EEVblog Electronics Community Forum

EEVblog => The AmpHour Radio Show => Topic started by: lgbeno on April 11, 2013, 08:20:03 pm

Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on April 11, 2013, 08:20:03 pm
Has anyone had a chance to listen to the latest amp hour?  Just wondering what do you think of ViaDesiger?

www.viadesigner.com/theamphour
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: JoannaK on April 12, 2013, 12:09:50 am
It seems quite interesting idea, making the mixed signal wafers like 90% ready beforehand. The product designer creates the final touches using the development package (with simulations etc) and result is some kind of semiasic.

All in all, as far as I can see. This system ain't so much hobby level tool since the chips must be finished at the factory and are not user (re)programmable. If they manage to make OTP or ISP versions it'll become much more interesting.

Their design software seems to be based on Mentor platform, so I'd espect the simulation tools to be up to spec. I have no idea though how much the real goodies (chips) are going to cost. The price of the dev tool is important of course, but the production run will most likely be way too expensive (unless making some super-funded Kickstarter campaign) for any individual/hacklab etc.

Note: I have not downloaded the software yet. At the moment I don't think I had any really good reason to do so.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: free_electron on April 12, 2013, 12:42:43 am
That's probably the triad guys.

Could be nice.. Anyone want to build our open source 81/2 digit multimeter frontend ?
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: ivan747 on April 12, 2013, 09:01:31 am
I only received a 1 month trial even though the official post says I get a year free  :-//
I really need a whole year to make use of this software. It's not like you design ASICs in a week.  :--
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: Harvs on April 12, 2013, 09:41:45 am
I only received a 1 month trial even though the official post says I get a year free  :-//
I really need a whole year to make use of this software. It's not like you design ASICs in a week.  :--

But really what use is even a year unless you're planning on buying it at the end.  You'll end up investing a heap of time into a platform that you can no longer use at the end of it.  :--
Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on April 12, 2013, 01:15:19 pm
Wrt the 1 month trial, I guess that it will be renewed after the month expires.  I think it would be cool to do the smm project.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: JoannaK on April 13, 2013, 09:01:47 pm
That's probably the triad guys.

Could be nice.. Anyone want to build our open source 81/2 digit multimeter frontend ?

Hmm.. Idea ain't bad, but I'm not sure if those parts could reach that kind of accuracy. Of course, there would be need for external temp compensated voltage reference, but for 8 digits display one needs to have quite low noise opamps and A/D converters.

As far as I looked the site, there were very little (public?) information of the parts contained on those semiasics. Also the routing matrix will most likely cause limitations to system S/N ratio.

(ballbark math)
8 Digits is about 2^28 ... Not an easy task to make front end, S/H and A/D conversion, not at all.

Note though: I'm not analog design engineer, nor don't have relevang experience, so I may will be totally wrong here.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: ChrisGammell on April 21, 2013, 05:19:46 am
Joanna's math is right, as is her assessment. There is zero chance you'd be able to get 8.5 digits out of a single chip, esp one off the shelf. As someone who worked with/near 7.5 digit ones a lot, let me tell you there is a LOT of magic going on in there. And who needs 8.5 digits anyway? Most of the time, 5.5 is more than enough.
Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on April 22, 2013, 01:02:09 pm
Don't know too much about this architecture but it really does sound like a challenge. 

How is it usually accomplished?  I would imagine the signal is split between a few different adcs to cover the msb's and then another signal path with more gain to cover the lsb's?  Very low sample rate as well.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: Dataforensics on April 26, 2013, 10:39:13 am
I only received a 1 month trial even though the official post says I get a year free  :-//
I really need a whole year to make use of this software. It's not like you design ASICs in a week.  :--

I emailed them about this and received a reply stating that they will be sending a separate key file for people that used the Amp Hour discount code. This file will give twelve months. Which actually means you get a total of thirteen months.

Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: ChrisGammell on April 27, 2013, 12:46:37 am
8.5% more freeness! Yay!
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: free_electron on April 28, 2013, 01:42:40 am
. Of course, there would be need for external temp compensated voltage reference,
external ref, yes.

my idea would be the sampler, integrator with cap,  comparator , matched current sources and nulling system in the semicustom chip. The control logic would be outside in a cpld or fpga.

The converter would be a dual slope architecture so no mucking about with thousands of opamps.
A unity gain buffer (chopper stabilized). An analog switch and cap. Another buffer , an integrator with cap , some more analog switches and two current sources that derive from the external reference.
The key is the integrator and the comparator.

The rest is logic.

Short integrator cap. Close sample switch.
Connect known source to integrator. Release short.  Wait preset time.(external logic)
Close to preset time (t-1) : Open sample switch
At preset time: switch from known source to the sampler output and time (external logic)
When comparator toggles (zero detector): end run.
Apply compensation math and conversion is done.

This is how all these high precision machines like a 34401 and 3458 work.

Might be worth a try.
Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on May 01, 2013, 04:34:54 am
Very cool ideas, anyone want to try it out?

