Chips Tracked in Fab by Wi-Fi

Freescale furthers the removal of humans from the chip-making process

2 min read

28 September 2007—Freescale Semiconductor has found another way to extend the life of its fabs, some of which are 15 years old—a truly geriatric age in an industry that routinely pronounces its US $3 billion production facilities obsolete after five years. The chip maker is automatically tracking wafers through all stages of fabrication by marking boxes with RFID tags that communicate using Freescale’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. This is the first time Wi-Fi�enabled active RFID tags have been used to automate a fab.

AeroScout, in Redwood City, Calif., supplied the RFID tags that Freescale is using in its Oak Hill plant in Austin, Texas. Like most fabs, Oak Hill, which processes 200-millimeter wafers, is about the size of two football fields. In a standard facility, it’s almost impossible to immediately distinguish one black box of wafers from the other hundreds of very similar black boxes. ”Just think about having to look for one box with an identical black-and-white label in a bunch of identical black boxes,” says Freescale spokesman Glaston Ford, ”versus being able to punch an ID code into a computer, activate a box’s LED display, walk over to the right shelf, and see the right box glowing.”

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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