The prolonged economic downturn has brought a string of bad news for the electronics industry, including just about everything from massive layoffs to the bottoming out of stock prices. But, finally, some much anticipated good news out of one of the giant chipmakers. In fact, the news is so good that Mike Hastings, marcom manager for Texas Instruments' Standard Linear and Logic Semiconductor Group, is eager to spread the word. "Last year, somebody cancelled Christmas. This year, we're seeing demand go up beyond the holidays and into first quarter of 2004," he says. To wit, TI shipped 40% more units of linear and logic devices in the third quarter of this year than it did in the last healthy quarter of 2000 before the bottom fell out of the market. Devices sold last quarter are bound for a wide variety of products ranging from cell phones to PDAs to wireless communications devices and toys. Business might be sooooo good, Hastings hints, that some customers should be worried about component availability as TI and its suppliers burn through their inventories. Yet as prices firm, there are plans afoot to keep up with demand. Mike Hayden, TI Procurement Engineering Manager, says he began working to secure silicon supplies back when demand started going up in September. Mark McGuire of Sumco, Japan's second largest silicon supplier, says that his company is adding people and equipment. KES Systems, which provides burn-in capability, is also investing in capital equipment. All of this is good news, but the big question is whether this recent surge in sales is an indication of a true recovery and, if so, how long it will last. And that appears to be anyone's guess. "I can only see out to the first quarter," says Hastings. "And right now, first quarter looks great."
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.