University of Bath designers lead £2m assistive robotics homecare project

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

A consortium of leading researchers, care providers and robotics experts have received a major award of over £2m from Innovate UK to develop a modular robotic solution for the home to revolutionise long-term care by giving people the choice to stay independent in their own homes as they age.

The CHIRON project is developing a connected system of modular robotic components, which can be adapted to different assistive tasks. CHIRON’s various components will be designed to be mixed and matched. This will enable the person using CHIRON to undertake a wide range of domestic and self-care tasks independently, which for some people could mean that their carer would then have more time to spend providing valuable social companionship. The project will create a prototype that will lead to the development of a commercially viable product.

The CHIRON consortium is led by Designability, formerly the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering and now a national charity specialising in assistive technology to enhance people’s lives. The key technology partners are Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and Shadow Robot Company, experts in conducting pioneering research and development in robotics. Award winning social enterprise care provider, Three Sisters Care will bring user-centred design to the core of the project, with Telemetry Associates providing project management support. Smart Homes & Buildings Association, specialists in telecare and assisted living, will bring sector knowledge to the project to support commercialisation.

The project will draw upon the consortium’s expertise of working with end-users, clinicians, and health and social care providers, to develop an effective robotic solution that offers adaptability to a person’s changing needs.

Designability Director, Professor Nigel Harris said: “We are tremendously pleased to contribute to this work, focusing on the Long Term Care Revolution. This project is all about technological innovation and perfectly compliments other work that looks at social innovation.”

New compound semiconductor centre for Wales

January 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult centre to drive innovation in multi-billion pound market.

Compound semiconductors such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) are central to development of the 5G network, new high-efficiency LED lighting, power electronics for the next generation of electric vehicles and new imaging techniques for a variety of uses from security to health diagnostics, with the global market for compound semiconductors expected to be £125 billion by 2020.

The centre is backed by wafer maker IQE and Cardiff University who set up the £20m Compound Semiconductor Centre, which will form a key resource to the new Catapult. The partnership will help transform leading edge research at Cardiff University’s new Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS)  to be built on the University’s new £300m Innovation Campus.

“The launch of the £50m Compound Semiconductor Catapult will help provide the critical mass to launch the first Compound Semiconductor hub of its kind in the World, taking great academic research and seamlessly turning it into high-volume manufacturing, securing a global industrial and manufacturing platform for Wales and the UK,” said Dr Drew Nelson, IQE CEO and President.In November, the Welsh Government announced a £12m funding package to support the construction, fit-out, and purchase of capital equipment for Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS). The UK’s Research Council Partnership Investment Fund has invested £17.3m to support the Institute.

The Catapult for semiconductors will be the 11th Catapult centre. Catapults already exist in:

  • cell therapy
  • high value manufacturing
  • offshore renewable energy
  • satellite applications
  • digital
  • transport systems
  • future cities
  • energysystems
  • precision medicine
  • medicine technologies

They are overseen by Innovate UK and join entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists with state-of-the-art facilities that allow them to create new products and services.

Bristol opens up travel technology with a new open API

January 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Events, News 

A new application programming interface (API) created by Bristol City Council will provide easy and free access to a huge wealth of transport data in one place, making it possible for innovative technologies to be developed.

The Bristol API (Transport) supports the Council’s approach to opening up data sets, as it already does through the Bristol Open Data portal and is being further developed by the Bristol Is Open project. The wider aim is to work with the tech community to explore ways to use and present the data framed around relevant and actual transport challenges in the city.

A transport-themed Challenge Event at Watershed on Saturday 23 January from 10:00-17:30 is offering £1,000 worth of customised app design assets from creative agency Big Mallet for the best application using the API from app and software developers, as well as the broader tech community.

The new web-based service has been specifically designed to provide information such as live bus and train times, stop locations, route maps and other data. Developers interested in building apps, websites, connected devices or even customer information displays will be able to use transport data for Bristol and the West of England region completely free for the next year.

The Bristol API is not restricted to public transport as it also gives instant updates on occupancy in local car parks as well as electric vehicle charging locations. It is currently possible to provide live statistics on bicycle dock availability in London and New York, meaning the API will be attractive to developers who have global success in their sights and further adding to the benefits of The Bristol API.

