Why Chips Die


Semiconductor devices contain hundreds of millions of transistors operating at extreme temperatures and in hostile environments, so it should come as no surprise that many of these devices fail to operate as expected or have a finite lifetime. Some devices never make it out of the lab and many others die in the fab. It is hoped that most devices released into products will survive until they be... » read more

Carmakers To Chipmakers: Where’s The Data?


The integration of electronics into increasingly autonomous vehicles isn't going nearly as smoothly as the marketing literature suggests. In fact, it could take years before some of these discrepancies are resolved. The push toward full autonomy certainly hasn't slowed down, but carmakers and the electronics industry are approaching that goal from very different vantage points. Carmakers and... » read more

A Crisis In DoD’s Trusted Foundry Program?


The U.S. Department of Defense’s Trusted Foundry program is in flux due to GlobalFoundries’ recent decision to put 7nm on hold, raising national security concerns across the U.S. defense community. U.S. DoD and military/aerospace chip customers currently have access to U.S.-based “secure” foundry capacity down to 14nm, but that's where it ends. No other foundries provide similar “s... » read more

Power Delivery Affecting Performance At 7nm


Complex interactions and dependencies at 7nm and beyond can create unexpected performance drops in chips that cannot always be caught by signoff tools. This isn't for lack of effort. The amount of time spent trying to determine if an advanced-node chip will work after it is fabricated has been rising steadily for several process nodes. Additional design rules handle everything from variation... » read more

RISC-V Inches Toward The Center


RISC-V is pushing further into the mainstream, showing up across a wide swath of designs and garnering support from a long and still-growing list of chipmakers, tools vendors, universities and foundries. In most cases it is being used as a complementary processor than a replacement for something else, but that could change in the future. What makes RISC-V particularly attractive to chipmaker... » read more

People Vs. Self-Driving Cars


If you’re a screenwriter—or a car salesman—you’re already thinking of ways to write non-sci-fi self-driving cars into a movie script. Automobiles have been integral to the plots of gritty noir crime movies, heist flicks, romantic comedies, and obviously, road movies. What's clear is the self-driving car won’t be the ideal getaway vehicle anymore, particularly if there is no steerin... » read more

Big Changes For Mainstream Chip Architectures


Chipmakers are working on new architectures that significantly increase the amount of data that can be processed per watt and per clock cycle, setting the stage for one of the biggest shifts in chip architectures in decades. All of the major chipmakers and systems vendors are changing direction, setting off an architectural race that includes everything from how data is read and written in m... » read more

3D NAND Flash Wars Begin


3D NAND suppliers are gearing up for a new battle amid a period of price and competitive pressures, racing each other to the next technology generations. Competition is intensifying as a new player enters the 3D NAND market—China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC). Backed by billions of dollars in funding from the Chinese government, YMTC recently introduced its first 3D NAND techn... » read more

Auto Chip Test Getting Harder


Chipmakers and test/validation companies are helping lead the effort to develop self-driving cars, but they are facing a wide range of technical and even cultural barriers. Advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) already are the most complex systems by far in modern cars, the best of which hover between Level 2 and Level 3 on the five-step autonomy ladder maintained by the Society of Automotiv... » read more

Safety, Security And PPA Tradeoffs


Safety and security are emerging as key design tradeoffs as chips are added into safety-critical markets, adding even more complexity into an already complicated optimization process. In the early days of semiconductor design, performance and area were traded off against each other. Then power became important, and the main tradeoffs became power, performance and area (PPA). But as chips inc... » read more

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