Thursday, 14 October 2010

I have Internet at home again!

It was brilliant, last night I logged into my new apartment's UPC broadband connection. It was incredible, I'd forgotten how great it was to have a decent connection. I've been on the 3 USB dongle for over 2 years now and I was used to it's slow ways and 15GB a month limit. Now I'm on UPC's 15Mb/s with no limit! Incredible! I updated all my games last night, downloaded the latest episodes of Chuck and Castle and then Skyped my lovely girlfriend Ciara for about an hour without any connection issues. I love it!

High and Low Density RAM

I was cleaning my room and I found the High Density DDR2 DIMM's that I bought a while ago. They're 2GB DIMM's they work grand. They just don't work with my PC. I know I've already discussed this before, but I found some new information online explaining why manufcturers make this high density DIMM's in the first place.

Here's a very helpful explanation about High Density DIMM's.

iceblade008 ->
It costs memory manufacturers almost the same to produce Low Density 1GB modules which have 100% compatibility with all systems on the market, comparing to producing high density 1GB modules. So why would manufacturers be so foolish to produce high density 1GB modules which only have 10% compatibility with systems on the market? The reason is simple, because high density 1GB modules are mainly manufacturing process rejects/seconds that cannot be made as a low density modules. It is very much like Intel CPU, those CPU that cannot be made as Pentium 4 CPU become a slower bus Celeron CPU instead, by a down-binning process.

Read the rest of the article on's forums here

Here's my original post about High and Low Density DIMM's

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ski/Snowboard Holiday

Here's a copy of an email I just sent round to my girlfriend's mates. I'm looking to organize a ski/snowboard holiday for a few beginners. Anyone who wants to come along is more than welcome.

Ok guys and girls,

Here's some information and a few basic figures to get the ball rolling and get people interested.

Looking just at (a great snow holiday company, have used them many times before). Andorra will be the cheapest place to go, mid february we should be good for a load of snow as well and it's also a great place for beginners with lots of easy runs and plenty of places to go for the more adventurous. Chamonix and Meribel in France are great places to go as well, Chamonix is more for the advanced but beginners will enjoy themselves there too. With Mt. Blanc towering over the town of Chamonix, it truly is a beautiful place. I haven't been to Meribel or Livigno yet but they are top class resorts as well with plenty of opportunity for beginners and better levels as well. Andorra is the cheapest with regards drinking, socialising and going out for food. Meribel and Livigno would be the most expensive of the bunch.

My preference would be Andorra for most people to start, it's easy going relaxed and it won't break the bank. The prices I've quoted below are a guideline for the moment and are based on 10 people going travelling. If we have more the price goes down, if we have less the price goes up, so keep this in mind and help get the ball rolling on this. I can also work a deal with DirectSki as well as I've worked with them before.

I can also look into getting a chalet all to ourselves for the ultimate in Ski Holiday fun, a wooden house all to ourselves with our own chef, jacuzzi, sauna and other awesome perks. Let me know if you're interested.

If you could email either Ciara or myself and let us know what you honestly think about price, place and what you want out of this holiday and I'll do my best to sort it out and get you involved as best I can.

Location: Frontera Blanca, Pas de la Casa, Andorra (Self-catering)
Date: 19/2/2011
Based on 10 people
Flights, Accom and transfers: €519
All Inclusive (beginners only): Learn to ski pack (Beginner Lift Pass Equipment and School): €265
All Inclusive (intermediate): Ski Pack Intermediate (Area Lift Pass Standard Equipment and School): €280 (OPTIONAL)
Total: €784 (€799 intermediate)

Location: Residence Les Balcons d'Anaite, Chamnix, France (Self-catering)
Date: 19/2/2011
Based on 10 people
Flights, Accom and transfers: €569
Ski Stuff: Standard Ski and Boots (6 days): €80
Lift Pass: Chamonix Local Pass (Chamonix Valley Argentier and Les Praz only) (6 days): €205
Lift Pass: Mont-Blanc Unlimited (Area) (6 days): €250 (OPTIONAL)
School: Ski School (Half Day) (6 days): €190 (OPTIONAL)
School: Ski School (Half Day) (4 days): €145
Total: €999 (€1044 with unlimited access to Mont-Blanc area)

