Crossroads For Mixed-Signal Chips

Cutting and pasting intellectual property speeds the design of a system on chip by fabless semiconductor companies

10 min read
Crossroads For Mixed-Signal Chips

fictitious IC design

ILLUSTRATION: LUTHER EASON
Building a System on Chip: Compatibility is the key to building an SoC, as is illustrated by this fictitious IC design. To build it, a fabless semiconductor company has used blocks of intellectual property (IP) acquired from several IP houses. The fabless designers must ensure all the blocks will work together and be compatible with the semiconductor process of the foundry chosen to fabricate the chips.

The last decade saw a surge in the number of small IC design houses that provide systems manufacturers with application-specific ICs (ASICs). These fabless enterprises, so-called because they farm out IC fabrication to commercial silicon chip foundries, cost relatively little to start up yet can be richly rewarded if the market adopts their products. Sustained by a wealth of design tools, they have earned a place alongside long-established, large chip manufacturers like IBM, Intel, Motorola, and Texas Instruments.

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Climate-Friendly Ethereum Is One Merge Away

Successful tests set the stage for the cryptocurrency’s switchover in September

3 min read
A large blue lit data center. A figure wearing a white cleanroom suit walks towards a green lit room.

Here pictured is Evobits crypto farm, an Ethereum mining rig in Romania.

Akos Stiller/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The merge is coming, and crypto may never be the same.

“The merge” is shorthand for Ethereum’s rapidly approaching switch from one compute-intensive form of blockchain verification to a much less resource-heavy method. In other words, the cryptocurrency will be switching from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This move, which is years in the making, changes how Ethereum maintains consensus—and drastically slashes power consumption.

“Ethereum’s power-hungry days will soon be numbered,” says Terence Tsao, Ethereum protocol developer at Prysmatic Labs. “And I hope that’s true for the rest of the industry, too.”

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Boston Dynamics AI Institute Targets Basic Research

Hyundai’s new robotics venture recalls Bell Labs’ and Xerox PARC’s glory days

4 min read
A collage of a headshot of Marc Raibert who is an older man with a beard and glasses in a flower print shirt, and an large black and white Atlas humanoid robot
Photo-illustration: IEEE Spectrum; Photos: Boston Dynamics

This morning, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, to “spearhead advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.” BDAII (I guess we’ll have to get used to that acronym!) will be located in Cambridge, Mass., with more than US $400 million of initial investment from Hyundai (Boston Dynamics’ parent company) and BD itself to get things started. Heading up the whole thing will be Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert himself, with Al Rizzi (Boston Dynamics’ chief scientist) as chief technology officer.

This new venture looks promising.

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Accelerate Time to Market with Calibre nmLVS Recon Technology: A New Paradigm for Circuit Verification

Improve LVS circuit verification productivity in early-stage SoC integration and reduce time to market

1 min read
Accelerate Time to Market with Calibre nmLVS Recon Technology: A New Paradigm for Circuit Verification

One thing is clear…tapeouts are getting harder, and taking longer. As part of a growing suite of innovative early-stage design verification technologies, the Calibre nmLVS Recon tool enables design teams to rapidly examine dirty and immature designs to find and fix high-impact circuit errors earlier and faster, leading to an overall reduction in tapeout schedules and time to market.

Learn more in this technical paper.