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The Art of Failure 2012

Failure analysts show off the strange stuff they find in their microscopes

1 min read

Photo: Lim Saw Sing/Infineon Technologies
People on the Beach: That’s what Lim Saw Sing saw in this scanning electron microscope image. Lim, who works at Infineon Technologies’ facility in Kulim, Malaysia, exposed a polyimide surface to etching by reactive ions. The resulting image won first prize at the 2012 IEEE International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits (IPFA 2012).

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.

Avicena

If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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