I decided to start my own design of a pulse oximeter in ViaDesigner.  Project log is here:

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php?topic=16472.msg225529#msg225529
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: ChrisGammell on May 01, 2013, 12:36:12 pm
Very cool ideas, anyone want to try it out?

I decided to start my own design of a pulse oximeter in ViaDesigner.  Project log is here:

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php?topic=16472.msg225529#msg225529 (http://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php?topic=16472.msg225529#msg225529)

Awesome idea! I'll definitely be watching the progress!
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: JoannaK on May 02, 2013, 01:23:19 am
. Of course, there would be need for external temp compensated voltage reference,
external ref, yes.

my idea would be the sampler, integrator with cap,  comparator , matched current sources and nulling system in the semicustom chip. The control logic would be outside in a cpld or fpga.

The converter would be a dual slope architecture so no mucking about with thousands of opamps.
A unity gain buffer (chopper stabilized). An analog switch and cap. Another buffer , an integrator with cap , some more analog switches and two current sources that derive from the external reference.
The key is the integrator and the comparator.

The rest is logic.

Short integrator cap. Close sample switch.
Connect known source to integrator. Release short.  Wait preset time.(external logic)
Close to preset time (t-1) : Open sample switch
At preset time: switch from known source to the sampler output and time (external logic)
When comparator toggles (zero detector): end run.
Apply compensation math and conversion is done.

This is how all these high precision machines like a 34401 and 3458 work.

Might be worth a try.

It makes sense, since the measurement time is not too critical.. But that would need nearly ideal (zero leak) opamps  and S/H circuit. I have no skills on AD conversion building so I can't tell if these chips are even close the requirements wanted for 8-digit system.. but even getting homebuild 5 or 6 digit would be a lot.

One thing that's worth to notice at the Viadesigner, is the target chips are made on numerous varian processes (feature size, factory etc) so it'll be real hard to tell which one of them (if any) is suitable for this application.

What I'd like to do (If I had $$$ etc) woudl be using either external ยต-controller (or internal softcore) for measurement/data conversion. Of course the integrator-counters could be hard logic, but the software should be used for tuning, scaling and data trasmission.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: JoannaK on May 02, 2013, 04:51:44 am
I decided to give it a spin, but..

Quote
System Requirements

    Windows 7
    5G Bytes of free disk space
    2G Bytes of memory

Has anyone tested this on older (like Vista) systems? I have no intent to upgrade OS to this old (2008?) computer and quite frankly idea of messing around with Mentor-like llicense systems and installers is not my favorite so I'd rather be sure the software does work at least somewhat before I start doing installations.

Yeah.. I should really upgrade this PC.. well, it's not happening anytime soon.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: mrflibble on May 03, 2013, 11:18:00 am
Stupid question: is there any documentation one can read regarding the primitive building blocks? Would be nice to be able to read some specs on for example a programmable current source. Without having to install software & making random guessed based on simulations I mean.

What I could see on the website was all rather simulation centric. Not so much "see, this is our cool silicon!"
Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on May 16, 2013, 01:27:24 am
Sorry everyone, I haven't been in the forum in awhile.  I'll look into the Windows Vista thing and see if it works.

With regard to the pulse oximeter project.  it's coming along but haven't posted anything yet unfortunately.

Triad is starting a new community at ViaDesigner.bloomfire.com, I uploaded some screencasts there and will continue to do so.  Would be great to hear feedback about it.  My goal is to do short videos about various topics, so far there is one on fft's, creating VHDL models and importing scope data into ViaDesigner.
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on May 16, 2013, 01:44:14 am
Stupid question: is there any documentation one can read regarding the primitive building blocks? Would be nice to be able to read some specs on for example a programmable current source. Without having to install software & making random guessed based on simulations I mean.

What I could see on the website was all rather simulation centric. Not so much "see, this is our cool silicon!"

Not a stupid question, there is some documentation available, its just not easy to find at the moment:
http://support.triadsemi.com/viadesigner/viadesigner-wizard-datasheets/ (http://support.triadsemi.com/viadesigner/viadesigner-wizard-datasheets/)

 
Title: Re: ViaDesigner
Post by: mrflibble on May 17, 2013, 09:22:42 pm
Thanks. In the meantime I did find those pdf's for the wizards. It was better than nothing but not entirely what I was hoping for. Still it was enough to get some idea of what to expect, without having to install the software. Together with the absence of easy to find pricing information that actually was enough for a decision. Conclusion: this get-your-custom-via-layer stuff is definitely starting to look interesting, but not quite there yet to be hobby-level friendly. Please check again next year.
Title: ViaDesigner
Post by: lgbeno on May 18, 2013, 11:09:42 pm
I agree it's not ready to start churning out chips quite yet but the simulator is really good.  My opinion it's much more powerful than LTspice because it is mixed signal and faster.  It also makes modeling your plant easy so it's a full system level simulation tool.

Anyway, thanks for taking a look and I'm sure that there will be a ton of improvements in the next year!