FinFETs and the New Age of 3D ICs
It’s time for the FinFET rubber to meet the road. In this week’s Fish Fry, we look into the issues surrounding FinFET design today. My guest this week is Swami Venkat (Synopsys) and we chat about FinFET adoption (or lack thereof), the specific needs of FinFET design from an EDA point of view, and timing analysis in FinFET designs. Also this week, we check out how and why performance-per-watt will play an increasingly larger (and more important) role in our FinFET designs.
How Important is Name Brand Recognition for Your CPU?
It’s a common typing mistake. Someone offers you a “sneak peak” at a new attraction when they really meant to write “peek.” It’s the kind of goof that spellcheck won’t catch and another reminder of why copyeditors still walk among us.
There’s a corner case, however, when “sneak peak” may actually be correct. Put your hand up if you’ve heard of the Andes microprocessor. Anyone? Anyone? Named after the mountain range in South America, Andes was actually designed in Taiwan and is the property of Andes Technology in Hsinchu City.
As the company’s name might suggest, Andes processors are pretty much all that Andes Technology does. That’s not to say it’s a single-product company, though. There are eight major variations of Andes, not counting minor variations in cache size, interfaces, and extensions. That also doesn’t include Andes’s considerable software and EDA offerings. Indeed, Andes (the company) is more of an EDA firm than a processor vendor. And that’s probably its greatest strength.
Don’t Let Your Skills Go Stale
Don’t get me wrong - we NEED experts. When everybody on the team is at wit’s end, and the doohickey is still 90 degrees out of phase with the whatchamacallit, causing the franistan to reboot the microkernel and locking up the fritzerator just when it was about to recombobulate, we want to be able to call up the Mighty Casey, who can waltz into the lab, make some grumbling noises, poke around with his 1958 scope probes for a bit, type a few keystrokes, and then announce, “There ya go! Just a simple recalibration of your anhydrous lookup tables and it’s all hunky-dory.”
Yep, we all need that guy sometimes.
But there is a very real long-term downside to actually becoming that guy. It’s a natural tendency among engineers. We’re probably the most curious profession on the planet. When we dive into a topic, we want to understand everything - causes, effects, side effects, corner cases, the whole kit and caboodle. Developing such expertise takes years, even on what might seem like the narrowest of disciplines.
Sending Commands Where Data Publishing Dominates
While watching the unending array of Internet of Things (IoT) discussions, it occurred to me that something important was missing from the conversation.
When we talk about the IoT and all the data and all of the messaging protocols required for sharing the data, we’re talking only about one direction of data flow: sensing, and then transmitting the sensor results somewhere else. But a true automated system – whether home or factory or farm – also involves the reverse: making the edge nodes do something. A world of sensors does little good without accompanying actuators unless all you’re trying to do is publish metrics or analytics.
EDA, Big Data, and Where We Go From Here
Big data: can’t live with it, can’t do anything without it. In this week’s Fish Fry, we look at the growing challenges and opportunities of big data in EDA. My guest is Michael Munsey (Dassault Systemes) and we discuss the future of big data and analytics in EDA, where the biggest big data pain points can be found (and how design tools can help), and why there are so many musicians in electronic engineering. Also this week, we celebrate a kickstarter campaign that brings monthly subscription box services to a whole new “maker” level.
We Attend ESC So You Don’t Have To
At last, I’ve been vindicated. A semi-official study has shown that car alarms are wholly worthless, and that they actually may be a social and economic drain on the community at large. Not surprisingly, 99% of people who hear a blaring car alarm completely ignore it (which obviously defeats the purpose of the alarm), while the few souls who actually do report an alarm to the police don’t do it because they think the car is being stolen. No, they report it as a noise complaint. Even insurance companies, a group famously guided by hard-nosed statistics over mere anecdotal evidence, and with tens of millions of data points to rely upon, treat car alarms as worthless in preventing theft or damage. Worse than useless, in fact. The earsplitting noise just covers the sound of breaking glass, making it actually easier for bad guys to steal the car or its contents. Go figure.