Location: Le Grand Chalet, Meribel, France (Self-catering)
Date: 19/2/2011
Based on 10 people
Flights, Accom and transfers: €569
Lift Pass: 3 Vallees Area Pass (6 days): €235 (OPTIONAL)
Lift Pass: Meribel Local Pass (6 days): €191
Ski Stuff: Standard Ski and Boots (6 days): €80
School: Ski School Mornings (5 days): €156
Total: €1096 (€1140 with unlimited access to Mont-Blanc area)

Location: Casa Pozzi, Livigno, Italy(Self-catering)
Date: 19/2/2011
Based on 10 people
Flights, Accom and transfers: €679
Lift Pass: Livigno Area Ski Pass (6 days): €190
School: Ski School Beginners only 3 Hours per day (6 days): €112
Ski Stuff: Ski and Boot Hire Standard (6 days): €86
Total: €1067

Here's a little about me, I've been on 12 Ski holidays since 2001, I've snowboarded in many resorts, including St. Anton (Austria), Chamonix (France), Morzine (France), Les Deux Alpes (France), Alps D'Huez (France), Pas de la Casa, (Andorra), Soldeu El Tartar (Andorra) and Pal Arinsal (Andorra). I know majority of the resorts inside and out, both on-piste and off-piste. Have helped create, market and run the Snowboarding Club in DCU for many years organising more than 70 people each year on one huge holiday to various resorts. So hopefully I'll be able to make sure you have the best time either as your first time or return to the slopes.

If requested, I can get results from Panorama, HighLife, RudeChalets, CrystalSki, TopFlight to compare. I can also look into going to Austria, Switzerland (very expensive!!) and Bulgaria (expensive flights over, but food and drink is cheaper!)

Hope that helps, let me know what you think.

Mike P. O'Keeffe BEng

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Handy Decoupling Design Tools

Found these tools from manufacturer's websites regarding capacitor choice and getting their respective ESR, ESL and other necessary values.

Check out Murata's Chip S-parameter & Impedance Library

Check out Kemet's Spice software

AVX have their own site as well, but the programs aren't as good

Yageo (acquired Phycomp in 2000) have their own version as well, this gives a lot more information

Of all of them, I found Murata's tools to be the easiest to use, find and download. Kemet's are good as well and I found AVX's software tools to be a little harder to use than the others. Murata's tool allows you to enter a valid order code and you can extract details from that straight away, very handy indeed.

If anyone knows of any other manufacturer's that have these tools available online, please let me know, am trying to build up a helpful and handy database.

Take it easy.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Just found this article on Light Peak from Intel, looks pretty cool. Sounds like Intel are holding back on the whole upgrading to USB 3.0 as they claim when LightPeak comes along, it can operate over the same USB port, but operating over 10Gbps over fibre optic cables. Now that'll kick the copper cables outta here.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Cycled to work again today

I cycled for the second time into work today. I've got to admit this time wasn't half as hard as the first time. I think I still have a few more adjustments to the bike to make it easier and more comfortable.

I bought a gel seat cover and it made some difference, my butt isn't as sore, but it still hurts a little. I'm slowly getting fitter. I figured I had to cycle today after my poor attempt at the gym, last night. I showed, got to the changing rooms and then went straight for the jacuzzi, steam room, then home again. It was nice and relaxing and I had a good think about this whole going back to college thing.

I have a better idea of what I want to learn now. I'd like to focus more on Linux and Windows programming in the following languages C, C++ and Visual Basic(optional). Maybe throw some assembly in there. Basically more of what I did in college.

I had a look at some of the courses that DCU, ITB, DIT and other colleges offered and they have a load of modules that just wouldn't interest me or aren't focusing on the right areas for me.

Anyways, enough from me. Back to work, take it easy and have a good weekend everyone :D

Friday, 16 July 2010

Up to my tonsils

Sorry I haven't been blogging in a while, I'm still alive and well and trying to blog more. Quick update on everything at the moment.

Had a savage party last week in our place in Donabate, it was pissing rain and windy, but we still camped in the garden, had the bbq, had a few drinks and loads of people showed up, it was amazing. Thanks to everyone who came.

I finally got in on the Cycle to Work scheme and I'm currently awaiting my voucher so I can go and collect my bike. Will let you all know how that goes.

