Embedded Software IP & Technology Transfer in Power Electronics Applications

Moving on further into embedded software intellectual property

Some of you may have noticed, I have changed the title of this blog from “FPGA Technology and Embedded Software IP in Power Electronics Apps” to “Embedded Software IP & Technology Transfer in Power Electronics Apps” (check the top of the screen). What has happened?

This blog began while I was still doing my PhD. in the field of FPGA-based motor drives in 2008 and lots of time has passed since then. With the recent acquisition of Altera by Intel, we can now think that FPGAs are now “mainstream” chips and their particularity is not that distant with other chips used for embedded computing on the market (as it used to be), other that you have some logic fabric on which you can design custom VHDL functions to work as peripherals to a processor (soft processor like NIOS II on the FPGA fabric or hard processor such as ARM on the chip itself aside the FPGA fabric). Of course this makes them special and unique to develop new type of applications – that you can’t do with other chips like DSPs and MCUs – but from the point of view of the embedded system design, especially with SoCs, they are not the “bizarre” chips anymore only reserved to old electrical engineers thinking only in VHDL.

That being said, the continuity with this blog is still “embedded software IP”. This is still a passion for me because, I am still amazed how the complexity of embedded software design is still ignored in the process of designing electronic products. Embedded software development for mobile phones, i.e. the “apps”, is very well developped and organized but it is pretty much complicated in all other applications where the electronic part is custom. There is still a lot of “electrical engineering” mentality in the approach of designing software for those applications and this is especially true for industrial/power electronics applications.

Because embedded software is so linked with innovation, i.e. little/no value in the hardware and most/all the value in the software, I have shifted the focus of this blog on the other side: on process of getting true innovation from labs to market, also known as “technology transfer. This is where it connects with “intellectual property”, i.e. invention, patents, etc. By learning the process of how to really leverage existing intellectual property, a designer can really improve his productivity in developping new products. The designer embracing technology transfer is like the software engineer that learns to reuse existing code and build his application on the top of it (very productive), rather than building everything from scratch (not productive). For me, technology transfer is like “code reuse 2.0”.

Hence, at that time of the year I used to write a review of what happened in the field of FPGA, especially for power electronics applications. I won’t do it this year. I may come back next year with a similar idea. Meanwhile, I hope you will like this blog’s “new flavor”. Feel free to let me know what you think !

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