The council’s City Innovation team appointed UrbanThings earlier this year to develop the API. UrbanThings is the company behind the successful BusChecker app, which has been downloaded more than two million times worldwide and has received significant critical acclaim. The Innovation team are therefore confident that this collaboration will be hugely beneficial for Bristol citizens and businesses.

“The introduction of the Bristol API (Transport) is a huge step for Bristol City Council and could improve predicted timings as well as help with journey planning for the public,” said Stephen Hilton, Director of Bristol Futures. “Using data in this way shows how the council is actively trying to tackle the challenges in the city by collaborating with the tech community and leaders in the industry such as UrbanThings.”

“UrbanThings is delighted to be harnessing the Internet of Things to empower intelligent mobility,” said Director of UrbanThings Carl Partridge. “We were delighted to be selected to provide this cutting-edge API and we’re hoping that developers and engineers are inspired to build some amazing innovations. We look forward to working with them to further enhance the API and help Bristol become a world-leading Smart City.”

 

UK government targets small tech companies in the region for contracts

December 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Collaboration, News 

The UK government is to launch a new framework to allow small digital developers in the regions, especially the SouthWest, to bid for work.  This is a major opportunity for small companies to bid for government contracts, and there is a deliberate focus on regional companies.

In February 2016, the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) will replace Digital Services 2 (DS2) with Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS). All suppliers who are currently on the DS2 framework will need to apply to Digital Outcomes and Specialists, and small suppliers that found DS2 too time-consuming are being encouraged to apply for the new framework.

The aim of the Digital Marketplace is to make the commissioning process simpler, clearer and faster. Buying and selling through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework will reduce the time and cost traditionally associated with procurement and allow buyers and suppliers to talk to each other so they can decide whether there is a good fit.

This will be broken down into four separate categories, the first being suppliers who can provide teams to build and support a digital service.  A digital outcome could be a discovery phase to create an information systems vision of an NHS department. This can include performance analysis and data, security, support and operations, testing and auditing or user research. The second category is Digital Specialists who can work on a service, programme or project. A digital specialist’s work must have deliverables and a defined scope. This could include a business analyst,  content designer or copywriter, cyber security specialist, developer, technical architect or product manager.

The other two categories are aimed at suppliers who can offer user research-related services, from user research studios to user research participants.

One way the application has been simplified is that the majority of the evaluation of suppliers won’t be carried out at the application stage as it was with DS2. As each buyer has specific requirements, they’d prefer to evaluate suppliers themselves. As a result, under the new framework, most of the supplier evaluation will be done by buyers when suppliers respond to a brief for a specific piece of work. However, buyers may use the information that suppliers provide on their services in their application to help them evaluate. There will also not be a cap on the number of suppliers on the framework, so there are significant opportunities for smaller companies in the region to benefit from government contracts.

The draft Invitation to Tender (ITT) documents were published last week (as detailed in the High Tech Newsletter), including the framework agreement, supplier declaration and the service description questions. The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is now open for applications, and suppliers can create an account in the main navigation on the Digital Marketplace homepage.

Bristol Brain smart city visualisation technology proposed…

December 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Bristol is aiming to create a 3D-printed large-scale city model that can have real-time data and sophisticated analytics projected onto it, for example, showing real-time pedestrian and traffic flows; the energy use of buildings or even the air quality at different times of the day or night and at different times of year.
The really ambitious part is to make the model into an immersive digital environment that will use virtual and augmented reality and haptic touch technologies to allow people to ‘leap-in’ to the city model. Bristol citizens will be able to experience new developments before they are built and see how they impact on the city’s systems. This will allow different scenarios for future developments to be explored as if they are real, and for the impact on energy, transport, air quality, noise, light and other factors, to be fully understood.
Bristol is well placed to develop a city ‘Brain’ as a large investment has already been made in hardware and software in Bristol is Open to create a city research and development platform.
Bristol can pioneer this approach thanks to its credentials as a high tech and sustainable city, says Stephen Hilton, Director of Bristol City Council’s Bristol Futures team, with two leading universities and businesses at the cutting edge of developing technologies that utilise data, augmented reality, sensors, analytics, visualisation, virtual environments and interactive digital media.
The project was announced at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, and Bristol City Council is now seeking £10-15m investment to build the full model in such a way that it can be openly shared with cities around the world.

