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After the successful Tensilica Day at Hanover University last year (presentations, blog), it was quite a no-brainer to suggest having another one year later. To make an appealing program is already harder, but the Institute for Microelectronic Systems at Hanover University and Cadence Academic Network made sure that around 70 registries didn’t regret their attendance. The day started with a presentation from Senior Application Engineer Manager Marcus Binning about Instruction Set Extensions for Tensilica processors via TIE language, which allows optimize the processor for the algorithms, the processor is supposed to execute.
The next highlight was having company Espressif from China, whose IoT board ESP8266 is getting extremely popular in maker community. The new generation is ESP32. High integrated PCB with all kind of wired and wireless interfaces and Tensilica L106 processor, which contains 2 cores and can be programmed with Arduino Development Suite, for around $10. Jeroen Domburg, who is Technical Marketing Manager was kind enough to bring 100 boards over from China and distribute it to the attendees. I’m quite sure that next year the demo corner will be full with demos, what can be done with such kind of boards.
Talking about demos. Microsoft is the current winner of the AR race, their HoloLens are so far ahead of the rest of the market that they just announced that the next version of HoloLens will be available only in 2019, only then they expect the competition to catch up with the current version. And indeed the experience of trying out a HoloLens is really really impressive. A quite important part of HoloLens architecture are the 24 customized Tensilica processors, which are responsible for recognition of environment, so that objects like star-ships in the demo stick to the walls and the player can escape the fireballs.
The second part of the workshop was dedicated to academic and industrial use cases of Tensilica and other ASIPs. Open Source Hardware is certainly a topic, which is interesting for universities, so Stefan Wallentowitz from Free and Open Source Silicon (FOSSi) Foundation presented the status of open source processors and the replacement of OpenCores through LibreCores. Several presentations were focusing on using Tensilica in automotive environment, watch out for an announcement from company called DreamChip and Cadence at MWC in Barcelona.
Full agenda can be found here, the presentations will be released here, the next Tensilica Day details are here.