Currently, I'm looking into doing a post-grad course, not sure if I want to try get into Computer Science conversion course or enhance my skills in the electronics side.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention I've moved out to Donabate and I'm loving it. So glad I'm out of Ballymun, I'm glad we experienced it and I'm glad I'm finished with it now. Onwards and upwards.

I'm heading to Glasgow next weekend with my good mate Padraig. We're going paintballing in a seriously cool looking place, check it out

Until I get more time to blog properly, laters.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Phoenix EBSF training completed

I'm now fully trained to work on Phoenix Technologies Embedded BIOS with StrongFrame Technology. I just finished the short two day course in which myself and two other colleagues learnt all about writing, creating and debugging our very own embedded BIOS program. It seemed very straightforward and in theory a simplistic and well laid out method for customising a BIOS for an embedded system. There is of course limited functionality compared to the SecureCore Tiano, but there is still plenty of functionality and enough for what embedded space is looking for. I think there's a couple of hundred different modules that can be incorporated in the embedded space whereas SecureCore covers a couple of thousand modules and a much stronger BIOS.

I've already worked on two of my own BIOS's for customers but after this training I should be able to complete my work much faster and in a much more controlled and more efficient manner. I'm currently looking into Microsoft's Simple Boot Flag for a project I'm working on. Basically this flag forces the BIOS splash screen on the video output until Windows sets this flag. This can be useful in a number of different situations.

The course covered some PCI architecture, memory mapping, e820 tables, a brief introduction to ACPI and the various methods for debugging the board. With regards debugging there is a lot of functionality and various outputs to help get a board working to meet the customers requirements.

I look forward to working on more Embedded BIOS now as I can practice my new-found skills.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Phoenix Embedded BIOS Training

I've just finished preparing for my Embedded BIOS Training which starts on Monday. It's a two day advanced training course which will allow me to succesfully create, debug and modify BIOS code.

I've done some work with embedded BIOS before but it was only very basic stuff, so I'm hoping to improve my skill set and learn more things here, which will make me more useful and less expendable to the company.

Will tell you more shortly about how it's going.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Command & Conquer 4 and it's DRM!

I'm sick of Command & Conquer 4, ever since the word go, I've been kicked in the shins, punched in the stomach and suffered crazy headaches (metaphorically of course, except for the headaches). After being ripped off by GameStop and customs, having to pay a whopping €80 in total for a game that is now being sold off the shelf in HMV for €22.99!! less than 7 weeks after release! I'm seriously not happy with EA. They have completely ruined this game for me.

Leaving aside for the moment, the fact they've changed the command & conquer series completely with it's completely different gameplay, lack of decent music and a storyline that bores me to tears, I can barely even play the game now because of EA's rash decision to use DRM (Digital Rights Management) software in the game which means that I must be online at all times for me to play even in a single player mission.

I was trying to get over the difference in gameplay and accept it for what it is, I was trying to ignore the crappy plot which seemed like it was going nowhere until near the end of a difficult mission's third attempt a prompt pops up and tells me "You're internet connection has not been found, any progress you make in the game will not be saved!". Are you kidding? Seriously?

Now I'm not a huge fan of purchasing music or movies as a lot of them are crap and I prefer to make sure they're of decent quality before I buy them. But I love purchasing games and their add-ons. This kind of behaviour from EA actually encourages me to get the hack and illegal copies of their stuff. I just found out that Assassin's Creed 2 has the same software feature so guess what, I will be finding an alternate route to getting this eagerly anticipated game and not paying EA to take advantage of me and my inconsistent internet connection. EA, I've been a huge fan for years, but you've really messed up this time!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Some Car Maintenance

As I'm planning on getting a new car this summer, I've decided I'm going to give my Micra a bit of a checkup and some repair and maintenance.

Over the last few weeks I've been fixing up the car and making necessary repairs. So far I've replaced the windscreen wipers, the front right fog lamp, strengthened the front bumper after I wrecked it last year. I had to pop rivet a few aluminium bars behind the bumper to give it greater stability and to straighten it out. I've also replaced the air filter and the oil filter. Replacing the air filter was a simple job, but the oil filter was not as simple. With the help of my younger brother Evan, we removed and refitted the new oil filter, but we got covered in the dirty oil that we had to drain from the engine. It was the darkest dirtiest sludge I've ever come across. It was blacker than a pair of priests socks and we all know how black priests socks are.