… as Bristol is Open boosts partners

Smart city networking testbed Bristol is Open has added two new partners, bringing projects from Rolls Royce and technology licensing firm InterDigital.
As a Project Partner in the UK’s first interactive Data Dome, Rolls Royce will investigate the use of the fully immersive hemispherical display system in the 100-seat facility, for high-end visualisation of its products and associated big data. The first visualisation is of the Trent XWB, the world’s most efficient aero engine.
“Visualising and creating value from a wealth of data is really important to us, and this partnership provides us with a great opportunity to tap into the Bristol and Bath area’s rapidly growing innovative digital media capabilities. It’s also a great opportunity to engage and inspire young people with immersive sound and vision experiences of our products and show them how exciting engineering can be,” said Paul Stein, Chief Scientific Officer at Rolls-Royce.
Housed inside At-Bristol Science Centre’s Planetarium, the Bristol Data Dome is the only projection environment in the world connected to a city-scale high performance network and a high performance computer and is one of the highest definition digital projection environments in the UK today.
“Our world is overwhelmed by data, making a lot of it inaccessible and unintelligible. Visualising data in a shared environment like the Bristol Data Dome enables people to identify new patterns, and jointly examine new ways of seeing the world, the city, and products and services,” said Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Bristol Is Open. “Rolls-Royce has understood this, and been quick to spot the opportunity the Data Dome provides. We’re very pleased to announce this partnership with them, and to exploring similar partnerships with others.”
Mobile technology research and development company InterDigital licenses key patents for wireless systems and has also joined Bristol is Open.
“Bristol Is Open is an exciting initiative with a vision that aligns perfectly with InterDigital’s 5G and IoT focused research and development efforts. Collaboration on this innovative project serves as another positive example of InterDigital’s strong and open innovation model,” said Alan Carlton, Vice President of InterDigital Europe.

 

What a great year

December 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

The December issue of High Tech News is now out, with the latest news from the Bristol and Bath region and a roundup of some of the key events over the year. This definitely highlights the significant scale of activity here and in the wider area. Sign up for free and download it here .

This has been, on the whole, a great year for technology in the Bristol & Bath region. With new entrants such as Cray and Oracle, large investments in existing startups such as ClusterHQ (p6) and Ultrahaptics (p3), and new venture funds (p3), there is a distinct feel of optimism. All of this is charted in the roundup that starts on page 6 and shows the strength of the technology development throughout the region in the last year.
There have been significant changes though: we had to say goodbye to NVIDIA, and we didn’t win the national centre for smart city research, but this has opened up new opportunities across the region. A new smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol (p4) and new partners for Bristol is Open highlight how strong the technology is in the region, and this was demonstrated at the recent UN Climate Change conference with the launch of the Bristol Brain (p5).
This optimism is also bringing new conferences to the region, with a cloud technology conference called Voxxed days coming to the UK for the first time in Bristol in February (p14).
Awards season is also upon us, and the region is hosting not one but two in the middle of February, with nominations closing in the first week of January. The Sparkies (p14) and the Edge Awards (p15) are celebrating all the great technology, innovation and people in the region, and the emergence of two such award programmes highlights how far the region has come in a few years.
Invest in Bristol and Bath are also looking for Ambassadors region to help boost the profile of the region (p12), and there are opportunities for small companies in the regional to access government contracts thorough a new Digital marketplace (p13). For more information about the High Tech activity in the region, please sign up for the newsletter.

Powering a personal wireless network with urine

December 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Researchers at the the Bristol BioEnergy Centre have used miniaturised microbial fuel cells (MFCs) to power a wireless transceiver with urine.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) replicate biological processes to generate energy, and researchers at UWE in Bristol have embedded the technology in a pair of socks. The key is that the MFC takes in urine and produces enough energy to power a wireless transceiver, creating a personal area network (PAN) link without having to use batteries.  This is the first self-sufficient system powered by a wearable energy generator based on microbial fuel cell technology and the research paper, ‘Self-sufficient Wireless Transmitter Powered by Foot-pumped Urine Operating Wearable MFC’, is published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

The paper describes a lab-based experiment led by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at the University of the West of England. The Bristol BioEnergy Centre is based in Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaborative partnership between UWE and the University of Bristol.

