Part of the  

Solid State Technology

  and   

The Confab

  Network

About  |  Contact

Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

Functional Safety, Security for IoT Stressed at Cadence Event

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

thumbnail

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

Lip-Bu Tan, President and CEO, Cadence Design Systems

The “big trends” in the electronics industry are social, mobility, the Internet of Things, and security, Lip-Bu Tan, the president and chief executive officer of Cadence Design Systems, said Tuesday (April 5) in his keynote address at the CDNLive Cadence User Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

He later touched on 5G wireless communications, Big Data, deep learning, and ultra-low-power devices, leading up to the concept of System Design Enablement, or SDE. “We have been changing the entire system design flow,” Tan told a capacity audience in the Santa Clara Convention Center’s Elizabeth A. Hangs Theatre.

The Cadence CEO described new products that have been introduced in the past year.

(The system design theme is also exemplified by the Electronic Design Automation Consortium renaming itself last month as the Electronic System Design Alliance.)

Tan was followed by Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who took “The Evolution of Connected Devices” as his theme.

“There’s tremendous innovation in front of us…providing technology at scale,” Mollenkopf said. Mobility and low-power technology are “disrupting multiple industries,” he added.

While growth in the smartphone market is slowing down, wider adoption of Long-Term Evolution communications and the introduction of augmented reality and virtual reality on handsets promise to buoy the smartphone business for years to come, according to Mollenkopf.

The description of automotive vehicles as “a phone on wheels” is not unjustified, the Qualcomm CEO observed. While the unit volume of the auto business is lower than smartphones and many electronics products, the process of adding connectivity and Internet service to cars is “just beginning,” he said.

While the IoT is “not the next savior for the [semiconductor] industry,” Mollenkopf said, the industrial IoT promises to generate valuable data for manufacturers. “We’re moving from discrete to integrated platforms,” he added.

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf

Mollenkopf also addressed drone aircraft, 5G, and autonomous vehicles in his keynote.

Congratulating Cadence on its collaborations with Qualcomm, Mollenkopf concluded, “We need people to make it easy for us to use silicon.”

GlobalFoundries CEO Sanjay Jha was up next. He identified mobile computing, the IoT, and mission-critical/automotive applications as important considerations for the near future.

The IoT market could generate a low estimate of $3.9 trillion in the next decade, with high estimates topping out at $11.5 trillion, Jha said, citing IHS Technology, iSuppli, and other sources. The semiconductor industry could realize $50 billion to $75 billion in value from IoT-related products, “from chips to mini-systems,” he added.

GlobalFoundries, which last year acquired IBM Microlectronics, has identified several key technologies for its operations and foundry services: fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator, magnetic random-access memory, radio-frequency SOI and silicon germanium, system-in-package and other advanced packaging, FinFETs, and application-specific integrated circuits.

“Power consumption is the big differentiator,” Jha commented.

GlobalFoundries CEO Sanjay Jha

The 5-nanometer process node “will be a very expensive technology,” he said. Jha compared an extreme-ultraviolet lithography scanner (EUV technology is now expected to be production-ready for 5nm chips) to “a small Hadron Collider.”

The CDNLive Silicon Valley event was the first of 2016 for the EDA company. Similar conferences are scheduled this year for Germany, Korea, Japan, India, China, Taiwan, the eastern US (Boston), and Israel.

Rhines Reviews Four Decades of Design and Verification

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

thumbnail

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The electronic design automation industry is progressing from the “Applications Age” to a new era of field-programmable gate array prototyping where security and safety considerations are coming to the fore, according to Wally Rhines, chairman and chief executive officer of Mentor Graphics, giving the keynote address at DVCon U.S. in San Jose, Calif.

The Mentor CEO, who spent 21 years at Texas Instruments before getting into the EDA business, recalled that back in 1972, “there was no verification,” as chip designers were working on small-scale integration and medium-scale integration circuits that weren’t very complex.

Soon after, the CANCER simulator and the SPICE simulation program were developed, ushering in what Rhines called “verification era 0.0.”

This was followed by the register-transfer language design era of VHDL and the Verilog hardware description language, which he dubbed the “verification 1.0 era.”

As computers grew “faster, bigger,” Rhines said, “simulation became very fast, very productive,” leading to testbenches and “verification 2.0,” he added.

