Britain’s glorious war resisters

According to Adam Hochschild about some anti-war heroes from nearly a century ago

It was in Britain that significant numbers of war resisters first acted on their beliefs and paid the price. They did not even come close to stopping the bloodshed, but their strength of conviction remains one of the glories of a dark time. By the conflict’s end, more than 20,000 British men of military age would refuse the draft. Many, on principle, also refused the noncombatant alternative service offered to conscientious objectors, and more than 6,000 served prison terms under harsh conditions: hard labor, a bare-bones diet, and a strict “rule of silence.” This was one of the largest groups ever jailed for political reasons in a Western democracy. War opponents behind bars also included older men—and a few women—as well. If we could time-travel our way into British prisons in late 1917 and early 1918 we would meet the nation’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize, more than half a dozen future members of Parliament, one future cabinet minister, and a former newspaper editor who was now publishing a clandestine journal for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. It would be rare to find a more distinguished array of people ever imprisoned together.

How to slice a SystemVerilog interface

A synthesizable interface coding example connecting a server to 16 clients. The server is passed a large interface with 16 pairs of request and response words, and each client is passed a small interface that gives access to only one pair. This is done by first passing the big interface to each of the small interfaces, and then passing the small interfaces to the clients using a modport that restricts access to just one pair.

localparam type requestType = byte;
localparam type responseType = int;

module testMod#(N=16);

  wire clk, rst;

  allIfc#(N) allInst(clk, rst);
  serverMod#(N) serverInst(allInst.serverMp);

  for (genvar I = 0; I < N; I++) begin:GEN
    sliceIfc#(I) sliceInst(allInst.clientMp);
    clientMod clientInst(sliceInst.clientMp);
  end

endmodule:testMod


interface automatic allIfc#(N=0)(input clk, rst);

  var requestType Requests[N];
  var responseType Responses[N];

  function requestType requestRead(int index);
    return Requests[index];
  endfunction

  function void responseWrite(int index, responseType response);
    Responses[index] <= response;
  endfunction

  modport clientMp(output Requests, input Responses,
                   input clk, rst);

  modport serverMp(input Requests, output Responses,
                   import requestRead, responseWrite,
                   input clk, rst);

endinterface:allIfc


interface automatic sliceIfc#(I=0)(allIfc.clientMp allInst);

  var requestType request;
  var responseType response;

  assign allInst.Requests[I] = request;
  assign response = allInst.Responses[I];

  function void requestWrite(requestType req);
    request <= req;
  endfunction

  function responseType responseRead();
    return response;
  endfunction

  wire clk = allInst.clk;
  wire rst = allInst.rst;

  modport clientMp(output request, input response,
                   import requestWrite, responseRead,
                   input clk, rst);

endinterface:sliceIfc


module clientMod(sliceIfc.clientMp sliceInst);
  // ...
endmodule


module serverMod#(N=0)(allIfc.serverMp allInst);
  // ...
endmodule

Copyright © 2014 Brad Pierce

SV12 — 12,000+ free downloads of IEEE Std 1800-2012

According to Yatin Trivedi in “Accellera & IEEE-SA: A Case Study for Open Collaboration Success“, as of March 2014 there had been over 12,000 free downloads of the new SystemVerilog IEEE Std 1800-2012.

Cumulative downloads of some important EDA standards

Experience can delay innovation — and let new competitors pass you by

According to Kurt Shuler, regarding a presentation about four best practices “learned from the most successful SoC companies”.

What stops people from doing best practices that at first look seems obvious?

The more experienced a team is, the harder it usually is for them to change or adopt new methods. This is because it is simpler in the short term to patch what isn’t working any longer, rather than solve the issue for the long term. It’s easier in the long term to continue doing things, “the way we do things around here.”

The problem is that there are new competitors to the fabless companies. And they have less legacy experience and are eager to adopt best practices and become world class right away. I’m not talking about the new companies in mainland China creating world-class SoCs; rather I’m talking about the fabless semi vendors’ best customers!

