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Getting Away from Rare Materials

Every couple months or so it’s not hard to find some mention somewhere in the mainstream media about the industrial world’s vulnerability with respect to rare materials. Obviously, anything that’s actually rare has a limited supply overall. In other cases, there may be lots of material, but if it’s locked up in one country, then that country has the potential to create scarcity at will. Makes everyone just a tad jumpy.

Not being a materials scientist per se, it’s always amazed me that some specific bizarre metal … Read More → "Getting Away from Rare Materials"

Next Generation Firewall and Other Apps

Netronome is building onto their flow-processing platform by layering software over the top. They just announced several “application kits”, including intrusion detection/prevention, SSL, IPsec, and deep packet inspection, but headlining the whole thing with a next-generation firewall  application.

They explained a bit of the firewall scene first by pointing out that the firewalls we think of that protect our computers or homes or businesses are a small … Read More → "Next Generation Firewall and Other Apps"

Better VIP Performance

As SoC designs have ballooned in size and scope, so has the effort required to verify them. A big part of what makes such large designs possible is the use of IP, especially for complex protocols. So that IP needs to play into the verification of the SoC.

But, while IP has raised the level of abstraction for design, it has lagged behind in verification. As Synopsys sees it, even just the complexity of design that’s now possible has driven up the verification burden tremendously due to what is now a scenario count twenty times … Read More → "Better VIP Performance"

Accounting for bondwire effects

It’s ISSCC week, and I got to see some interesting things, some of which go beyond interesting and possibly to significant. My focus was on MEMS, sensors, and emerging technologies. I’ll be following up on a number of bits and bobs here over the next several days.

In the MEMS/sensor realm, as was the case last year (where we did an entire series of sensor articles), the focus at ISSCC was on the conditioning circuits for sensors rather than the sensors themselves. … Read More → "Accounting for bondwire effects"

Missing LED Details

Two releases came out within a few days of each other that make very similar claims for very different reasons, with neither of them providing the real data that would back the claim.

On Monday, Plessey announced that they were cutting the cost of high-brightness LEDs by going to 6” GaN-on-Si technology; they were acquiring CamGaN, a Cambridge spin-out. They make their cost comparison to SiC or sapphire technology.

Then, on Tuesday, Cree announced that it was doubling the lumens/dollar (or, conversely, cutting the cost of a lumen in half) for its SiC technology. … Read More → "Missing LED Details"

What Comes Around… Is Reflected?

With higher-frequency (GHz) signals becoming more prevalent on trusty old-school FR-4 boards, it’s become increasingly important to test the quality of the lines – specifically, their insertion loss (SDD21) – as a PCB manufacturing step. The problem is that you have to probe both ends of a trace in order to do this. Not so hard in the lab, but high-volume testers aren’t really built for that – they want to probe in one place.

Two years ago at DesignCon, Intel proposed a new method of determining the insertion loss by taking time-domain … Read More → "What Comes Around… Is Reflected?"

A Diving Board, Water Drop, and Flashlight

Two gentlemen at the Institut d’Electronique, de Microélectronique et de Nanotechnologie (IEMN) at the University of Lille in France, have demonstrating an interesting proof of concept of a new mechanical switching mechanism that relies on the interplay between mechanical and capillary forces as well as how “wet” a drop can get.

The concept is based upon the fact that the wetting properties of a droplet – that is, how easily it spreads out on a surface – can be changed capacitively. Placing a drop on a thin insulator with a semiconductor … Read More → "A Diving Board, Water Drop, and Flashlight"

Engineering GaN Wafers

We talked before about wide bandgap materials such as GaN and SiC, but how are the base wafers for those materials created? Full wafers of expensive material would be, well, expensive. But if you grow or somehow affix the material on a base material of some other sort, you run the risk of having thermal issues at the boundary (at the very least).

Sumitomo and Soitec announced a joint approach recently that provides a GaN layer on top of some other substrate. The key is … Read More → "Engineering GaN Wafers"

From Conductor to Insulator

Graphene is one of those materials under vigorous study for use in future electronics. A single honeycomb layer of carbon atoms, it features high electron mobility but no bandgap, so, on its own, doesn’t work well as a semiconductor.

Add another layer, however, and, as we saw in our note on the next logic gate, interesting things may happen.

In particular, some UC Riverside researchers found that so-called bilayer graphene (BLG), which also has high mobility, can become an insulator … Read More → "From Conductor to Insulator"

MEMS Tool Upgrade

Back when we looked at CMOS-compatible MEMS, we also included a discussion of the MEMS design tools from Coventor. Those tools have just been upgraded. A few of the improvements are natural, even prosaic – 64-bit coverage, a unified GUI, improved Python support. All in the interests of performance, accuracy, and ease of use.

One more subtle change they’ve made gets to the way they do their analysis. The guts of what they provide is a set of solvers to solve the electrostatic, mechanical, and … Read More → "MEMS Tool Upgrade"

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