The emulation/simulation/verification segment in EDA increased to more than $1 billion in revenue during 2014, Rhines noted. This led to the “systems era” and “verification 3.0,” with multiple domains, he said.

The industry continues to evolve, from the “Pre-ICE Age” and ICE (in-circuit emulation) Age to the current times, with test creation automation and “the goal of portable stimulus,” the Mentor CEO said.

Going “beyond functional verification,” Rhines cited security as an increasing concern in IC design and verification. He pointed to Beckstrom’s Law of Cybersecurity:

  1. Anything attached to a network can be hacked.
  2. Everything is being attached to networks.
  3. Everything is vulnerable.

Semiconductors are now subject to side-channel attacks, Rhines noted. There are also the issues of counterfeit chips and malicious logic inside the chip. For the latter, the industry will resort to static tests and dynamic detection, he said.

In light of these developments, design and verification is moving to “verifying a chip does nothing it is not supposed to do,” Rhines commented.

Safety is the other big issue in chip design and verification. For automotive vehicles, there is the ISO 26262 standard. In medical equipment, it’s the IEC 60601 standard. And in military/aerospace applications, it’s the D0-254 standard, according to Rhines.

Working with such standards, subject to auditing, calls for fault injection and formal-based fault injection/verification, he said.

DVCon, short for Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition, evolved early in the 21st century from the establishment of verification standards and formation of the Accellera Systems Initiative. Annual conferences are held in Europe, India, and the U.S., with plans for a DVCon China in 2017.

What to See at the SPIE Advanced Lithography Show

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

thumbnail

By Gandharv Bhatara, Calibre Semi-Manufacturing Marketing Manager

The SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, from Tuesday, February 23, to Thursday, February 25, offers an incredible amount of technical information in a few long, fun days.  This year, Mentor Graphics has a large presence at SPIE Advanced Lithography to demonstrate our technical dominance in three computational lithography solutions – multipatterning with immersion lithography, EUV, and directed self-assembly. These are the three viable candidates at the advanced technology nodes (< 10nm), and Mentor continues to invest and develop them.

Mentor is engaged in deep partnerships will several leading-edge foundries and presents a multitude of papers that are written jointly with leading-edge foundries:

  • Samsung — “A random approach of test macro generation for early detection of hotspots”
  • GLOBALFOUNDRIES
    • “Directed self-assembly (DSA) compliant correction flow with immersion lithography”
    • “Source mask optimization using 3D mask and compact resist models”
    • “Multi-layer VEB model: capturing interlayer etch process effects for self-aligned via in multipatterning process scheme”
    • “EUV implementation of model-based assist features in contact patterns”
    • SMIC
      • “A novel full chip process window OPC based on matrix retargeting”
      • “Design space exploration for early identification of yield limiting patterns”
      • SK Hynix — “Advanced DFM application for automated bit-line pattern dummy

Mentor also partners with leading academia, universities, research institutes and experts in the area of lithography and has papers co-written with:

  • IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center — “Ultimate 2D resolution printing with negative-tone development”
  • Chris Mack — “Modeling metrology for calibration of OPC models”
  • Rochester Institute of Technology — “An automated image-based tool for pupil plane characterization of EUVL tools”
  • China’s Institute of Microelectronics — “Design technology co-optimization for 14/10nm metal1 double patterning layer”

What should become clear from the SPIE conference lineup, is that Advanced Lithography now extends well past mask synthesis and RET/OPC and into DFM, design enablement, and design-technology co-optimization (“Patterns-based DTCO flow for early estimation of lithographic difficulty using optical image processing techniques”).

Mentor is well positioned as a technology leader in all these areas. Designs today demand integrated solutions, not just point tools. That’s why we have developed an entire post-tapeout flow built on the Calibre platform. This core competency is what allows our manufacturing partners to assemble the fastest and the most accurate design-to-mask solutions (“An Integrated design-to-manufacturing flow for SADP”).

So if you are involved in design for manufacturing or post-tapeout engineering, come out to SPIE to see these papers and many more, from February 22-25 at the San Jose Convention Center. Mentor genius will be in available in presentations and at booth #225 to chat about any lithography-related issue on your mind.

Figure 1. Etch contour with multi-layer VEB model.

Startup Works on Ultralow-k Materials for Chips, Displays

Monday, December 21st, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The very last presentation at the 12th annual 3D Advanced Semiconductor Integration and Packaging conference was given by Hash Pakbaz, president and chief executive officer of SBA Materials, a developer of nanoporous and mesoporous materials for semiconductor manufacturing and other applications.

