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How the explosion in data is altering chip and system design.

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Electronics technology is evolving rapidly, becoming pervasive in our lives. There are more smart phones in use than there are people on earth, driver assistance is now common in automobiles, commercial airplanes have increasingly sophisticated infotainment, and wearable health monitors exist for a plethora of missions. Every device is generating and communicating massive amounts of data, including audio and video, creating an explosion of information. Even with today’s technological innovation, there is not enough network bandwidth, cloud compute, and storage to capture, process, and analyze all this data.

To power the technologies and products of the future, end-application system companies are increasingly designing the full stack of their solution. Some are even designing their own semiconductors, and optimizing the end-to-end solution across chips, packages, printed circuit boards (PCBs), software, and the entire system to meet demanding market requirements. This movement is driving a convergence of three trends in electronics design, as shown in Figure 1. First, many applications require intelligent computation in their systems, optimized for the specific application and workload. Second, advancements in traditional CPU clock frequency have tapered off, constrained by core architectural limitations. Third, Moore’s Law has been driving exponential growth in semiconductor density, producing performance and power benefits when adopting new semiconductor process technologies, but the rate of progress has slowed. In addition, the cost of advanced-process nodes has grown substantially.

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