs Keep Track of your Ping Pong Game

Distributed Feeds - May 15, 2015 - 1:00pm

It’s graduation time, and you know what that means! Another great round of senior design projects doing things that are usually pretty unique. [Bruce Land] sent in a great one from Cornell where the students have been working on a project that uses FPGAs and a few video cameras to keep score of a ping-pong game.

The system works by processing a live NTSC feed of a ping pong game. The ball is painted a particular color to aid in detection, and the FPGAs that process the video can keep track of where the net is, how many times the ball bounces, and if the ball has been hit by a player. With all of this information, the system can keep track of the score of the game, which is displayed on a monitor near the table. Now, the players are free to concentrate on their game and don’t have to worry about keeping score!

This is a pretty impressive demonstration of FPGAs and video processing that has applications beyond just ping pong. What would you use it for? It’s always interesting to see what students are working on; core concepts from these experiments tend to make their way into their professional lives later on. Maybe they’ll even take this project to the next level and build an actual real, working ping pong robot to work with their scoring system!

Categories: Planet FPGA

Altera Announces New Spectra-Q Engine for Industry-Leading Quartus II Software to Accelerate FPGA and SoC Design

Distributed Feeds - May 13, 2015 - 7:20pm

Altera Corporation unveiled its Spectra-Q™ engine, a new technology at the heart of the company’s proven Quartus® II software, to improve design productivity and time-to-market for next-generation programmable devices. The Spectra-Q engine extends Altera’s Quartus II software leadership with new capabilities that deliver unprecedented compile time improvements, versatile and fast-tracked design entry, and drop-in IP integration. Now customers can design and implement at higher levels of abstraction for significantly faster design cycles to meet the next generation of design opportunities. Additional information on the Spectra-Q engine is available on the http://www.altera.com/spectraq webpage.

“As FPGAs and SoCs deliver dramatically increased capabilities with multi-million logic element devices, support for hundreds of interface protocols, and new hardened functional blocks, the productivity of software design tools must scale at a much faster pace than just logic element counts,” said Alex Grbic, senior director of Software and IP Marketing at Altera. “The Spectra-Q engine is a game-changing combination of software technologies that dramatically accelerates the design process by reducing designs iterations, while continuing to deliver the industry’s fastest compile times.”

ALTERA Spectra-Q Engine

The Spectra-Q engine features faster algorithms and allows for incremental design changes without needing to perform a full design compile. The engine also features a hierarchical database that enables users to preserve placement and routing information of IP blocks while making changes in other parts of the design. This helps ensure stable designs, eliminates unnecessary timing closure efforts and reduces compile times. The new engine also includes a common high-level design compiler for better quality of results and tighter integration between the Quartus II software and a variety of different front-end tools.

Introducing BluePrint™ Platform Designer
Built on top of the Spectra-Q engine is an industry-first platform design tool called BluePrint that allows designers to perform architectural exploration and assign interfaces with greater efficiency. The tool reduces design iterations by 10X by allowing designers to explore and create legal IO placements up-front with real-time fitter-checking. The tool also includes a clock and core planning feature that greatly reduces the number of design iterations needed for timing closure.

Versatile and Fast-tracked Design Entry
The new Spectra-Q engine also fast-tracks design entry for software, hardware and DSP designers alike. With multiple versatile design flows, designers can target FPGAs with greater efficiency in the language or design environment they prefer. In addition to providing support for the latest HDL languages, the new engine is designed to support Altera’s new A++ Compiler for HLS™ (high level synthesis) to create IP cores from C or C++ which significantly boosts productivity through faster simulation and IP generation.

Quartus-II Software and IP Version 15.0 Released
Altera also released its Quartus II software version 15.0 today, the FPGA industry’s #1 software in performance and productivity. With this latest release, customers can take advantage of Altera’s proven software tools which deliver industry-leading compile times. Altera continues to expand its optimized IP offering with the latest standard-based cores to enable maximum design productivity. The Quartus II software v15.0 introduces new Hybrid Memory Cube and HDMI 2.0 MegaCores for the company’s Arria® 10 FPGAs and SoCs. The portfolio also includes an upgrade in features and device support for the company’s popular JESD204B core to update Arria V support to 9.255Gbps as well as Cyclone® V support up to 5Gbps. IP debug toolkits for external memory interfaces (EMIF) and PCI Express are also available to help designers rapidly prototype and expedite qualifications with additional access points to perform test and debug on IP cores.

Pricing and Availability
The Spectra-Q engine is available as an early access program. Customers interested in participating in the program should contact their local sales representative. Both the Subscription Edition and the free Web Edition of the Quartus II software v15.0 are now available for download at http://www.altera.com/download. Altera’s software subscription program consolidates software products and maintenance charges into one annual subscription payment. Subscribers receive Quartus II software, the ModelSim®-Altera edition, and a full license to the IP Base Suite, which includes Altera’s most popular IP cores. The annual software subscription is $2,995 for a node-locked PC license and is available for purchase at Altera’s eStore.

Altera Corporation : www.altera.com

Categories: Planet FPGA

Altera - FPGA CPLD Structured ASIC

Distributed Feeds - May 3, 2015 - 3:34am
Altera is one of the pioneers of Programmable Logic, following notable early leaders Signetics and MMI in introducing PLDs. Altera - FPGA CPLD Structured ASIC  Altera develops many features that are geared towards system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) capability. Some of the more recent examples include embedded memory, embedded processors, and high-speed transceivers. MAX 10 FPGAs are
Categories: Planet FPGA

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