After apologizing for his lack of expertise in chip packaging, Pakbaz laid out the case for using his Silicon Valley startup’s patented Liquid Phase Self Assembly technology for designing siloxane-based materials.

Based in San Jose, Calif., with an office in Albuquerque, N.M., SBA Materials has an impressive roster of investors – Intel Capital (through three rounds in two years), Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Air Liquide Venture Capital, Tokyo Electron Venture Capital, Rock Hankin, William Cook (a co-founder and former CEO of the startup), Southern Cross Venture Partners, and Sun Mountain Capital. SBA Materials has not disclosed its total amount of venture funding, which extends over four rounds.

Materials with a low dielectric constant were first introduced more than a decade ago, and the semiconductor industry migration to making chips with 7-nanometer features will involve the integration of low-k materials, Pakbaz said at the 3D ASIP conference.

SBA’s goals are to “maintain existing composition” and “avoid random porosity,” Pakbaz said. With the LPSA technology, the company can offer low-k materials that are “not ordered and not random,” he added.

The films are spin-coated on a substrate, then subjected to a soft bake at 150 degrees C, according to Pakbaz. The resulting films can vary in thickness from 60 nanometers to 2 microns, he said.

“Our material is nice and sharp,” Pakbaz asserted. “Our material is quite stable.”

While SBA’s uLK advanced electronic materials are aimed at back-end-of-line and packaging applications in chip making, there are “applications beyond BEOL,” Pakbaz said at the conference.

“We see great promise for the LPSA material platform, not just in semiconductors, but also in various applications, including displays,” Dong-Su Kim, a vice president of Samsung Ventures America, said in a statement. He joined the SBA board of directors last year.

SBA has its material manufactured is Japan, Pakbaz noted, and it is working with imec in Belgium and Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT in Germany on development of its ultralow-k material.

Conference Features “The Year of Stacked Memory” in 2015

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The theme of this year’s 3D Architectures for Semiconductor Integration and Packading (3D ASIP) conference is “The Year of Stacked Memory,” noting how memory die stacked in one package are becoming more commonplace in 2015.

Put on by RTI International, the 3D ASIP conference is in its 12th year. Attendees and presenters are generally people involved in chip packaging, from academia and industry.

One presentation on Wednesday (December 16) was by Teruo Hirayama of Sony, which has a long history of developing CMOS image sensors, dating back to 1998 with the graphics synthesizer for the PlayStation 2 video-game console, employing embedded DRAMs.

Embedded DRAMs present a number of manufacturing challenges, such as requiring four photomasks at the time, compared with three masks for commodity DRAMs and two or so masks for “pure logic” chips, Hirayama noted.

To address the issue, Sony turned to “chip-on-chip” technology, combining the merits of system-on-a-chip devices and system-in-package technology, according to Hirayama. The chipmaker later resorted to stacked CMOS image sensors, which offer a cost advantage over conventional CMOS image sensors.

During fiscal 2014, stacked CMOS image sensors accounted for 64 percent of Sony’s CMOS image sensor shipments, with back-illuminated image sensors representing 31 percent and front-illuminated image sensors 5 percent, Hirayama reported.

For future directions in stacked image sensors, Hirayama pointed to connecting pixels to analog-to-digital converters, with a device that has memory, a microelectromechanical system device, and a radio-frequency chip on the bottom layer, topped with a logic device, the ADC, and pixels, in that order.

The conference also heard Wednesday from Bryan Black of Advanced Micro Devices, a senior AMD fellow who spearheaded development of the company’s Fiji graphics processing unit.

The project started in 2007 and took 8.5 years to complete, Black said. “The industry needed a new memory system,” he commented. “We ended up with a die-stacking solution.”

Virtual prototyping was employed along the way, according to Black.

With a silicon interposer measuring 1,011 square millimeters and an ASIC coming in at 592 square millimeters, with four high-bandwidth memories, the Fiji GPU module is a big device. “We realized the part was going to be much bigger than we expected,” Black recalled. “Then we realized this thing would be huge.”

Wrapping up on Wednesday, the conference also heard presentations by three suppliers of semiconductor production equipment – EV GroupSPTS Technologies, and Rudolph Technologies.

