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A Minimal RISC-V


Microcontrollers exist in almost everything, but can RISC-V satisfy the needs of this market? Is it small enough to replace 8-bit processors? What might help people migrate to a more modern processor architecture? RISC-V defines a 32-bit processor instruction set architecture (ISA) that is open source and free to be implemented in any number of ways. It is touted for being a very small and e... » read more

Is Programmable Overhead Worth The Cost?


Programmability has fueled the growth of most semiconductor products, but how much does it actually cost? And is that cost worth it? The answer is more complicated than a simple efficiency formula. It can vary by application, by maturity of technology in a particular market, and in the context of much larger systems. What's considered important for one design may be very different for anothe... » read more

Industry Transforming In Ways Previously Unimaginable


Early in the year, everyone expected that the availability of COVID vaccines would signal the start of a return to normal, but that has certainly not been the case. Now the industry is taking a longer-term view about how to transform business, what is necessary for people to maintain their mental health, and how to create robust hybrid work environments for the future that do not discard the po... » read more

The High But Often Unnecessary Cost Of Coherence


Cache coherency, a common technique for improving performance in chips, is becoming less useful as general-purpose processors are supplemented with, and sometimes supplanted by, highly specialized accelerators and other processing elements. While cache coherency won't disappear anytime soon, it is increasingly being viewed as a luxury necessary to preserve a long-standing programming paradig... » read more

The Past Predicting The Future


It is often said that you cannot predict the future by looking at the past, but that isn't always correct. There are many clues provided by digging into change. Those changes are a prelude to what may happen in the future. One way we can do that here at Semiconductor Engineering is by looking at changes in reading habits. What types of articles are attracting the most attention? This is a sure ... » read more

The Return Of DAC In-Person


Apart from masked faces everywhere, you could be excused for not knowing that there was a pandemic going on. Sure, the numbers were down, the show floor was smaller, and most of the parties didn't happen, but everyone was so happy to be able to bump elbows with their colleagues. Buttons were available for attendees to show the level of comfort they had with various types of greetings, from "... » read more

Amdahl Limits On AI


Software and hardware both place limits on how fast an application can run, but finding and eliminating the limitations is becoming more important in this age of multicore heterogeneous processing. The problem is certainly not new. Gene Amdahl (1922-2015) recognized the issue and published a paper about it in 1967. It provided the theoretical speedup for a defined task that could be expected... » read more

Missing Interposer Abstractions And Standards


The design and analysis of an SoC based on an interposer is not for the faint of heart today, but the industry is aware of the challenges and is attempting to solve them. Until that happens, however, it will be a technique that only large companies can deploy because they need to treat everything almost as if it were a single die. The construction of large systems uses techniques, such as ab... » read more

Product Lifecycle Management For Semiconductors


Product lifecycle management (PLM) and the semiconductor industry have always been separate, but pressure is growing to integrate them. Automotive, IIoT, medical, and other industries see that as the only way to manage many aspects of their business, and as it stands, semiconductors are a large black box in that methodology. The technology space is driven by a mix of top down and bottom-up p... » read more

Structural Vs. Functional


When working on an article about PLM and semiconductors, I got to review a favorite topic from my days in EDA development – verification versus validation. I built extensive presentations around it and tried to persuade people within the EDA industry, as well as customers, about the advantages of doing a top-down functional modeling and analysis. The V diagram that everyone uses is flawed and... » read more

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