 
Researchers at UWE have developed socks that convert urine into energy to

power a wireless transceiver for a personal area network without batteries

Soft MFCs embedded within a pair of socks was supplied with fresh urine, circulated by the human operator walking.  Normally, continuous-flow MFCs would rely on a mains powered pump to circulate the urine over the microbial fuel cells, but this experiment relied solely on human activity, which is a key step forward (pun intended). The manual pump was based on a simple fish circulatory system and the action of walking caused the urine to pass over the MFCs and generate energy. Soft tubes, placed under the heels, ensured frequent fluid push–pull by walking. The wearable MFC system successfully ran a wireless transmission board, which was able to send a message every two minutes to the PC-controlled receiver module.

“Having already powered a mobile phone with MFCs using urine as fuel, we wanted to see if we could replicate this success in wearable technology. We also wanted the system to be entirely self-sufficient, running only on human power – using urine as fuel and the action of the foot as the pump,” said Professor Ieropoulos. “This opens up possibilities of using waste for powering portable and wearable electronics. For example, recent research shows it should be possible to develop a system based on wearable MFC technology to transmit a person’s coordinates in an emergency situation. At the same time this would indicate proof of life since the device will only work if the operator‘s urine fuels the MFCs.”

The challenge now is how the MFC cells are refuelled with urine.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) use bacteria to generate electricity from waste fluids. They tap into the biochemical energy used for microbial growth and convert it directly into electricity.  This technology can use any form of organic waste and turn it into useful energy without relying on fossil fuels, making this a valuable green technology. Parts of this work were funded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The research is important in other areas of robotics as it would allow autonomous systems to generate power from waste materials to operate for days or even months at a time.

EnSilica sets up design centre in Bristol

October 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Leading UK chip designer EnSilica has set up a new regional office and design centre in Bristol (UK) to be its centre of excellence for analogue design.

The office and design centre will be headed by Nick Weiner, EnSilica’s Director of Analog and Mixed-Signal Design who joined the company earlier in 2015. Well known within the industry as a founder of Bristol companies Phyworks (sold to Maxim in 2010) and Xintronix (sold to FTDI in 2013), Nick has many years of experience in analogue and mixed-signal IC design management and business development. Nick has specialist knowledge in products developed for the fibre-optic communications, including industry-leading FTTH transceivers, 10Gbps transceivers and signal integrity ICs. He will lead the company’s team of Bristol-based design engineers and project support staff.

“The opening of our regional office and design centre in Bristol (UK) is a further strategic step in the ongoing development of our semiconductor design and supply business,” said Ian Lankshear, CEO of EnSilica. “Not only will it bring us closer to customers in the area but it will also further extend our existing turnkey ASIC, FPGA and embedded design capabilities, providing us with a more flexible and scalable analogue and mixed-signal IC design resource for customer projects that require larger teams to accelerate timescales and deal with increasingly complex projects.”

The Bristol office will also support local silicoon comapnies using EnSilica’s IP designs and complements its existing headquarters facility in Wokingham and verification centre of excellence and design centre in Bangalore, India.

Moortec Semiconductor in Plymouth is recruiting

October 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Analogue and mixed-signal IC design company Moortech in Plymouth is looking for a Senior Analogue IC Layout Engineer with a proven track record and a Degree (or equivalent qualification) in Maths, Science or Electronics.

They are also recruiting for a Senior Analogue IC Designer with a Degree or equivalent in Maths, Science, or Electronics.

Great piece on Bristol-based Minirigs in Forbes magazine

October 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Coverage 

A reviewer from Forbes is blown away by the MinRig Bluetooth speaker technology developed in Bristol: http://www.forbes.com/sites/marksparrow/2015/10/12/minirig-portable-speakers-that-are-made-in-england-and-always-will-be/

The company behind the technology were covered in our Music special feature in June.

The MiniRigs Bluetooth stereo speakers and sub-woofer

The MiniRigs Bluetooth stereo speakers and sub-woofer

 

 

October Newsletter out now

October 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition drew global attention to the SouthWest and the tech cluster here, and local tech CEO Rupert Baines draws some key lessons from the event of the summer on page 14 of the latest High Tech Sector Group newsletter.
This comes as Bristol and Bath continues to cement its position as a leading tech cluster in Europe, from the new Cray supercomputer research lab (p2) to recent smart city project wins and a significant bid in the pipeline (p2). The region has a real opportunity to develop the next generation of hardware and software technology for smart living (page 3) both in Europe and around the world. This is boosted by the latest smart home research centre at the Bristol Robotics Lab (page 9) using networking technology from local startup ContinuumBridge. Blu Wireless Technology is also seeing its technology being adopted in multiple projects across Europe (p6).
Quantum technologies continue to be a strong force in the region, with a new deal with Oxford Instruments, another local company, and researchers heading over to see the latest quantum computing technology from D-Wave in the US.
We welcome back the TEDx Bristol conference next month, and are delighted to see the BrisTech developers conference added to the array of technical conferences in the region such as Intelligent Test (page 13). There is also increasing interest in various coding schemes around the city and a need for mentors and volunteers, from Digimakers <local> and Code Clubs (page 12), and GeekGirls are looking at how all this fits together (page 14)

