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MEMS: Unloved?

Karen has been feeling unloved.

That would be Karen Lightman, managing director of the MEMS Industry Group. After several years of MEMS taking a share of the attention at Semicon West, she noted a distinct “There’s a new kid in town” feeling this year in her blog, and this turned out to be a very well-attended blog post.

So as a follow-up, she arranged a webcast for last week that featured Peter Himes of Silex, a MEMS foundry, Mike … Read More → "MEMS: Unloved?"

Uniting Balkanized Designs

There used to be a nice, clean division: digital chips were verified using the standard suite of digital verification tools like simulation and formal analysis; analog chips were verified by SPICE (for greatest accuracy). That simplicity is gone based on both the use of digital control of analog blocks and the simple fact that integration is now sweeping analog and digital together more often.

According to Berkeley Design, accuracy and productivity have been hurt by the need for most mixed-signal simulators to translate everything into Verilog-AMS before proceeding. While such translation might be possible, at the very … Read More → "Uniting Balkanized Designs"

Power Hungry

A keynote at the recent MEMS Executive Congress by TI’s Ajith Amerasekera discussed, among other things, power and battery requirements for handling our increasingly digital, distributed world. The conclusion he came to – that there’s still lots that needs to be invented – isn’t particularly surprising, but some of the facts regarding how he got there caught my attention.

We talk about the cloud and the use of the internet to ship digital goods like movies as being an environmental boon – no nasty, soot-producing trucks rumbling around the countryside. Just … Read More → "Power Hungry"

2012 Camel

A few weeks back, in Camels Have Their Role in Life I wrote about ADA http://www.eejournal.com/archives/articles/20120919-camels/. At the time I said that “within the next few weeks, there should be Ada 2012.”.  Well, Joyce Tokar, the convener of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG9 (Or the Ada working group) reported on November 29 on various Linked in groups, “ISO/IEC 8652 – Ada Programming Language Standard – Ballot was approved unanimously without any comments. 14 to approve and 0 disapprove. ISO/IEC 8652:2012(E) was sent to ISO … Read More → "2012 Camel"

The Challenges of Testing MEMS

Last month saw this year’s edition of the MEMS Test and Reliability conference. And there are clearly numerous issues to be addressed. To be clear, that’s not to say, for example, that there are inherent device reliability issues. It’s just that testing and measuring aren’t nearly as obvious for MEMS as they are for ICs.

Two issues in particular caught my eye. The first was the relationship between wafer test and final/packaged test. In the IC world, there … Read More → "The Challenges of Testing MEMS"

Another Magnetic Measurement

One of the fun things about the MEMS and sensors space is that there are often many ways of skinning the many proverbial cats. Magnetometers are one example.

When Bosch Sensortec introduced its BMC050 6-axis sensor last year, they made particular note of their FlipCore technology for detecting the strength of the earth’s (or any local) magnetic field. Detailed information, however, wasn’t readily available.

At the recent MEMS Executive Congress, I was able to talk with … Read More → "Another Magnetic Measurement"

Sensor Conditioning Options

One of the big challenges of MEMS sensor development is the fact that the raw sensor signals need to be conditioned before being read and acted on. This is done in the “ASIC” that ordinarily accompanies the sensor, typically on a separate die and co-packaged with the sensor (unless done on the same chip in a CMOS-friendly MEMS process). A well-known sensor design challenge is the fact that the ASIC … Read More → "Sensor Conditioning Options"

20-nm Test Enhancements

ITC is usually the time when the EDA companies announce their coolest test-related advances. While Mentor announced their IJTAG support, Synopsys focused its agenda largely on the issues surrounding the 20-nm node. Each node has its particular failure modes, and tests need to be added or refocused to catch those failures.

Two of the advances they announced involved memory and multicore; we’ll take them in order.

They first announced a change to their STAR memory system, both adding and … Read More → "20-nm Test Enhancements"

Plug-and-Play Sensors

There’s lots of talk about wireless sensor networks these days, with differing communications schemes and management layers, but for the most part, it seems to be a roll-your own thing. If you want to put together a sensor network, then you need to design and configure the thing explicitly. There are wireless sensor nodes out there, but at least at first glance, it doesn’t appear that there’s much in the way of “complete” systems.

Libelium has addressed that with a plug-and-play approach that they call WaspMote Plug & Sense. … Read More → "Plug-and-Play Sensors"

Asleep At the Wheel

Some time back we took a look at Plessey’s EPIC sensor, which can monitor electric fields of various kinds and strengths. They’ve identified a number of applications that can interpret the field signal and – hopefully – make smart decisions.

They recently announced a new application that I certainly could have used over the summer as I went on a 7500-mile roadtrip: the ability to detect whether a driver is sleepy. It’s sort of amusing that they talk … Read More → "Asleep At the Wheel"

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