May 2011


Redefining ‘Good Enough’


The old definition of a good chip was that it could be manufactured with reasonable yield, it was functionally solid, and it performed at least as well as the market demanded. That definition is changing, however. There will always be a difference between ‘good’ and ‘good enough.’ We all want to own the ‘good’ chips in our electronic devices. But what’s noteworthy are the chang... » read more

Power For The Masses


At 90nm, current leakage was something design teams had to consider seriously for the first time. At 65nm, they had to start thinking about various power modes. At 45nm, they had to begin seriously working on new processes, new structures, new verification approaches and a slew of proximity effects they had always assumed were someone else’s problem. At 28nm and beyond, the problem is movi... » read more

IC Yield Issues


What makes one semiconductor design yield better than another. And what issues are we likely to face going forward. Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design questions Amiad Conley from Applied Materials; Cyrus Tabery from GlobalFoundries; Brady Benware from Mentor Graphics, and Ankush Oberai from Magma. [youtube vid=1YjY436YmNQ] » read more

Who’s In Control?


By Ed Sperling A power shift is under way across the SoC world that ultimately determine who wins the business, who gets the biggest share and what technologies are ultimately used to get there. Complexity has reached a point where being able to pull the necessary pieces from a disaggregated supply chain is becoming much more difficult. That helps explain why all three of the major EDA comp... » read more

Infrastructure Needed For The “Internet Of Things”


By Pallab Chatterjee There has been a lot of buzz about the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the world being “constantly connected,” “wireless everywhere” and “ubiquitous connectivity.” These are great ideas and they’re driving the development of mobile and sensor-based devices. However, for the data to show up someplace, whether it is the cloud or a private repository, data netwo... » read more

Tri-Gate’s Fallout


By David Lammers Intel Corp. dropped a rock into the pond of transistor technology when it announced its 22nm tri-gate technology in San Francisco earlier this month. The ripples continue to move out from that event, with impacts on IDMs, foundries, and fabless semiconductor companies being closely studied. Now that Intel has come out of the closet with its tri-gate technology, “the found... » read more

The Upside Of Dark Silicon


By Ed Sperling For many years the real challenge in IC design was in shrinking the components and features on a piece of silicon without burning up the chip or destroying signal integrity. Chipmakers have become quite adept at this over the past few decades. Too good, in fact. Now they are faced with a different kind of problem—what to do with all that extra silicon. Just as the long dist... » read more

The Future Of ASICS In 3D


By Javier DeLaCruz 3D technology is generating a lot of interest as a way to reduce NRE costs and speed time to market. This is still a nascent approach, so people are looking for a single standard in through-silicon vias (TSVs), primarily to reduce infrastructure costs. Unfortunately, I do not think this will be possible. There are at least two fundamentally different applications for 3D t... » read more

The Trouble With Tradeshows


By Kurt Shuler There’s no doubt about it—industry tradeshow attendance is shrinking. If you don’t believe me, just look at the trends for a well-known tradeshow in the semiconductor industry, the Design Automation Conference. I’m not picking on any one show. I’m choosing DAC because I could find audited attendance numbers online for this show. Most other semiconductor industry trades... » read more

Cyclical Behavior


As we head into yet another DAC, this may seem like a bad case of déjà vu. While there’s plenty of new stuff—and even some new companies—there are some key trends that seem very familiar. Here are four to consider: 1. Cloud computing. For anyone who’s old enough to remember time-sharing on university computers, cloud computing should look very familiar. The scheduling is more so... » read more

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