I spent some time explaining a simplified view of the semiconductor value chain (slide 11), highlighting companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and eBay that have hired their own chip design teams to either design custom chips, or to provide very specific requirements and even IP to incumbent fabless companies. A look at slide 12 shows how much more cash these companies have than their fabless semi suppliers. And a quick search of LinkedIn will show how extensively they have hired chip design talent from our industry.

An impossible invention: Mats Lewan’s true story of the energy source that could change the world

Update 2: Reviews and author interview HERE.

Update 1: Controversial Nobel physicist Brian Josephson recommended Lewan’s book HERE.

According to physics journalist Mats Lewan regarding his new book An Impossible Invention (http://animpossibleinvention.com/)

Cold fusion is an energy source that could provide clean water to Planet Earth, zero-emission vehicles with unlimited mileage, a solution to the climate crisis and much more. It is clean, compact, simple, inexhaustible and . . . physically impossible. At least that is what science has considered since 1989.

But in January 2011 the Italian inventor Andrea Rossi demonstrated a sloppily-wrapped device that boiled water with heat emanating from something that seemed to be cold fusion.

Too good to be true, some said. Fraud, according to others.

A Swedish technology journalist was one of the few who chose to take Rossi seriously. In An Impossible Invention we follow his search for the truth about Rossi and the strange device — the E-Cat. He shows that the impossible seems to be possible, that the world faces fundamental change.

Mats Lewan is a technology and science journalist, author and speaker. He works as a staff writer at the Swedish technology magazine Ny Teknik and has worked internationally as a freelance journalist and reporter at CBS Cnet News. Lewan holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Physics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden where he lives with his wife and two children.

A brain is never at rest — consciousness consumes only 5% extra energy

According to “The Brain’s Dark Energy” by Marcus E. Raichle, neuroimaging shows that a human brain is always very actively messaging, even when daydreaming, asleep or anesthetized, and that the marginal energy consumption for consciousness is only 5%.

According to Lisa M. Krieger, interviewing physicist Andrei Linde

This most extraordinary of ideas was conceived in the most ordinary of circumstances. Linde was lying in bed, sick, at his home in Moscow, during a miserable winter. And his international intellectual life was in limbo, because publication of a paper had been suspended a year during the turbulence at the end of Soviet rule.

“I was living in this state of depression. I was in my bed and unable to do anything,” he said. Then came a sudden invitation to visit Italy — but he had to submit a paper overnight.

“I held my head … What can I do? What can I do?” he recalled thinking, with less than an hour to write. “And suddenly, I had the theory of eternally expanding inflationary universes, unceasingly producing new universes,” of which ours is but one of many.

“It was just pure, from nowhere,” he said.

See also “Keep thinking, think of it everyday“.

More SystemVerilog enhancement requests for design

Following up to “SystemVerilog — my top 10 enhancement requests for design“.

  1. Subtype of singular type using inside operator and typedef ()
  2. Generalize “?:” operator with “case ?” operator ()
  3. Allow object method calls to be deferred to NBA region ()
  4. Prohibit defparam to elements of arrayed instances, and allow dynamic indexing of arrayed instances ()
  5. Prohibit parameters in subroutines and blocks, and treat parameter keyword there as synonym for localparam ()
  6. Allow member_identifier in lvalue assignment patterns ()
  7. Positional assignment pattern on both sides, ‘{lval1, lval2, lval3} <= '{rval1, rval2, rval3} ()
  8. Type parameter allow as much restriction as a forward typedef ()
  9. `define_system to escape preprocessor into system call ()
  10. Remove ‘generate’ keyword and prohibit ‘genvar’ outside a genvar_initialization ()
  11. Optional compile-time error for unnamed generate blocks of 27.6 ()
  12. Directive to prevent implicit signed to unsigned operand demotion ()
  13. Enumeration method enum() that returns value of enum ()
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