The annual IEEE-USA meeting held Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 in Scottsdale, AZ, offered pre-conference workshops in addition to the traditional meeting topics that address member issues under the theme “Capitalizing on Global Opportunities”. According to workshop organizer Nita Patel from RS Information Systems, this was the first time the technical workshops have been offered.
As part of the workshops, keynote speaker Gaurang Choksi, manager, Intel Core Competency Group, spoke of how globalization is driving cost and performance. For engineers, he identified a need for increased multidisciplinary skills and understanding of systems integration as essential to individual success in this environment.
From specific training using National Instruments' LabVIEW products to seminars on technologies and tools, software best practices, disaster recovery and Web-based training to an update on RFID, attendees had a good opportunity to obtain timely technical information and training on a range of topics. Here is a brief sample from two workshop sessions.
Successful Software Development
IBM Rational Unified Process or RUP provides a process framework for effective project management. Anthony Crain, senior technical specialist, IBM Software Group, says, “what we try to do in RUP is bring the highest risk aspects forward.” However, each phase of RUP deals with risk. Risks in the Inception phase involve the value (scope/cost, return) of the project in the company portfolio. The Elaboration phase specifically addresses the technical risks of the project. Risk evaluation in the Construction phase deals with the risks related to maximizing the value of the deliverable. Finally, the Transition phase handles the risks related to ensuring the solution has value and actually gets used. Iterations within any of these phases increase project focus and the likelihood of success.
As a part of the growing trend toward wireless communication, RFID is certainly one of the hot technology areas today. Emily Sopensky, a consultant for the Iris Co. and general chairperson for IEEE RFID 2007, shared the results from a recent IEEE survey on RFID. Respondents from a variety of industries indicated that more than 60 percent were at some point in implementing RFID from pilot planning to limited or even full implementation. Some of these companies may face significant challenges. “There is a wide gamut of where it is working well and where it is ahead of its time,” says Gene Fedors vice president of education programs, RFID Technical Institute. Choosing the right technology of passive, semi-passive or active RFID is a critical step. “If you don't understand the science/physics behind RFID, you are not adequately equipped to undertake a program,” says Fedors. Certainly, a key aspect of that understanding is the frequency ranges and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Easy Architecture Transition
Making the price versus performance trade-off that results in using either an 8- or a 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) architecture has historically meant a painful transition between the two, if a transition was ever required. With its recently announced Flexis family of compatible 8- and 32-bit MCUs, Freescale Semiconductor plans to simplify the transition process. Operating at the intersection point on a continuum of performance, the 8-bit QE128 uses an 8-bit SO8 core and the 32-bit QE128 uses a 32-bit ColdFire V1 (CFV1) core. According to Joe Circello, chief ColdFire architect at Freescale Semiconductor, the CFV1 performance is eight to 12 times the S08 at the same speed, but could be as high as 30 to 50 times greater in an extreme number crunching situation. However, both MCUs share the same package with pin-to-pin compatibility, have a common set of peripherals and use the same toolset to simplify a transition.