May 2016


Manufacturing Bits: May 31


Superconducting magnets The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) has broken another world’s magnet record. This time, MagLab broke a record for a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) coil operating inside a high-field resistive magnet. With the technology, the agency achieved a magnetic field of 40.2 teslas. The previous record was 35.4 teslas. Tesla, or T, is the measuremen... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: May 31


Solar thermophotovoltaics A team of MIT researchers demonstrated a device based on a method that enables solar cells to break through a theoretically predicted ceiling on how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. Since 1961 it has been known that there is an absolute theoretical limit, called the Shockley-Queisser Limit, to how efficient traditional solar cells can be in their ... » read more

System Bits: May 31


In automaton we trust? It is widely believed that there are two kinds of robots: friendly and helpful; or sinister and deadly. But do humans place too much trust in robots? According to the work of Harvard University senior Serena Booth, a computer science concentrator at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the answer is as complex and multifaceted as robots themsel... » read more

Electromigration: Not Just Copper Anymore


While integrated circuit manufacturers have worried about electromigration for a long time, until recently most of their concerns have focused on the on-chip interconnects. The larger dimensions found in integrated circuit packages have, in most cases, improved heat dissipation, reduced current density, and eliminated most [getkc id="160" kc_name="electromigration"] risks. Over the last sev... » read more

The Week In Review: IoT


Tools Mentor Graphics rolled out a tester for thermal reliability of electric and hybrid vehicles during power cycling. The tester is the first of its kind. Deals Rambus signed a deal with Eurobank Poland for a cloud-based mobile payment system. The deal involves Secure Element in the Cloud software from Bell ID, which Rambus acquired in January. Eurobank Poland has more than 1 million cus... » read more

Preparations for DAC


The 53rd DAC is just days away now and the program is pretty well established at this point. It is returning to Austin after a couple of years in San Francisco. In 2013 it was held in this location for the first time and there was a herculean effort to bring the local design community to the event. They did amazing well and while attendance fell slightly compared to the previous year in San Die... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


Fab tools Thermo Fisher Scientific and FEI have announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved Thermo Fisher’s acquisition of FEI for $107.50 per share in cash. The transaction represents a purchase price of approximately $4.2 billion. In a video, Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S, recaps the emerging mask and lithography trends presented at the recent Photomask Ja... » read more

The Week In Review: Design


Mergers & Acquisitions Synopsys made a couple of announcements this week related to its TCAD business. First, they acquired Gold Standard Simulations, which clearly became a major factor in the release of a pre-wafer simulation solution to help semiconductor manufacturers reduce process node development time. The new solution aims to provide a comprehensive process, transistor and circui... » read more

What Will China Do Next?


China's attempts to buy up U.S. chip companies is undergoing more gyrations, this time spurred by the exchange rate set by the People's Bank of China and the U.S. Federal Reserve's expected interest rate hikes. The central bank dropped the exchange rate of the yuan versus the dollar to its lowest rate since 2011, according to Bloomberg. The current rate is now 6.55 yuan per dollar, compared ... » read more

The Mightier Microcontroller


Microcontrollers are becoming more complex, more powerful, and significantly more useful, but those improvements come with strings attached. While it's relatively straightforward to develop multi-core microcontroller (MCU) hardware with advanced power management features, it's much more difficult to write software for these chips because memory is limited. CPUs can use on-chip memory such as... » read more

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