Thursday, December 30, 2010

#CONSUMER: "Report: touch panels grow 30 percent y/y"

Touchscreen module shipments are going through the roof with better than 30 percent growth last year and even brighter prospects for 2010, with 6.3 million units shipped in the first half. Manufacturing from 32 suppliers is on track for 20 million units in the second half of 2010, according to DisplaySearch LLC (Santa Clara, Calif.) Look for 2011 to be a record year for all sectors of touchscreen module sales. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Top five out of 32 touch screen suppliers of the 6.3 million modules shipped in the first half of 2010, which will grow to 20 million in second half, according to DisplaySearch.

Boosted in recent years by smartphones, and in 2010 by the iPad and the legions of copycats piggybacking on Apple's success, touchscreens are also soaring in mini-notebooks an in novel new form-factors, such as the enTourage Pocket eDGe which features both an LCD touchscreen and and E-Ink reflective display. Taiwan touchscreen suppliers lay claim to the lion's share--43.5 percent in 2009--especially in advanced capacitive, as opposed to resistive, touchscreens. China however is nipping at Taiwan's tail, with forecasted shipments increasing 39 percent in 2010, mostly for legacy resistive touchscreens. Both U.S. and European manufacturers are also reporting record-high shipments in 2010, but Japanese touchscreen suppliers, on the other hand, are reporting flat growth in 2010 due to the strength of the Yen, according to DisplaySearch.
Full Text:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#MEMS: "Automotive MEMS hits record high"

Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips, such as the accelerometers that trigger airbags, are linked to better car sales, but are also proliferating due to government mandates for roll-over detection, electronic stability control and dozens of other safety improvements. Look for MEMS chips sales to top a billion units by 2015. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Recovery in the automotive MEMS market is complete as 2010 marks a new high point for worldwide shipments.

Automotive MEMS chip sales rebounded to a new high in 2010, 662.3 million units, surpassing the previous high mark in 2007 of 640 million units, according to a market researcher, according to iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) Recession-depleted inventories were replenished in 2010, prompting record growth of 32.1 percent, up from 501 million units in 2009. Growth is expected to continue at a more sustainable rate of 7.4 percent in 2011, but will reach double-digit gains again by 2014.
Full Text:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#CHIPS: "IBM 'racetrack' memory enters home stretch"

IBM's racetrack memory aims to replace flash and hard disks with a solid-state microchip that is faster and denser that traditonal mass storage devices. Look for racetrack memories to make their commercial debut as flash substitutes in five to seven years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

IBM 's racetrack memory moves magnetic domains along a nanowire where they "race" around the "track." IBM plans to embed billions of nanowires into silicon chips to store hundreds of times more information on a chip than even the densest disk drives hold today.

Here is what my story in EETimes says about racetrack memories: The odd thing about magnetic spin is that it does not displace atoms, allowing walled domains on hard disks to switch between "1" and "0" without the fatigue mechanisms that eventually wear-out flash bit cells. Unfortunately, solid-state nonvolatile memories like flash, ferroelectric and even experimental resistive RAMs have limited lifetimes, according to IBM, which claims its racetrack memory combines the advantages of solid-state memories with the access mechanism of a hard disk drive.
Full Text:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

#ENERGY: "Thermoelectrics could harvest car exhaust heat"

Thermoelectric materials generate electricity by harvesting waste heat by transferring it from one end of a polymer strip to the other. Look for thermoelectrics to become widely used to harvest waste heat over the next five years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

The conversion of energy between light and electricity (LEDs/solar cells) and between light and heat (light bulb/greenhouse) is complemented by thermoelectric conversion between electricity and heat.

Here is what my EETimes story said about thermoelectrics: Today's state-of-the-art thermoelectrics are only about 5 percent efficient, but new research indicates that a class of material called skutterudites—plus a new technque for aligning their atoms—could improve thermoelectric efficiencies to as much as 20-percent, enough for commercialization. Such high-efficiency thermoelectric converters on the exhaust pipe of an automobile, for instance, could convert enough heat into electricity to charge the batteries of a hybrid vehicle...
Full Text:

Monday, December 20, 2010

#MATERIALS: "Rare earth scarcity gauged by DoE"

A long-awaited report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) on rare earth scarcity concludes that in the short term the "clean energy economy" is at risk of supply-chain disruptions. Look for rare earths to get government mandates subsidies by the end of the decade. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Eset superhero prepares to vanquish malicious malware where ever it might lurk!

