Every once in a while, I find it refreshing and stimulating to stop thinking about circuits and to ponder where we will get all of the electricity to power those circuits in the coming years. During a recent trip to the big island in Hawaii, I got a reminder. My wife and I visited NELHA, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, located between the ocean and the Kailua-Kona airport, and took a half-day “Friends of NELHA” tour, … Read More → "Extracting Power from Seawater without Nuclear Fusion"
“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four
Three engineers are sitting in a rowboat. None of them has any nautical experience or navigational instruments.
As hope for rescue fades, and with no other ships in sight, they pass the time discussing their careers (as you do). The oldest one is a veteran hardware/software developer with decades of experience. The middle one is in the prime of his career, and the youngest has just … Read More → "The Old Man and the C Debugger"
OK – quiz time: what do you think the top three upcoming applications for semiconductors are going to be?
If one of the categories you named wasn’t “automotive,” then you’re not doing your part in the echo chamber. (And you didn’t read the title carefully.) Everyone knows that Christmas is coming to the electronics world as cars convert from old-school mechanical to electrical “drive-by-wire” wherever possible.
And we know that this means tons more sensors in cars, so MEMS companies are going … Read More → "Will Cars Be a MEMS Sensor Bonanza?"
“Beep beep’m beep beep yeah,” – John Lennon and Paul McCartney
While several companies are expending significant resources and large amounts of energy to develop automated driving for passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses here on Earth, a dedicated group of scientists and engineers at JPL (the Jet Propulsion Lab) have been working on a related but significantly different problem: creating autonomous driving capabilities for Mars. Mars rovers are really far away – anywhere from 55 to 400 million kilometers distant depending on where the Earth and Mars are in their orbits. The speed of light … Read More → "Baby You Can Drive My Rover"
At CES 2019 in Las Vegas this week, Navin Shenoy – Intel Data Center Group executive vice president, announced the Intel Nervana Neural Network Processor for Inference, which will go into production this year. Back in 2016, Intel acquired Nervana, a 48-person AI SAAS startup from San Diego, for (reportedly) something like $408 million. Nervana was a software company at the time, providing a full-stack software-as-a-service platform called Nervana Cloud, based on an open-source framework called Neon (that rivaled Caffe, Tensorflow, and others), enabling the development of custom deep learning applications.
Nervana was also … Read More → "Intel Achieves AI Nervana"
“Don’t touch me there.” – The Tubes
The first transistor was invented in 1947, but did we stop there? No, our industry has been improving on that design for 70 years and counting. The first automobiles date from the 1880s, but progress hasn’t slowed there, either. The first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, and, well, maybe we should have just stopped there.
And what about touchscreens? Those have been around since 1965, and they’ve certainly improved … Read More → "SigmaSense ICCI Goes Big"
We’ve covered sound as a general topic quite a few times in these pages. When it comes to MEMS, however, most of that discussion has been around microphones. MEMS microphones have been a thing for a long time, even though advances continue.
“You can always tell an engineer. But you can’t tell him much.” — anonymous
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. At first blush, that would appear to be the strategy underlying Wave Computing’s recent move to open-source the MIPS microprocessor architecture, which it just acquired in June. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
Wave’s real goal is to sell its AI chips and license its proprietary AI technology, and the MIPS CPU underpinning all of that is just … Read More → "MIPS Turns Another Corner"
Smaller packages are always better, right? And you can’t get smaller than the die itself, right? I mean, if you can attach a bare die directly onto a substrate of some sort, then you’re not dealing with any space overhead caused by a package. Techniques for doing this are referred to – unsurprisingly – as chip-scale packaging, or CSP, indicating that the final packaged product is roughly the size of the chip itself.
Of course, when we talk size, we’re usually talking about the area of the die. But what about … Read More → "Half Silicon, Half Plastic"
So you need a precise, stable frequency, eh? Like, how stable? PPM stable? No problem… PPB stable? And just a few PPBs? Hmmm… that’s going to be more difficult. (And expensive.)
There are many, many ways to establish a frequency, and we’ve looked at some of them before. SiTime, in particular, has continued to bulk up their offering of MEMS oscillators – leading up to the recent announcementRead More → "It’s Getting Hot in Here"