Smart Rock Bolt Wins Prize at Designers of Things Conference

Monday, December 7th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

When it comes to Internet of Things products, most people would think of the Apple Watch or Fitbit fitness-tracking devices. A device aimed at the mining industry has proved to be a popular entry at the Designers of Things conference in San Jose, Calif.

The Smart Rock Bolt designed by Jens Eliasson of Sweden’s Lulea University of Technology and others, along with Eistec, on Wednesday (December 2) received first prize in the IPSO Challenge competition put on by the Internet Protocol for Smart Objects Alliance, an award worth $10,000.

The low-power device can be driven into the rock walls of mines, and its sensors can report on movement within the rock, which can potentially warn of a collapse. Through 6LoWPAN technology, a capability in Internet Protocol version 6, the rebar sensors communicate with a network gateway, relaying information to a central command post.

The sensitivity of the sensors allows for detection of the movements by miners and machinery, according to Professor Eliasson, which can help direct underground traffic and – in the case of a collapse – can pinpoint where people are.

He said the designers and developers of the Smart Rockbolt are in discussions with mining companies on a long-term testbed for the technology.

There is the possibility that other sensors could be integrated into the Smart Rock Bolt, such as smoke sensors and gas sensors, which could warn miners if poisonous gases are building up in the mineshaft and let them know when such gases have subsided to a safer level.

The IPSO Alliance had its own sprawling booth at the DoT exposition to demonstrate the 10 semi-finalist entries in the IPSO Challenge, all of which were aimed at touting the usefulness of Internet Protocol in the Internet of Things.

Nicholas Ashworth, an IPSO Alliance board member and treasurer who also served as co-chairman of this year’s IPSO Challenge, said the organization received dozens of entries from around the world for the competition, which is in its third year and is sponsored by Google, Atmel, and others. He and other judges met on the day before DoT conference opened to pick the winners.

Second place, with a prize of $5,000, went to EISOX’s Intelligent Thermostatic Radiator Valve, while third place (worth $2,500) was claimed by MicroPnP’s IoT platform.

The IPSO Alliance was founded in 2008, according to Ashworth. “We were basically promoting the Internet of Things before the Internet of Things,” he said.

Internet Protocol technology has “35 years of development” behind it, he noted, which offers advantages not currently available through ZigBee, Thread, and other IoT protocols. “It’s a protocol soup,” Ashworth commented.

Eliasson said he has been at LTU since 2003. “We were doing IoT with Bluetooth sensors,” he noted. The university group later moved on to IPv6 and 6LoWPAN. IP offers low-power capabilities and interoperability, he added.

“The mines have adopted IP,” Eliasson said. “They’re using VoIP [voice-over-Internet-Protocol). They jumped on the bandwagon.”

Mine operators are closely watching the development of 5G wireless networks, the professor added, since it can be used on normal mobile phones.

IoT Will Enable ‘Living Services,’ Keynote Speaker Says

Monday, December 7th, 2015

thumbnail

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

“It’s not about the sensors,” Nandini (Nan) Nayak, managing director of design strategy at Fjord, said Thursday morning (December 3) in a keynote address at the Designers of Things conference in San Jose, Calif.

Rather than talk about the Internet of Things, the subject of this two-day conference, Nayak addressed what she termed “Living Services” – the product of all those IoT sensors and processors, data centers, and cloud-based services.

Living services are “responsive to individual needs, contextually aware, and react in real-time,” she said. They “learn and evolve…as if they are alive.”

The “digitization of everything” creates “liquid expectations” among consumers and other users, Nayak asserted. “People’s expectations transcend expected boundaries,” she added.

The IoT involves “a shift of focus from designing for users and things to designing for people’s activities,” Nayak elaborated. “Everything is beginning to connect with each other.”

She added, “Sensors are cheap; they are able to be placed in many places.”

User interfaces are changing, Nayak noted, moving from computer screen-based interfaces to haptics and “touch-based interaction.”

She laid out the key characteristics of living services – the automation of low-maintenance decisions and actions, long-term learning from what people do, powered by data and analytics, collected from sensor-rich objects and interactions of daily life. “Think about environments, not industries,” Nayak advised.

“The IoT or living services will affect all aspects of our lives,” she asserted. “The home will be a key battleground.”

Personal health and shopping will be other areas where living services will have dramatic impacts, Nayak said.

How can businesses address living services? Nayak said the key points are: Know your customer; flex your technology; design in order to know and flex; and design to delight.

