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Big Changes In Architectures, Transistors, Materials


Chipmakers are gearing up for fundamental changes in architectures, materials, and basic structures like transistors and interconnects. The net result will be more process steps, increased complexity for each of those steps, and rising costs across the board. At the leading-edge, finFETs will run out of steam somewhere after the 3nm (30 angstrom) node. The three foundries still working at th... » read more

AI Power Consumption Exploding


Machine learning is on track to consume all the energy being supplied, a model that is costly, inefficient, and unsustainable. To a large extent, this is because the field is new, exciting, and rapidly growing. It is being designed to break new ground in terms of accuracy or capability. Today, that means bigger models and larger training sets, which require exponential increases in processin... » read more

Where Are The Autonomous Cars?


Are we there yet? Governments, consumers, and engineers alike want to know how close the automotive world is to producing a fully autonomous Level 5 vehicle. While some experts say such vehicles could hit the road in the next few years, they're a shrinking minority. Most forecasts say a truly self-driving car is at least a decade away — and maybe much longer, because it requires disruptive... » read more

Scaling, Advanced Packaging, Or Both


Chipmakers are facing a growing number of challenges and tradeoffs at the leading edge, where the cost of process shrinks is already exorbitant and rising. While it's theoretically possible to scale digital logic to 10 angstroms (1nm) and below, the likelihood of a planar SoC being developed at that nodes appears increasingly unlikely. This is hardly shocking in an industry that has heard pr... » read more

Near-Threshold Computing Gets A Boost


Near-threshold computing has long been used for power-sensitive devices, but some surprising, unrelated advances are making it much easier to deploy. While near-threshold logic has been an essential technique for applications with the lowest power consumption, it always has been difficult to use. That is changing, and while it is unlikely to become a mainstream technique, it is certainly bec... » read more

Hybrid Bonding Moves Into The Fast Lane


The industry’s unquenchable thirst for I/O density and faster connections between chips, particularly logic and cache memory, is transforming system designs to include 3D architectures, and hybrid bonding has become an essential component in that equation. Hybrid bonding involves die-to-wafer or wafer-to-wafer connection of copper pads that carry power and signals and the surrounding diele... » read more

Keeping IC Packages Cool


Placing multiple chips into a package side-by-side can alleviate thermal issues, but as companies dive further into die stacking and denser packaging to boost performance and reduce power, they are wrestling with a whole new set of heat-related issues. The shift to advanced packaging enables chipmakers to meet demands for increasing bandwidth, clock speeds, and power density for high perform... » read more

Chip Substitutions Raising Security Concerns


Substituting chips is becoming more common in the electronics industry as shortages drag on, allowing systems vendors to continue selling everything from cars to manufacturing equipment and printer cartridges without waiting for a commoditized part. But substitutions aren't always an even swap, and they increase security risks in ways that may take years to show up or fully understand. So fa... » read more

How To Optimize A Processor


Optimizing any system is a multi-layered problem, but when it involves a processor there are at least three levels to consider. Architects must be capable of thinking across these boundaries because the role of each of the layers must be both understood and balanced. The first level of potential optimization is at the system level. For example, how does data come in and out of the processing... » read more

Big Changes In Embedded Software


Every good hardware or software design starts with a structured approach throughout the design cycle, but as chip architectures and applications begin focusing on specific domains and include some version of AI, that structure is becoming more difficult to define. Embedded software, which in the past was written for very narrow functions with a minimal footprint, is increasingly getting blended... » read more

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