Tuesday, May 15, 2001
David Feldman has been shrinking computers for a long time. The former social
worker turned circuit board designer is the inventor of the PC104 standard. He
also has an IEEE standard based on his work. His latest project, the MachZ
PC-on-a-chip measures 35 x 35 mm, but has more processing power than was used to
launch the first manned space mission to the moon.
The fail-safe PC is beginning to find it's way into Internet appliances and
network and storage applications. It has standard PC slots and plugs into
So why would anyone want a PC on a chip rather than a micro-controller? There
are two reasons, according to Feldman. "It's hard to find people that can do
assembly and programming language," says Feldman. "The other reason is that
manufacturers don't have the time to program and configure microcontrollers," he
The micro-device has a fail-safe that enables the PC to work even if the
flash memory is erased. "That's especially important in medical applications,"
Feldman notes. "You don't want a problem in an operating room or other setting
where you can't have your computer crash," he says.
In vending and other machines that are networked, the chip will send a
message if the machine malfunctions. Other applications include industrial and
process control equipment, security, DVDs, positioning equipment, and
Feldman's company, ZF Micro Devices, has a website http://www.zfmicro.com where designers can
download the device's motherboard schematics. For more information call
(800) 683-5943 or fax (650)