Archive for September, 2013
Thursday, September 26th, 2013
A Professor, a Sage, and a Guru walked into a bar. Brian the Bartender, greeted them: “What’ll it be, boys?”
The Professor said, “We need some help, Brian, settling an argument.”
“No problema,” Brian the Bartender said. “I’ve got an answer for everything.”
“Well,” the Professor said, “I think ESL’s not going to happen in our lifetime, but the Guru here says it’s just around the corner now that he and his have finally got all the pieces of the flow in place.”
Brian the Bartender laughed, “Yeah, the Guru’s been saying that since the dawn of mankind!”
“Exactly,” the Professor said.
Again Brian the Bartender laughed, “Guru, can you defend yourself? And don’t even think about plunking your wordy White Paper down on the bar. This is a public house, not a public library.”
Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Mentor Graphics has thrilled once again. This past Monday, they hosted one of their periodic Silicon Valley dinners for customers, press and analysts where they include a physicist on the menu along with a gourmet meal and lots of fine reds and whites. The physicist de jour on September 16th was Cal Tech celeb Sean Carroll, author of the best selling book, The Particle at the End of the Universe.
An excellent speaker, gifted and glib, Carroll walked his audience of 75+ through stuff they once knew but had forgotten, or never knew at all – the history of the science of particle physics, the evolution of field theory, and the importance of Geneva-based CERN and its still-wet-behind-the-ears Large Hadron Collider [LHC], which last year on July 4th validated its $9 billion+ price tag by smashing things around a bit and creating the first observable Higgs boson.
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Several weeks ago on a warm, sunny day in New York City, we took the subway south from mid-town Manhattan to return to the World Trade Center after a 10-year hiatus.
The last time we were there in 2003, the skies were gray, the rain intermittent, and the enormous site still cordoned off by an endless chain-link fence. With thousands of other silent tourists, we wandered way around the soggy gaping hole, crossed a covered catwalk, and were channeled into the lobby of the World Financial Center to see models of proposals for the site – a range of different commercial towers combined with various concepts of memorials that might be incorporated into the rebuilt complex.
Returning now in 2013, we did not know what to expect; we were only vaguely aware of how the place is being brought back to life. Had a stranger on the subway not told us, we would not have known that you need tickets to get into the site, that the ticket office is several blocks away from the entrance, and that you will be assigned an entry time that may be hours away. We decided to try to go anyway.
Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Herb Reiter, founder and president of eda2asic, has been in the semiconductor and EDA industry for 30+ years, including stints at Barcelona Design, Viewlogic, Synopsys, VLSI Technology, and National Semiconductor. In the last few years, Reiter’s work has focused on SOI, 2.5/3D ICs, and FinFET topics in semiconductor design and manufacturing. Straightforward enough, until you realize that these are significantly different ‘3D’ technologies, where ‘3D’ means different things to different people.
In a recent phone call, I asked Reiter to distinguish between what he calls the “three legs” of technology choices and to weigh in on which “leg” is most likely to succeed.
Fully-depleted SOI …
Per Reiter, “The original technology was partially-depleted SOI, a fairly thin film of silicon on top of a thin insulating layer. IBM came up with the idea, because substrate capacitance was slowing their chips down. They realized if they put in the insulating layer, they wouldn’t have to worry about substrate capacitance, because the oxide layer would insulate things.
“The planar transistor gate cannot reach all of the electrons in an 80-nanometer channel, cannot fully control the flow, and causes what we called ‘body-effect’ and ‘kink-effect’ design challenges. That’s why partially-depleted SOI was not widely used. So fully-depleted silicon on insulator, FDSOI, was introduced. It only has about a 20-nanometer active film on top of the oxide layer. The gate is sitting on top of the active film and can control all of the electrons passing through the source/drain channel, which is why it’s called fully-depleted SOI.