“Think about the value of the experience,” she asserted. “People expect the richness of experience, fun.”

Nayak concluded, “Prepare to atomize. Make your brand feel alive.”

Fjord was acquired in 2013 by Accenture, the global management consulting and technical services firm.

Nayak’s keynote was followed with a panel session moderated by Lucio Lanza of Lanza techVentures, a veteran technology investor and one-time executive at Daisy Systems, an early leader in electronic design automation that was acquired by Intergraph in 1990 and later absorbed into Mentor Graphics.

While the Internet connected computers and networks around the world, smartphones and other mobile devices are connecting people, Lanza noted.

Rather than the Internet of things or objects, it’s more correct to speak of “a world of things,” Lanza asserted, adding, “There are a lot of opportunities making this thing happen.”

Jack Hughes, the chairman and founder of TopCoder who also serves as chairman of the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation, showed part of a foundation video showing the benefits of epidural stimulation for people with paralysis.

“It’s not a cure,” he said of the technology. “These are early days. But it is extremely promising. Every one of these injuries is individual.” The foundation has supported the work of device designers, turning out the electrodes that can help paralyzed people move their limbs for the first time in years.

While the technology could deliver groundbreaking rehabilitation, “how do we make these things secure?” Hughes asked.

Mark Templeton of Scientific Ventures LLC, the co-founder of Artisan Components (acquired by ARM Holdings in 2004) and now a tech investor, talked about the Learning Thermostat from Nest Labs (now a Google subsidiary) and the business model behind the device, which can deliver data on its use to electrical utility companies to guide how and when they supply power to customers.

He urged IoT startups to “think about the business model more than the device itself.” He added, “The device is just the starting point.”

Ted Vucurevich of Enconcert, who once was the chief technology officer of Cadence Design Systems, said the IoT is bringing about a “transformation” in electronics, semiconductors, computing, and related industries. “It’s not about winning a socket,” he said, but “how you’re going to monetize the things you sell.”

He added, “There is consolidation and exploration. How can we allow these ecosystems to move forward? There’s a complete transformation coming.”

Noting his background in software, Hughes said, “When I hear ‘Internet of Things,’ I think ‘community.’ It’s a community of things. This is sort of a watershed moment.”

The panel, left to right: Ted Vucurevich, Mark Templeton, Jack Hughes, Lucio Lanza.

InvenSense CEO touts the Internet of Sensors

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

InvenSense president and chief executive officer Behrooz Abdi sees the Internet of Things as an Internet of Sensors, a theme he explored Tuesday afternoon (November 17) at the opening of the fourth annual InvenSense Developers Conference.

“To enable the Internet of Things, we need a community,” he told the developers in attendance. “How do we make this a much stronger community?”

InvenSense has a “very selfish” reason for supporting the 30,000 developers in that community, Abdi added. Many InvenSense developers of hardware and software applications spread out to many companies, he noted.

The company reported earlier this year that 78 percent of its fiscal 2015 revenue came from mobile sensors. Optical image stabilization accounted for 12 percent of the year’s revenue, while gaming and other applications represented 10 percent.

For its fiscal second quarter ended September 27, InvenSense’s IoT-related business accounted for 20 percent of revenue, “double what it was,” Abdi said.

In its history, InvenSense has seen many functions incorporated into smartphones, the CEO said. “The phone has become a mobile server,” he observed.

Abdi commented, “The road to the Internet of Sensors is fraught with many challenges. We’re really tackling a lot of things.”

InvenSense has reduced the typical time-to-market for new sensor products, especially with its new fingerprint sensor, Abdi asserted. The company has opened up its InvenSense Fabrication Platform to more parties in the interest of inspiring more designs incorporating InvenSense sensors, he said.

“We’re giving you a platform you can build from,” Abdi said.

Eitan Medina, InvenSense’s vice president of marketing and product development, revealed some of the company’s news on Tuesday, such as the new CoursaSports.com software-as-a-service, with a software development kit for sensor-assisted fitness tracking applications, and improvements in the graphical user interface of the company’s SensorStudio development tool and the InvenSense FireFly development kit, a sensor prototyping and development platform for IoT applications.

“Create your own custom sensors,” Medina urged. “Design your own sensor fusion.”

CoursaSports supports app development for the iOS, Android, and Android Wear operating systems, according to Medina.

