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APEC 2014: Watching the Kick-Off

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of guest blogs by Jeff Nilles from Texas Instruments. Jeff will be giving us his observations of APEC 2014 as he tours the conference this week. TI is also running a giveaway for some cool toys and the link to enter the contest is included in Jeff’s report below.

Welcome to APEC 2014! This year we are in Fort Worth. Last year, I wrote a week of blogs recapping APEC 2013 in Long Beach, and this year I am at it again!

I attended my first APEC more than 15 years ago at the Dallas Adams Mark Hotel downtown. It’s hard to believe how much the show has grown. This year I hear the attendance is expected to be nearly 4,000, which is more than quadruple in size since my first show. Next year, APEC celebrates its 30th anniversary in Charlotte. I’m sure we can expect record-setting attendance (and maybe a big bash in the EpiCentre with live music)!

Last night I attended the Student Micro Mouse contest in the Fort Worth convention center. This contest started in New York in about 1978. I heard from UC Berkeley Professor Seth Sanders that when he was at MIT, students would pop over to the contest. In fact, I believe the MIT staff helped run it at the time, and MIT grads are still involved. The point of the Micro Mouse contest is to race a small electronic mouse though a 10-foot square, 16 x 16 matrix maze, as fast as you can.

The true North American base scoring algorithm is to take the time in seconds it takes you to learn the maze, divide that by 30, and add it to your best running time (in seconds). If you do not crash before the start of a run, you get two bonus seconds subtracted from the score. It’s much simpler when they run this race in Japan, because it’s just judged on your best running time. Japan also has a more complex 32 x 32 matrix maze.

Last night we had 13 mice running. I had a chance to talk with male and female members of the team Microtaur from the University of Portland — four undergrads, two computer science and two EE’s (Devon, Devin, Emilia, and Janel). This was their first year at it, so they were still negotiating the learning curve. Their machine did not have a gyroscope (present in the winning entry), and they decided that adding one would make the difference if they entered again. They crashed a few times, so didn’t get too close to the best running time in the race of 6.987 seconds. But they were having a good time anyway.

It seems strange to me, but because of that algorithm that I mentioned earlier, the fastest mouse was not the winner during the scoring. The last mouse, called Tetra, from Japan, did have the faster time of 6.987 second, but the winner was Dao-Hu from the Lunghwa University of Science and Technology in Taiwan.

On Wednesday, during the first technical session in the morning, Intel will present paper 8.1 on the Intel Haswell 140 MHz switching power system. I expect that it will be packed, so I plan to get there early. They are profiling their 22 nm on chip switcher with 31 A/mm2. Then I am popping over to GaN switchers in session 9. There I hope to see Mike Seeman’s technical session T9.3 on a GaN high voltage LLC converter. I’ll share more with you in the next few days as well, so stay tuned.

Enter to win the #TIdoesAPEC giveaway!

If you want to win a Chronos watch or a 94fifty smart-sensor basketball, make sure you enter TI’s #TIdoesAPEC giveaway between now and Friday, March 21, by using the Rafflecopter widget below. As many as 10 entries are available per person. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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