Here is what my EETimes story says about rare earths: The study recommends the development of domestic U.S. extraction, processing and manufacturing capabilities as well as cooperative efforts with Japan and Europe to mitigate scarcity worldwide. The report also promised to follow-up with a more complete U.S. rare-earth development strategy by the end of 2011...
Full Text:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#QUANTUM: "Spintronics aims for atomic memories"

Spintronics memories should store quantum information on the individual atoms, rather than electrons, according to University of Utah researchers. Look for quantum computers to revolutionize information processing by the end of the decade. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

A phosphorus-doped one millimeter square silicon chip demonstrate how data can be stored in magnetic "spins" on the nuclei of phosphorus atoms.

The research team, led by professor Christoph Boehme, demonstrated how it's done by reading and writing spin onto phosphorus atoms in a silicon substrate, achieving a refresh time of 112 seconds—thousands of times longer than memories storing information on electron spin. To prove that atomic nuclei store spins more reliably than electrons, the Boehme group's experimental demonstration used a phosphorus-doped silicon chip measuring just 1 millimeter square. After supercooling the material to 3.2 degrees Kelvin, an intense magnetic field of nearly 8.6 Tesla aligned the spins of the phosphorus atom's electrons, which was then transferred to the nuclei by FM-band radio waves.
Full Text:

#MATERIALS: "Spintronics aims for atomic memories"

Spintronics memories should store quantum information on the individual atoms, rather than electrons, according to University of Utah researchers. Look for atomic scale memories that use store information of the spin-state of atoms within seven years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

A phosphorus-doped one millimeter square silicon chip demonstrate how data can be stored in magnetic "spins" on the nuclei of phosphorus atoms.

Led by professor Christoph Boehme, a team of researchers demonstrated how it's done by reading and writing spin onto phosphorus atoms in a silicon substrate, achieving a refresh time of 112 seconds—thousands of times longer than memories storing information on electron spin...To prove that atomic nuclei store spins more reliably than electrons, the Boehme group's experimental demonstration used a phosphorus-doped silicon chip measuring just 1 millimeter square. After supercooling the material to 3.2 degrees Kelvin, an intense magnetic field of nearly 8.6 Tesla aligned the spins of the phosphorus atom's electrons, which was then transferred to the nuclei by FM-band radio waves. Up to 112 seconds later, the group was able to demonstrate that near-terahertz wavelengths could then be used to transfer the nuclei spins back onto the atom's electrons, allowing its value to be electrically read-out as a current...
Full Text:

#NANOTECH: "NIST launches $44M technology program"

A new technology innovation program (TIP) for advanced manufacturing research in electronics, biotechnology and nanotechnology was funded with $22 million by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which expects matching funds from research partners to exceed $44 million total. Look for advances in displays and energy over the next three years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Kent Displays received $3 million develop a suite of integrated processes for efficient, "roll-to-roll" manufacturing of flexible, reflective displays for high-volume product markets.

The two- to three-year programs will research nine targeted manufacturing technologies that offer innovative and promising approaches in a variety of fields in electronics, biopharmaceuticals, renewable energy generation and energy storage...
Full Text:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#3D: "Optical metrology measures in 3D"

Output in 3-D from TVs, game consoles and mobile handsets will be joined by 3-D input in 2011. Look for 3D optical metrology to debut on-the-cheap in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Here Seikowave is creating a 3D model of a complex object using structured Light Illumination. SLI uses TI's digital light processor (DLP) to project stripes of light onto 3D objects and scenes then measures the distortion to determine shape.

