Collaboration And Advanced Substrates


Discussions of semiconductor manufacturing tend to focus on CMOS logic and memory devices, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Discussions of silicon-on-insulator wafer markets focus on the needs of high performance logic. Lithography analysts emphasize high density memories. It’s easy to forget that real systems contain other devices, too. A modern smartphone probably supports ... » read more

Making Organic Semiconductors Plastic


Plastic. The very word implies deformability, the ability to bend and flex without damage in response to stress. In applications from biomedical sensors to solar cells, the potential advantages of organic semiconductors depend almost entirely on their deformability—are they flexible enough for inexpensive roll-to-roll processing? Able to tolerate flexion in use? Able to do without the bulky a... » read more

How The Brain Saves Energy By Doing Less


One of the arguments for neuromorphic computing is the efficiency of the human brain relative to conventional computers. By looking at how the brain works, this argument contends, we can design systems that accomplish more with less power. However, as Mireille Conrad and others at the University of Geneva pointed out in work presented at December's IEEE Electron Device Meeting, the brain... » read more

What If We Had Bi-Directional RRAM?


The ideal memristor device for neuromorphic computing would have linear and symmetric resistance behavior. Resistance would both increase and decrease gradually, allowing a direct correlation between the number of programming pulses and the resistance value. Real world RRAM devices, however, generally do not have these characteristics. In filamentary RRAM devices, the RESET operation can raise ... » read more

How Good Is 95% Accuracy?


Conventional, deterministic computers don’t make mistakes. They execute a predictable series of computations in response to any given input. The input might be mistaken. The logic behind the operations that are performed might be flawed. But the computer will always do exactly what it has been told to do. When unexpected results occur, they can be attributed to the programmer, the system manu... » read more

Terminology Beyond von Neumann


Neural networks. Neuromorphic computing. Non-von Neumann architectures. As I’ve been researching my series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve encountered a lot of new terminology. It hasn’t always been easy to figure out exactly what’s being discussed. This explainer attempts to both clarify the terms used in my own articles and to help others sort through the rapidly growing literature in... » read more

Ruthenium Liners Give Way To Ruthenium Lines


For several years now, integrated circuit manufacturers have been investigating alternative barrier layer materials for copper interconnects. As interconnect dimensions shrink, the barrier accounts for an increasing fraction of the total line volume. As previously reported, both cobalt and ruthenium have drawn substantial interest because they can serve as both barrier and seed layers, minimizi... » read more

Planes, Birdhouses And Image Recognition


My recent blog post on the limits of neuromorphic computing took an optimistic view: even neuromorphic systems that are relatively crude by the standards of biological brains can still find commercially important applications. A few days after I finished it, I was reminded that the pessimists are not wrong when a friend of mine shared this image. Fig. 1: Trover Gourds in purple martin nest... » read more

Pessimism, Optimism And Neuromorphic Computing


As I’ve been researching this series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve learned that there are two views of the field. One, which I’ll call the “optimist” view, often held by computer scientists and electrical engineers, focuses on the possibilities: self-driving cars. Homes that can learn their owners’ needs. Automated medical assistants. The other, the “pessimist” view, often hel... » read more

The Other Side Of H1-B Visas


There is a lot of discussion these days about “Hire American.” But what does that actually mean in practice? I’m at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting this week, where one of the presentations was by a scientist who works at the TEL Technology Center, America, in Albany, NY. It’s the largest Tokyo Electron research center outside of Japan. It’s affiliated with the SUNY P... » read more

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