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Rethink, Not Replicate


We should start to call COVID the Great Disrupter. It caused many things to change, ranging from how the industry has been tackling education, to supply chains, the ability to find products in stores, and the pricing and availability of materials, workers, and office space. I can't see anyone fully trusting just-in-time supply chains anymore, even though they sometimes provided financial advant... » read more

Challenges For New AI Processor Architectures


Investment money is flooding into the development of new AI processors for the data center, but the problems here are unique, the results are unpredictable, and the competition has deep pockets and very sticky products. The biggest issue may be insufficient data about the end market. When designing a new AI processor, every design team has to answer one fundamental question — how much flex... » read more

Continuous Education For Engineers


Continuous education is essential for engineers, but many companies don't recognize the value or they are unwilling to provide the necessary resources. This should be a line of questioning before every new hire makes the decision about where they want to work, because it not only affects their future career, but also impacts the value they can provide to that company during the course of the... » read more

Chipmakers Getting Serious About Integrated Photonics


Integrating photonics into semiconductors is gaining traction, particularly in heterogeneous multi-die packages, as chipmakers search for new ways to overcome power limitations and deal with increasing volumes of data. Power has been a growing concern since the end of Dennard scaling, which happened somewhere around the 90nm node. There are more transistors per mm², and the wires are thinne... » read more

Reducing Power Delivery Overhead


The power delivery network (PDN) is a necessary overhead that typically remains in the background — until it fails. For chip design teams, the big question is how close to the edge are they willing to push it? Or put differently, is the gain worth the pain? This question is being scrutinized in very small geometry designs, where margins can make a significant difference in device performan... » read more

Debug: The Schedule Killer


Debug often has been labeled the curse of management and schedules. It is considered unpredictable and often can happen close to the end of the development cycle, or even after – leading to frantic attempts at work-arounds. And the problem is growing. "Historically, about 40% of time is spent in debug, and that aspect is becoming more complex," says Vijay Chobisa, director of product manag... » read more

Pitching To Your Audience


One of the most time-consuming parts of being a journalist is listening to enough people to get all sides of a story. Writing the story is often the easy part. What makes listening more difficult is that there are detail people and concept people, but few that sit in the middle. Some people love to get down into the details about the latest feature they have just implemented in a tool, or wh... » read more

Architectural Considerations For AI


Custom chips, labeled as artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML), are appearing on a weekly basis, each claiming to be 10X faster than existing devices or consume 1/10 the power. Whether that is enough to dethrone existing architectures, such as GPUs and FPGAs, or whether they will survive alongside those architectures isn't clear yet. The problem, or the opportunity, is that t... » read more

Targeting Redundancy In ICs


Technology developed for one purpose is often applicable to other areas, but organizational silos can get in the way of capitalizing on it until there is a clear cost advantage. Consider memory. All memories are fabricated with spare rows and columns that are swapped in when a device fails manufacturing test. "This is a common method to increase the yield of a device, based on how much memor... » read more

Thermal Floorplanning For Chips


Heat management is becoming crucial to an increasing number of chips, and it's one of a growing number of interconnected factors that must be considered throughout the entire development flow. At the same time, design requirements are exacerbating thermal problems. Those designs either have to increase margins or become more intelligent about the way heat is generated, distributed, and dissi... » read more

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