The Chiplet Option


All of the leading chipmakers, foundries and OSATs are now working with some sort of advanced packaging. The next step is to add some consistency to those efforts to be able to assemble chips much more quickly and inexpensively. DARPA has been promoting chiplets as the best way to solve this problem, and for the military, this is a pretty logical choice. With a push toward heterogeneity in c... » read more

Systems Of Packages


The shift from IP blocks to subsystems, with pre-integrated and pre-verified IP, has never lived up to the initial hype. That doesn't mean the concept isn't valid, though. The problem with subsystems, as originally conceived, is they were far too limited for widespread adoption. When this idea first began surfacing in the early pat of the Millennium, this all made sense because the number o... » read more

Packaging Enters New Phase


The race is on to make advanced packaging less expensive than shrinking everything down onto the same die—much less expensive, in fact. Following several years of speculation and rather shaky market predictions at the beginning of this decade, packaging houses and foundries spent the last four years proving that packaging really does provide a viable alternative to shrinking die in terms o... » read more

Re-Using IP In Packaging


For the past decade, the promise held forth by advanced packaging was that it would allow chipmakers to mix and match analog and digital IP without worrying about the process node at which they were developed or the physical interactions between components. This is a big deal when it comes to analog. Analog IP doesn't benefit from node shrinking the way digital logic does, and in many cases ... » read more

Focus Shifts To System Quality


For the past decade, many semiconductor industry insiders predicted that software would take over the world and hardware would become commoditized. The pendulum seems to have stopped, and if anything, it is reversing course. Initial predictions were based on several advantages for software. First, software is easier to modify and patch. Second, universities turn out far more software develop... » read more

Advanced Packaging Goes Mainstream


The roadmap for shrinking digital logic will continue for at least the next 10 years. For others devices, particularly analog, it will slow down or end. And therein lies one of the most fundamental changes in semiconductor design and manufacturing in the past half century. This is no longer just talk. Apple is using a fan-out architecture in its iPhone 7. Memory makers are stacking NAND and ... » read more

Time For New Rules


Is Moore's Law dead? Brigadier General Paul Fredenburgh, commandant of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, asked that question to four industry CEOs last week while visiting Silicon Valley with some of his students. He received four highly nuanced, if not different, answers. Left to right: Lip-Bu Tan, Cadence; Wally Rhines, Mentor Graphics; Simon Se... » read more

Testing For Security


Ever since the IoT became a household name, people have been strategizing about ways to utilize non-secure devices to mount an attack. The first instances of using electricity to overload a device's circuits, thereby neutralizing existing security features, came to light in some of the earliest car hacking incidents. These are basically side-channel attacks using what amounts to an electroni... » read more

More Degrees Of Freedom


Ever since the publication of Gordon Moore's famous observation in 1965, the semiconductor industry has been laser-focused on shrinking devices to their practical, and more recently, impractical limit. Increasing transistor density has encountered a number of problems along the way, but it also has enabled us to put computers—which once filled specially built rooms—onto the desktop firs... » read more

Morphing Moore’s Law


In 1965, Gordon Moore defined a timetable for doubling the number of transistors on a piece of silicon every two years. The law, as he originally defined it, is now hopelessly outdated. Any attempts to apply it to the most advanced chips today are a stretch at best, and complete fiction at worst. No one is on a two-year cadence between process nodes anymore—not even Intel. In fact, no one ... » read more

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