The Art of Failure 2014

Failure-analysis experts find some funny stuff in semiconductors

1 min read
The Art of Failure 2014
Image: Lew Li Lian/GlobalFoundries

Photo: Lew Li Lian/GlobalFoundries
Birdie in the Hole: This little bird sits contentedly under the microscope’s gaze, but it didn’t fly there on its own. According to Lew Li Lian from GlobalFoundries, in Singapore, “A particle in the hole caused a cavity formation in the precoat material, resembling a birdie.” It won first prize at the 2014 IEEE International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits (IPFA) Art of Failure Analysis contest.

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A Circuit to Boost Battery Life

Digital low-dropout voltage regulators will save time, money, and power

11 min read
Image of a battery held sideways by pliers on each side.
Edmon de Haro

YOU'VE PROBABLY PLAYED hundreds, maybe thousands, of videos on your smartphone. But have you ever thought about what happens when you press “play”?

The instant you touch that little triangle, many things happen at once. In microseconds, idle compute cores on your phone's processor spring to life. As they do so, their voltages and clock frequencies shoot up to ensure that the video decompresses and displays without delay. Meanwhile, other cores, running tasks in the background, throttle down. Charge surges into the active cores' millions of transistors and slows to a trickle in the newly idled ones.

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