The Cost Of Programmability


Nothing comes for free, and that is certainly true for the programmable elements in an SoC. But without them we are left with very specific devices that can only be used for one fixed application and cannot be updated. Few complex devices are created that do not have many layers of programmability, but the sizing of those capabilities is becoming more important than in the past. There are... » read more

Chiplet Momentum Rising


The chiplet model is gaining momentum as an alternative to developing monolithic ASIC designs, which are becoming more complex and expensive at each node. Several companies and industry groups are rallying around the chiplet model, including AMD, Intel and TSMC. In addition, there is a new U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) initiative. The goal is to speed up time to market and reduce the cost... » read more

Brighter Future For Photonics


Photons increasingly are taking over where electrons are failing in communications, but mixing the two never has been easy. There always have been two potential implementation paths — building each on its own substrate and then stacking them, or building them on a single substrate. The tradeoff between the two solutions is more complex than it may initially appear, and ongoing improvements... » read more

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

5/3nm Wars Begin


Several foundries are ramping up their new 5nm processes in the market, but now customers must decide whether to design their next chips around the current transistor type or move to a different one at 3nm and beyond. The decision involves the move to extend today’s finFETs to 3nm, or to implement a new technology called gate-all-around FETs (GAA FETs) at 3nm or 2nm. An evolutionary step f... » read more

Analog: Avoid Or Embrace?


We live in an analog world, but digital processing has proven quicker, cheaper and easier. Moving digital data around is only possible while the physics of wires can be safely abstracted away enough to provide reliable communications. As soon as a signal passes off-chip, the analog domain reasserts control for modern systems. Each of those transitions requires a data converter. The usage ... » read more

Priorities Shift In IC Design


The rush to the edge and new applications around AI are causing a shift in design strategies toward the highest performance per watt, rather than the highest performance or lowest power. This may sound like hair-splitting, but it has set a scramble in motion around how to process more data more quickly without just relying on faster processors and accelerators. Several factors are driving th... » read more

Moore’s Law, Supply Chains And Security


The debate about the future of Moore's Law continues, while other parts of the industry look for alternatives. In between, supply chains are being pulled in multiple directions, with safety and security often in the middle. All across the semiconductor industry, significant changes are underway. Some of these have been in the works for some time. Others are new or accelerating faster than an... » read more

Open Source Hardware Risks


Open-source hardware is gaining attention on a variety of fronts, from chiplets and the underlying infrastructure to the ecosystems required to support open-source and hybrid open-source and proprietary designs. Open-source development is hardly a new topic. It has proven to be a successful strategy in the Linux world, but far less so on the hardware side. That is beginning to change, fueled... » read more

Where Technology Breakthroughs Are Needed


After years of delays, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is finally in production at the 7nm logic node with 5nm in the works. EUV, a next-generation lithography technology, certainly will help chipmakers migrate to the next nodes. But EUV doesn’t solve every problem. Nor does it address all challenges in the semiconductor industry. Not by a long shot. To be sure, the industry needs... » read more

← Older posts