On the MEMS/NEMS Leading Edge

Notes from IEDM

by Bryon Moyer

Wow, here it is March, and there’s still more to talk about from IEDM. That said, this will wrap it up – just in time to enter the new conference season.* We round up our coverage by surveying some of the MEMS and NEMS ideas presented.

MEMS was the darling topic a couple of years ago, when every few weeks heralded some radically new MEMS structure or approach. That pace seems to have slowed as winners and losers have shaken out (or are still battling), and the spotlight has moved as we’ve become accustomed to the idea that we can build ridiculously tiny mechanical instruments as if by magic. So newer papers tend to reflect optimizations – mostly.

 

The Touchscreen Revolution

Changing the Face of Electronics One Silver Nanowire (and Blue-Rayed Limpet) at a Time

by Amelia Dalton

What do the blue-rayed limpet and silver nanowires have to do with advances in touchscreen technology? Absolutely everything! This week's Fish Fry looks into how silver-coated nanowires are changing the touchscreens and OLEDs of today, and could change the film-based solar cells and flexible displays of tomorrow. My guest is Sri Peruvemba from Cambrios, and we discuss the technology behind silver nanowires, how they can be implemented into a variety of designs, and what The Society for Information Display is all about. Also this week, we check out a groundbreaking new study by a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard that looks to harness unique reflective power found in the blue stripes of the blue-rayed limpet to unlock a new kind of transparent display technology.

 

At Least This Time It Was OUR OWN Barbarians

The Latest Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Comes from the “Home Team”

by Bruce Kleinman, FSVadvisors

Just 48 hours after the world discovered the Carbanak APT …

“[Carbanak] is likely the most sophisticated attack the world has seen to date in terms of the tactics and methods that cybercriminals have used to remain covert.”
Chris Doggett (security vendor Kaspersky Labs)—14 February 2015

… We learned about a far, FAR more sophisticated and long-lived APT:

“As we uncover more [Equation Gang] cyber-espionage operations we realize how little we understand about the true capabilities of these threat actors.”
Costin Raiu (security vendor Kaspersky Labs)—16 February 2015

The cyber detectives at Kaspersky Labs are very good and clearly VERY busy. The same week they pulled the covers off of the Carbanak APT, they reported a heretofore unimaginable APT attributed to the team they call “The Equation Gang.”

 

Storm the Barricades and Pro Test

New EEMBC Pro Benchmark Tests Higher Level Processors

by Jim Turley

Those darn processors. They keep getting faster and we keep running out of ways to keep track of them.

In the beginning, there was clock speed. Faster clock meant faster processor, right? Not so fast. Some processors – like some people – did more work than others in a given amount of time. So your 5-KHz UNIVAC might or might not be faster than my 3-KHz ENIAC.

So we created benchmarks. Let’s run LINPAC or Whetstone on both of ’em and see who finishes first. That was better, but it still told you only how well your computer ran that test. Not how well it would run any test. Maybe your machine is designed for integer arithmetic while mine is geared toward floating-point math.

 

Plunify’s FPGA Proof Point

Putting Your Tools Where Your Mouth Is

by Kevin Morris

Breaking into any part of the FPGA market ecosystem is a substantial challenge. Countless companies have launched with various novel ways to take advantage of FPGA technology, and the countryside is littered with the carnage of their decaying carcasses. It’s not a friendly environment out there in FPGA land.

Ironically, the biggest danger for FPGA startups is the FPGA companies themselves. Their track records over the past couple of decades have established them as shining examples of the “frenemy” concept. In order to succeed in FPGAs, you have to partner with the FPGA companies. Then, at some point, you generally find yourself competing with them in one way or another - usually by trying to sell tools or IP that they give away for free.

 

Quilt Packaging

A New Twist on 2D – or 3D

by Bryon Moyer

So you’re working on a big die, eh? Maybe a huge imaging die – sized to capture a wide field with high resolution? Yeah… die manufacturing yield isn’t so great, eh? What to do?

When you’re on an unfriendly part of the yield curve, yield drops non-linearly with die size, meaning that 4 dice that are ¼ the size of one big die will yield more than four times better, combined, than the one big die. (If both big and small dice are already yielding 99%, then four small dice won’t yield better than 100%...


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