Here is what my EETimes story says about 3D metrology: Called 3-D optical metrology, the technique projects stripes of light onto objects, then makes measurements of the distortions in the reflected light to deduce size and shape, thereby allowing real-world scenes to be input automatically to a 3-D model. Generating accurate 3-D models traditionally requires either manual measurements or expensive, laser-based 3-D rangefinding systems. Now Texas Instruments and others are downsizing their microelectromechanical system-based picoprojectors to do the same job inexpensively using structured light illumination. SLI offers automated 3-D sensing by projecting matrices of light onto objects, the reflected distortions from which allow the objects' dimensions to be deduced automatically...
Full Text:

#WIRELESS: "Mobile 3-D to drive user acceptance"

Retailers have plenty of 3-D TVS in stock this holiday season, but the products' acceptance has been hampered by limited content and by the need for LCD-shutter glasses that dim displays as they switch the view between eyes. Look for 3D TV demand to strengthen after users gain experience with the 3D mobile devices to be delivered in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Mobile devices like the Fuji 3D still camera have autostereoscopic displays built-in, a trend that will grow to over 60
million units by 2014, according to In-Stat.

Here is what my story in EETimes says about 3D TV: User uptake of 3D TVs has only been strong in the home theater market, for which DisplaySearch forecasts that 3.2 million 3-D TVs will be shipped in 2010. That same forecast, however, predicts that 3-D TVs will grow to over 90 million units in 2014—accounting for 41 percent of all flat-panel sets sold that year, up from just 2 percent today—as autostereoscopic displays that do not require the glasses enter the market. Toshiba, for one, is already selling glasses-free 3-D televisions in Japan. Many of the users who buy glasses-free 3-D TVs in 2014 will have already gained experience with autostereoscopic displays by using the ones built into their mobile devices...
Full Text:

#ALGORITHMS: "Augmented reality: Geotagging the real world"

Augmented reality (AR)--the overlay of information on live images via a device display--has already been proved in military applications such as heads-up windscreen displays in fighter aircraft. Look for augmented reality to go mainstream in 2011 with 3D-social-networking becoming AR's killer app.

Viewing Tokyo's skyline with Sekai Camera reveals hundreds of user-supplied geo-tags highlighting points of interest in the style of social-media.

Here is what my story at EETimes says about AR: Consumer AR is coming to a GPS-enabled camera phone near you. In 2011, Apple, Google and a dozen startups plan to offer apps and systems that will relay commercial information—such as what's on sale at the various stores in the mall you're visiting—AR-style. Even Intel Capital is looking to cash in on the craze by investing in Layar (Amsterdam, Netherlands), an AR platform company that offers online tools for the development community...But social networking may be the killer AR app...
Full Text:

#ENERGY: "Personal power management puts you in charge"

Personal power management is permitting users to take control of their energy consumption. Look for personal energy management solutions from a whole ecosystem of electronics and software providers starting in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Google PowerMeter and The Energy Detective (TED) is all you need to monitor energy usage with your computer or mobile device.

Here is what my EETimes story says about personal energy management: Google already has a free downloadable app, the PowerMeter, that can monitor overall energy consumption in a home with an installed breaker-box add-on, such as Energy Inc.'s TED (The Energy Detective). Intel is taking the approach one step further by "personalizing" energy management as it once helped personalize computing; the company has crafted a prototype personal-energy monitor that plugs into the wall (instead of the breaker box) and uses artificial intelligence to deduce which appliances in a household are on and how much power they are using...
Full Text:

#CONSUMER: "Touchscreen tabs advance 'consume only' model"

Electronic devices designed exclusively to consume, rather than both consume and create, began with Apple's iPod music player, which only Microsoft's Zune has effectively challenged. Look for Apple to be challenged by touchscreen tablets from every consumer electronics maker worldwide in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

RIM's Blackberry PlayBook is banking the superior security that Blackberry phones have over the iPhone. Tethering their iPad-like PlayBook to a Blackberry phone allows RIM users to keep pace with Apple without sacrificing security.

