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KLA-Tencor’s New Reticle Inspector

Seems like no aspect of IC design and production escapes the need for All Things to Get Harder and Harder, requiring ever-better solutions. Today we look at reticle inspection, and, in particular, at KLA-Tencor efforts to adapt their Teron system, originally intended for mask shop use, to the needs of production fabs. The idea is that, when new reticles come into the fab, they need to be inspected as a basic QC step. And, after 300-600 or so uses, they need to be re-qualified to make sure that acquired defects aren’t reducing die yield.

One … Read More → "KLA-Tencor’s New Reticle Inspector"

Wireless Power and Heating

We covered wireless power before, and one of the points of differentiation was that of inadvertent heating of nearby items. With systems using the lower 200-kHz frequency range, nearby largish metal items like coins and keys can heat up. The systems themselves are designed to detect this and shut the charger down, which addresses the safety issue. It’s just a bother if you think your phone is being charged when in fact it isn’t due to something else around there.

But then it was pointed out that heating can theoretically be an issue … Read More → "Wireless Power and Heating"

Who Uses Power-Over-Ethernet?

Maxim recently released a reference board (called Pasadena) that implements power-over-Ethernet (PoE). As we were discussing it, I inquired about who is really using PoE. I mean, I’m familiar with it, and yet I hardly ever hear anything about it actually being used.

Figure.jpg

(Image courtesy Maxim)

They pointed out three specific target markets:

IoT Via WiFi

We recently looked at levels of data communication in the Internet of Things (IoT) and established three levels:

–          Formal communications protocol level (e.g., TCP/IP)

–          Generic data level (e.g., Xively)

–          Business objects

At the recent Internet of Things Engineering Summit, I talked with another company that illustrates some of … Read More → "IoT Via WiFi"

How Does Multicore Affect Code Coverage?

Multicore systems can be a b…east to verify code on, depending on how you have things constructed. Left to, say, an OS scheduler, code execution on your average computer is not deterministic because of the possibility of interruption by other programs or external interrupts. So it becomes nigh unto impossible to prove behavior for safety-critical systems.

Lesson #1 from this fact is, “Don’t do that.” Critical code for multicore must be carefully designed to guarantee provably deterministic performance. But lesson #2 is, when tools claim to analyze multicore code, you have to ask … Read More → "How Does Multicore Affect Code Coverage?"

IoT Paranoia – Not a Bad Thing

While the Internet of Things (IoT) is full of promise, there’s one word that summarizes all that people fear about it: security.

We got to hear a bit about that at a session dedicated to the topic at the recent Internet of Things Engineering Summit co-conference at EE Live. Presented by consultant George Neville-Neil, it wasn’t about technology per se; it was about our state of mind.

Most of us believe it’s important to keep intruders out. His main takeaway: assume they will get in. Because, eventually, they will. … Read More → "IoT Paranoia – Not a Bad Thing"

A Tale of Two Networks

I was talking to Atmel the other day – they had announced the release of their ATPL230 power line communication (PLC) chip, which was filling in of one of the squares in the strategy that we reported on some months ago. PLC is one of the ways in which smart meters can communicate back with the utility. But when you look at Atmel’s overall communication strategy for smart energy devices, … Read More → "A Tale of Two Networks"

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