Memory technology and how it is implemented has become a critical element in system-on-a-chip device design. "You always want to make memory as small as possible, but at the same time you also want it as big as possible," said Chris Rowen of Cadence Design Systems.
The microelectromechanical system device market has yet to reach its mature phase where pricing is the primary consideration by customers, according to Jeremie Bouchaud of IHS. "The accelerometer and gyroscope markets are leveling out, but there is still strong growth in microphones," Bouchaud said. He added, "And there is also strong growth in new types of MEMS devices such as [bulk acoustic wave filters]."
Microcontrollers and other components going into wireless sensor networks must be low-power parts, and power sources other than batteries must be used. “Energy harvesting is becoming more attractive because it doesn’t require continual recharging and does away with the need for communication or power wires," said Oivind Loe of Silicon Laboratories.
Change is taking place in the semiconductor industry, on a scale and in ways not previously seen in the sector, Ed Sperling writes. "What's different now is that change is happening more quickly than ever before, and it's happening in more places and in more markets," he writes.
The 60-gigahertz next generation of IEEE wireless communications standards, 802.11ay, is expected to reach completion in 2017. Data transmission rates are seen rising from 7 gigabits per second to 20 Gbps and higher, while the technology will cover distances of 300 to 500 meters, compared with the current 10 meters.
Researchers at Imec and Holst Centre have come up with a prototype of a single-chip electrochemical sensor that can detect multiple ions in fluids. Applications of the device include agriculture, food quality monitoring, health care and water management.
Behrooz Abdi, president and CEO of InvenSense, took the "Internet of Sensors" as his theme in opening his company's developers conference in Santa Clara, Calif. "The road to the Internet of Sensors is fraught with many challenges. We're really tackling a lot of things," he said.
The Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation, backed by many big-name chip companies, is trying to resolve issues presented by demand for high-performance computing. "The essence of the heterogeneous computing model is that one size does not fit all. By combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system, it's possible to fully exploit the strengths of both architectures," said Ian Buck of Nvidia.
Toshiba America Electronic Components will begin sampling its TC7766WBG wireless power receiver by the end of the year, with volume production set for next spring. The chip runs at 15 watts and complies with the Qi v1.2 wireless charging standard.
In 1985, Intel exited the DRAM business, driven out by Japanese chipmakers who sold their memory chips for less than their manufacturing cost, Roger Kay writes. Now, having dominated the processor business, Intel is looking toward its memory line to help boost revenue in 2016, he notes.
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