What’s Coming When?
As we continue to try (and succeed at) stuffing more circuity into a tiny space than physics allows without great cleverness, we are drifting more and more into the use of multiple patterning. We’ve looked at this a number of times, starting with the simplistic view of litho-etch-litho-etch (LELE) approach and then digging deep into the far less intuitive self-aligned (or spacer-assisted) double-patterning (SADP).
As we’ve mentioned here and there, these technologies are, to some extent, in production – and more is coming. What’s a bit confusing is what’s coming when and why. Today’s musings attempt to sort that out.
But before we do that, let’s do a quick review (with more details available in the prior pieces linked above). Multiple patterning is a trick we play so that we can place features closer together than can be done with a single exposure. The solution? Split the mask pattern in half and do two exposures.
Lattice's iCE40 Ultra and Xilinx at
Bienvenido a Fish Fry! Welcome to this week’s field programmable Fish Frying festivities. First to join the podcastin' party is Joy Wrigley from Lattice Semiconductor. Joy and I discuss how FPGAs are breaking into the IoT scene and why low power will make all the difference in tomorrow’s mobile designs. Joining the fun next is Barrie Mullins from Xilinx. Barrie and I chat about how Vivado is playing a bigger role in this year's X-fest and why this conference isn't just for FPGA designers.
Movidius Camera Processor Helps Drones As Well As Doctors
Video surveillance, CCTV, camera-toting drones, cellphone video, stoplight cameras – they’re everywhere! It seems as though no public space isn’t being recorded, filed, uploaded, and possibly analyzed for malfeasance. The common factor in all these scenarios is digital cameras.
And what do all digital cameras need? Lots of storage, lots of bandwidth, and lots of processing power. Grabbing frame after frame of unrefined, uncompressed video isn’t interesting. You need to massage the video before it’s useful. That means some combination of white balance, edge detection, smoothing, compressing, artefact reduction, and possibly image recognition. That’s a lot of work on a lot of pixels, in very little time.
The Quest for Truth in Engineering
“Why don’t they just put solar cells on top of cars and power them that way?”
His tone implied that the engineers designing cars were just idiots, and he was sure he could do better - with just this one idea. I was going to answer with some helpful information about the amount of energy required to operate an automobile, the amount of energy collected by even idealized solar cells, and the amount of area available on top of a typical vehicle. I didn’t get the chance.
His friend interrupted, “Well that’s just the government shutting them down. The oil companies have the government in their pocket, and they’re not about to let anyone develop technology like that. It’s the same with that 200 MPG carburetor that guy in Florida invented…”
Now, I was more hesitant to speak. I wanted to explain that modern, sensor-driven, computer-controlled fuel injection systems did a much better job achieving near-ideal fuel-air mixtures than any carburetor could ever hope to accomplish. I didn’t get the chance.
IoT Business Model Ruminations
When you think about it, the much-vaunted launch of the Internet of Things (IoT) represents an enormous investment in research, development, and rollout. Much is made of all the cool things we’ll be able to do once it’s all in place, but I see less discussion of what the return will be on all of that investment. After all, some of us may be focused on this because we think the technology is cool, but someone else has to pay us, and so they’re going to want to see something for their efforts in the long-run.
You might wonder, for example, why a simple, self-respecting thermostat maker would want to get all complicated by adding a bunch of functionality to the poor little wall-mounted bugger, bringing the phone and cloud into the party as well. If you’re that thermostat guy and you’re using classical marketing thinking, then one reason for doing this might be so that your thermostat will do more than your competitors’, and so you’ll sell more than they will.
The return? The extra profits from the extra sales.
Education Meets High Tech
This week Fish Fry is all about technological innovation in education. From kindergarten to college, from Malaysia to Texas, we look into recent technological advances that aim to even the educational playing field in the United States and across the globe. My first guest is Scott McDonald (Rorke Global Solutions). Scott unveils Rorke’s new digital learning system and discusses with me how Rorke was motivated to break ground on this high tech education revolution. (We also throw in some basketball trash talk.) Keeping with our education theme, Silicon Cloud International CEO Mojy Chian joins Fish Fry to explore the future of cloud computing and how Silicon Cloud International's educational cloud centers hope to create a whole new generation of chip designers.