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Bill Godbout Perishes in Northern California’s Camp Fire

 

People of a certain age, who mindfully lived through the early microcomputer revolution during the first half of the 1970s, know about Bill Godbout. He was that guy who sent out crudely photocopied parts catalogs for all kinds of electronic components, sold from a Quonset hut near Oakland airport. Godbout also developed electronic kits (including DMMs and clocks) and boards and supported the budding electronic music industry as well. I received many of his catalogs and recall ordering sixteen precious 2012 1Kbit SRAMs from him for my senior EE project—a logic analyzer.

By 1976, Godbout … Read More → "Bill Godbout Perishes in Northern California’s Camp Fire"

Costs for Sub-20nm Wafers put Another Nail in Moore’s Law’s Coffin

 

IC Insights has just published the September Update to The 2018 McClean Report, and one figure (reproduced below) puts yet another nail into the coffin for poor old Moore’s Law. Now please take care. There’s a vertical line between the 200mm wafers on the left going down to 0.13 micron lithography and 300mm wafers on the right, going down to 20nm. Per-wafer costs more than doubled going from 0.13 microns to 90nm, but the available real estate on a 300mm wafer is more than twice that on a 200mm wafer, so the cost … Read More → "Costs for Sub-20nm Wafers put Another Nail in Moore’s Law’s Coffin"

Neural Networks are Finding a Place at the Adult’s Table

 

The deep learning revolution is the most interesting thing happening in the electronics industry today, said Chris Rowen during his keynote speech at the Electronic Design Process Symposium (EDPS), held last month at the Milpitas headquarters of SEMI, the industry association for the electronics supply chain. “The hype can hardly be understated,” continued Rowen. Search “deep learning” on Google and you’ll already get more than three billion hits. (Well, I got 20M for “deep learning” and 451M for “artificial intelligence,” but still, that’s a lot.) “ … Read More → "Neural Networks are Finding a Place at the Adult’s Table"

AI for EDA: Rohit Sharma’s view from EDPS

 

Rohit Sharma is the founder and CEO of Pairpath, an EDA company with a clear mission:

“Enable customers squeeze every pico-second of performance and every milli-watt of power by efficiently providing sign-off accurate models.”

At the recent Electronic Process Design Symposium (EDPS) held at SEMI’s HQ in Milpitas, Sharma discussed the role(s) that AI might play in EDA. He started by noting that AI/ML research now consumes more than 1% of the world’s R&D budget. (Other EDPS speakers … Read More → "AI for EDA: Rohit Sharma’s view from EDPS"

Micron announces $100M venture fund for AI and $1M AI research grant program

 

Yesterday at an inaugural AI event called Insight’18, held at the ultramodern Pier 27 overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge, Micron Technology announced a $100M venture fund and a $1M academic research grant program, both dedicated to AI. Insight’18, spearheaded by Micron, included a day’s worth of presentations and panels devoted to the latest AI developments.

Why did Micron create a high visibility event around AI? Quite possibly because the company has tired of processors getting all of the white-hot AI limelight in article after article and event after event. From the … Read More → "Micron announces $100M venture fund for AI and $1M AI research grant program"

New life for old cameras: The I’m Back digital camera back brings 35mm film cameras into the 21st century

 

Filmmakers know that lenses are investments and camera bodies are expense items. Lenses are forever (unless you drop them).

I have owned Canon SLRs and dSLRs continuously since 1972. I’m a Canon guy. When Canon introduced the new EOS EF lens mount system in the early 1990s, it obsoleted all of my old FD series lenses but I didn’t care. I continued to use the old lenses as I had for two decades. However, when Canon finally made a responsive dSLR worth having—and named it the 20D—so I was “forced” to … Read More → "New life for old cameras: The I’m Back digital camera back brings 35mm film cameras into the 21st century"

Amazon creates Goldilocks-sized AWS EC2 F1 FPGA instance for cloud computing

AWS (Amazon Web Services) released for general use its FPGA-based EC2 F1 instances in its cloud computing lineup in July, 2017. The EC2 F1 instance is based on Xilinx’s 16nm Virtex UltraScale FPGAs and people have been using this cloud-based hardware acceleration capability to speed up the execution of diverse tasks including the implementation of CNNs (convolutions neural networks), video transcoding, and genome sequencing. I’m certain there’s been some experimentation with high-frequency equity trading as well, but no one’s talking. Not to me, anyway.

Problem was, you could either get one FPGA (the so-called “ … Read More → "Amazon creates Goldilocks-sized AWS EC2 F1 FPGA instance for cloud computing"

Will We Ever Really Know Who Invented the Microprocessor?

 

FPGA luminary David Laws has just published a well-researched blog on the Computer History Museum’s Web site titled “Who invented the Microprocessor?” If you’re wildly waving your raised hand right now, going “Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Call on me!” to get teacher’s attention because you think you know the answer, then you don’t understand that it’s a trick question. It all depends on how you define the word “microprocessor,” doesn’t it?

According to Laws, there is no lack of good … Read More → "Will We Ever Really Know Who Invented the Microprocessor?"

For Lease: Birthplace of the IC

 

The lease listing on the Pacific American Group’s Web site reads:

“Eight Forty Four East Charleston Road is a historically relevant commercial building in Palo Alto. This building was key in the development of Silicon Valley’s computer business. Here, Robert Noyce and others co-invented the integrated circuit board.”

Well, it’s close anyway.

I don’t really expect commercial real estate agents to fully grok what happened nearly 60 years ago on this site, in this building—not even … Read More → "For Lease: Birthplace of the IC"

Visiting Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel High Atop Mt. Umunhum. (And You Can Too!)

You might think that Labor Day Weekend is perhaps not the ideal time to visit Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel from the Cold War era, but my wife thought so. And so we went. The Sentinel is a large, multi-story, concrete tower that looms over the southern part of Silicon Valley. I looked at it frequently when I worked at Xilinx in South San Jose. It’s quite visible from the campus.

That immense box sitting atop Mt. Umunhum is easy to see from a wide swath of the valley.

And that was the whole … Read More → "Visiting Silicon Valley’s Silent Sentinel High Atop Mt. Umunhum. (And You Can Too!)"

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  People of a certain age, who mindfully lived through the early microcomputer revolution during the first half of the 1970s, know about Bill Godbout. He was that guy who sent out crudely photocopied parts catalogs for all kinds of electronic components, sold from a Quon...