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System Bits: Dec. 15


Building chips skyscraper style With the aim of boosting electronic performance by factor of a thousand, a team of researchers led by Stanford University engineers have created a skyscraper-like chip design, based on materials more advanced than silicon. For many years, computer systems have been designed with processors and memory chips laid out like single-story structures in a suburb whe... » read more

Rethinking Patents


Over the past few years the pressure on the patent system as a means of protecting intellectual property has been tested to the limit, and many changes are being made in an attempt to keep it viable. But in an age of globalization, coupled with the fact that for the patent system to work there has to be an infrastructure of suitable enforcement, it may be time to rethink its viability—especia... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Aug. 26


Smokestack metrology The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has nearly completed the construction of one of the world's more unusual measurement systems. The organization is devising a 50-meter horizontal smokestack at its campus in Gaithersburg, Md. The new facility will accurately determine the amount of gases discharged from smokestacks at coal-fired power plants and o... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Feb. 18


Polite cupcake helping robots Cornell and Carnegie Mellon have made a new discovery about robots. If they sound less snippy when they communicate, listeners will respond better. In fact, developers of robots should develop systems that use less confrontational language. In the study, entitled “How a Robot Should Give Advice,” researchers discovered that robots and humans are more lik... » read more

The Next Big Threat: System Security


No SoC ever will be totally secure, and no technology will stop experienced thieves who really want to get into a device. But chipmakers and IP companies are examining ways to at least make it more difficult—and at least in theory, far less lucrative. One big change, of course, is that a connected electronic ecosystem has made location irrelevant. In the past, crime was limited to where th... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Jan. 7


Climbing Terminator Robots Simon Fraser University has developed a family of climbing robots that mimic the stickiness of gecko lizard feet. Based on a “footpad terminator” adhesive technology, the robots could be used in space missions and on Earth. The climbing robot, called Abigaille, features six legs. This allows the robots to crawl on vertical and horizontal structures. The techno... » read more

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