New MEMS Accelerometers from mCube are World’s Smallest
Most startups have no product. This one has shipped 60 million products before coming out of stealth mode.
Say hello to mCube, probably the most successful chipmaker you’ve never heard of. In keeping with the company’s low profile, mCube makes little bitty motion sensors. Accelerometers, magnetometers, and even teensy gyroscopes. Most of those little chips have been sold to Chinese cellphone makers, but the company hopes that its fortunes will soon change.
Cellphones are just the beginning, says mCube CEO Ben Lee. The real volume is in the “Internet of Moving Things (IoMT).” (Oh, good, another marketing initialism. At least they’ve got that part of the startup strategy figured out.)
Will FPGAs Take Over the Data Center?
At the Gigaom Structure 2014 event last week, Intel’s Diane Bryant announced that Intel is “integrating [Intel’s] industry-leading Xeon processor with a coherent FPGA in a single package, socket compatible to [the] standard Xeon E5 processor offerings.” Bryant continues, saying that the FPGA will provide Intel customers “a programmable, high performance coherent acceleration capability to turbo-charge their algorithms” and that industry benchmarks indicate that FPGA-based accelerators can deliver >10x performance gains, with an Intel-claimed 2x additional performance, thanks to a low-latency coherent interface between the FPGA and the processor.
If we did our math right, Intel is implying that an FPGA could boost the speed of a server-based application by somewhere in the range of 20x.
Applied Materials Introduces a New Metal
Metal has always been a bit messy. Even in the old days, when we laid metal lines over the rough terrain that resulted from various deposited layers and etch steps, step coverage was an issue when the metal didn’t conform well to those ups and downs.
Of course, what with the development of dual-damascene processes with chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP), we’ve eliminated all that topography, and metal has been smooth sailing ever since. More or less. (I know – tell that to the yield guy…)
But those days are coming to an end with the increasingly tight dimensions of the nodes below 28 nm. Voids are starting to raise their heads again, as Applied Materials (AMAT) describes it. In fact, when it comes to vias, voids are already an issue that has been made more tolerable by the use of redundant vias – two where one might theoretically do. That improves the chances that at least one of the two vias will have good, clean connectivity between metal layers.
Atmel’s Tech on Tour and Super Awesome Sylvia
In honor of the first annual National Day of Making, Fish Fry is headed into the delight-filled world of Maker Faires, microcontrollers, and watercolor painting robots. Andreas Eieland (Atmel) starts off the excitement by giving us a tour of Atmel’s Tech on Tour 18 wheeler. Andreas and I also discuss the disconnect between the growing number of IoT devices and the declining number of engineers in the world, and how Maker Faires can be instrumental in filling this void.
Also this week, Fish Fry is proud to welcome the one and only Super Awesome Sylvia. Sylvia has her own web TV show, is a maker extraordinaire, and is a trending tech celebrity. Did I also mention she’s 12? Join me as I chat with Sylvia about one of her latest projects...a watercolor painting robot.
Remote Diagnostic Service Brings Auto Repair to the Cloud
How often has this happened to you? You’re sitting outside a Paris café, sipping aperitifs, when suddenly you find yourself wondering about your car’s tire pressures. Unfortunately, it’s still in the long-term lot at LAX, 5,600 miles away. Problème majeur! Not to worry; your companion whips out a smartphone, taps the screen a few times, et voila! - there is all the information, right at your absinthe-stained fingertips.
Whew, that was close.
While you’re at it, you decide to see how much gas is in the tank, you roll down the windows a bit (it’s hot inside the car right now), you change the radio back to your favorite station, and you schedule the next maintenance appointment. Yup, all avec un téléphone portable.
Maxim Debuts PIXI Programmable Analog
He raised his binoculars and scanned the surface of the water. The wind was gusting - causing irregular dark patches of waves to move mysteriously across the surface. Whitecaps broke here and there. “It was a day just like this when it appeared,” he recalls somberly. “It raised up right over there, and I watched it for a good twenty seconds as it moved left to right - like nuthin’ I ever saw in my life. Then, it dropped back outa’ sight and I ain’t seen it since.”
OK, maybe programmable analog isn’t quite as elusive as legendary lake monsters, but it might be close. We see the occasional press release or hear a buzz at a conference that “programmable analog has finally arrived!” - but then the idea drops back into the darkness and disappears.
It turns out there’s a good reason for this recurring disappearing act. Programmable analog is hard.