Tag Archives: Semiconductor

Are reports of IBM sale ‘greatly exaggerated?’


By Dan D’Ambrosio – “It’s hard to buy a smartphone that doesn’t have IBM content in it today,” senior technical staff member Mark Jaffe said.

“I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. I think this has nine chips that we make in it.”

If somebody cracked open Jaffe’s smartphone, there would be no chips bearing the IBM logo. That’s by design.

IBM sells to suppliers who sell to manufacturers including Apple Inc. and Samsung Group. IBM has no plans to launch its equivalent of the “Intel Inside” campaign. more> http://tinyurl.com/mtm2mvq

Debugging with printf() or not …


By Colin Walls – The first real debugger for embedded software, which enabled developers to see what was happening in high level language terms, was XRAY Debugger, which was released by Microtec Research in late 1986.

The timing of this release made sense, as it was just beginning to be feasible for each programmer to have their own computer. Before that, programming was largely done on paper in the first instance, and only entered on to a computer when access was available. This meant that programmers were quite careful and would “dry run” their code by hand before going anywhere near a computer. I have a sneaking suspicion that there were a few less bugs in those days, simply because time on a computer was precious and more thought was given to the code before it was entered. Nowadays, the approach of just throwing code at a debugger is all too common. more> http://tinyurl.com/dy9ua97

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A cooler way to protect silicon surfaces


By David L. Chandler – Silicon, the material of high-technology devices from computer chips to solar cells, requires a surface coating before use in these applications. The coating “passivates” the material, tying up loose atomic bonds to prevent oxidation that would ruin its electrical properties. But this passivation process consumes a lot of heat and energy, making it costly and limiting the kinds of materials that can be added to the devices.

Now a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers has found a way to passivate silicon at room temperature, which could be a significant boon to solar cell production and other silicon-based technologies. more> http://tinyurl.com/acc9k7l

DARPA funds research for electronics that disappear


R&D Magazine – What if these electronics simply disappeared when no longer needed? DARPA announces the Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program with the aim of revolutionizing the state of the art in transient electronics or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them. Transient electronics developed under VAPR should maintain the current functionality and ruggedness of conventional electronics, but, when triggered, be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings. Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them. more> http://tinyurl.com/a9awpvm

IBM’s nanophotonic tech integrates optic data right into chips


By Sean Gallagher – Silicon nanophotonics were first demonstrated by IBM in 2010 (pdf) as part of IBM Research’s efforts to build Blue Waters, the NCSA supercomputer project that the company withdrew from in 2011. But IBM Research continued to develop the technology, and today announced that it was ready for mass production. For the first time, the technology “has been verified and manufactured in a 90-nanometer CMOS commercial foundry,” Dr. Solomon Assefa, Nanophotonics Scientist for IBM Research, told Ars. more> http://tinyurl.com/c5tzj82

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

Quartz glass computer storage that lasts 100 mn years


Super Hitachi Train

Super Hitachi Train (Photo credit: Marufish)

Firstpost – Hitachi has unveiled a new method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever.

“The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven’t necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones,” Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii was quoted as saying.

The chip is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, and can be exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius for at least two hours without being damaged. more> http://tinyurl.com/9ug765s