Anyways, all that I have left to fix on the car now is to fix my driver side wing mirror. It got damaged while driving the back roads one day and now I can't adjust it, apparently that's reason enough to fail my NCT.

With regards a new car, I'm looking to getting a Volkswagen Golf for under €2000 if that's possible. I'm tired of having a toy car, I want a real car, something a bit beefier and I just love the Golf's, I always have.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

TechOnline's Fundamental's of Embedded Test

Got an email today from TechOnline, included a great link for fundamentals of Embedded test with respect to hardware debug. hopefully I can squeeze it in during the day and mark it down as training. Looks and sounds very interesting.

Fundamentals of Embedded Test: Hardware Debug

To any of you out there reading this, I seriously recommend joining TechOnline's website and checking out the online courses and webinars. They are really useful in a wide range or hardware, software and mechanical engineering disciplines.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Won the lotto and moving out

So I won the lotto! Now in fairness I only won 5euro but that's more than I've ever won. After paying 4euro on a ticket, getting 5euro back is nice enough for me. All in all a net gain of 1 euro. Whatever shall I do with it, the list is endless. It's the little things like this that make me smile.

We also gave in our notice (my girlfriend and myself) yesterday to our landlord and said we're moving out in a month. Now in fairness when we sent him the message, we hadn't got a clue where we were going to go. Next thing ya know, I get a call from one of my good friends who lives out in Donabate, who had made a previous offer to me to house sit for him while he goes off travelling for a few months. He's looking for us to stay start of May till end of September, what are the chances that they match exactly what we weer looking for? How sweet is that?

Sometimes I think I really am a jammy git!
So Donabate here we come for a couple of months, bbq's, parties by the estuary and long summer evenings, it will be the life!! The two of us are so excited, we can't wait :D

Friday, 2 April 2010

April Fools Day

I had a great day yesterday. I pranked a load of people, I even got pranked myself. I fell for it hook line and sinker. It was great. It's been a while since someone actually got me proper.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Cycle to Work Scheme

Was in Duff Cycles there in Omni over the weekend and I think I'm going to get myself another bike. I used to cycle a lot when I was younger and I miss it loads. Unfortunately I spent some money on two really good bikes and both of them got stolen, locks snapped and left as a reminder.

Anyways, they mentioned the cycle to work scheme, where your employer purchases the bike and you buy it off your employer. Essentially this means you don't pay any tax on the bike. Now I haven't asked our accountant here yet on the whole thing. But they claim you can save up to 50% off the bike. Which is very nice for someone like me who wants to spend about 500-600euro on the bike alone, before all the added extras.

The main types of bikes I'd be interested in are the Trek, Specialized and Giant models. I've had a Trek and Specialized before and really enjoyed riding both of them.

Of course, I'll have to wait until I move out of the 'Mun, don't think I'd have my bike long if I did that.

Here's a site on the biketowork scheme

and Duff Cycles Omni

Friday, 5 March 2010


Just found this online, sounds mental! (literally :P)

Monday, 1 March 2010

TechOnline and Lenten Update

I decided to sign up for a few different newsletters like Embedded Systems Design from TechInsights. I got an email from them about a week ago and they'd linked a site from TechOnline with a load of free online courses. These are incredible. I recommend anyone who's into hardware engineering in anyway to check it out.

Here's the link: TechOnline Free Online Courses
The courses are presented by representatives that have been in the industry for a long time and from the big companies like Intel, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices and International Rectifier to name but a few.

So far, I've already watched the Fundamentals to FPGA's and the Fundamentals of x86 Architechture. I was very impressed by both and it's really helped me understand more of what I'm doing here in work.

So far so good. I haven't played any games or had any chocolate. I'm missing the games big time though and I'm going a little mad, especially since Bioshock 2 was released there last week. That game truly looks amazing. Even though I've also heard that it doesn't quite live up to the first game. Either way, I'd love to play it.

Take it easy guys, feel free to comment your thoughts below or if there's anything you'd like me to cover.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Lent and giving up stuff

So it's Lent now. Since I enjoyed Pancake Tuesday so thoroughly with the expense of not going to the member's information evening for Engineer's Ireland. I forgot that Lent starts the next day on Ash Wednesday. Needless to say I didn't get my forehead smudged with ash, not that I would have made any effort to have got it done anyway. I figured I may as well do something christian and productive and I've decided with my girlfriend that I'm going to give up a few things. I haven't decided what I'm going to take up as well now, but here's what I'm giving up.

