Is 20nm the Forgotten FPGA Node?
28nm is a calm, mature node. Sure, everyone was excited when it was the first to reach modern price, performance, and cost levels. We applauded when ARM processing subsystems were integrated into 28nm FPGAs, creating a new class of device. And there were accolades when 28nm debuted interposer-based 2.5D packaging techniques. There is even a nice page in the scrapbook where 28nm SerDes transceivers hit 28Gbps speeds - a nice 28/28 symmetry that made everyone feel all warm and fuzzy.
We all know and love 28nm. It’s out there - proven and in full production, making our real-world designs really work today. It’s great! You really can’t go wrong with any of Xilinx’s or Altera’s robust 28nm offerings - from cost-optimized, higher-volume Kintex and Arria chips up to the biggest, fastest, most feature-laden Virtex-7 and Stratix V devices, 28nm FPGAs have you covered.
New Equipment for the “1X” Process Nodes
We’re shrinking again. We’re moving past the 20-nm node into the 16 or 14 realm (depending on how you or your marketing team counts it). In fact, according to KLA-Tencor, some companies are skipping the 20-nm node altogether and moving directly into the teens.
It’s always been the case that new nodes spur new tools, but there are some trends underway at 16/14 that are more than just “smaller,” and they are providing yet more challenges to the semi equipment guys.
Tools for Building
3D NAND probably provides the biggest change, and it introduces a new layer cake onto the wafer. For those of you that are new to 3D NAND, Applied Materials (AMAT) provides a simple description of what it consists of: tipping a string of bits on end.
Model-based Design and Physics-based Acceleration
In this week's Fish Fry, we're taking the wheel, putting the pedal to the metal, and riding off into the EE sunset. My first co-pilot in the Fish Fry bucket seat is Noam Levine. Noam navigates us to a special place called Model-based Design. We discuss how this design methodology can help move your next design into the fast lane where you might even bypass a prototyping stage or two. Next up in our fast flying EE road trip is a saunter down Semiconductor Lane with Tom Flynn of Coventor. Tom and I investigate physics-based acceleration and check out how you can get your MEMS motor running in zero-to-sixty.
UCSB Team Achieves >99% Reliability
With most of the articles I write, I try to do more than just parrot what someone else said: I really try to understand what it is I’m writing about, at least to some degree.
Not today, folks.
Not even close.
Today we go behind the looking glass into the world of quantum computing. I’m going to try to give a flavor of what I’ve learned in order to understand what’s significant about the news coming out of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), but I’m not even going to try to pretend that I really know what I’m talking about.
Let’s Get Rich Selling Overpriced Electronics!
Apparently, $48,000 speaker wire is a real thing. You can also find $5,000 boxes for “cleansing” the AC power going into your audio gear. (Be sure to order the $1000 power cord to go with it.) Just the thing to complement the $15,000 granite turntable for your old vinyl records.
Audiophiles must be real idiots. And rich idiots – the best kind.
You can now get “oxygen free” speaker wire with gold-plated contacts, carbon fiber ends, several layers of shielding, and your choice of clockwise or counterclockwise twist (for your left and right speakers, obviously). All for the price of a Porsche.
What if it Happened Again?
We sit here in our dazed, progress-drunk technology buzz looking back at the half-century rocket ride that transformed not only our industry and engineering profession, but also all of modern civilization. Nothing in recorded history has had as much impact on the world as Moore’s Law. It has re-shaped global culture, dramatically altered politics, and even affected fundamental aspects of the ways human beings work, think, feel, and relate to each other. If this weren’t the single biggest change driver in the history of civilization, it was right up there with democracy, monotheism, combining caramel and chocolate, and some other really heavy-hitters. Innovation in electronics has spilled over into just about every other aspect of our collective lives, and the change is profound.
But, what if it happened again - not in electronics this time, but somewhere else?
To answer that question, we should look at what caused Moore’s Law in the first place. It was a single innovation, really. Just one idea.