Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#MEMS: "Built-in MEMS resonators beat quartz"

Quartz resonators are a multi-billion dollar market that SiTime hopes to crack with its new micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) resonator which it says have equal performance at a fraction of the size. Look for MEMS resonators to start eroding quartz crystals over the next three years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

SiTime's novel MEMS resonator can be wirebonded to any CMOS die inside its package to eliminate external quartz crystals.

Here is what my story in EETimes says about MEMS resonators: Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) resonators can now be integrated inside a semiconductor vendor's own plastic packages, eliminating the need for an external time base like a quartz crystal for real-time clocks. The world's first MEMS resonator for real-time clocks is being offered as a bare-die to CMOS chip makers by SiTime Corp...
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Monday, November 29, 2010

#CHIPS: "NIST aims quartz microbalance at nanotech"

Nanotechnology is challenging our traditional metrological techniques for measuring the purity of a compound, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) thinks they have an answer. Look for NIST's new metrological regime to be widely adopted among semiconductor researchers and manufacturers. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

NIST prepares quartz crystal microbalance disks with samples of carbon nanotubes for microscale thermogravimetric analysis with sample sizes as small as one microgram. Credit: Kar/NIST.

Here is what my story in EETimes says about MEMS resonators: Using a new twist on the traditional thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) technique, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrated a new method for taking Nanoscale measurements of the purity of carbon-nanotubes, coated-nanoparticles and surface features on thin films. NIST demonstrated its new TGA microbalance built atop a vibrating quartz crystal, thereby enabling measurements almost 1000-times more sensitive than today...
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#OPTICAL: "CMOS optical pulse compressor debuts"

In the future, all CMOS chips will communicate by modulating beams of light that silicon waveguides are routing around, between and among semiconductor chips and the systems using them. The pulse compressor demonstrated here is one more component for future engineers to use when designing CMOS optical interconnects. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of dispersive grating for generating short, pulses of light for optical interconnects.
Credit: UC San Diego / Dawn Tan.

Here is what my story in EETimes says about MEMS resonators: Silicon photonic pulse compressors were demonstrated on CMOS chips recently by researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). To be used for optical time division multiplexing (OTDM) in future on-chip silicon photonics, the pulse compressor design used a dispersive optical grating to generate short, powerful communications pulses on a CMOS chip. UCSD claimed its pulse compressor is the first CMOS implementation strong enough for OTDM...
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#ALGORITHMS: "Microsoft Opens Windows to Cloud Computing"

Azure has five main parts: Compute, Storage, the Fabric Controller, Content Delivery Network and Connect.

Amazon may still have the largest cloud computing platform, but Microsoft's Azure is growing more quickly, signing up major accounts, and giving scientists and researchers free access just for switching from Linux to Windows. Look for a massive brain drain from Linux to Windows while the free offer is in effect, then the door slamming shut in about 18 months when Microsoft figures they've gotten enough programmers to switch and starts charging--just a little at first. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @ NextGenLog

Azure applications run in Microsoft data centers and are accessed via the Internet.

Here is what my story in Smarter Technology says about MEMS resonators: Microsoft is making a major effort to reinvent itself as a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS), promising to shift the majority of its engineering efforts away from PC-centric computing to cloud computing—turning its popular Windows platform into a smart terminal for its online applications and storage regimes in the cloud called Azure...
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#KYOTO-PRIZE: "Kyoto Prize Winner Revolutionizing IT Network Design"

Three Kyoto Prizes were awarded this year to Shinya Yamanaka for a stem cell breakthrough, Laszlo Lovasz for his algorithms and William Kentridge for his "drawings in motion" (left to right).

Today IT managers need to buy time on a supercomputer to run an accurate simulation of a large network, but Kyoto Prize winner Laszlo Lavasz wants to enable even large complex networks to be simulated on PC-sized models. Look for Lovasz' new algorithm next year when he will be a resident scholar at Princeton University. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Ceremonial globes were presented by Japanese children to Kyoto Prize winners, Kentridge, Lovasz and Yamanaka during the ceremony.

