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Parallel Accurate SPICE

SPICE has got to be one of the oldest tools still being used by designers. So you might expect it to be a mature market, with a few well-established tools battling for the best performance/capacity and/or accuracy (and occasionally even collaborating).

In fact, it’s typically been more about “or” than “and,” as there are generally two SPICE camps: the fast, high-capacity versions that are “good enough” for everyday repeated use as you explore design options, … Read More → "Parallel Accurate SPICE"

Self-Assembly Shapes

The concept of oil and water separating sounds like an easy way to describe what happens with directed self-assembly. But unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. All those lines you see so neatly laid out in the microphotographs? That’s not how it always works.

The thing is, oil and water molecules aren’t connected; they’re separate so they can go their separate ways. With diblock copolymers, the two constituents are like oil and water in that they … Read More → "Self-Assembly Shapes"

Pressing Vinyl (Or Something Similar)

You’d think a complete new technology for patterning silicon would merit a long, involved story. And yet it’s just not that complicated. (Easy for me to say…) One of the up-and-coming lithography processes under development is called “nanoimprint lithography” (NIL). It might be hard to imagine that this would work, but, just like it sounds, it involves taking a master “stamp” and impressing it into a liquid resist.

You then harden the resist with some exposure to UV light and release the master. The pattern on the wafer … Read More → "Pressing Vinyl (Or Something Similar)"

Directing DSA

DSA – Directed Self Assembly – is 2/3 natural and 1/3 artificial. The “self assembly” part (two of the three words, to make the scoring clear) is a natural phenomenon governing how mutually immiscible materials will resolve their differences in staking out territory.

It’s the “directed” part that makes it a useful tool. We’ve looked before at some basics for controlling how to create lines, for instance. But actual circuit patterns will be more complex, and several SPIE … Read More → "Directing DSA"

ThreadX Gets Safety Certification

San Diego-based Express Logic just received IEC 61508 and IEC 62304 certification for its ThreadX operating system. These two standards cover the “functional safety of electrical, electronic, and programmable electronic safety-related systems.” The nice part is, the certification is for bone-standard ThreadX; there is no special “safety-certified” version of the RTOS. Express Logic says it won’t even charge more, now that it’s certified.

Read More → "ThreadX Gets Safety Certification"

An Acid Trip

When you think of a high-acid environment, what do you think of? That can of soda? Lemon juice? Your stomach? Battery acid? Well, to review, neutral pH is 7. Your stomach will have a pH of 1.5 to 3.5, presumably depending on how much soda or lemon juice or Thai-spicy tom yum gai you just had. Coca-Cola Classic is around 2.5. Lemon juice: 2.0. Battery acid: 1. It’s hard to imagine electronics functioning in a bath of any of those tongue ticklers.

But there’s an environment that’s even worse. One within which an electronic component must operate. … Read More → "An Acid Trip"

Continued FinFET Roll

The Synopsys Users’ Group scheduled a panel session on FinFETs at their recent session. This is consistent with pretty much every EDA company providing FinFET content for their users; they’re the latest hot topic, and represent a non-trivial change.

But the popularity of the topic was driven home rather starkly. They used the auditorium at the Santa Clara Convention Center, and even so, it was standing-room only, and many, many people had to be turned away when there wasn’t more room for standing. So interest was obviously quite keen. Which reflect the … Read More → "Continued FinFET Roll"

Diamond Windows

It’s funny that, as all things silicon shrink and we look forward to alternatives, we’re getting used to hearing about carbon as a regular material – but always in the form of graphene or tubes. As diamond, it seems completely foreign. Yet it’s basically the same stuff.

Then I saw a press release about Element Six ramping up production on diamonds for use in EUV. How a diamond factors into EUV was completely non-obvious to me (well, until I had a discussion with them and then reread the release). Part of … Read More → "Diamond Windows"

Room-Temp Covalent Wafer Bonding

MEMS elements are delicate. They sit there in their little cavities, expecting to operate in some sort of controlled environment – perhaps a particular gas or pressure (or lack of it). And if they’re collocated with CMOS circuitry, then they need to be protected from any further processing steps. In other words, they need to be sealed off from the rest of the world. And wafer bonding is a common way to do that: bring another wafer (perhaps with etched features) face-to-face with the working wafer and get them to bond.

Covalent molecular bonds are … Read More → "Room-Temp Covalent Wafer Bonding"

MIMO: Hardware or Software?

A while back we covered CEVA’s move to multicore for their communications-oriented XC architecture. One of the motivating elements was the complexity of requirements for features like MIMO, the ability to use more than one antenna – and multiple channels formed by the product of the number of sending and receiving antennas. They say that using a software approach provides the flexibility needed for the variety of options, that there are too many differences between options to implement in hardware: there would be too … Read More → "MIMO: Hardware or Software?"

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