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Showing posts for June 2016

29 June 2016

The 'KiloCore'

A team working out of the University of California (UC Davis) has created the world’s first microchip that has a 1,000 independent and programmable processors.

Dubbed the ‘KiloCore’, this supercharged chip is capable of handling nearly 1.8 trillion instructions per second and contains a whopping 621 million transistors.

“To the best of our knowledge, it is the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock rate processor ever designed in a university,” said Bevan Baas, the team’s leader and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis.

What is even more impressive is that powerful microchip is extremely energy efficient. According to the team behind its creation, the 1,000 processors can comfortably operate on the power generated by a single AA battery.

Each processor is individually clocked, meaning that it can shut itself down to conserve energy, explained Bren Bohnenstiehl, who helped work on the chip’s principal architecture. Another reason for its efficiency is that the KiloCore’s processors operate at an average clock frequency of 1.78GHz and can transfer data directly, bypassing the need for an ineffective stored memory system.

When discussing the creation, electronica’s Hermann Straubinger described it as being “one hundred times more energy efficient than a notebook processor.”

Whilst still some way away from being widely used, applications for further development for the chip have been lodged for use in the wireless, video processing and encryption sectors.

The KiloCore was unveiled at the 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu, Hawaii, earlier this month.

21 June 2016

Brain-like Electronics

For all the ingenuity and invention shown by the world’s leading technology firms, no processor can match the sheer computing power shown by the human brain, let alone its efficiency and speed when it comes to crunching information.

Naturally, it should not be too surprising to find out that a group of engineers has potentially uncovered a way to develop electronic components that mimic how our grey matter works.

If successful, the research team could bring to market a new, more powerful and more efficient range of devices.

Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the IBM-affiliated group has released a preliminary report that outlines how nanosized devices could be able to operate in a manner akin to the human brain.

In order to achieve such an impressive mechanical feat, the components would have to be constructed from phase-change materials.

Speaking about the report, C. David Wright, an electrical engineer at the University of Exeter, believes it shows “that we can make simple but effective hardware” that mimics neurological activity.

The IBM team’s prototype device copies how neurons analyse incoming information from other neurons in order to determine when it should fire. These always-changing signals change the electrical potential of the device at a rapid rate and whenever that potential surpasses a certain level, the neuron activates.

Prior to this latest development, engineers have attempted to mimic this process by using a complicated method of combining capacitors and silicon transistors.

The IBM team made a device in the shape of a mushroom that consisted of a 100mm-thick layer of chalcogenide located between two electrodes. In one active demonstration, the team used the neuron-like creation to identify correlations in one thousand streams of binary data.

If scaled and released, experts believe that such a process could detect emerging social media trends and transactions made on the stock markets.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

06 June 2016

Texas the leading provider of semiconductors


Analysis from Semicast Research has revealed that Texas Instruments was the leading supplier of semiconductors to the industrial sector for the 2015 calendar year.

The American company recorded a market share of 8.1%.

Infineon, the German-based manufacturer, ended the year as the second largest vendor (6.8%), with Intel in third (4.9%). STMicroelectronics (4.4%) and Renesas Electronics (3.8%) rounded out the top five.

Semicast’s year-end analysis only counted sales to ‘traditional’ industries and excludes the aerospace and defence.

By implementing Semicast’s guidelines, estimated sales for the entire semiconductor sector industry last year totalled $40.7 billion.

If correct, the revenues forecasted by Semicast would indicate that revenues for industrial semiconductors have doubled in the past six years.

Speaking about the close nature of the market, Colin Barnden, the study’s senior author, said: “In practice the industrial sector is a collection of markets within a market and is heavily fragmented across applications, OEMs and regions."

“Accordingly, it has no dominant semiconductor vendor, with the top ten together accounting for only forty percent of the total.”

Due to the lack of an overriding sector leader, many companies embarked on a series of acquisitions and mergers in order to solidify and enhance their market position.

Intel’s acquisition of Altera in December helped it leapfrog STMicroelectronics and it was a similar story for NXP, whose purchase of Freescale Semiconductor saw them move up into seventh. However, Intel’s purchase of Altera at the end of the year was seen as an act of consolidation rather than act with expansionist aims.

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