Sign up and download the October newsletter here

 

High Tech June newsletter out now

June 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

The June newsletter for the High Tech Sector group is out now.With a preview of the VentureFest event at the Engineshed on 9th June, the latest in music technology being developed in the region and how the changing landscape of the global electronics industry is changing, there is 16 pages of activity and innovation in the region.

You can download the newsletter here and sign up for regular copies here along with previous newsletters.

Money talks for high speed broadband (but not how you might think)

May 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Events, Exclusive, News 
Claverton01

Villagers in Claverton clubbed together to persuade Openreach to install fibre broadband for them

A tiny village outside Bath has become the first in the country to have high speed fibre broadband installed from scratch.

The village of Claverton has just 70 houses and no broadband infrastructure, so it was not on the list for broadband access, despite being in a valley just a few miles outside Bath and almost next door to the city’s world class university. One of the reasons for this is the financial modelling used by infrastructure provider Openreach, which assumes a 20% takeup of services. The cost of installing fibre across 4km to reach the village for just a few houses was uneconomic.

The residents of the village didn’t take no for an answer, and as this included several technology and telecoms executives and lecturers from the nearby University of Bath they investigated many different options over the last few years, including a mesh  network over the hill to a connection point. Two years ago they started negotiations with Openreach, and part of this was to change the financial model. To do this, the village has partly funded the installation. All the houses in the village were part of the scheme, on the basis of paying what they could afford. Several home-based businesses contributed more, but access was not dependent on the contributions. Instead, this demonstrated to Openreach and service provider BT that the demand for the service was much higher than the expected 20% and as a result reduced the amount the village contributed. However, there was a clear argument that having high speed fibre broadband increased the value of their homes, and so far the uptake is 40% and rising.

Twelve fibres are terminated in this cabinet in Claverton for broadband access

Twelve fibres are terminated in this cabinet in Claverton for broadband access

Twelve fibres were installed on the aerial route alongside the copper phone cable, connecting to a new box in the village with Huawei’s termination equipment. Just one fibre is lit for broadband, and as this is shared between just 70 homes rather than the usual 200 to 300 there will not be a problem with contention. This also leaves the village well placed for the next generation G.fast rollout of speeds of 400 to 500Mbit/s in 2016 and 2017.

“We realised the high costs involved meant Claverton would not be upgraded as part of BT’s normal commercial fibre broadband roll-out for some time, so we set about working with the company to jointly solve the problem,” said Dr Rodger Sykes, chairman of software startup Thalia. “It has been hard work over three years to get to where we are today both for the residents of Claverton and the BT people involved, but we have worked together very well. Claverton residents really appreciate the benefits superfast broadband can bring and are excited at the thought that this project provides everyone in the community with the kind of speeds we could only dream about having in the past. It is significant that almost every Claverton household has made a contribution to the village’s superfast broadband fund. Because of the distance the village is from the local telephone exchange and a roadside cabinet, most residents were previously getting download speeds of less than 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), but now our internet experience has been transformed.”

BT also invested in the project alongside Openreach. “The people of Claverton are true national trail-blazers and are setting the pace for rural communities through their collaboration with BT,” said Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, who was at the village for the launch of the service  “Elsewhere, we’re working in partnership with local authorities and communities to make high-speed broadband available in the more challenging areas of the UK. There are many examples of us doing so, but this is the first village to work with us on creating an entirely new broadband network for the local community. Given the focus on delivering superfast broadband in this region, it is no wonder the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Wellbeing report last year listed the South West as best UK region for household broadband access.”

Meet the man with millions to invest in the SouthWest

May 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

A very interesting interview with Paul Oldham, Bristol-based regional director of the Business Growth Fund which is  funded by the high street banks but independently run.

