China: Fab Boom or Bust?


China’s semiconductor industry continues to expand at a frenetic pace. At present there are nearly two dozen new fab projects in China. Whether all these fab projects get off the ground is not entirely clear because the dynamics in China remain fluid. What is clear is the motivation behind this building frenzy—China is trying to reduce its huge trade imbalance in ICs. The country continu... » read more

Antenna Design Grows Up


Apple’s iPhone 4 antenna issue represents a classic example of what can go wrong in modern antenna design. Put one in the wrong place, and a seemingly insignificant part can turn a cool new product into a public relations nightmare. Ever since antennas dropped out of sight, most consumers don't give them a second thought. In the 1960s, almost every home had a rooftop antenna. Fast forward ... » read more

What Does An AI Chip Look Like?


Depending upon your point of reference, artificial intelligence will be the next big thing or it will play a major role in all of the next big things. This explains the frenzy of activity in this sector over the past 18 months. Big companies are paying billions of dollars to acquire startup companies, and even more for R&D. In addition, governments around the globe are pouring additional... » read more

Battling Fab Cycle Times


The shift from planar devices to finFETs enables chipmakers to scale their processes and devices from 16nm/14nm and beyond, but the industry faces several challenges at each node. Cost and technical issues are the obvious challenges. In addition, cycle time—a key but less publicized part of the chip-scaling equation—also is increasing at every turn, creating more angst for chipmakers and... » read more

Devices Threatened By Analog Content?


As the amount of analog content in connected devices explodes, ensuring that the analog portion works properly has taken on a new level of urgency. Analog circuitry is required for interpreting the physical world and for moving data to other parts of the system, while digital circuitry is the fastest way to process it. So a sensor that gives a faulty reading in a car moving at high speed or ... » read more

Betting On Wafer-Level Fan-Outs


Advanced packaging is starting to gain traction as a commercially viable business model rather than just one more possible option, propelled by the technical difficulties in routing signals at 10nm and 7nm and skyrocketing costs of device scaling on a single die. The inclusion of a [getkc id="202" kc_name="fan-out"] package for logic in Apple's iPhone 7, based on TSMC's Integrated Fan-Out (... » read more

China Unveils Memory Plans


Backed by billions of dollars in government funding, China in 2014 launched a major initiative to advance its domestic semiconductor, IC-packaging and other electronic sectors. So far, though, the results are mixed. China is making progress in IC-packaging, but the nation’s efforts to advance its domestic logic and memory sectors are still a work in progress. In fact, China has yet to achi... » read more

The Multiplier And The Singularity


In 1993, Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist and science fiction writer, first described an event called the Singularity—the point when machine intelligence matches and then surpasses human intelligence. And since then, top scientists, engineers and futurists have been asking just how far away we are from that event. In 2006, Ray Kurzweil published a book, "The Singularity is Near," in whic... » read more

Performance Increasingly Tied To I/O


Speeding up input and output is becoming a cornerstone for improving performance and lowering power in SoCs and ASICs, particularly as scaling processors and adding more cores produce diminishing returns. While processors of all types continue to improve, the rate of improvement is slowing at each new node. Obtaining the expected 30% to 50% boost in performance and lower power no longer can ... » read more

CEO Outlook: Chip Design 2017


After two consecutive flat to slightly down years, the semiconductor industry is poised for growth in 2017. Cowan this month predicted 4.7% growth in semiconductor sales in 2017, while World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) put that figure at 3.3%. And last month, International Business Strategies (IBS) pegged the number at 4.6%, according to statistics compiled by the Global Semiconduc... » read more

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