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Weekly Chip-Science Highlights – Aug. 15th

By John Blyler

More on Moore’s Law; Thought-Controlled Cameras; Neurons on Chip; IP Bag; Quantum Dots and blogs.

Here’s a mixed of semiconductor-related articles and blogs that caught my attention this week:

  • Can our computers continue to get smaller and more powerful? – Have we reached the limits to computation? In a review article in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, Igor Markov of the University of Michigan reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, identifying “loose” limits and viable opportunities for advancements through the use of emerging technologies. His research for this project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • Thought-Controlled Camera Confirms IoT Trends – Software start-ups will dominate growth in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) as demonstrated by MindRDR’s application that combines Google Glass and Neurosky biosensor hardware.
  • Brain-inspired chip fits 1m ‘neurons’ on postage stamp – Scientists have produced a new computer chip that mimics the organization of the brain, and squeezed in one million computational units called “neurons”. They describe it as a supercomputer the size of a postage stamp. Each neuron on the chip connects to 256 others, and together they can pick out the key features in a visual scene in real time, using very little power.

Figure: TrueNorth is the first single, self-contained chip to achieve 256 million individually programmable synapses on chip which is a new paradigm. (TrueNorth Core Array, Courtesy of IBM)

  • (Potato) Chip Bags IP – The latest research from MIT, Microsoft and Adobe on recovering speech from the vibrations of ordinary objects confirms the growing importance of software IP.
  • With sharp focus, quantum dot makers scale up to meet demand – This Reuters article discusses the huge growth in the demand quantum dots, the semiconductor crystals that use less power and are cheaper than organic LEDs.


Industry Blogs:

  • Kathryn Kranen discusses Jasper, formal verification and the Cadence Acquisition.
  • Mentor’s Colin Walls shares his love of writing, especially embedded software articles about assembly language to software IP.
  • Another interesting blog from Mentor. This time, Christopher Hallinan explores hardware and software complexity via th Yocto Project.
  • Summer is a time for big trips. Synopsys’s Tom d Schutter recently shared an adventure with his family through the westernUS states. That trip sparked comparisons with the task of staring a virtual prototyping project. Finding similarities between function trace information and the unexpected buffalo crossings atYellowstoneNational Park is not an easy task, but Tom pulls it off.
  • Satellite Crowdfunding, Then and Now – Did you know that the first satellite sent up by theUnited Stateswas originally planned to be crowdfunded? Did you also know that the newest amateur satellite sent up in the third quarter of next year will be crowdfunded as well? by Hamilton Carter


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