Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Penryn Arrives: Intel at 45 nm

Is this the first production 45 nm chip? Penryn Arrives: Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Review It kind of snuck up on me. Intel is firing on all cylinders for the last year or two. Nice architecture, and a full process node ahead of AMD.

The secret sauce in their 45 nm recipe is "HK+MG", for High-K dielectric and Metal Gate. Cool stuff, this High-K addresses the huge problem of gate leakage as the process scales down. The power reduction claims are very impressive.

One nit that's always bothered me is that we all design in CMOS, and the "M" in CMOS stands for Metal. But the gate hasn't been metal in ages! Now it is metal again and it's a novelty. What is old is now new again.

Also, take a look at the die shot. That's two duplicate cores and a huge cache. Hey come on Intel, design some real gates, like the Graphics companies do! :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Fun with "Steve Jobs"

One of the funniest blogs going right now is The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. Lots of unfiltered opinions about the Electronics and Entertainment (media) industries. It's a parody, but some of the posts are scathingly spot-on.

Oh, and it's rated PG-13 for language. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Maybe Sun is onto something

Jonathan Schwartz could have been paraphrasing me when mentioning those unimpressed by Sun's latest CPU announcements.

Those who love desktop computers thought we were daft. Here we had what looked like a slow chip, optimized for something no home user really cared about (lowering power bills, running multiple OS's and minimizing space). And to make matters worse, we removed support for floating point precision math on the chip - to save more power and space. Desktop users (who play games that often feast on floating point processes) thought we were loons, but most datacenters didn't notice (very few datacenters use floating point).

But his blog posting Jonathan Schwartz's Weblog: Hugging Customers (Not Trees) shows that there's a method in Sun's madness. Might Sun be able to compete with Intel after all? Let's hope so, as competition is good for the industry, and AMD has been struggling against Intel recently.

Monday, October 15, 2007


If you love chip design and/or are curious to look into one of the most successful semiconductor companies, you'll enjoy looking at nSide NVIDIA.

The Failure Analysis equipment is super-high tech. I learned a few things about how chips are made to tell their secrets. Also see the campus, compute farm, cafeteria, and even the beloved high-tech coffee machine!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Even Gerald Hsu has a blog

Even EDA ex-Avanti CEO Gerald Hsu has a blog brings back the memory of perhaps the most colorful and crooked character in EDA history.

I couldn't find his blog. The link is to an audio interview puff piece. I've always wanted someone to write the whole story of Avant!'s theft of source code from Cadence: how they did it, and most incredibly, what were they thinking? It would be a business thriller, no doubt.

It's sad that one conspirator (an EE PhD) ended up going to prison at San Quentin while the CEO walked free and is doing business in Asia.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Looking for Good Training

I wanted to poll blog readers for their experiences and recommendations on technical training. Specifically, I'm looking for a System Verilog for Design class. Have you taken one of these and what did you think? In general, what has been your experience with HDL or EDA training?

For the class I'm looking for, I found these providers