Here is what my story at Smarter Technology says about the Kyoto Prize: Tools for accurately modeling very large networks—from server farms to wireless sensor nets—are being enabled by the pioneering mathematical tools of this year's Kyoto Prize winner, Laszlo Lovasz. Half-million dollar awards were also made to stem-cell innovator Shinya Yamanaka and artistic groundbreaker William Kentridge. The Kyoto Prize—which has for 25 years aimed to rival the Nobel Prize—this year bestows three $550,000 awards to Laszlo Lovasz for his contributions to information technology (IT); Shinya Yamanaka for discovering that skin, instead of embryos, can be regressed into stem cells; and William Kentridge for his artistic invention called "drawings in motion."
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Monday, November 22, 2010

#MARKETS: "3 Reasons Tech Recovery Is Stalling"

Global semiconductor revenue in 2011 will likely grow only about 5 percent, compared with 30 percent in 2010, muting expectations for the rest of the IT sector. Analysts' reasons for this trend are threefold: stubborn unemployment, tight credit availability and the lack of recovery in the housing market. Look for continued steady growth, but at a more sustainable pace or five to seven percent for the next five years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Tech sector rebound in 2010 has already regained the lost ground from the 2008 recession, but growth rate will cool to a sustainable 5 percent until 2014.

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about the recovery: Market analysts at iSuppli Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) recently predicted that the spectacular semiconductor market recovery in 2010 was cooling, on track for a modest 5.1 percent gain in 2011, compared with the meteoric 32 percent increase predicted for 2010. The reasons, however, are not directly related to semiconductors, fueling predictions that IT sector growth will be stunted next year too. Depleted inventories from recession-induced belt-tightening combined with stronger-than-expected consumer demand in 2010 prompted stellar 32 percent semiconductor market growth in 2010—up to $302 billion from just $205 billion in 2009, according to iSuppli. However, now that inventories have been renewed, three more general economic problem areas will mute growth next year, slowing semiconductor buying trends to just 5.1 percent growth in 2011—up just $15.4 billion to $317.4 billion. Slow steady growth will continue in 2012, according to iSuppli, reaching $357.4 billion by 2014...
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

#KYOTO-PRIZE: "Temple of the Golden Pavilion a Must-See"

The Kyoto Prize rivals the Nobel Prize in international stature as well as in the grandeur of its Ceremony and Gala. Kyoto, Japan where it is held excels in world cultural sites, with 17 located there. Below is the Temple of the Golden Pavilion--a must-see which I visited with attendees who flew in from all over the world to experience the Kyoto Prize.

Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) in Kyoto, Japan. View the stereo pair by putting it at the very top of your screen. First view off into the distance over the top of your screen to align your left and right eyes in parallel, then lower your gaze to encompass the stereo pair without refocusing your eyes. A third 3D image will pop-out in-between the left and right images in your peripheral vision. Concentrate on the central 3D image.

"Temple of the Golden Pavillion" or "Kinkaku-ji" was the residence of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in Kyoto Japan circa 1397, after which it was converted into a Zen Temple. In 1955 a metally ill monk burned it down, but it was completely restored to its original condition. The gilding of gold was made thicker (5- instead of 1-10,000th of a millimeter) in 1987, when the interior and statue of its shogun was also restored. The gardens and other structures of Kinkaku-ji are also historic. Do not miss Kinkaku-ji--the Temple of the Golden Pavilion--if you visit Kyoto.