Following the debut of Apple iPad, every major electronics producer is taking on Apple. Makers of laptops, netbooks, smartphones and, yes, even music players will all be marketing competing touchscreen tablets in 2011. Almost all will try to emulate the trend-setting iPad while adding some differentiator; Dell's Streak, for example, also lets you make phone calls...
Full Text:

#CHIPS: "Three Reasons IBM Keeps Winning the Green500"

IBM keeps winning the Green500, a contest for the most energy-efficient supercomputer. There are three reasons IBM keeps winning, but the bottom line is that it is not cranking up clock speeds just to win the Top500, thereby increasing its energy efficiency ratings for the Green500. Look for IBM to win both the Green500 and the Top500 with the same supercomputer in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

IBM's Blue Gene/Q (pictured) houses thousands of processors in racks that are connected by high-speed optical interconnects to achieve peta-flops of performance. (Source: IBM).

Here is what Smarter Technology says about green supercomputers: The supercomputers of the world are not just competing on raw speed, but also in Green500, whose official metric is floating-point operations per second per watt of energy consumed (flops/watt). For instance, this year's winner—the IBM Blue Gene/Q—achieved 1,684 Mflops/watt, compared with the second-ranked system by HP, which used Intel's Xeon processors to deliver 948.29 Mflops/watt, making the Blue Gene/Q 77 percent more energy-efficient. Still in the prototype stage, when completed next year, the Blue Gene/Q is expected to top 20 peta-flops, making it 10 times faster than this year's winner of the Top500 list—giving the Blue Gene/Q a shot at topping both the Top500 and Green500 lists in 2011.
Full Text:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

#MATERIALS: "Metamaterials could camouflage ships"

Metamaterials that can bend light in nearly any direction may hold the key to future military camouflage based on the chameleon-like photosensitive skin of the squid. Look for metamaterials to debut in as military camouflage within five years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

In previous research, Rice researcher Naomi Halas made light bending nanocups from colloidal particles on glass capped by an elastomer that is lifted off after curing.

Here is what my EETimes story says about metamaterials: Marine biologists collaborating with engineers and scientists at Rice University will develop the new metamaterial with a $6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. A marine biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who specializes in cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish) will team with Rice University to investigate how metamaterials can be constructed which observe and match their colors to the surrounding environment...
Full Text:

#ENERGY: "Fuel Cells Provide Campus Power"

The University of California at San Diego is building one of the world's largest fuel cells in hopes of generating up to 95 percent of its own power with a 2.8-MegaWatt fuel cell—the largest of its kind on a university campus. Look for corporate campuses to follow suite in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Direct FuelCell power plants comprise three major functional elements: Electrical Balance of Plant, Mechanical Balance of Plant and Fuel Cell Modules (source: FuelCell Energy).

Here is what my Smarter Technology story said about fuel cells: One of the world's largest fuel cell arrays—2.8 MegaWatts—will be installed in San Diego's Energy Innovation Park at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) campus. FuelCell Energy (Danbury, Conn.) is installing the giant fuel cell capable of powering 2,800 homes—along with two others in the city of San Diego—to provide a renewable store of electricity. In cooperation with the city of San Diego and BioFuels Energy there, the project will turn methane from wastewater into electricity. The nearby Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant will pipeline the purified methane bio-gas to the three fuel cells constructed by FuelCell Energy...
Full Text:

Monday, December 13, 2010

#SECURITY: "3 Reasons Clouds Prevent Cyber-Attacks"

Recent cyber-attacks have shown that cloud computers are resilient to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm traditional Web servers. Look for an even faster migration to cloud computing over the next five years as cyber attacks intensify on traditional servers. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) bring on servers to match the users accessing a Website, thereby thwarting attacks.

Recent cyber-attacks have demonstrated that cloud computers can handle distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that crash traditional servers—for instance, when WikiLeaks briefly hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its latest disclosures. What is it about cloud computers that make them immune to cyber-attacks?
The three main ingredients in cloud computers that make them more resilient against cyber-attacks are elasticity, bandwidth and redundancy.
Full Text:

Friday, December 10, 2010

#MEMS: "Micro-Mirrors to Enable Quantum Computing"

