What’s Changing, What Isn’t


The global pandemic is creating economic chaos on a global scale. The big question now is when the coronavirus is brought under control, and just how long its effects will extend beyond the current health crisis. For the semiconductor industry, which has weathered many long and deep financial swings, this one at least is finite. When the virus stops spreading, or when treatments are availabl... » read more

Test Costs Spiking


The cost of test is rising as a percentage of manufacturing costs, fueled by concerns about reliability of advanced-node designs in cars and data centers, as well as extended lifetimes for chips in those and other markets. For decades, test was limited to a flat 2% of total manufacturing cost, a formula developed prior to the turn of the Millennium after chipmakers and foundries saw the traj... » read more

Moore And More


For more than 50 years, the semiconductor industry has enjoyed the benefits of Moore's Law — or so it seemed. In reality, there were three laws rolled up into one: Each process generation would have a higher clock speed at the same power. This was not discovered by Moore, but by Dennard, who also invented the DRAM. Process generations continue to get faster and lower power, but the power... » read more

Millimeter Wave: A Bridge Too Far?


5G is here. It already is available in new mobile phones, and the infrastructure for extremely fast cellular communication is being built out at a rapid pace. The big question now is which parts of this technology will be successful, and there still is no consistency in those predictions. 5G comes in two flavors, sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave, and the sub-6 GHz version offers immediate perfo... » read more

Testing Autonomous Vehicles


Jeff Phillips, head of automotive marketing at National Instruments, talks about how to ensure that automotive systems are reliable and safe, how test needs to shift to adapt to continual updates and changes, and why this is particularly challenging in a world where there is no known right answer. » read more

Preparing For The Great Auto War


The internal combustion engine's days are numbered, and what comes next is going to cause one of the biggest upheavals in the history of business. Before semiconductors and electronics, it was the auto industry that defined economies of scale. In fact, the auto industry became the model on which the entire electronics industry was built. It always was assumed that the mainframe, minicomputer... » read more

Betting On Hydrogen-Powered Cars


The automotive industry is taking another look at hydrogen fuel cells, but how they ultimately fare depends on a combination of consumer demand, automaker investment and infrastructure build-out. Hydrogen fuel cell technology has been steadily advancing over the past six decades since the first practical fuel cell system was demonstrated by Cambridge engineering professor Francis Bacon. The ... » read more

Is There A Crossover Point For Mainstream Anymore?


Until 28nm, it was generally assumed that process nodes would go mainstream one or two generations after they were introduced. So by the time the leading edge chips for smartphones and servers were being developed at 16/14nm and 10/7nm, it was assumed that developing a chip at 28nm would be less expensive, less complex, and that the process rule deck would shrink. That worked for decades. Th... » read more

New Trends In Wafer Bonding


Unable to scale horizontally, due to a combination of lithography delays and power constraints, manufacturers are stacking devices vertically. This has become essential as the proliferation of mobile devices drives demand for smaller circuit footprints, but the transition isn't always straightforward. Three-dimensional integration schemes take many forms, depending on the required interconne... » read more

Why Standard Memory Choices Are So Confusing


System architects increasingly are developing custom memory architectures based upon specific use cases, adding to the complexity of the design process even though the basic memory building blocks have been around for more than half a century. The number of tradeoffs has skyrocketed along with the volume of data. Memory bandwidth is now a gating factor for applications, and traditional memor... » read more

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