InvenSense also announced it is partnering with Intrinsic-ID for the TrustedSensor offering, “enabling secure sensor-based systems,” Medina said.

The conference also heard from Amit Shah of Artiman Ventures. “What is IoT?” Shah asked rhetorically. “It sort of became a buzzword that means nothing.”

As a venture-capital firm, Artiman is interested in startups that can field a product or service within two years, Shah said.

“We’re focused on revenue models” when it comes to the Internet of Things and sensors, Shah said – specifically, health care and industrial uses. Artiman isn’t interested in areas that are “crowded” with startups, namely consumer wearables and robotics, he added.

InvenSense Developers Conference Tackles Sensor Security, New Technologies

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The second day of the InvenSense Developers Conference saw presenters get down to cases – use cases for sensors.

There were track sessions devoted to mobile technology and the Internet of Things, with the latter featuring presentations on industrial and automotive applications, smart homes and drones, smartphones and tablet computers, and wearable electronics. InvenSense partner companies had their own track on New Technologies, fitting into the conference’s “Internet of Sensors” theme.

The conference also featured two developer tracks in parallel, providing five InvenSense presentations on its FireFly hardware and software, SensorStudio, and other offerings.

One of the presentations that wrapped up the conference on Wednesday afternoon (November 18) was given by Pim Tuyls, chief executive officer of Intrinsic-ID, the Dutch company that worked with InvenSense to develop the TrustedSensor product, a secure sensor-based authentication system incorporating the FireFly system-on-a-chip device.

TrustedSensor will be shipped to alpha customers in the first quarter of 2016 and will go out to beta customers in the second quarter of next year, according to Tuyls. “This is real,” he said.

The Intrinsic-ID founder briefly reviewed the company’s history, to start. It was spun out of Royal Philips in 2008 and is an independent company with venture-capital funding, Tuyls noted.

Intrinsic-ID was founded to provide “cyber physical security based on physically unclonable function,” or PUF, Tuyls said. “We invented PUF,” he added. “It has been vetted by security labs and government agencies,” among other parties.

Taking “The Trusted Sensor” as his theme, the Intrinsic-ID CEO said, “Sensors are the first line of defense. You want to make sure you can provide a certain level of security.”

It is critical to achieve “the right balance” in designing, fabricating, and installing sensors, with security, flexibility, and low footprint among the key considerations, according to Tuyls.

While whimsically describing PUF as “a magic concept,” Tuyls noted, “Chips are physically unique,” with no two completely alike due to manufacturing processes.

PUF can “extract a crypto key from any device,” he added. “You can authenticate any device.”

Intrinsic-ID has tested the PUF technology with a wide variety of silicon foundries, Tuyls said – namely, Cypress Semiconductor, GlobalFoundries, IBM, Intel, Renesas Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, and United Microelectronics. It has been implemented by Altera, Microsemi, NXP Semiconductors, Samsung, and Synopsys, he added, and process nodes ranging from 180 nanometers down to 14nm have been tested.

Tuyls concluded by emphasizing the importance of sensor security for the Internet of Things. “We should not wait; we should not try to save a few cents,” he said. “It is important, but it is hard.”

Earlier in the day, attendees heard from Sam Massih, InvenSense’s director of wearable sensors. “There’s a wearable solution for every part of the body,” he commented.

“Step count isn’t enough,” Massih said. “You need context for data.” He cited the example of a user who goes to the gym three times a week and spends an hour on the elliptical trainer machine for one hour on each visit.

“That’s data that can be monetized,” he said.

InvenSense announced last month that it would enter the market for automotive sensors. Amir Panush, the company’s head of automotive and IoT industrial, said in his presentation, “Sensors need to be smart enough.”

The megatrends in automotive electronics include the use of motion sensors for safety in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), the smart connected car, and tough emission restrictions, according to Panush.

“We have signed a deal with a Tier One partner,” Panush said, meaning a leading automotive manufacturer, without identifying the company. “We are ramping up internal R&D in automotive.” InvenSense is presently opening design centers focusing on the $5 trillion automotive market, he added.

InvenSense was founded in 2003 and went public in 2011. The company posted revenue of $372 million in fiscal 2015 with a net loss of $1.08 million (primarily due to charging $10.55 million in interest expense against net income), after being profitable for the previous four years. InvenSense gets more than three-quarters of its revenue from mobile sensors and has a growing business in IoT sensors.

