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Hate Verilog? Detest VHDL? You're not the only one. Xilinx rolls out easier-to-use free FPGA programming tools after developer outcry


Where life is on the line - the medical biz - you'd hope that somewhat more care was taken than for some social media "killer app" (could be a vain hope of course).

Not so vain. I've got friends in the medical device biz, and coworkers who used to work at the biggest names in the biz, and I can say that the amount of care they take is both amazing and frustrating. From architectural chip sims where even changing the slightest thing requires approval from 3 levels of management, to simulations where even 9-sigma design margins have to pass, to years and years of measuring lead wire designs in various configurations, aging conditions, etc are required.

We'll turn a new chip in 9 months in a new technology and get something to work and release it a couple of months after that.

It'll take 7+ years to make the smallest change to a pacemaker, much longer if there's any change to something like the silicon inside it. And you know, I think I like it that way.

But there are times that it's frustrating to see how conservative the FDA is. There are biohackers who are taking old Medtronic insulin pumps, rooting them, then connecting them to blood sugar monitor watches and making an "artificial pancreas" where the monitoring a correction of blood sugar is automatic and far superior to the way things are done now (not controlling blood sugar well leads to damage that accumulates over time, and the closed loop feedback minimizes time that blood sugar gets too high, as well as eliminates the risk of it going too low and the person going into shock or a coma, which is even more dangerous) . In fact, one of the board members of the JDRF, the main Type I diabetes research foundation, does just that and is extremely pleased with the results. But Medtronic and the other manufacturers are moving very, very slowly on that path because of the FDA and concerns that they would be "practicing medicine" if they do more than provide information and be far more liable if something went wrong. The engineers would like to get a prototype system out there for those willing to take a chance, but the regulatory system and management are pretty firmly against it. Management is mostly doctors, and the regulators want well structured test groups, double blind studies, constant monitoring, human subjects regulations followed, etc. In other words, it'll be a long, long time before the public gets something through them, rather than engaging in the hacking subculture now going on in the diabetes community.

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