Friday, November 19, 2010

#ALGORITHMS: "Sandia upgrades supercomputer benchmarks"

Supercomputers used to be honking big central processing units (CPUs) with massively parallel vector processors alongside. Today, however, supercomputer makers have all but given up on massive-multi-chip CPUs, instead opting for massively parallel interconnects to manage large number of single-chip microprocessors. As a result, the applications they perform must cope with multiple simultaneous operations that the new Graph 500 benchmark measures. Look for supercomputer makers to embrace the new Graph 500 benchmark which uses graph theory to divide-and-conquer analysis of the output streams from massive simulations within five years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Synthetic graph was generated by a method called Kronecker multiplication. Larger versions of this generator, modeling real-world graphs, are used in the Graph500 benchmark. (Courtesy of Jeremiah Willcock, Indiana University)

Here is what my story in EETimes says about Graph 500: Exascale supercomputers running a thousand times faster than today's petaflop machines will require newer performance measures, according to Sandia National Laboratories, which announced a 30 member committee effort to define a new standard with Intel, IBM, AMD, NVIDIA, and Oracle...Graph 500 differs from the traditional Linpack by testing a supercomputer's skill at using graph theory to analyze the output streams from simulations in biological, security, social and similar large-scale problems. Graph 500 not only measures the traditional number crunching ability of supercomputers, but also their ability to shuttle around the very-large data sets represented by future supercomputers like those being addressed by the U.S. Department of Energy's exascale supercomputer initiative...
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

#KYOTO-PRIZE: "Temple of the Golden Pavilion Restored"

When I arrived in Kyoto, I was greeted by associates of the Inamori Foundation, who had flown in from all over the world to attend the Kyoto Prize Ceremony and Gala. During free time we visited the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, one of 17 world cultural sites in Kyoto.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion, Kyoto Japan. Visited the day before the Kyoto Prize Ceremony.
Originally a residence of a Shogun circa 1397, it was converted into a Zen Temple which burned to the ground, but restored to its original condition. The gilding of gold was made thicker in 1987, when the interior and statue of its original owner was restored too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#WIRELESS: "Freescale Basestation DSP Tops TI's"

Texas Instruments is the top-shelf supplier of digital-signal processors for the wireless basestations that carriers use to communicate with cell phones, but now Freescale is challenging with unique architectural features in its new basestation DSPs. Look for Freescale and TI to wage a specs-man-ship rivalry well into the coming decade. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Freescale's new basestation DSP aims to ease transition from 3G to 4G with application-specific hardware units.
Here is what my story in EETimes says about DSPs for basestations: Freescale Semiconductor Inc. appeared to one-up Texas Instruments Inc. Wednesday (Nov. 17) by rolling out a digital signal processor (DSP) core that achieved a higher rating from benchmarking consulting firm BDTI Inc. Last week, TI reported that its C66x DSP core achieved a BDTImark2000 score of 16,690. Freescale countered Wednesday that its new redesigned SC3850 core achieves a BDTIsimMark2000 score of 18,500. As network operators convert from 3G to 4G, the system-on-chip (SoC) DSPs that execute the increasingly complex air-interface protocols—from LTE to WiMAX to WCDMA and HSPA+—are waging a benchmark war...
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

#ALGORITHMS: "Software claims military grade computer security"

Applications for creating portable-document files (PDFs) allow you to encrypt them using passwords as the keys to unlock their contents, and some operating systems have file encryption capabilities built-in. For the rest of us, a simple app that can encrypt any file would be welcome--and this one adds unique conveniences such as using a photo to hide you passwords. Look for mil-spec encryption to become increasingly popular over the next few years, as more and more people exchange sensitive information in computer files. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @ NextGenLog

Drag-and-drop military grade encryption uses "visual passwords" to ease security woes.
Here is what my story in EETimes says about cyber-security: Computer security is directly proportional to the complexity of the encryption algorithm, the length of its key, and the complexity of the password used. Unfortunately, the security of a password is directly proportional to the difficulty of remembering them, since the best passwords mix random upper and lower case characters with numbers and punctuation. Large Software's new docLock app gives Windows-OS users access to military-grade encryption algorithms that combine drag-and-drop convenience with "visual passwords" that obviate the need to remember them, according to the company.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

#MEMS: "Omron Crafts MEMS for Mobile"