  1. Chocolate (the sweet lady here is going to be so upset and probably put out of business here)
  2. Smoking (I know, you thought I'd given up, but I keep doing it when I have a few pints!)
  3. Playing games (this is the hardest of them all, I love my games, I don't know if I can really give this one up, it's just too hard and I've too many to finish!)
So that's the deal. It's going to be a hard 40 days!

BEWARE: Halifax Account Phishing

Just got a phishing email from the following:

Does this mean that the ITPEC organisation in Asia is responsible?
I dunno, but whatever you do, DO NOT enter your details into this FAKE login page!!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The day after Pancake Tuesday

Right, well I was supposed to go to the Engineer's Ireland member's information meeting yesterday. Needless to say I didn't go. I had a chat with a colleague here in work, he informed me that Engineer's Ireland is geared more towards civil and constructional engineering rather than Electronic Engineering. I don't think I want to pay for membership to receive periodicals on how to mix cement and lay tarmacadam. When will I ever use that?

So instead, I went home, made pancakes and read my VHDL book. Much more productive I think. See my recipe blog at Pyrolith's Recipes!

I've decided I'm going to join the American IEEE instead. They seem more geared to my industry and they have a lot more information and benefits for joining. All I hope I can do now is get the company to pay for my subscription. Now that'd be nice alright.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Pancake Tuesday

Yay Pancakes!
I hope I get a chance to eat some pancakes today. Busy day today.

Heading to the Engineer's Ireland Information meeting tonight. I'm looking to find out what are the advantages of being a member.

When: 16/02/2010
From 6.00 PM until 8.00 PM
Where: Engineers Ireland
22 Clyde Road
Dublin 4

For more information regarding this event please visit:

By the way, lemon and sugar pancakes all the way!!

Monday, 8 February 2010

AdSense gone, blog writing for company

I've removed AdSense after reading in an article about blogging. Apparently the whole adverts on your blog make it look tacky, unappealing and cheap. Never thought of it like that, on a second look though, my page looked like all those without the ads in the first place. So I figured, remove it, give the page a chance.

I'm currently writing up some draft information for writing for my companies blog site. We've currently got nothing at the moment. Hopefully I can write enough information each week to keep any readers that we may get interested. My only worry is the sensitive nature of writing a company blog. Can't go saying anything that could harm our reputation, while at the same time, not making blatant lies about how amazing we are. There's nothing wrong with a few delightful adjectives around the place, in moderation of course. Will post up the link here if I get it and my proposal is accepted and when it is posted up online.

Hopefully I'll get more readers and experience in this whole blogging phenomena and may even do this blog up properly as well. Sure we'll see what happens.

Take it easy out there in the blogosphere ;)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Channel Interleave and Rank Interleaving

Been having a look into Channel and Rank Interleaving. Check out the explanations below for further explanations of what they are. (Explanation copied from

Channel Interleave: Higher values divide memory blocks and spread contiguous portions of data across interleaved channels, thereby increasing potential read bandwidth as requests for data can be made to all interleaved channels in an overlapped manner. For benchmarking purposes when using three memory modules, a 4-way interleave may surpass the scoring performance of setting 6-way interleave depending on the benchmark and operating system used (32-bit vs. 64-bit). We did find however that a 6-way interleave was capable of a higher overall BCLK for Super PI 32M than using a 4-way interleave setting (unless of course you run single- or dual-channel and appropriate channel interleaving thus decreasing load upon the memory controller).

Rank Interleave: Interleaves physical ranks of memory so that a rank can be accessed while another is being refreshed. Performance gains again depend on the benchmark in question. For 24/7 systems using triple-channel memory configurations there is no advantage to setting this value below 4 while Channel Interleave should be left at 6 for best overall system performance.

The rest of the memory parameters pretty much default to optimum levels; moving away from these values can in some instances make matters worse in terms of system stability rather than performance. The current BIOS defaults are just about optimal for most overclocking. The highest performance advantage comes from changing the primary memory timings. There's little to no gain in fiddling with any of the secondary timing ranges, other than moving tRFC out to a value of 88 or more if running 12GB (6x2GB) of memory.

