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It is Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future*

In the last few weeks, I have been exposed to a firehose of information about the future of electronics, firstly at the Arm Research Summit and then at the Future Horizons’ Mid-Year Industry Forecast Briefing.

The first drink from the firehouse was from Future Horizons. And the good news is – the news is good. Malcolm Penn, the Chair and CEO of Future Horizons, always starts his forecasting with the global economy as, “For the last ten years the economy has been the driving factor for the [semiconductor] industry. The industry … Read More → "It is Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future*"

What Is Silicone, Anyway?

“Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy.” — Temple Grandin

We’ve all been there. You go to visit your great-uncle Cletus in East Fishbait, Oklahoma, and he asks you about living and working in Silicone Valley. You laugh and say your job is really in Santa Clara. “Silicone Valley is in Hollywood, ha-ha.”

The joke falls flat because, like most of your relatives, he confuses silicon with silicone. It’s just … Read More → "What Is Silicone, Anyway?"

The People’s Processor

The capitalist computing bourgeoisie want to enslave us all with proprietary processing architectures, but the proletariat eventually produces its own processor alternative – an ISA for and by the people, where instruction sets aren’t subject to the whim of the royalty-driven class, and where licensing fees don’t oppress the workers’ BOMs. RISC-V is that ISA – the people’s processor, the unmoving, unwavering instruction set whose implementation carries no fees or encumbrances, whose workings are left to the needs of the engineer, and whose performance isn’t controlled by or limited by the ruling class.

The RISC-V … Read More → "The People’s Processor"

Everything Is Harder Than It Looks

“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

I was a professional photographer’s model, briefly. Very briefly. And unintentionally. And by that, I mean the photographer was professional. I wasn’t. But he needed a warm body to populate a carefully staged and well-lighted shot for some new product catalog, and he decided that having someone sit at a desk made the shot more believable. My modeling career lasted one shutter click.

My takeaway from the whole experience was that photography … Read More → "Everything Is Harder Than It Looks"

Raising the eFPGA Bar

The recent explosion of FPGA-based compute acceleration has created an enormous new market opportunity for programmable logic. With demanding new applications such as neural networks on the rise, specialized hardware is required for offloading computation loads for newer applications – both in data centers and in edge devices and systems. Traditional FPGA companies like Xilinx and Intel/Altera are making enormous pushes to capture this rapidly emerging market.

Traditionally, FPGAs have been relegated to mostly low-volume and prototyping roles, with ASSPs and custom chips coming along and snatching the high volume sales as applications rolled into the mainstream. … Read More → "Raising the eFPGA Bar"

Software Parallelization Evolves

At the beginning of this year, we looked at a new company that was attacking the whole issue of creating efficient multicore code that works identically to a single-core version. If you haven’t involved yourself in that, it might seem simple – but it’s anything but.

The company was – and still is – Silexica. And, like everyone else that’s tried to plow this field, they continue to learn about the … Read More → "Software Parallelization Evolves"

The Blue-Ribbon Cloud Crowd

“I’ll go through life either first class or third, but never in second.” – Noel Coward

Goat yoga is a real thing. Parking meters are becoming “urban street kiosks.” CompuServe is still alive, although it’s down to its last dozen employees. And Wind River Systems would like to sell you a bridge.

As the world gets weirder, it’s nice to know that some things never change. Wind River – long a part of the embedded-systems world and more recently a part … Read More → "The Blue-Ribbon Cloud Crowd"

Hug a Data Scientist

It’s been a long and mutually-productive relationship, but it’s time to break up.

For the five-decades-plus run of Moore’s Law, we electronics engineers have been married to software engineers. It’s been a love/hate relationship for sure, but together the two communities have achieved the single greatest accomplishment in the history of technology – the evolution of the modern computing infrastructure. During the five decades of collaboration, we have seen orders of magnitude of progress in every aspect of the global computing machine. … Read More → "Hug a Data Scientist"

The Many Flavors of SOI

At this year’s Semicon West show, Soitec made a presentation summarizing the state of the union with respect to silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology. We’ve looked at FD-SOI a couple of times, particularly with respect to GlobalFoundries’ implementations at 22 and 12 nm. But today we’re going to look more generically at the technology – and the fact that there are various extant flavors of SOI and that that will continue. (We’ll return to GlobalFoundries in < … Read More → "The Many Flavors of SOI"

featured blogs
Nov 17, 2017
CASPA is the Chinese American Semiconductor Professional Association. Once a year they have their annual conference and dinner banquet. I ended up getting involved with them a few years ago when I stepped in with 24-hours' notice to moderate a panel session for them, plu...
Nov 15, 2017
SuperComputing 2017 remains in full force this week from the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.  There are lots of activity in presentations, seminars, demonstrations and exhibits on the tradeshow floor. Stay tuned to the Samtec blog the rest of the week for more highligh...
Nov 16, 2017
“Mommy, Daddy … Why is the sky blue?” As you scramble for an answer that lies somewhere between a discussion of refraction in gasses and “Oh, look—a doggie!” you already know the response to whatever you say will be a horrifyingly sincere “B...
Nov 07, 2017
Given that the industry is beginning to reach the limits of what can physically and economically be achieved through further shrinkage of process geometries, reducing feature size and increasing transistor counts is no longer achieving the same result it once did. Instead the...