A decade ago Omron told me that they were going to enter the medical electronics market, after conquering the market for electronic-turnstyles in Japanese subways. Now Omron is almost synonymous with blood-pressure electronics. So when they say to me that they are gearing up to enter the consumer market for MEMS chips, I pay attention. Look for Omron to likewise conquer the MEMS chip market for consumer electronics within three to seven years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

By sealing the backside of its MEMS pressure sensor, altitude detection can inform navigation units of what floor you are occupying in a building.
Here is what my story at EETimes says about Omron: Omron Corp. is expanding from its traditional medical and industrial markets for micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips into mobile consumer devices and green energy. By repurposing its pressure sensors, radio-frequency switches and thermal infrared sensing arrays for these new markets, Omron hopes to gain design wins in smartphones, navigation and building automation.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

#ALGORITHMS: "Algorithm pioneer wins Kyoto Prize"

 Laszlo Lovasz receives the Kyoto Prize which includes $550,000 cash plus recognition for technological achievement on par with Nobel Prize.
Algorithm pioneer Laszlo Lovasz, whose mathematical methods have enabled myriad breakthroughs in information technology—from 3G to WiFi to 4G—has received the Kyoto Prize, a $550,000 award that some believe rivals the Nobel Prize in international stature. Awards were also bestowed on Japanese physician Shinya Yamanaka for his seminal discovery that skin-cells can be substituted for those obtained from embryos, and South African artist William Kentridge for his invention of the now widespread animation technology called "drawings in motion."
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#CHIPS: "Intel aims for 'smart' embedded SoC"

By 2015, Intel vice president Vida Ilderem predicts that mobile handsets will need to fuse the output of 16 different sensors.
Intel Corp. is aiming to exploit "smart sensing opportunities in embedded markets" according to Vida Ilderem, vice president of Intel Labs, who gave the closing keynote at the MEMS Executive Congress in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ilderem was hired away from Motorola's Applied Research and Technology Center last year where she was vice presidentof Systems and Technology Research, responsible for developing Motorola's current communication and interaction technologies, including the visual, computational and RF system-on-chip technologies. At Intel she is directing the efforts of 200 engineers toward RF, wireless SoC and associated physical technologies at Intel's Integrated Platform Research lab.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

#CHIPS: Any-frequency clock generator debuts

Conventional clock generators (left) use a separate power hungry phase-locked loop (PLL) for each frequency, but Silicon Lab's Multisynth used a single PLL with fractional multipliers to cut power, cost and size.
Analog and mixed-signal chip maker Silicon Laboratories Inc. introduced a clock generator that synthesizes any eight frequencies—without the need for separate phased-locked loops (PLLs)—Tuesday (Nov. 9) at Electronica 2010 in Munich, Germany. Silicon Labs' Multisynth technology nixes separate PLLs in favor of fractional frequency multipliers that cut power, lower jitter and shrink the size of traditional clock generators, according to company executives.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#CONSUMER "E-ink unveils color ePaper"

E-Ink Corp. unveiled its long anticipated color version of its ePaper displays called Trition Imaging Film. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can used the new color film for eBooks, eReaders and other ePaper applications such as color signage. Like its monochrome ePaper, the new Triton film used reflects light for easy reading where ever normal paper is easy to read, such as in bright sunlight. The display also continues its ultra low power tradition by only consuming energy when a page is turned.
E-Ink unveiled its long-anticipated color version of its low power ePaper displays that use filters to impart color it its paper-white films.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

#MEMS: gyro/accelerometer combo chip debuts

Invensense's proprietary fabrication process bonds the MEMS chip element to the ASIC in a stacked pair that seals the MEMS element against environmental contamination. 
Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) vendor Invensense Inc. Tuesday (Nov. 9) introduced the world's first integrated MEMS to include both a gyroscope and accelerometer on a single CMOS die. When used with a magnetometer (compass), the MPU-6000 forms a complete inertial measurement unit (IMU), according to Invensense (Sunnyvale, Calif.) . An integral motion processor core on the chip includes algorithms to fuse the outputs from the accelerometer, gyro and magnetometer to provide nine-degree-of-freedom functionality for applications including smart phones, touchscreen tablets, 3-D TV remote controls, gaming consoles, digital still- and video-cameras.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