Customers in Asia accounted for 63 percent of the company’s fiscal 2015 revenue, according to InvenSense’s 10-K annual report. The company spent $90.6 million on research and development, representing about 24 percent of its net revenue.

GlobalFoundries and TSMC make nearly all of InvenSense’s wafers. Assembly packaging of its microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices and sensors is outsourced to Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, Amkor Technology, Lingsen Precision Industries, and Siliconware Precision Industries.

The company had 644 employees as of March 29, 2015, with nearly half of them involved in R&D.

STMicroelectronics is InvenSense’s primary competitor for consumer motion sensors, the 10-K states, while the company also competes with Analog Devices, Epson Toyocom, Kionix, Knowles, Maxim Integrated Products, MEMSIC, Murata Manufacturing, Panasonic, Robert Bosch, and Sony.

3D ASIP: “It’s Complicated”

Monday, December 15th, 2014

thumbnail

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

The presentations at this week’s 3D Architectures in Semiconductor Integration and Packaging conference could be summed up in a famous Facebook status: “It’s complicated.”

They also could be summed up in one word: Progress.

This year has seen tremendous progress in implementation of 3DIC technology, according to speakers at the 11th annual conference, held in Burlingame, Calif. Those who have been touting and tracking 3D chips for years are looking forward to the 2015 introduction of Intel’s Xeon Phi “Knights Landing” processor for high-performance computing, which will incorporate the Hybrid Memory Cube technology in the same package as the CPU.

Activities began Wednesday, December 10, with a preconference symposium on “2.5/3D-IC Design Tools and Flows” and “3D Integration: 3D Process Technology.” Bill Martin of E-System Design kicked off the program with a presentation on path finding, a topic addressed several times over the next two days. He emphasized that preparing for a chip design project, such as choosing the right tools, is as important as the design and implementation phases when it comes to embracing 3DIC technology.

John Ferguson of Mentor Graphics later said there is “an infrastructure problem” in the semiconductor industry when it comes to process design kits (PDKs) for 2.5D and 3D chips. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing has collaborated with Mentor and other leading suppliers of electronic design automation tools to offer PDKs to TSMC foundry customers, yet the next step must be taken to have outsourced semiconductor assembly and test contractors provide packaging PDKs.

Phil Garrou, a senior consultant for Yole Developpement, said 2014 has witnessed significant progress in implementation of 3DIC technology. “We no longer need to prove performance,” he said. “The remaining issue is cost.”

Several speakers addressed the topic of the Internet of Things and how it involves 3DICs on the first day of the conference. Steven Schulz of the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) said 3D chip designers should think of their products not as system-on-a-chip devices, but system-on-a-stack.

Yole’s Rozalia Beica said predictions that the Internet of Things market will be worth trillions of dollars in 2022 are “overoptimistic” and that “optimism is higher than current investment.” Yole looks for the market in IoT sensors to be worth $400 billion in 2024, she said.

Samta Bonsal of the GE Software Center spoke on the Industrial Internet. “That world is huge,” she said, and predicted it will have “a bigger impact” than consumer-oriented IoT applications. Gartner says the market for all IoT chips will be worth $7.58 billion in 2015, she noted. The market research firm also forecasts that 8 billion connected devices will be shipped during 2020, encompassing 35 billion semiconductor devices produced on 6 million wafers.

E. Jan Vardaman of TechSearch International presented a lively review of 3DIC technology, past and present. “There’s been a lot of good progress with TSV (through-silicon vias), enabling us to improve the process,” she said. Still, 3DIC has been a long time in coming, noting that Micron Technology began research and development on DRAM stacking a dozen years ago and Xilinx initiated development of a silicon-based interposer to be used with TSVs in 2006, six years before it was able to offer a field-programmable gate array with such technology, manufactured in volume by TSMC.

Dyi-Chung Hu of Unimicron looked past the silicon interposer to the era to using glass for interposers and substrate core materials. Glass has a low coefficient of thermal expansion compared with silicon, he noted, and is very flat. Its chief drawback is its brittleness, according to Hu.

Michael Gaynes of IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center reported on his company’s two ICECool projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, developing 3DICs that could run cooler in data-center servers.

The last day of the conference coincided with a convention devoted to the Star Trek television series in the adjacent hotel ballroom. Attendees dressed as Klingons and starship crew members mingled with the 3DIC technologists in the hotel lobby, all dreaming and thinking about the future.