Curriculum for Embedded System

As part of their global effort to create curricula for Embedded Systems, I received a grant from Intel to develop a cycle of learning activities with the DE2i-150 FPGA Development Kit. Two teaching assistants and I will develop courseware to teach undergraduates the key topics of memory organization.

Here is the abstract of the project :

Memory organization is one of the most challenging topics in the Computer Architecture and in the Embedded Systems Design curricula. Not only memory architectures have become more and more complex, but also the students find the conceptual vocabulary in this topic arcane, distant and invisible. Making students “care” about the memory bottleneck is an uphill struggle — they are able to glimpse the importance of the topic, but the details remain unfathomed and, ultimately, disdained. My proposition is to employ the DE2i-150 to motivate and illustrate the theoretical concepts involved in memory organization, and to make tangible the main issues of the topic through performance experiments.

The material will be developed and tested as part of the Computer Architecture course I’ll be teaching to the undergrads in the first semester of 2014. The courseware (in Portuguese) will be publicly available for use and remix by the community.

I thank Intel for the grant, and I thank Rubem Saldanha (Intel) and Sérgio Onaga (Artimar) for guiding me through the process and making this project possible.

Look Inside

Intel Core i7 LogoI really dig Intel’s new take on the “Intel Inside” trademark : it’s clever, it’s inclusive and it’s heartwarming. And I totally get the concept of the notebook satchels they have distributed to the IDF13 participants: outside, the plain black exterior ; but inside, the gorgeous chip die pattern that they use in their new logos. “Look inside.”

But no matter how clever, the ugly bag was doomed to the same fate of all my other conference bags : a few weeks inside a drawer, and finally the dumpster. That until I’ve convinced my mother to use her seamstress talents and, well, turn the “inside” out. You can check the results below :

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you see, it is a little… er… flamboyant — but I love it !

Are we witnessing the death of the Net ?

Experience shows that users put little value upon privacy, and are always willing to trade it for convenience.

But the same might not be true for corporations, when billions of dollars in trade and industrial secrets are at stake. Breaking news suggest that the NSA might be spying on Brazilian oil company Petrobras. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has said that, if proven, that act would be tantamount to industrial espionage and have no security justification.

The breadth of NSA surveillance is largely a matter of speculation, but its legitimacy is becoming more and more indefensible. And the worst might yet be to come,  since Snowden is expected to reveal much damaging information in the next weeks.

Is it possible that at some point, Big Corp will decide to jump out of  good old democratic and chaotic TCP/IP altogether, and move to the safer (?) waters of proprietary communication protocols ? I’m curious.

* * *

I am in San Francisco right now, looking forward to the opening of Intel Developer Forum 2013 tomorrow. I thank Mr. Rubem Saldanha, Manager of Education of Intel in Brazil, for this opportunity, and I thank Intel for generously covering the expenses of this trip.

* * *

The conference has an important track on Security through Architecture (protections to prevent buffer overrun attacks, among others). Those are critical security issues to prevent being attacked from rogue agents, like black hat hackers. I wonder, on the other hand, if corporate consumers will make any pressure to the industry in order to get a modicum of protection against rogue… government programs.