#MEMS: "Accelerometer maker offers gyroscope, too"

Kionix' uses orthogonal resonators that harness Coriolis effect to measure gryroscopes angular momentum.
The No. 3 MEMS accelerometer maker worldwide—Rohm Co.'s wholly owned subsidiary Kionix Inc.—announced its first gyroscope model Monday (Nov. 8), for which it claims to have design wins pending at makers of mobile handsets, gaming controllers and automobiles.
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#AUTOMOTIVE: "Freescale rolls with automotive safety"

Freescale Semiconductor's new 77 GHz radar chips detect objects in the areas surrounding the car for adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, stop-and-go driving and impact mitigation.
Freescale Semiconductor unveiled new automotive sensor chips to meet consumer demand for increased safety and growing government regulations for better electronic stability and collision avoidance at Monday (Nov. 8) at Electronica 2010 in Munich, Germany. Freescale's new chips include the company's first low-g accelerometer for stability control, plus new matched transmitter and receiver chips for the 77 GHz radars used for collision avoidance, according to the company.
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#MEMS: "Analysts split on MEMS growth rate forecasts"

The micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chip market will grow to over $7 billion in 2010, according to analysts at iSuppli Corp. and Yole Development, who spoke at the MEMS Executive Congress Wednesday (Nov. 3) in Scottsdale, Ariz. Both analysts forecast double-digit growth over the next five years, but Yole's growth prediction outpaced iSuppli's, projecting a $16 billion market by 2014. ISuppli projects that the market will be worth about $10 billion in 2014. One difference in the two forecasts is emerging MEMS markets in borderline device like electronic-compasses, which Yole counts but iSuppli does not include. Also, iSuppli only counts microfluidic devices cast on silicon substrates,
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Friday, November 05, 2010

#MEMS: "HP pursues 'sensing-as-a-service'"

Hewlett Packard Co. is actively pursuing "sensing as a service" in future applications of its micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) expertise, according to an HP business strategist. Delivering the keynote address at this week's MEMS Executive Congress in Scottsdale, Ariz., Rich Duncombe said MEMS is a unique technology that has been disruptive for 25 years—already revolutionizing multiple industries with no end in sight. HP has been developing MEMS since 1985--mostly for its ink-jet printers—but recently it developing new applications of its MEMS expertise for seismic imaging and infrastructure monitoring.
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

#ALGORITHMS: "Eye movement controls gaming console"

Electrodes surround the eye of Doug Farrell, Product Marketing Engineer at National Instruments, as he demonstrates the game Mario controlled by eye movements.
Waterloo Labs, a team of engineers inside National Instruments Corp. (NI), Wednesday (Nov. 3) unveiled the LabView source code to "EyeMario," which demonstrates how video gamers can use their eyes to control Nintendo gaming consoles.
Marrying NI software with electrically isolated data converters from Analog Devices Inc. (ADI), enabled the EyeMario reference design, which NI is making available as a free download. Besides gaming, EyeMario will also being adapted to use in the treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) as well as to empower people who have lost the use of their hands.
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Monday, November 01, 2010

#QUANTUM: "Researchers claim better 'quantum tunneling'"

Metal-insulator-metal diodes work by using two different metals with different work functions, allowing electrons to tunnel across the gap very quickly without consuming excess power or generating excess heat.
Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU)claim to have perfected a better method for "quantum tunneling" using metal-insulator-metal (MIM) architecture, potentially paving the way for faster, lower power and cooler running electronics. Quantum tunneling offers advantages over traditional current flow, in which electrons jump across device barriers rather than traversing through them, slowing down the flow, increasing power requirements and generating excess heat. Traditional tunneling diodes use a heavily doped p–n junction which has limited their use to discrete devices.
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