Author's Latest Posts


Penetration Tests, Prison Security, And Mothers


There is always an interesting sounding presentation at RSA that looks like it might be a good blog post topic just based on the title. This year it was "I Had My Mom Break Into A Prison Then We Had Pie" by John Strand of Black Hills Information Security. A pen test is short for a penetration test. They can take various forms from trying to log in to a system they shouldn't, to trying to g... » read more

Moore And More


For more than 50 years, the semiconductor industry has enjoyed the benefits of Moore's Law — or so it seemed. In reality, there were three laws rolled up into one: Each process generation would have a higher clock speed at the same power. This was not discovered by Moore, but by Dennard, who also invented the DRAM. Process generations continue to get faster and lower power, but the power... » read more

Signal Integrity Through The Years


Yesterday, I started to talk about how new technologies find their way over time into EDA tools in my post How Technologies Get into EDA. Let's look at signal integrity as an example. We used not to worry about signal integrity at all. The first time anything like that impinged on my consciousness was in the early 1980s when we realized that we needed to start to consider the inductance... » read more

Open Source Faces Challenges In 2020


I recently wrote a couple of posts about open-source EDA tools, OpenROAD: Open-Source EDA from RTL to GDSII and 2nd WOSET Workshop on Open-Source EDA. I have also written about open-source in general, as an approach to development and an approach to business in a post from over four years ago that I think stands up well: The Paradox of Open Source. The reason I called it a paradox is that ... » read more

System-in-Package For Heterogeneous Designs


System integration is increasingly being done using 3D packaging technologies rather than integrating everything onto a huge SoC. One motivation is the ability to not just to split up a design in a single process, but to package die from different processes. Sometimes there are economic reasons. Several presentations at HOT CHIPS had a partition of the design into the processor itself, and a... » read more

Getting To Orbit And The Rocket Equation


The Apollo 12 mission recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Launching on November 14, 1969 and returning on November 24, it put humans on the Moon for the second time. I wrote about Apollo 11 (mostly about its guidance computer) earlier in the year in my post The First Computer on the Moon. Today's post is about the rocket equation, and how challenging it is to get into orbit around th... » read more

Technological Dead Ends


Sometimes something comes along that looks like it is a portent of things to come, but then turns out to be a technological dead end. For example, in the 1990s, it seemed that you couldn't go to the mailbox or rent a video without getting an AOL CD offering a free trial. They were even in some cereal boxes. It was the era of the 56Kb dialup modem, and AOL's walled garden was king as everyone we... » read more

Mary Jane Irwin Receives The Kaufman Award


Mary Jane Irwin just got back from a cruise around the Greek islands with her husband of 53 years to celebrate being the first woman to receive the Kaufman award. When I wrote my post The 2019 Kaufman Award Goes to Mary Jane Irwin about her receiving the awards last week, I mostly just used the boilerplate biographical information from the press release. But that's rather dry, so I called her u... » read more

Is it Hot? Ask Joules


Over the last decade it has become clear that power reduction techniques involving different parts of the chips would become more important than they had historically. In 2G cell phones everything except the real-time clock could be turned off when the phone was not in use. Pre-smartphones, a phone was either making a call (or texting, gaming, etc.) or it was off. In fact, a cell phone can’t ... » read more