How to design smart watches; China’s Arm servers; Hardware is the new software

Smart watch design is in its infancy and there seem to be a lot of detractors bubbling up in Digital Chatter Land. I’m not one of them. I rest comfortably in the camp that believes this first generation of wrist-wearables is an astonishing engineering achievement that will only improve with time.

Now comes one of the most insightful analyses of smart watch design (from packaging form all the way to semiconductor/SoC function) that I’ve read. JoshuaHo, a UCLA student whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent Arm partner event, weighs in based on his experiences. It’s lengthy, thoughtful and definitely a must-read.

Arm smartwatches


If Joshua’s piece offers inspiration on innovation, Ed Sperling, Editor-in-Chief at Semiconductor Engineering, gathers some industry experts together to get their thoughts on how the electronics ecosystem needs to rethink differentiation. Industry consolidation has quickened, more functionality has been integrated into IP and IP subsystems, and software has become more open. How do we respond?

I spent some quality time at a staff offsite this week and one of the best conversations I had involved ericgowland and philippe_bressy in which we talked about the changing nature of design. What’s driving it? Opportunities in hardware actually. This seems counter-intuitive when software has gotten the lion’s share of investment and media attention in recent years, but Eric bird-dogged an interesting TechCrunch story on the topic. Then the next day I came across this piece on hardware startups on Medium. Why this momentum? Clearly the design ecosystem is having a fundamental impact on giving hardware startups a cost-effective and less-frictioned method for bringing ideas to light.

Low Power Design

At a partner event this summer, I had the pleasure of catching up with CEO Mike Noonen and founder and CTO Scott Hanson of Ambiq Micro, the sub-threshold technology company. More to come on that interaction, but this week Noonen took time to chat with EE Times’ Peter Clarke on low-voltage technology directions.

Chips and Servers

The annual Hot Chips conference was held this week, and one of the highlights was an intriguing presentation from a Chinese startup, Phytium Technology Co. Ltd., which described a processor using 64 custom ARMv8 cores that will run at up to 2 GHz at 28nm. EE Times’ Rick Merritt reports on the paper and how China is shaking up Arm servers.

At Mobile World Congress this year, I ran across an interesting mobile projector technology. This week, our friend charbax from gives us a trade show floor interview of the concept:

Finally, what’s with this GIF?


If I told you it was a drone-busting laser from Boeing would you believe me??