Surprises At Hot Chips 2016

Who would have thought an Intel architect would be on stage talking about cutting pennies out of MCU prices? Or that Nvidia would be trumpeting an automotive SoC whose chief performance advantages come from the integration of ARM CPUs that can support up to eight virtual machines? Or that Samsung would be developing a quad-core mobile processor from scratch based on its own unique architecture?... » read more

Stepping Back From Scaling

Architectures, packaging and software are becoming core areas for semiconductor research and development, setting the stage for a series of shifts that will impact a large swath of the semiconductor industry. While there is still demand from the largest chipmakers for increased density at the next process node, the underlying economics for foundries, equipment vendors and IP developers are f... » read more

Building Faster Chips

By Ed Sperling and Jeff Dorsch An explosion in IoT sensor data, the onset of deep learning and AI, and the commercial rollout of augmented and virtual reality are driving a renewed interest in performance as the key metric for semiconductor design. Throughout the past decade in which mobility/smartphone dominated chip design, power replaced performance as the top driver. Processors ha... » read more

Foundries Expand Their Scope

By Ed Sperling & Mark LaPedus Major foundries are stepping up their offerings across a wide swath of technology nodes, specialty processes and advanced packaging—a recognition that end markets are fragmenting and that the path forward includes a mix of new and established processes. As the smart phone market flattens, there is no single "next big thing" to drive volume at the most ... » read more

How Many Cores? (Part 2)

New chip architectures and new packaging options—including fan-outs and 2.5D—are changing basic design considerations for how many cores are needed, what they are used for, and how to solve some increasingly troublesome bottlenecks. As reported in part one, just adding more cores doesn't necessarily improve performance, and adding the wrong size or kinds of cores wastes power. That has s... » read more

Is 2.5D Cheaper?

For the past several years, as 2.5D was being tested, the most common response from chipmakers and tools vendors was that the interposer used to connect various die in a package was far too expensive. It was basically the same argument as mask costs are rising too high to continue building complex planar SoCs at 16/14nm, or that FD-SOI is more expensive than bulk silicon at 28nm. The critici... » read more

What’s Next For DRAM?

The DRAM business has always been challenging. Over the years, DRAM suppliers have experienced a number of boom and bust cycles in a competitive landscape. But now, the industry faces a cloudy, if not an uncertain, future. On one front, for example, [getkc id="93" kc_name="DRAM"] vendors face a downturn amid a capacity glut and falling product prices in 2016. But despite the business chal... » read more