So to conclude, Channel and Rank Interleaving settings should be enabled and set to the highest on the board as possible for the greatest memory performance. Nuff said :D

SPD Data

Had a late night here in work last night and tried to get to grips with SPD Data. When I say SPD data, specifically I'm talking about the SPD data for DDR3 DIMM's. What's SPD data you say? It's a table of the timings and settings saved in an EEPROM on the DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) module itself. SPD (Serial Presence Detect) is usually a small EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) usually an Atmel 24C02. This is a 2Kb part 8 pin SOIC (Small Order Integrated Circuit) which is enough to store all the settings for your DIMM module.

Using the SPD Tool I mentioned in my last blog entry, you can customise the exact timings on your DIMM, unfortunately though at the moment, it only supports DDR2 and below. The other way to do it is through your BIOS.

Here's a great website which explains each byte in little detail. You can work it out from there. It covers DDR3, DDR2 and the older DDR.

There's also a few interesting publications in there about how DDR3 memory works and an informative one on how to reball and recover DDR2 memory chips. Obviously the tools used in reballing are only used in manufacturing plants, but it's still interesting to see.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

SPD Tool

Found an interesting tool for reading SPD data from your DIMM's on your PC. Was looking for a tool that could do this for a system we're working on, however it doesn't support DDR3 or ICH10 access at the moment, so until then I'll have to find another way to access this information.


If anyone has a tool or knows of a tool for reading or writing SPD data for DDR3 DIMM modules, supporting an ICH10? I'd be very very appreciative!

Created a small RS232 Transceiver yesterday

On a current project we're working on, we had a serial port output which came from the BMC, but there was no RS232 to level shift the TTL levels. In this design, the RS232 transceiver is on the adjoining system which connects to this serial port.

So for testing purposes, to test this serial port we needed to either invest in a special cable with it all built in or make one ourselves from locally available parts. Unfortunately we weren't able to wait for the arrival from Farnell of the USB to TTL cable from FTDI (TTL-RS232-3V3). So I drove down to Maplin and picked me up a small Maxim RS232 transceiver (MAX3232CPE), 5 0.1uF ceramic disc caps and a male and female serial port header. Back in the labs, I snapped off a bit of unused bread-board, soldered in the part, cut the tracks beneath the device to isolate the pins on either side. Attached the 0.1uF caps, wires and I got 3V3 from the front of a capacitor on the actual system itself. Attached the thing up and lo and behold... it didn't work :(

I had the TX and Rx the wrong way around. I was using a crossover cable which swaps the Tx and Rx when going from my device to the Host PC. Once swapped, the yoke works proper. I haven't tested to see how clean the signals are yet, but it should work like a beauty.

The easy part was knowing where to hook up the caps and what to solder to where, it's all freely available on Maxim-IC's website MAX3222-MAX3241 DATASHEET (PDF).
See page 12 for the exact circuit I used. If using a different input voltage to 3V3, then check out table 2.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Reading the IPMI Spec

I'm currently trying to read the IPMI specification so that I can re-program a Serial EEPROM over I2C. I think I'm using an IPMB command to do so. I connect over the UART and login to the BMC using hyperterminal. Now our BMC code hasn't been finalised yet so it may or may not work. I'm hoping that I can figure out the commands as it would really save time and work if I could program the devices this way instead of removing the device, programming it using an external programmer and then soldering it back onto the board.

Unfortunately we don't have an in-circuit programmer as this would be very useful indeed. I figure that this way I learn how to access something and gain knowledge on a subject I have never touched before. Another notch in the belt as you may say.

What a great week!

In work terms, this has been a great week. I'm on top of my game on nearly everything I've done. I found a solution to one of our Infiniband issues we've been having trouble with all week. I've successfully reworked a number of boards back into good working health and I'm unofficially referred to as the Mellanox expert. I'm on a roll. Now if I could only fix this one last board before the weekend, it truly will have been a great week.

I haven't seemed to have any luck with writing to the Serial EEPROM over the BMC interface yet. Will have to figure that all out from the IPMI Specifications as to how to write the commands correctly into the device. I'd be happy just being able to read the device at the moment.

