More Knobs, Fewer Markers


The next big thing in chip design may be really big — the price tag. In the past, when things got smaller, so did the cost per transistor. Now they are getting more expensive to design and manufacture, and the cost per transistor is going up along with the number of transistors per area of die, and in many cases even the size of the die. That's not exactly a winning economic formula, which... » read more

CEO Outlook: 2020 Vision


The start of 2020 is looking very different than the start of 2019. Markets that looked hazy at the start of 2019, such as 5G, are suddenly very much in focus. The glut of memory chips that dragged down the overall chip industry in 2019 has subsided. And a finely tuned supply chain that took decades to develop is splintering. A survey of CEOs from across the industry points to several common... » read more

The Week In Review: Semiconductors


The tech-centric NASDAQ index this week broke 9,000, which was a first. Key to the latest run-up were reports of a breakthrough on the trade war with China and continued low interest rates. Chuck Peddle, who helped democratize computing and fuel Moore's Law with his $25 processor chip, passed away last week. Peddle designed the MOS Technology 6502, which was the basis for the KIM-1 single-bo... » read more

Gaps Emerge In Test And Analytics


Sensor and process drift, increased design complexity, and continued optimization of circuitry throughout its lifetime are driving test and analytics in new directions, requiring a series of base comparisons against which equipment and processes can be measured. In the design world this type of platform is called a digital twin, but in the test world there is no equivalent today. And as more... » read more

Better, Not Best


The semiconductor industry has been lulled into a particular way of thinking by Moore's Law. It is like the age-old joke — you don't have to outrun a bear, you only have to be faster than your companion. The same has held true for designs. There is little to no point being the best, you only have to be good enough to be better than the competition. That sets the bar. Best is also relative.... » 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

A New Playbook For The AI Era


It’s Q4 in Silicon Valley, which means that most tech enterprises are in strategic planning mode, taking stock of where they are today and charting a course for where they want to be over the next few years. This year’s Q4 planning cycle needs to be a little different: the opportunities before us are an order of magnitude larger. So are the challenges. To get to where we need to be, our... » read more

Disaggregation Of The SoC


The rise of edge computing could do to the cloud what the PC did to the minicomputer and the mainframe. In the end, all of those co-existed (despite the fact that the minicomputer morphed into commodity servers from companies like Dell and HP). What's different this time around is that the computing done inside of those boxes is moving. It is being distributed in ways never considered feasi... » read more

Scaling Up And Down


You don’t have to look very far in the semiconductor world before you see the word “scaling.” Perhaps you read an industry news article headline about transistor scaling – how those nearly nanoscale components are shrinking even smaller in size down to the atomic scale. Or maybe you heard a reference to memory capacity scaling – how our favorite mobile devices can store more high-reso... » read more

Thomas Dolby’s Very Different View Of Progress


Thomas Dolby’s hit songs “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Hyperactive!” catapulted him to international fame in the early '80s as a pioneer of New Wave and Electronica by combining a love for invention with a passion for music. The result defined an era of revolutionary music. As record company politics began to overshadow the joy of performing, Dolby turned his attention to Holl... » read more

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