RAM for Free

Novel data compression doubles the memory in embedded systems while hardly slowing them down

9 min read
Illustration data compression
Illustration: Emily Cooper

“Give us a reading on the 1202 program alarm,” radioed Neil Armstrong to Mission Control in July 1969, seemingly about to lose his famously cool demeanor. He was busy trying to steer his spacecraft to the first-ever manned landing on the moon and was worried that this error message from his guidance computer meant serious trouble.

Fortunately, a young computer engineer at Mission Control had the insight to realize that this error was not as ominous as it seemed, and on his signal the Apollo 11 landing went forward. Within hours of the astronauts’ safe touchdown, it became clear what had happened: the lunar module’s rendezvous radar had remained switched on during descent, when only the landing radar was needed, and the craft’s navigation computer had become overtaxed trying to process radar data from the two sources. The system’s programmers had, however, built in a fail-safe mechanism that would shed the less critical tasks so that the computer could do its main job.

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Sleep Can Keep AI From Catastrophic Forgetting

New data-replay strategy prevents AI amnesia

3 min read
silhouette of head laying down with abstract colorful towers inside
iStock

Neural networks can achieve superhuman performance in many tasks, but these AI systems can suddenly and completely forget what they have learned if asked to absorb new memories. Now a new study reveals a novel way for neural networks to undergo sleep-like phases and help prevent such amnesia.

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7 min read
A collage of 9 photos of robots, including quadrupeds robots, wheeled robots, and drones.
IEEE Spectrum (Robots: Companies)

It’s been a couple of years, but the IEEE Spectrum Robot Gift Guide is back for 2022! We’ve got all kinds of new robots, and right now is an excellent time to buy one (or a dozen), since many of them are on sale this week. We’ve tried to focus on consumer robots that are actually available (or that you can at least order), but depending on when you’re reading this guide, the prices we have here may not be up to date, and we’re not taking shipping into account.

And if these robots aren’t enough for you, many of our picks from years past are still available: check out our guides from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. And as always, if you have suggestions that you’d like to share, post a comment to help the rest of us find the perfect robot gift.

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Fourth Generation Digitizers With Easy-to-Use API

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1 min read

In this webinar, we explain the design principles and operation of our fourth-generation digitizers with a focus on the application programming interface (API).

Register now for this free webinar!

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