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Cloud-based Electronic-Design Tools Gain Traction

Lay out circuitry in the cloud with Upverter

4 min read
Cloud-based Electronic-Design Tools Gain Traction
Photo: Randi Klett

Suppose you want to create an electronic circuit and a corresponding printed-circuit board for it. What software will you use? Unless you already have a favorite, it might be hard to decide: There’s a dizzying array of options, ranging from free software typically targeted at students and hobbyists to multithousand-dollar packages used by professionals. The possibilities have grown even wider recently with the addition of Web-based tools that allow you to edit schematic diagrams and lay out printed-circuit boards in a browser, without downloading and installing any software at all.

If you weren’t aware of these cloud-based electronic-design aids, your reaction might be similar to what mine was initially: incredulity. The disadvantages of using software that runs in the cloud are obvious enough. For one, you need to have a good Internet connection to get any work done. Of more concern, though, is the danger of being locked into a single software-as-a-service provider, especially if it experiences a prolonged outage, or worse, just ceases to exist.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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