Author's Latest Posts


Designing For The Edge


Chip and system architectures are beginning to change as the tech industry comes to grips with the need to process more data locally for latency, safety, and privacy/security reasons. The emergence of the intelligent edge is an effort to take raw data from endpoints, extract the data that requires immediate action, and forward other data to various local, regional or commercial clouds. The b... » read more

Low Power Meets Variability At 7/5nm


Power-related issues are beginning to clash with process variation at 7/5nm, making timing closure more difficult and resulting in re-spins caused by unexpected errors and poor functional yield. Variability is becoming particularly troublesome at advanced nodes, and there are multiple causes of that variability. One of the key ones is the manufacturing process, which can be affected by every... » read more

The Long And Detailed Road To Automotive Compliance


Compliance with automotive safety requirements is slowing down both innovation and participation by a flurry of startups as the whole ecosystem struggles to bring autonomous vehicles to reality. This is particularly onerous for chipmakers, which face a high bar for IC integrity and reliability. They must meet specifications and be free of design errors. Improper behavior in corner-case s... » read more

Big Shift In Multi-Core Design


Hardware and software engineers have a long history of working independently of each other, but that insular behavior is changing in emerging areas such as AI, machine learning and automotive as the emphasis shifts to the system level. As these new markets consume more semiconductor content, they are having a big impact on the overall design process. The starting point in many of these desig... » read more

Utilizing More Data To Improve Chip Design


Just about every step of the IC tool flow generates some amount of data. But certain steps generate a mind-boggling amount of data, not all of which is of equal value. The challenge is figuring out what's important for which parts of the design flow. That determines what to extract and loop back to engineers, and when that needs to be done in order to improve the reliability of increasingly com... » read more

The Growing Challenge Of Thermal Guard-Banding


Guard-banding for heat is becoming more difficult as chips are used across a variety of new and existing applications, forcing chipmakers to architect their way through increasingly complex interactions. Chips are designed to operate at certain temperatures, and it is common practice to develop designs with some margin to ensure correct functionality and performance throughout the operat... » read more

Memory Tradeoffs Intensify in AI, Automotive Applications


The push to do more processing at the edge is putting a strain on memory design, use models and configurations, leading to some complex tradeoffs in designs across a variety of markets. The problem is these architectures are evolving alongside these new markets, and it isn't always clear how data will move across these chips, between devices, and between systems. Chip architectures are becom... » read more

How To Build An Automotive Chip


The introduction of advanced electronics into automotive design is causing massive disruption in a supply chain that, until very recently, hummed along like a finely tuned sports car. The rapid push toward autonomous driving has changed everything. This year, Level 3 autonomy will begin hitting the streets, and behind the scenes, work is underway to design SoCs for Level 4. But how these chi... » read more

The Other Side Of Makimoto’s Wave


Custom hardware is undergoing a huge resurgence across a variety of new applications, pushing the semiconductor industry to the other side of Makimoto's Wave. Tsugio Makimoto, the technologist who identified the chip industry’s 10-year cyclical swings between standardization and customization, predicted there always will be room in ASICs for general-purpose processors. But it's becoming mo... » read more

The Problem With Post-Silicon Debug


Semiconductor engineers traditionally have focused on trying to create 'perfect' GDSII at tape-out, but factors such as hardware-software interactions, increasingly heterogeneous designs, and the introduction of AI are forcing companies to rethink that approach. In the past, chipmakers typically banked on longer product cycles and multiple iterations of silicon to identify problems. This no ... » read more

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