Tag Archives: Integrated circuit

Squeezing transistors really hard generates energy savings

R&D – Tom van Hemert and Ray Hueting of the Univ. of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology have shown that leakage current can be radically reduced by “squeezing” the transistor with a piezoelectric material (which expands or contracts when an electrical charge is applied to it).

In modern microchips, every single transistor is continuously exposed to enormous pressures of up to 10,000 atmospheres. This pressure is sealed in during the manufacturing process, by surrounding the transistors with compressive materials. While this boosts the chip’s processing speed, the leakage current also increases. The use of piezoelectric material means that the transistors are only put under pressure when this is necessary. This can generate considerable savings in terms of energy consumption. more> http://tinyurl.com/nrk5of2


9 Issues Face Today’s Semiconductor Supply Chain

JB’s Circuit – While the GSA report focuses on China, the challenges apply to the global IC supply chain market.

The GSA recently released its “State of China IC Design Industry 2012” report. While primarily focused on China, the report characterizes global challenges facing the semiconductor industry.

The GSA report lists nine major changes facing the supply chain process: more> http://tinyurl.com/ap2rlac

The Sky Isn’t Falling

English: 3D IC

English: 3D IC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ann Steffora Mutschler – 3D ICs add a new dimension to design with new degrees of freedom possible, even with the added design and manufacturing complexities.

Steve Smith, senior director for 3D-IC strategy at Synopsys agreed. “I don’t think fundamentally the ownership rules have changed. The guy with the money is the end user of the silicon, the package and so on. In a chip manufacturing environment, maybe a fabless chip company is responsible for the entire procurement process so they might buy wafers, they might buy diced parts, and they will pick a packaging company to package that together. They have to design the package, so they are responsible for that. They are responsible for providing test vectors to test it maybe in an outsourced OSAT.” more> http://tinyurl.com/9uadj3h

Researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements

R&D Mag – As nanotechnology becomes ever more ubiquitous, researchers are using it to make medical diagnostics smaller, faster, and cheaper, in order to better diagnose diseases, learn more about inherited traits, and more. But as sensors get smaller, measuring them becomes more difficult—there is always a tradeoff between how long any measurement takes to make and how precise it is. And when a signal is very weak, the tradeoff is especially big.

A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering, led by Electrical Engineering Professor Ken Shepard, together with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, has figured out a way to measure nanopores—tiny holes in a thin membrane that can detect single biological molecules such as DNA and proteins—with less error than can be achieved with commercial instruments. They have miniaturized the measurement by designing a custom integrated circuit using commercial semiconductor technology, building the nanopore measurement around the new amplifier chip. Their research is published in the advance online publication on Nature Methods‘ website on March 18, 2012. more> http://tinyurl.com/6o6l9gx

Made in IBM Labs

IBM – IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists developed a prototype optical chipset, dubbed “Holey Optochip”, that is the first parallel optical transceiver to transfer one trillion bits – one terabit – of information per second, the equivalent of downloading 500 high definition movies.

With the ability to move information at blazing speeds – eight times faster than parallel optical components available today – the breakthrough could transform how data is accessed, shared and used for a new era of communications, computing and entertainment. The raw speed of one transceiver is equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users at today’s typical 10 Mb/s high-speed internet access.

“Reaching the one trillion bit per second mark with the Holey Optochip marks IBM’s latest milestone to develop chip-scale transceivers that can handle the volume of traffic in the era of big data,” said IBM Researcher Clint Schow, part of the team that built the prototype. “We have been actively pursuing higher levels of integration, power efficiency and performance for all the optical components through packaging and circuit innovations. We aim to improve on the technology for commercialization in the next decade with the collaboration of manufacturing partners.”

Using a novel approach, scientists in IBM labs developed the Holey Optochip by fabricating 48 holes through a standard silicon CMOS chip. The holes allow optical access through the back of the chip to 24 receiver and 24 transmitter channels to produce an ultra-compact, high-performing and power-efficient optical module capable of record setting data transfer rates. more> http://is.gd/KXDPxY