The MCU Dilemma


The humble microcontroller is getting squeezed on all sides. While most of the semiconductor industry has been able to take advantage of Moore's Law, the MCU market has faltered because flash memory does not scale beyond 40nm. At the same time, new capabilities such as voice activation and richer sensor networks are requiring inference engines to be integrated for some markets. In others, re... » read more

Blog Review: Feb. 12


Complexity is growing by process node, by end application, and in each design. The latest crop of blogs points to just how many dependencies and uncertainties exist today, and what the entire supply chain is doing about them. Mentor's Shivani Joshi digs into various types of constraints in PCBs. Cadence's Neelabh Singh examines the complexities of verifying a lane adapter state machine in... » read more

Big Growth Areas: Connectivity, AI, Reliability


Connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI) will be the biggest drivers for 2020, with an emphasis on improved reliability across all areas. New standards, new applications, and new pressures being placed on old technology will created boundless opportunities for those ready to fill the need. Of course, there will also be a lot of carnage along the way, and we can expect to see a lot of that ... » read more

Scaling, Packaging, And Partitioning


Prior to the finFET era, most chipmakers either focused on shrinking or packaging, but they rarely did both. Going forward, the two will be inseparable, and that will lead to big challenges with partitioning of data and processing. The key driver here, of course, is that device scaling no longer provides appreciable benefits in power, performance and cost. Nevertheless, scaling does provide ... » read more

Defining And Improving AI Performance


Many companies are developing AI chips, both for training and for inference. Although getting the required functionality is important, many solutions will be judged by their performance characteristics. Performance can be measured in different ways, such as number of inferences per second or per watt. These figures are dependent on a lot of factors, not just the hardware architecture. The optim... » 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

Revving Up For Edge Computing


The edge is beginning to take shape as a way of limiting the amount of data that needs to be pushed up to the cloud for processing, setting the stage for a massive shift in compute architectures and a race among chipmakers for a stake in a new and highly lucrative market. So far, it's not clear which architectures will win, or how and where data will be partitioned between what needs to be p... » read more

Using Multiple Inferencing Chips In Neural Networks


Geoff Tate, CEO of Flex Logix, talks about what happens when you add multiple chips in a neural network, what a neural network model looks like, and what happens when it’s designed correctly vs. incorrectly. » read more

ML, Edge Drive IP To Outperform Broader Chip Market


The market for third-party semiconductor IP is surging, spurred by the need for more specific capabilities across a wide variety of markets. While the IP industry is not immune to steep market declines in semiconductor industry, it does have more built-in resilience than other parts of the industry. Case in point: The top 15 semiconductor suppliers were hit with an 18% decline in 2019 first-... » read more

Why Data Is So Difficult To Protect In AI Chips


Experts at the Table: Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss a wide range of hardware security issues and possible solutions with Norman Chang, chief technologist for the Semiconductor Business Unit at ANSYS; Helena Handschuh, fellow at Rambus, and Mike Borza, principal security technologist at Synopsys. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. The first part of this discussion ca... » read more

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