AMD Gets All Tokyo with Fiji

Twenty-two die in a single package?

by Jim Turley

The semiconductor business is a lot like selling real estate. It’s not the dirt you’re paying for; it’s the location. A square acre in the middle of Manhattan will cost you a lot more than an acre in the desert (provided it’s not in the middle of a Saudi oil field). Likewise, a square millimeter of 28-nanometer silicon can cost a lot or a little, depending on who made it and what they did with it.

To stretch the analogy a bit further, the cost of the real estate also depends on what “improvements” you’ve made to the property. An empty field isn’t worth as much as a developed lot with a four-story apartment building on it (again, assuming your field isn’t atop a gold mine).

 

(Almost) Like FPGAs, Only Better

eASIC Chips Break the Mold

by Kevin Morris

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. eASIC does not make FPGAs. As their name implies, they make ASICs (sort of). But their ASICs might just be the best solution for your next FPGA design. They’ll do what you were probably wanting your FPGA to do, only faster, with less power, and at lower unit cost.

Huh?

The catch is, they are not “field programmable” or reprogrammable. Just like regular old ASICs, they come from the factory all configured with your custom design. Unlike ASICs, however, they don’t cost an arm and a leg in NRE and mask charges, they don’t take months-to-years and a small army of engineers to produce, and they can be customized in extremely small quantities. So, if your FPGA is really an “ASIC replacement,” you might want to see what eASIC can do for you.

 

A New Silvaco Emerges

Transforming the Family Business

by Bryon Moyer

You know that old Italian restaurant down the road a ways? Mamma – that’s what we called her; no one knew her actual name – ran that place for longer than anyone can remember. The recipes were secret. The books were… well, we don’t ask about the books. Money comes in, money goes out, shuddup and eat yer gnocchis, okay? Somehow, the bills got paid and the employees got paid and the customers kept coming.

And then something happened to Mamma. And the one person holding the whole thing together was no longer there to hold everything together. And now what happens? Folks know how to go on autopilot, so the plates of pasta keep coming, but sooner or later either Mamma’s secrets must all be unearthed or everyone simply has to find a new way. And that new way should learn from the challenges that arise when too much of the business is transacted inside the mind of one individual.

 

USB Type C for You and Me

Standards, Challenges, and Dynamics of USB Type C

by Amelia Dalton

It slices, it dices, it juliennes, and it doesn't care which way you plug it in - it's USB type C. Coming soon to a consumer electronic design near you, this new interface is bound to take the electronics world by storm. Well, that might be overstating things a bit. USB type C may not be the electronics equivalent of sliced bread, and it may not revolutionize the world of CE, but it will be pretty darn cool to start using in our designs (and our everyday lives). This week we're taking a closer look at the design challenges surrounding USB type C and how you can get it up and running in your next design. My guest is Gervais Fong and we're discussing all of this... and the wonder of BBQ too.

 

Silicon Pioneer

A review of "Moore's Law: the Life of Gordon Moore"

by Dick Selwood

More years ago than I want to think about, I expressed interest in a PR job at Intel. In a preliminary meeting, things were going well until I was asked how I dealt with confrontational situations. My reply, that I worked hard beforehand to make sure that the need for confrontation didn't arise, was clearly the wrong answer, and so - probably just as well - I never worked for Intel. After reading Moore's Law: the life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's quiet revolutionary, I now know why this was an important question.

Gordon Moore is the only widely known name from the founding fathers of the silicon age. This is in the main because of Moore's Law, which is misunderstood and misquoted daily. And, unlike many of the others of the founding fathers, he is still alive and the company he founded is still a major (if not the major) player. So a biography of a living legend should be more than welcome.

 

Ad-Hocurity

Lost in the Security Labyrinth

by Kevin Morris

No. Not another security article. Please, haven’t we all had enough? We’re afraid already. We are sick to death of the doomsday warnings about the number of glaring security holes in just about everything we touch and the inadequacy of our own security measures. We don’t want to be lectured again about how careless we’ve been. We don’t need to be pitched yet another snake-oil, safe-as-a-baby’s-bottom, can’t-survive-the-apocalypse-without-it, magic-button security solution - that costs only slightly more than the thing it’s protecting and probably makes it so hard to use that we’ll end up just giving up on the whole thing.

As an editor, I am pitched security stories constantly. It seems that new companies are starting up every single day with a mission to make money from our fear and paranoia. Yes, we could become the Henny Penny Technology Press, running around yelling about how the sky is falling and we’re all doomed. And yes, there are real security threats out there that require all of us - especially engineers - to take reasonable precautions. But our preoccupation with keeping the bad guys at bay may have gotten just a little out of hand, and it’s giving rise to an industry that’s possibly even less scrupulous than those it purports to defend us against.

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