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Adaptec seems to be doing its best to go out of business,” said Dal Allan, an analyst with ENDL Inc., Saratoga, Calif. They are concentrating on a core business that is shrinking in size.”

CRCW080516K0JNEAHP_Datasheet PDF

Adaptec seems to be doing its best to go out of business,” said Dal Allan, an analyst with ENDL Inc., Saratoga, Calif. They are concentrating on a core business that is shrinking in size.”

Specifically, engineers at Disneyland Japan have had a horrible time trying to get Ethernet to provide predictable response time,” Lehrbaum said, for passing situations to automate various characters in the theme park.” In environments like Disney's, where you have a controller and number of points where you distribute graphics data or control data, 1394 is an excellent possibility.

You always have to be looking at the next generation of each technology,” said Lehrbaum, and 1394 is running and solid today, while Gigabit Ethernet is still a ways off and who knows how robust it will be?”

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Ben Sharfi, president of General MicroSystems (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), called the commercial vision of 1394 the universal AV jack that every computer system is going to have,” and predicted it's going to come down to the embedded market because it has speed, size, length of cable, noise immunity-a lot of good features.”

We are thinking about using Firewire in applications down the road,” said Marcel Febo, General MicroSystems' vice president of engineering. It has all the capabilities of Fibre Channel and where you could really get something out of it is in networking control machines within a factory.” Still, he said, there aren't yet enough [1394] devices out to make a total solution.”

One of 1394's strengths is a degree of determinism, something Ethernet lacks. Designers of real-time embedded systems find that attractive. Some of our customers are doing real-time audio and video now,” said Wilf Sullivan, product marketing manager for Pentium boards at DY-4 Systems (Nepean, Ont.), and they have a definite need for something deterministic with guaranteed latency and high throughput. They're looking at different technologies, including Fibre Channel, to do audio, video and data all over the same link. I'm not sure if 1394 is a compatible technology here or a competing one.”

CRCW080516K0JNEAHP_Datasheet PDF

Peter Zackin, vice president of sales and marketing at Cyclone Microsystems (New Haven, Conn.), and Joe Norris, president of Technobox Inc. (Laurel, N.J.), said some customers have made the 1394 leap. Both companies sell 1394 PMC boards. We've shipped a fair amount to several customers,” said Norris. They use it for relatively simple crate-to-crate applications. They just want to move data from point A to point B.”

There's a particular customer with unique system requirements who's using Firewire for point-to-point links between boxes,” Zackin said. Those requirements specified that he had to talk to some equipment with Firewire in it.” So the move to 1394 was not based on technical reasons but on circumstance.

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That happens frequently,” said Zackin. The intelligence application at issue, he said, involves gathering video and audio data remotely . . . and then piping it over satellite on the other end.”

For the intelligence community, low-latency determinism is essential, said Mark Richman, 1394 product-line manager at the Computer Products operation of Lucent Technologies (Allentown, Pa.). You don't want to lose any frames because if, for example, you drop a syllable of a conversation in some foreign country, it might change the meaning of the conversation. Some use ATM for voice but it's traditionally a lossy protocol and it doesn't have the real-time capabilities they really need, especially for video,” he said. I think both 1394 and Fibre Channel do provide that, but Fibre Channel has higher throughput and better rugged characteristics, perhaps, than 1394 will, and it can connect devices further apart.”

Sanjay Jhan, senior vice president of marketing at Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego), has used the Lace product from Rubicad (San Jose) to migrate designs between processes. Qualcomm designs wireless systems-on-chip that include processor, DSP and analog cores.

Can Lace make hard IP blocks reusable? Up to a point,” said Jhan. An ARM core can be migrated to a certain extent, but you still have to do verification for electrical issues.”

At Lucent Technologies' Microelectronics Group (Berkeley Heights, N.J.), engineering director C.T. Chen has used the Dream layout migration tool from Sagantec (Milpitas, Calif.). Chen said it cut migration time by a factor of two when moving from a 0.35-micron, three-layer metal process to a 0.25-micron, five-layer process. After Lucent designers added the extra layers, the tool changed transistor sizing automatically, he said.

It got us maybe 80 percent there, and then we had to tweak it by hand,” said Dave Onimus, FPGA physical-design manager at Lucent.

Whether IP is hard or soft, there is a need to prototype in silicon early. Mark Scheitrum, group director for multimedia design services at Cadence, said rapid prototyping shows how the IP is supposed to operate, and allows for hardware/software integration before production silicon is available. Cadence has used several prototyping approaches, he said.


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