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Comment: Re:Sounds smart, but is it? (Score 3, Interesting) 125

it's certainly different but not revolutionary, I worked on a core that did this 15 years ago (not transmeta) it's a hard problem we didn't make it to market, transmeta floundered - what I think they're doing here is the instruction rescheduling in software, something that's usually done by lengthening the pipe in an OoO machine - it means they can do tighter/faster branches and they can pack instructions in memory aligned appropriately to feed the various functional units more easily - My guess from reading this article is is that it probably has an LIW mode where they turn off the interlocks when running scheduled code.

Of course all this could be done by a good compiler scheduler (actually could be done better with a compiler that knows how many of each functional unit type are present during the code generation phase) the resulting code would likely suck on other CPUs but would still be portable.

Then again if they're aiming at the Android market maybe what;s going on is that they've hacked their own JVM and it's doing JIT on the metal

Comment: Re:Uh what? (Score 4, Interesting) 180

by taniwha (#46513505) Attached to: Why Did New Zealand's Moas Go Extinct?

I've always thought that what happened in NZ sort of just proves human nature (not pakeha or Maori, just humans) - the Maori showed up with well developed cultural systems for managing fisheries, having island hopped through the Pacific for maybe 1000 years before they came to NZ - what they didn't have was rules, or experience managing moa, or forestry and as a result burned a lot of it down to get at those tasty moa - basically the same thing the Europeans would do when showing up somewhere new - exploit it like crazy - I'm sure if the moa had lasted longer, maybe if NZ was a bit bigger, people would have figured out how to manage moa - numbers would get low, a tapu would be proclaimed, after a while it would be lifted and the moa population would have stablised ..... by the time people figured it out it was probably too late

Comment: Re:So why not build them in the US, then? (Score 1) 40

by taniwha (#45945557) Attached to: Inside Tony Hsieh's Quiet Plan To Bankroll Hardware Startups

here's a link to a Sparkfun blog article on the "pit/valley of despair" that small hardware companies face: https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/20

Basically you make a few things by hand for yourself, and your friends, or you go to China and Manufacture (with a capital "M") there's nothing in between the two that's economical, though I do think that's changing with the arrival of cheap pick and place machines (another fallout from the 3D printer revolution)

Comment: My desktop (Score 5, Informative) 215

by taniwha (#45477507) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Hardware Lab Bench?

On my office work bench:

Binocular microscope
soldering station
solder
flxes
large magnifying glass with light ring
project boxes full of SMD parts
tweezers
side cutters (dikes in the US)
scrap wire

storage scope/logic analyzer
power supply

In the other room:

cheap chinese reflow oven
cheap chinese stencil jig
(and if I can finally persuade my wife) cheap chinese pick and place ,machine

At this point I have to point out that almost all my best tools these days are cheap and from China, mostly bought off of aliexpress at prices maybe 10% of what I used to spend buying from the US - stuff I'd never ever have considered buying for myself 2-3 years ago. In this case being cheap and from China doesn't mean low quality or non-functional, quite the opposite.

Comment: Follow the money (Score 5, Insightful) 208

by taniwha (#44651433) Attached to: NZ Police Got PRISM Data Before Raid On Dotcom

What's interesting is that our Prime Minister effectively admitted in parliament (by refusing to answer in a situation where "no" would have been a far better answer for him and one he would have given had it been true)just 2 days ago that the GCSB (or NSA wanna bes) have been funded by the US to the tune of millions of dollars.

So what did they buy? probably a Prism to put in our fibre access to the rest of the world. And I guess enough of a back channel to send it all to the US. I can see now why the second pacific fibre was nobbled because they wouldn't accept the use of Chinese infrastructure - wouldn't do to have some other country's backdoors in the routers rather than the US's.

Comment: Re:Layout by HAL (Score 1) 178

by taniwha (#41458651) Attached to: iPhone 5 A6 SoC Teardown: ARM Cores Appear To Be Laid Out By Hand

well a cpu with a 1GHz clock has 1nS to process data between flops - yes it's a bit like laying out microwave stuff -but in the very small - what happens is that it all starts with some layout person/people creating a standard cell library, they'll use spice to simulate and characterise their results - they'll pass this to the synthesis/layout tool makes a good first guess, they'll add in some fudge factor - then a timing tool looks at the 3d layout and extracts real timing, including parasitics to everything in 3-space around a wire - they check - does the timing from every flop to every other flop through every possible path meet both setup and hold times for the destination flop - if it does you're golden, tape it out - if not tweak something or resynthsise a block with tighter constraints etc etc

There is very complex delay analysis done - in all corners of the underlying fab process - automated layouts seldom look "pretty" at least from the point of hand done boards

Comment: Looking closely (Score 5, Informative) 178

by taniwha (#41457389) Attached to: iPhone 5 A6 SoC Teardown: ARM Cores Appear To Be Laid Out By Hand

Looking closely I see a bunch of ram - probably half laid out by hand (caches) - and a many may small standard cell blocks almost certainly not laid out by hand - what I don't see is an obviously hand laid out datapath (the first part of your CPU you spend layout engineers on) - look for that diagonal where the barrel shifter(s) would be. There are some very regular structures (8 vertically) that I suspect are register blocks.

Still what I see is probably someone managing timing by synthesizing small std cell blocks (not by hand), laying those blocks out by hand then letting their router hook them up on a second pass - - it's probably a great way to spend a little extra time guiding your tools into doing a better job to squeeze that extra 20% out of your timing budget and give you a greater gate density (and lower resulting wire delays)

So - a little bit of stuff being done by hand but almost all the gates being lait out by machine

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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