Unfortunately topping this week, next week is going to be a real challenge. I'll have to work extra hard.

Also this week, I've purchased two new books from

So I hope to get my butt in gear and get learning Verilog and VHDL so I can finally read and understand the code they use here and I can debug the boards completely, looking at timing relationships and the signals as they bring up the board.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Good luck to Vlad

All the best to Vladimir Zaytsev, one of our BIOS engineers who is top of his game. He's moving to California to join a startup company and live with his girlfriend in Los Angeles. He is a great engineer and he will be missed here in the company.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Intel's Embedded Design Center

Awesome, I just got private access to Intel's Embedded Design Center. It truly is incredible. Am currently watching a TechTalk video for an introduction to signal integrity. Basically it explains the important factors on using an Intel reference board design and what considerations to note down when deviating from the current tested design.

I'd highly recommend gaining access to this site as it seems to be quite an incredible tool to use.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Intel sites for embedded computing

Intel came into us yesterday for an overview and roadmap presentation. We work a lot with Intel and I found this extremely useful. It is interesting to see what upcoming products they have and the support they have in place for helping with current products.

Two very helpful websites are and The Ark site is helpful for translating codes on their devices into specific data relating to the device itself. IF for example you are working on a project with an as of yet unreleased Intel device with a specific codename and then it is released into production, this codename will no longer be used. But using Ark you can find out the exact details regarding this product. is the Embedded Design Center for Intel and it contains a number of blogs, forums and access to a wide range of technical datasheets and information regarding the use of their products and what they support.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Driver Robot

This is a nifty little tool I found while performing IPL's (Initial Product Launch) on the systems we have here. Basically it scans your PC and records the Device ID's, stores these in a database. If you're connected to the web, then it will show you which drivers to download, thus sorting out those horrible exclamation marks in Device Manager. If you're not connected to the web or you're trying to install device drivers for your ethernet controller, it stores the information in a simple html file which you can then copy to a system connected to the net and it will show you which drivers and files to download to resolve those uninstalled device drivers.

Check it out, tis pretty cool.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Useful sites as a Hardware Engineer

While at work, I'd use a number of different websites to help me find out what I need or how I can find it out. Enough can't be said for just googling what you're looking for. Wikipedia is full of useful information as well, for example RS232 pinouts, acronym descriptions and details.
If you're having specific trouble with finding information on a component, check the manufacturer's website, more often than not, they have all the information you need.

I've listed below a few simple enough websites which I use on a day to day basis and they're very useful and easy to use.

Mega Converter
Handy tool for converting measurements, I usually use it for naming footprints for IC's.

Standard Resistor Value Calculator: 1%, 5%, 10% - EIA: E12, E24, E96
This is a handy tool to look up what resistance values are possible with regards tolerances.

For parts ordering, I'd recommend the following
Radionics, based in Rialto, ship same day, cheap enough, however they don't have the best range of components. Very handy if you need something quick and they have it. Website is easy to use.

Farnell Electronics Ireland, these guys have a great range of components and tools. They're fast and efficient, but slightly more expensive. They lack access to datasheets or specific details on the components but trying to find what you need is easy enough.

DigiKey Corp., based in the US, these guys have everything, even the most obscure of stuff. They are fast and efficient. Shipping usually costs a bit more because they're based in the US and setting up an account makes it a little more difficult if you're just buying for personal use. Other than that, Digikey make life so much easier. For every component, they provide easily accessible datasheets and nearly all the information you need.

Mouser Electronics, UK based company, I've not used these guys all that much, but they do have a great selection of components and would be on my list of vendors for purchasing components.

For Learning, I'd recommend the following A website designed to help learning C or C++. Understandable C and C++ programming tutorials, compiler reviews, source code, tips and tricks.

Circuit Design Lab, a handy website to help you brush up on basic circuit design with java program to help demonstrate change in circuits.

Prentice Hall Interactive Online Resources, includes complete training courses and CD's for purchase.

I can't think of anything else off hand now, but this looks good for the moment. I think I'll post up a useful programs post next.

List of commonly used manufacturer sites include:
Advanced Micro Devices
Analog Devices
Atmel Corporation
Integrated Device Technology
Linear Technology
Maxim IC
Silicon Storage Technology
ST MicroElectronics
Texas Instruments