November 2008


What’s That Echo?


Multicore chips are one piece of the solution to creating chips at advanced process nodes, but they aren’t the whole solution. Don’t take my word for it. The powers that be—very large chip makers with big development budgets—are fretting over the future of multicore programming. The question being whispered is, ‘If it doesn’t work, what then?’ That’s a many-billion-dollar ‘i... » read more

SOI Goes Mainstream


By Ed Sperling The crossover for system on insulator (SOI) versus bulk CMOS was supposed to happen at the 22nm, but that was before software developers ran into problems programming multicore chips. For years, SOI was considered the high-performance cousin of CMOS—more expensive, more difficult to manufacture and unnecessary for most applications. It is the heart of the Cell processor, ... » read more

Better Ways to Connect IP


By Ed Sperling Re-usable intellectual property may sound great on paper, but actually getting pieces to be as interchangeable as Lego parts and automatically configuring them to work in a system on a chip requires more than technology. It requires a leap of faith on the part of chip engineers, and that doesn’t happen overnight. The first step toward providing the tools was creation of the ... » read more

Lead or Follow?


Like it or not, governments are going to be dictating energy policies in the very near future.   The scenario will start unfolding at the data center, make its way down to the device level, and ultimately land at the system level. At the chip design level, the situation will be particularly bad. For one thing, communication from the top never makes its way all the way down the food chain w... » read more

Why Some Tools Stick Around


Getting people to change tools or developing environments is like pulling teeth out of a sleeping crocodile. It’s difficult in the best of circumstances, and dangerous at worst.   The problem seems to be one of stubborn attachment coupled with an investment in training that most companies are unwilling to write off. We’ve seen this problem before, and it’s tough to make it go away. ... » read more

Special Report: Semiconductor Road Map Survey


By Ed Sperling The upcoming semiconductor industry road map, which sets up the industry’s strategy and identifies trends for the next 15 years, is filled with three very interesting shifts and gaps. The road map, which will be formally unveiled next month, consists of findings gleaned from all the top chip companies. Juan-Antonio Carballo, a partner at IBM Venture Capital Group who spea... » read more