Hi, Jim. Cypress takes the plug-in approach with its PSoC products and Microchip offers PICtail plug-in modules for its dev boards. Other MCU and even uP vendors have similar modular approaches. Like you, I remember the days of the expensive boards. Companies with big budgets might not balk at costly dev kits, but entrepreneurs who have cool ideas can't afford them just to test a concept. --Jon
This is a nice step in the right direction; first, with respect to the modular approach for design flexibility, and second, the low, low prices! It wasn’t long a go (circa 2002) that evaluation boards for the popular OMAP processors from Texas Instruments ran into multiple thousands of dollars for only a single Eval-Kit. (OK, so, granted the OMAP is a uP, and we’re talking sensors here, but the cost difference is remarkable!) And the modular approach is a great help for development engineers also. Final product layout always risks last-minute revisions, due to performance degradation from shields and other variables not considered on the bench-boards. Kudos to Freescale for addressing these two points.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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