Some of its key investments have been in tech in the South West such as Corsham-based cloud IT services provider Skyscape (£4 million) and microwave smart antenna designer Sub 10 Systems (£2.5 million) in Newton Abbot. Although Sub 10 merged with Californian Fastback Networks in March this year, the fund has kept its investment in the combined venture. The new HQ will be in California and the Sub 10 site will be the new European headquarters.

Fastback merges with Sub 10 Systems

Source: Biginterview:MeetthemanwithmillionstoinvestintheSouthWest’sgrowingmid-sizedbusinessesBlog

BCS App-a-thon – Guinness World Records Challenge

April 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

BCSWomen, part of the British Computer Society, will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people learning to write Android smartphone applications at the same time on Saturday June 13th from 10.30am. They are getting together with various universities, organisations, companies and local BCS branches to get as many people as possible coding an app.

BCS App-a-thon – Guinness World Records Challenge

CE milestone for Bristol breast cancer detection equipment startup | Bristol Business News

April 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Micrima, the Bristol company developing a safe, low-cost way of improving breast cancer detection, has gained CE marking for its MARIA (Multistatic Array processing for Radiowave Image Acquisition) equipment, paving the way for further clinical trials in the UK and expansion into Europe reports Rob Buckland.

Source: Milestone for Bristol firm developing innovative breast cancer detection product | Bristol Business News

Imagination opens up its MIPS architecture to universities

April 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Imagination Technologies, which has two design centres in the SouthWest region, is opening up its MIPS architecture to universities with the RTL implementation of a simplified microAptiv design.

MIPSfpga gives universities around the globe free and open access to a fully-validated, current generation MIPS CPU in a complete teaching package that can be run in a low cost FPGA. The core is already popular in the PIC32MZ microcontroller from Microchip Technology but access to the detailed RTL – the code that implements the core – can be tremendously helpful for teaching.

CPU architecture is generally taught as part of electronic engineering, computer science and computer engineering courses. Until now, what’s been missing from all of these courses is access to real, un-obfuscated RTL code that will enable professors and students to study and explore a real CPU. RTL code is often hidden, or obfuscated, to prevent it being copied and used in other designs without paying royalties or license fees to the original developer.

How-IP-becomes-silicon

How a design is implemented into silicon

The MIPS architecture was originally developed at Stanford University in the early 1980s. It has been the teaching architecture of choice for decades because of its elegant true RISC design, epitomized by Dr. David A. Patterson and Dr. John L. Hennessy in their book, ‘Computer Organization and Design’, now in its fifth edition.

The MIPS CPU is being offered as part of a complete free-to-download package for universities, together with a Getting Started Guide, teaching guide for professors, and examples designed to enable students to see how the CPU works and explore its capabilities. With the materials, students can develop a CPU and take it through debug, running on an FPGA platform.

This MIPS CPU configuration is designed to run on a low-cost FPGA platform, with guides available for the Digilent Nexys4 platform with a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA, and the Terasic DE2 platform with an Altera Cyclone FPGA.

MIPSfpga is already running in several academic institutions including Harvey Mudd College, Imperial College London, University College London (UCL), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

The variant of the MIPS microAptiv core that is used for MIPSfgpa

The variant of the MIPS microAptiv core that is used for MIPSfgpa

The MIPSfpga CPU and related materials are available for download from the Imagination University Programme website now for first phase users via an application process. Academics can register at http://community.imgtec.com/university.

Phase two, starting in June, will require only a simple click-through agreement. Additional teaching materials are being developed and will be made available later this year.

However, the programme is not entirely open source. For academic users the license is simple: you can use it as you wish, but you cannot put it into silicon. If you modify it, you must talk to Imagination first if you wish to patent the changes. In summary, universities can go as deep as they like under the hood to explore how today’s complex CPUs are built.

Headline speakers for Venturefest announced

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Events, News 

Venturefest has announced the headline speakers for the event on 9th June, with Col Needham, founder and CEO of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Scott Wilcox, the Director of Technology for SXSW Eco.

Col and Scott will be part of a Thought Leadership Conference at Venturefest in the Passenger Shed at Bristol Temple Meads which will highlight the latest developments on key issues affecting innovators and investors.

Col Needham founded IMDb 25 years ago in Bristol before it was acquired by Amazon in 1998. He continues to serve as the founder and CEO of IMDb and is now a key figure in the global film industry.

