ESC, Day the Last
I've run across a few interesting things here this year. The best demo has to go to Freescale with their robotic air hockey player. Robots are cool in general, but when you can throw together enough processing power in a small, easy to use package like they did, such that a robot can compete with a human, that's a good piece of silicon.
The other really interesting thing I've run across a couple of times is the idea of open source hardware. The open source movement is long well established in software, but I don't think it's really found its niche in the hardware arena. Maybe it has now.
Folks from beagleboard, Project Sun Spot and a few others stopped by our booth to chat. The basic idea is that these groups have put together viable and high quality eval boards and have made the schematics and layout open source. You can download CAD files or just the Gerbers and the BOM and build your own just as they designed it. You can take the schematic and layout files and modify them to suit your application. You can manufacture and sell it. Or, you can buy a completed board off the shelf some place.
Eval boards used to be just an example to get a new chip up and running. Then to really make it work well, you'd have to roll your own. Not so with these things. And if you aren't an expert in high-speed design and layout, you don't have to buy an off the shelf board that may almost but not quite fit your application. You can just use the difficult parts that someone else already created and add your customization on to the edge.
Keep a watch on this movement. There might be something big here and it might just shave a month off your next embedded design project.
Direct from show central...