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Making More Reliable And More Efficient Auto ICs


Sam Geha, executive vice president of memory solutions at Infineon Technologies, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about automotive chips, supply chain issues, and integration challenges. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. SE: How do you build an automotive chip that will work in any environment? Geha: The automotive market is, of course, one of the most demand... » read more

SOT-MRAM To Challenge SRAM


In an era of new non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies, yet another variation is poised to join the competition — a new version of MRAM called spin-orbit torque, or SOT-MRAM. What makes this one particularly interesting is the possibility that someday it could supplant SRAM arrays in systems-on-chip (SoCs) and other integrated circuits. The key advantages of SOT-MRAM technology are the pr... » read more

More Errors, More Correction in Memories


As memory bit cells of any type become smaller, bit error rates increase due to lower margins and process variation. This can be dealt with using error correction to account for and correct bit errors, but as more sophisticated error-correction codes (ECC) are used, it requires more silicon area, which in turn drives up the cost. Given this trend, the looming question is whether the cost of ... » read more

MRAM Evolves In Multiple Directions


Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) is one of several new non-volatile memory technologies targeting broad commercial availability, but designing MRAM into chips and systems isn't as simple as adding other types of memory. MRAM isn’t an all-things-for-all-applications technology. It needs to be tuned for its intended purpose. MRAMs targeting flash will not do as well targeting SRAMs, and vice vers... » read more

Dealing With Sub-Threshold Variation


Chipmakers are pushing into sub-threshold operation in an effort to prolong battery life and reduce energy costs, adding a whole new set of challenges for design teams. While process and environmental variation long have been concerns for advanced silicon process nodes, most designs operate in the standard “super-threshold” regime. Sub-threshold designs, in contrast, have unique variatio... » read more

Semiconductor Memory Evolution And Current Challenges


The very first all-electronic memory was the Williams-Kilburn tube, developed in 1947 at Manchester University. It used a cathode ray tube to store bits as dots on the screen’s surface. The evolution of computer memory since that time has included numerous magnetic memory systems, such as magnetic drum memory, magnetic core memory, magnetic tape drive, and magnetic bubble memory. Since the 19... » read more

China Speeds Up Advanced Chip Development


China is accelerating its efforts to advance its domestic semiconductor industry, amid ongoing trade tensions with the West, in hopes of becoming more self-sufficient. The country is still behind in IC technology and is nowhere close to being self-reliant, but it is making noticeable progress. Until recently, China’s domestic chipmakers were stuck with mature foundry processes with no pres... » read more

Memory Issues For AI Edge Chips


Several companies are developing or ramping up AI chips for systems on the network edge, but vendors face a variety of challenges around process nodes and memory choices that can vary greatly from one application to the next. The network edge involves a class of products ranging from cars and drones to security cameras, smart speakers and even enterprise servers. All of these applications in... » read more

Taming Novel NVM Non-Determinism


New memory technologies may have non-deterministic characteristics that add calibration to the test burden — and may require recalibration during their lifetime. Many of these memories are in development as a result of the search for a storage-class memory (SCM) technology that can bridge the gap between larger, slower memories like flash and faster DRAM memory. There are several approache... » 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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