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) moved closer to enabling quantum computing with university researchers demonstrating that micro-mirrors can read and write qubits encoded on clouds of ultra-cold atoms suspended in a transparent media. Look for laser controlled optical quantum computers to debut in about 10 years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Ultracold cloud of atoms used to store quantum qubits in the laboratory of Mark Saffman's group at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Here is what my EETimes story says about quantum MEMS: Semiconductor memories today need bit-lines to address them before reading or writing, but according to Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, qubits can be likewise addressed with two lasers focused on them by MEMS micro-mirrors.
Full Text:

#DISPLAYS: "IT Kiosks Ride Touch-Screen Wave"

Touch-screen-tablet mania is sweeping the globe, not only boosting Apple's worldwide mobile PC standing from No. 8 to No. 3—behind HP and Acer—but boosting sales at every other vendor of touch screens too, such as NextWindow (a subsidiary of Smart Technologies ULC, Calgary), which IT organizations are enlisting to offer walk-up information centers worldwide. Look for large touchscreens to begin appearing everywhere public information is available over the next five to seven years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

The NextWindow 1900 Series Touch Screen installed on the HP TouchSmart All-In-One PC turns it into a giant touch-screen tablet.

Here is what my story in Smarter Technology says about touchscreens: Sales of touch screens worldwide continue to rise on the iPad tide that has already raised Apple's worldwide mobile PC market share to 12.4 percent (up from 4.8 percent without the iPad), according to a recent DisplaySearch report. Touch screens for kiosks were already in widespread use, such as at American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, which use HP's TouchSmart PCs with NextWindow touch screens. The new wave of touch-screen mania triggered by the phenomenal success of Apple's iPad, however, has touched off not only a competing tablet frenzy—like HP's Slate and Samsung's Galaxy Tab—but is also prompting IT organizations worldwide to start offering NextWindow-based public information centers in the increasingly familiar touch format...
Full Text:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

#3D: "Startup hawks monolithic 3-D chips"

True monolithic three-dimensional (3-D) silicon chips will beat die stacked with through-silicon-vias (TSVs) by a factor of 10,000 in connectivity, according to serial entrepreneur Zvi Or-Bach who spoke at the 3-D Architectures for Semiconductor Integration and Packaging conference in Burlingame, Calif. Look for monolithic 3D chips to nip TSVs in the bud for some applications in 2012 and beyond. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

The simplest way to create 3-D chips is to fabricate the bottom chip as usual, cover it with oxide, then bond it to a similarly oxide clad giant-transistor donar chip, which can then be etched into individual transistors.

According to Or-Bach, NuPGA's 3-D IC fabrication techniques can be used to stack memory on top of a processor, to stack bit-wide memory chips into byte-wide configurations or just to shrink the die of existing designs by optimizing chip area versus height. Any number of chip layers can be composed, according to Or-Bach, enabling general-purpose monolithic 3-D to reduce chip areas by as much as three times over conventional 2-D.
Full Text:

#OPTICAL: "Optical Fibers Boost Speed, Cut Weight and Power of Computers"

A switch to optical fibers for communications is under way that will boost the speed while cutting the power and weight of computers. Using the already popular complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process, IBM's new CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics (CISN) process uses optical waveguides instead of copper wires for all interconnection and communications. Look for migration from copper wire to optical cables across the board over the rest of the decade. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

IBM's CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics technology includes all the optical components needed to convert electricity to light and back again, including modulators, wave division multiplexers (WDM) and detectors (Source: IBM).

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about optical: Optical fibers today are used for high-speed shared connections, such as an Internet service provider's connection to the regional backbone. However, IBM's new CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics (CISN) process seeks to migrate optical communications to connections between servers, between the printed circuit boards (PCBs) inside servers, between the semiconductor microchips mounted on PCBs, and eventually between the cores on a single microchip...
Full Text:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

#WIRELESS: "Freescale aims baseband/RF SoCs at two-way radio"

Since announcing in early 2009 that it was exiting the cellular platform business, Freescale has begun targeting wireless applications that require long battery life combined with low cost. Now the downsized Cellular Products division is making SoCs targeted at two-way radios and smart meters while finalizing the IP for a new breed of software-configurable multi-mode cellular basebands. Look for Freescale-branded basebands in 2011. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Freescale's Ruby vector processors, Amber channel coding and RF transcievers enable the Cellular Product Division (CPD) to leverage its intellectual property (IP) for two-way radio, wireless medical monitoring, smart meters and software-configurable multi-mode cellular basebands.

