Why Chips Are Getting Noisier


In the past, designers only had to worry about noise for sensitive analog portions of a design. Digital circuitry was immune. But while noise gets worse at newer process nodes, staying at 28nm does not mean that it can be ignored anymore. With Moore's Law slowing, designs have to do more with less. Margins are being squeezed, additional concurrency is added, and attempts are made to opti... » read more

Waiting For Chiplet Interfaces


There aren't many success stories related to chiplets today for a very simple reason—there are few standard interfaces defined for how to connect them. In fact, the only way to use them is to control both sides of the interface with a proprietary interface and protocol. The one exception is the definition of HBM2, which enables large quantities of third-party DRAM to be connected to a logi... » read more

Test Moving Forward And Backward


Test, once considered an important but rather mundane way of separating good chips from the not-so-good and the total rejects, is taking on a whole new life. After decades of largely living in the shadows behind design and advancements in materials and lithography, test has quietly shifted into a much more critical and more public role. But it has taken several rather significant shifts acro... » read more

Meltdown, Spectre And Foreshadow


Ben Levine, senior director of product management for Rambus’ Security Division, talks with Semiconductor Engineering about hardware-specific attacks, why they are so dangerous, and how they work. » read more

Partitioning In 3D


The best way to improve transistor density isn't necessarily to cram more of them onto a single die. Moore’s Law in its original form stated that device density doubles about every two years while cost remains constant. It relied on the observation that the cost of a processed silicon wafer remained constant regardless of the number of devices printed on it, which in turn depended on litho... » read more

Chiplet Momentum Builds, Despite Tradeoffs


Chip design is a series of tradeoffs. Some are technical, others are related to cost, competitive features or legal restrictions. But with the nascent 'chiplet' market, many of the established balance points are significantly altered, depending on market segments and ecosystem readiness. Chiplets provide an alternative mechanism for integrating intellectual property (IP) blocks into a semico... » read more

Raising The Abstraction Level For Power


Power-aware design is still a relatively new concern for many semiconductor products, and since inception it has changed several times and in different ways. Initially people were concerned about peak power. Today, they care about peak, total energy, thermal and other effects. The industry has tried several abstractions ranging from system-level analysis, which promised to swamp implementati... » read more

Focus Shifting From 2.5D To Fan-Outs For Lower Cost


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss advanced packaging with Calvin Cheung, vice president of engineering at ASE; Walter Ng, vice president of business management at UMC; Ajay Lalwani, vice president of global manufacturing operations at eSilicon; Vic Kulkarni, vice president and chief strategist in the office of the CTO at ANSYS; and Tien Shiah, senior manager for memory at Samsung. W... » read more

Lithography Options For Next-Gen Devices


Chipmakers are ramping up extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for advanced logic at 7nm and/or 5nm, but EUV isn’t the only lithographic option on the table. For some time, the industry has been working on an assortment of other next-generation lithography technologies, including a new version of EUV. Each technology is different and aimed at different applications. Some are here today, w... » read more

More Memory And Processor Tradeoffs


Creating a new chip architecture is becoming an increasingly complex series of tradeoffs about memories and processing elements, but the benefits are not always obvious when those tradeoffs are being made. This used to be a fairly straightforward exercise when there was one processor, on-chip SRAM and off-chip DRAM. Fast forward to 7/5nm, where chips are being developed for AI, mobile ph... » read more

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