Scott Wilcox, who has firmly established South by South West Eco as the international conference on the future of sustainability, will be presenting his insights into the latest US and international green technology developments and outlining the opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region. This is a key part of Bristol’s role as the Green Capital of Europe this year.

For further information visit our Venturefest website or follow on twitter @venturefestbb

Rolls Royce transition shows power of high tech

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 
Warren East

Former ARM CEO Warren East takes over at Rolls Royce in July

The appointment of Warren East, former chief executive of chip designer ARM, to head up Rolls Royce demonstrates a key shift in the importance of the high tech industries.

The successor to John Rishton, CEO from 2011 to 2015,  came from an extensive international search and shows the importance of microelectronics and embedded software to Rolls Royce which has a large aerospace base in Bristol. The company doesn’t really sell engines, even though it has a £73bn order book for them – it leases many of them and sells ‘time in the air’ instead. This has meant an increasing reliance on monitoring the engines with sensor technologies, security and global software management. All this maps directly onto the skill set of executives like Warren East. As CEO of ARM Holdings from 2001 to 2013 he helped ARM become one of the world’s leading developers of semiconductors with an outstanding record of innovation and a strong commitment to R&D.

Ian Davis, Chairman of Rolls-Royce, said: “I am very pleased that Warren East will become the new Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce following John Rishton’s retirement. Warren has an outstanding record as CEO of ARM Holdings. He is an engineer by training; he has a deep understanding of technology and of developing long-term partnerships. He has proven strategic and leadership skills in a global business and a strong record of value creation.

Warren East said: “I am delighted to be appointed as Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce. It is well positioned in growth markets, with world class engineering skills and a proud record of innovation and delivery. I have a strong desire to return to an executive position with the energy and enthusiasm a role like this demands. The markets which Rolls-Royce serves and the technology it deploys are fascinating. ”

As well as being a Non-Executive Director of Rolls-Royce, Warren East serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Boards of BT, De La Rue, local engineering company Dyson, US memory chip maker Micron and the UK’s Digital Catapult. His intention is to stand down from all but one of his current roles as a Non-Executive Director, in line with Rolls-Royce company policy.

Rolls Royce employs over 54,000 people in more than 50 countries, with over 15,500 of these being engineers. It also has a Land & Sea division for Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems, where projects such as unmanned, autonomous ships are being developed. In 2014, Rolls-Royce invested £1.2 billion on research and development and supports a global network of 31 University Technology Centres. There are over 1,000 Rolls-Royce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassadors who are actively involved in education programmes and activities, and the company has a target to reach 6 million people through its STEM outreach activities by 2020.

East will be paid £925,000 with share incentives up to £1.6m. While at ARM he had a salary of £500,000 but is reported to have left ARM with 450,000 shares worth £4 million from the group’s long-term incentive plan and deferred annual bonus plan.

FreeRTOS moves onto Tensilica processors for wearables and IoT

April 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

One of the world’s most popular real time operating systems is developed and supported in Bristol and has now been ported to a highly configurable high performance processor for applications in wearable designs and the internet of things (IoT).

FreeRTOS is a popular, scalable, easy-to-use real-time kernel designed specifically for small, low-power embedded systems. According to a 2013 market share study from UBM Tech, FreeRTOS had been selected for 13 percent of embedded projects that utilize an embedded operating system (OS), and is a very popular option for microcontrollers as well as smaller 32-bit processor cores. It has now been ported onto the Tensilica family of configurable processors from Cadence Design Systems. The Tensilica cores are configured from a software tool so they are optimised for a particular application with no wasted resources and can be easily integrated into a System-on-Chip design. The tool also generates the software development environment for the particular core.

“The availability of FreeRTOS on Tensilica processors and DSPs means that Cadence customers now have the option to join the many developers worldwide who already benefit from the ease of use and bullet-proof reliability of FreeRTOS. We look forward to welcoming Tensilica users to our global community,” said Richard Barry, FreeRTOS developer and principal engineer of Real Time Engineers Ltd. FreeRTOS makes it easier for programmers to develop complex real-time software that combines control and DSP threads, and FreeRTOS has specific support for Internet of Things (IoT) applications that helps customers get to market faster. Tensilica processors and DSPs are ideal for wearables and other IoT applications that combine wireless digital signal processing with control. By combining digital signal processing and control, designers can develop lower power, more efficient chips.

www.FreeRTOS.org

 

« Previous PageNext Page »