When Freescale Semiconductor Inc. spun off from Motorola in 2004, some assumed that the new chip maker would be prohibited from making products for cellular phone handsets. But, in fact, Freescale's Cellular Products Group inherited most of the baseband intellectual property (IP) from Motorola and hired its own cellular software gurus to replace those that stayed at Motorola...Separate "Ruby" and "Amber" baseband IP efforts, along with its extensive IP for making all-CMOS radio transceivers in the range of 50-MHz to 2.6 GHz using orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), enable Freescale to produce specialized SoCs for two-way radios, wireless medical monitors, smartmeter market and multi-model handsets...
Full Text:

Thursday, December 02, 2010

#QUANTUM: "Internet to Communicate by Entanglement"

The realization of a quantum Internet got one step closer when entanglement was recently demonstrated as a viable method to broadcast or copy information to many other network nodes—or users—simultaneously. Look for advances in quantum computing leading to innovative uses on the Internet over the next eight to 12 years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

Massive hardware cools and isolates the nodes of Caltech's seminal quantum network (source: Nara Cavalcanti).

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about quantum computing: Secure eavesdrop-proof communications using quantum-key distribution are already available over optical gateways between two parties, but now a possible new quantum Internet could be enabled by teleporting the same information to multiple nodes using entanglement—what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance"—thereby allowing secure broadcasts to copy identical information to multiple nodes on a future quantum Internet...
Full Text:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

#CHIPS: "IBM debuts CMOS silicon nanophotonics"

Silicon chips will be communicating with pulses of light instead of electrical charge starting in 2011, according to International Business Machines Corp., which described its CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics (CISN) technology Wednesday (Dec. 1) at a tradeshow. Look for silicon photonics to become an everyday part of every semiconductor makers high performance computing efforts over the next five years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog

IBM's all silicon optical transceivers house modulators, wave guides, wavelength-division multiplexers, switches and detectors all cast the same CMOS die.

Here is what my EETimes story says about silicon photonics: At Semicon Japan in Chiba, Japan, IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) heralded silicon nanophotonics as the enabler for future exascale processors that can execute a million trillion operations per second (1,000-times faster than today's petascale supercomputers)... By integrating electrical-to-optical and optical-to-electrical transceivers onto traditional CMOS chips, silicon photonics promises to break the bottleneck now holding back development of exascale computing platforms. IBM now claims to have solved this problem with its CISN technology which is currently being licensing to partners, and which will begin to appear in commercial transceivers starting in 2011...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

#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."
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text:

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...
Full Text: URL

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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."
Full Text:

#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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

#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.
Full Text:

#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,
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

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.
Full Text:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

#CHIPS: "Consortium drives stake thru 'vampire power' heart"

Vampire power is not like flower power, but rather is a force that is constantly draining your mobile devices batteries even when you are not using them. Hopefully, the European Union can once and for all eradicate this vampire force, which after all originated in Transylvania which is a part of Romania, a member of the E.U. Look for the end of the vampire plague within three years. R. Colin Johnson, Kyoto Prize Fellow @NextGenLog
The European Union estimates that "vampire power"--the current drawn by electronic devices in standby mode--consumes as much as 10 percent of your monthly energy bill. Illustration: Victor J. Ochoa.
The European Union estimates that "vampire power" (standby power for electronic devices) already accounts for over 10 percent of the electricity used in homes and offices in Europe and will continue to rise to 49 terrawatt hours by 2014, when over 2 billion computers will be idling in sleep mode burning as much electricity as the combined electricity consumption for Austria, the Czech Republic and Portugal. In addition, the energy consumed by information, communications and consumer electronics will double by 2022 and triple by 2030, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). To drive a stake through the heart of vampire power, the EU is funding its Steep program, which aims to reduce active power by 10-times as well as drive vampire power into extinction...
Full Text: