Power/Performance Bits: April 25


Thermal diode Engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed a nano-thermal-mechanical device, or thermal diode, which uses heat as an alternative energy source that would allow computing at ultra-high temperatures. "If you think about it, whatever you do with electricity you should (also) be able to do with heat, because they are similar in many ways," said Sidy Ndao, assistan... » read more

Cloud Computing Chips Changing


An explosion in cloud services is making chip design for the server market more challenging, more diverse, and much more competitive. Unlike datacenter number crunching of the past, the cloud addresses a broad range of applications and data types. So while a server chip architecture may work well for one application, it may not be the optimal choice for another. And the more those tasks beco... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: April 18


Cooling hotspots Engineers at Duke University and Intel developed a technology to cool hotspots in high-performance electronics. The new technology relies on a vapor chamber made of a super-hydrophobic floor with a sponge-like ceiling. When placed beneath operating electronics, moisture trapped in the ceiling vaporizes beneath emerging hotspots. The vapor escapes toward the floor, taking hea... » read more

The Hunt For A Low-Power PHY


Physics has been on the side of chipmakers throughout most of the lifetime of [getkc id="74" comment="Moore's Law"], but when dealing with the world outside the chip, physics is working against them. Pushing data at ever-faster rates through boards and systems consumes increasing amounts of power, but the power budget for chips has not been increasing. Could chips be constrained by their int... » read more

The Hidden Costs Of Security


There is no argument these days among chipmakers that security needs to be implemented at every level. So why isn't it happening? The answer is more complex than companies pinching pennies, although that is certainly a factor for some chips. The reality, though, is security carries a price for every facet of semiconductor design—power, performance and area. And the impact reaches much furt... » read more

Understanding Voltage Drop Mechanics


As a fundamental concept of electronic design, voltage drop ranks highly as one to understand well. I particularly appreciate when industry folks come up with creative ways to get the point across. Jerry Zhao, a product management director at Cadence and I were discussing how to best manage dynamic and static voltage drop, but I first asked him to explain the difference between the two. I p... » read more

The Efficiency Problem


The field of automotive automation has been the driver – so to speak – of the next leap of innovation in the field of transportation. Car architectures are being re-engineered to take advantage of incredible leaps in automation, using more powerful processors that process more data than ever before. The recent focus on autonomous automobile technology could be due to the ongoing drop in ... » read more

Understanding SerDes Signal Integrity Challenges


Signal integrity (SI) can perhaps best be defined as a set of measures of the quality of electrical signals, which are subject to the effects of noise, distortion and loss. Additional signal integrity issues include jitter, ringing, crosstalk, ground bounce and power supply noise. There are multiple factors that can negatively influence signal integrity, thereby causing errors and system fai... » read more

The Problem With Clocks


The synchronous digital design paradigm has enabled us to design circuits that are well controlled, but that is only true if the clocks themselves are well controlled. While overdesign techniques ensured that to be the case in early ASIC development, designs today cannot afford such luxuries. As we strive for lower power and higher operating frequencies, the clock has become a critical desig... » read more

Creating Reliable SoCs For Safe ADAS Applications


Every major automaker is in the process of bringing out autonomous vehicles with ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems). In addition to processors and embedded software, ADAS requires a variety of sensors – ultrasonic, camera, RADAR (radio detection and ranging), LIDAR (light detection and ranging), GPS and IR (infrared) – that are used to recognize signs, people, animals, other vehicles... » read more

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