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Friday, May 23, 2014

Apps move into IoT design

English: Comparison of an Overo COM and a coin
English: Comparison of an Overo COM and a coin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Imagination Technologies is placing apps at the heart of its push to get the MIPS architecture adopted for the Internet of Things.

By Nick Flaherty

It is making its innovative FlowCloud technology available via an Android and iOS app to developers, including the maker community, hobbyists and students, to speed application development for the IoT. FlowCloud support will be available on several low-cost development boards with MIPS CPUs across
a range of operating systems, starting with a Microchip-based chipKIT WiFire board from Digilent.
The chipKIT WiFire board is a development platform that uses Microchip’s 32-bit PIC32MZ microcontroller with a MIPS microAptiv CPU. Imagination and partners will deploy FlowCloud support for other MIPS-based Android/Linux development boards in the near future.
The board is accessed and configured via the FlowCloud Getting Started app through an intuitive user interface that is intended to make embedded IoT development easier. A user’s FlowCloud account is free-of-charge and allows up to five connected devices.
FlowCloud provides an application-independent underlying platform that enables rapid construction and management of machine-to-machine and man-to-machine connected services through a set of modular infrastructure capabilities and underlying services that provide building blocks to accelerate deployment of cloud based applications. The infrastructure also provides secure asynchronous messaging and end-to-end connection establishment. The baseline FlowCloud service includes registration, authentication, association, security, notifications, updates and remote control. Optional plug-ins to accelerate time to market include FlowTalk (VoIP), FlowFunds (payments), and others. 
This allows users to build a wide range of applications, including security, personal and professional health monitoring, energy management, and cloud-based systems for content delivery as FlowCloud technology minimizes the resources required to make a product fully connected, bringing together people, devices and services in a platform for easily building connected applications and businesses.
“Imagination provides complete IP solutions and comprehensive platforms that speed development time for our customers, their customers and developers,” said Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing at Imagination. “FlowCloud is a unique and powerful offering for developers and the industry, and is proven and mature, having already deployed in volume. The new work we are doing with low-cost MIPS-based development boards extends the FlowCloud ecosystem and makes the platform far more accessible to developers.”
Most chipKIT platforms are hardware compatible with many existing Arduino shields, and existing code examples and reference materials are easily migrated. This gives the user a large base of options they can
utilize in the development process. The chipKIT WiFire is only available through Digilent and builds on the previous chipKIT development boards with a significant processor performance increase over the previous generation.
“Every day, more and more embedded systems are adding Internet connectivity, and the new chipKIT WiFire with our latest high-performance PIC32MZ MCU, which uses the microAptiv core, provides an ideal platform for IoT development,” said Rod Drake, director of Microchip’s MCU32 Division. “The
PIC32MZ and MPLAB Harmony software framework were designed for high-end, next-generation embedded applications that require high levels of performance, memory and advanced-peripheral integration. The addition of FlowCloud provides even more value for IoT and cloud applications.”

Users can get started with FlowCloud for the chipKIT WiFire at The chipKIT WiFire is priced at $79 (U.S.), and can be ordered today from Digilent at

From EETimes Europe
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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Startup Thalia DA uses ant algorithms to improve analogue and power designs

Bath startup Thalia Design Automation has raised its first equity funding to commercialize natural algorithms such as those used by ants for analogue, mixed signal and power design tools and is set to launch the beta versions of two new tools.
The key is that the Amalia and Emera tools use algorithms borrowed from natural processes such as ant movements to optimize placement and routing in these designs. This is traditionally regarded as a black art, needing highly skilled and scarce engineering resource, relatively long design cycles and often multiple design iterations to get to a production product, so using natural algorithms is a way to automate the design process further. Optimizations which typically took several days to weeks to complete can now be performed in a matter of hours says the company.
 “Analogue design methodology has remained unchanged for a long time,” said founder and CEO Sowmyan Rajagopalan. “I have seen the technical and time consuming efforts analogue designers have had to live with in order to design and optimise their circuits. Thalia’s tools will enable users to meet more challenging design requirements within shorter time frames. Custom chip design companies will benefit from reduced design times, shortened redesign cycles, better performing parts and more effective use of scarce skilled design resource.”
A further benefit is that the toolsets can be used to rapidly retarget existing designs to alternative silicon foundries for cost reduction and sourcing flexibility.
Thalia has now completed its initial equity funding round with Mercia Fund Management and Finance Wales. In addition the company has secured grant support from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Welsh Government.
“We are extremely pleased to have invested in a company that has developed solutions that not only address a technical challenge but also bring productivity gains for customers,” said Everard Mascarenhas, Investment Manager at Mercia Fund Management. “Thalia has developed a truly disruptive technology in a multi-billion dollar worldwide market where the incumbents grow and expand their offer through acquisition.”
Thalia provides two suites of EDA design tools; AMALIA, an intelligent analogue design optimisation & automation toolset and EMERA, a unique power device optimiser, schematic and layout generator. As well as offering these tools on a time-based software license, Thalia will also offer a design optimisation service directly and through partners.

By Nick Flaherty
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