Electronics trends for 2018

Here are some of my collection of newest trends and predictions for year 2018. I have not invented those ideas what will happen next year completely myself. I have gone through many articles that have given predictions for year 2018. Then I have picked and mixed here the best part from those articles (sources listed on the end of posting) with some of my own additions to make this posting.This article contains very many quotations from those source articles (hopefully all acknowledged with link to source).

The general trend in electronics industry is that the industry growth have been driven by mobile industry. Silicon content in smartphones and other mobile devices is increasing as vendors add greater functionality. Layering on top of that are several emerging trends such as IoT, big data, AI and smart vehicles that are creating demand for greater computing power and expanding storage capacity.


Manufacturing trends

According to Foundry Challenges in 2018 article the silicon foundry business is expected to see steady growth in 2018. The growth in semiconductor manufacturing will remain steady, but there will be challenges in the manufacturing capacity and  expenses to move to the next nodes. For most applications, unless you must have highest levels of performance, there may not be as compelling a business case to focus on the bleeding-edge nodes. Over the last two years, the IC industry has experienced an acute shortage of 200mm fab capacity (legacy MCU, power, sensors, 6-micron to 65nm). In 2018, 200mm capacity will remain tight. An explosion in 200mm demand has set off a frenzied search for used semiconductor manufacturing equipment that can be used at older process nodes. The problem is there is not enough used equipment available. The profit margins in manufacturing are so thin in markets served by those fabs that it’s hard to justify paying current rising equipment prices, and newcomers may have a tough time making inroads. Foundries with fully depreciated 200mm equipment and capacity already are seeing increased revenues in their 200mm business.The specialty foundry business is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to the emergence of 5G and automotive.

300mm is expected to follow a similar path for lack of capacity because 300mm fabs already produce leading-edge chips and more mainstream 300mm demand is driven by MCUs, wireless communications and storage applications. Early predictions are for solid growth in 2018, fueled by demand for memory and logic at advanced 10/7nm

In 2017, marking the first time that the semiconductor equipment market has exceeded the previous market high of US$47.7 billion set in 2000. Fab tool vendors found themselves in the midst of an unexpected boom cycle in 2017, thanks to enormous demand for equipment in 3D NAND and, to a lesser degree, DRAM. In 2018, equipment demand looks robust, although the industry will be hard-pressed to surpass the record growth figures in 2017. In 2018, 7.5 percent growth is expected to result in sales of US$60.1 billion for the global semiconductor equipment market – another record-breaking year. Demand looks solid across the three main growth drivers for fab tool vendors—DRAM, NAND and foundry/logic.
Rising demand for chips is hitting the IC packaging supply chain, causing shortages of select manufacturing capacity, various package types, leadframes and even some equipment. Spot shortages for some IC packages began showing up in 2017, but the problem has been growing and spreading since then, so  packaging customers may encounter select shortages well into 2018Apple Watch 3 shipment growth to benefit Taiwan IC packagers in 2018.

Market for advanced packaging begins to diverge based on performance and price. Advanced Packaging is now viewed as the best way to handle large amounts of data at blazing speeds.

Moore’s law

Many recent publications say Moore’s Law is dead. Though Moore’s Law is dead may be experiencing some health challenges, it’s not time to start digging the grave for the semiconductor and electronics market yet

Even smaller nodes are still being taken to use in high end chips. The node names are confusing. Intel’s 10nm technology is roughly equivalent to the foundry 7nm node.In 2018, Intel is expected to finally ramp up 10nm finally in the first half of 2018. In addition, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and TSMC will begin to ship their respective 7nm finFET processes. On the leading edge, GlobalFoundries, Intel, Samsung and TSMC start migrating from the 16nm/14nm to the 10nm/7nm logic nodes. It is expected that some chip-makers face some challenges on the road. Time will tell if GlobalFoundries, Samsung and TSMC will struggle at 7nm. Early predictions are for solid growth in 2018, fueled by demand for memory and logic at advanced 10/7nm. 7nm is projected to generate sales from $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion in 2018. Over time 10nm/7nm is expected to be a big and long-running node. Suppliers of FPGAs and processors are expected to jump on 10nm/7nm.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics said it has commenced production of the second generation of its 10nm-class 8-Gb DDR4 DRAM. Devices labeled 10nm-class have feature sizes as small as 10 to 19 nanometers. With the continued need for shrinking pattern dimensions, semiconductor manufacturers continue to implement more complex patterning techniques, such as advanced multi-patterning, for the 10nm design node and beyond. They also are investing significant development effort in readying EUV lithography for production at the 7/5nm design nodesSamsung is planning to begin transitioning to EUV for logic chips next year at the 7nm node, although it is unclear when the technology will be put into production for DRAM.

There will be talk on even smaller nodes. FinFETs will get extended to at least to 5nm, and possibly 3nm in next 5 years. The path to 5nm loks pretty clear. FinFETs will get extended at least to 5nm. It’s possible they will get extended to 3nm. EUV will be used at new nodes, followed by High NA Lithography. New smaller nodes challenges the chip design as abstractions become more difficult at 7nm and beyond. Models are becoming more difficult to develop, integrate and utilize effectively at 10/7nm and beyond as design complexity, process variation and physical effects add to the number of variables that need to be taken into account. Materials and basic structures may diverge by supplier, at 7 nm and beyond. Engineering and scientific teams at 3nm and beyond will require completely different mixes of skills than today.

Silicon is still going strong, but the hard fact is that CMOS has been running out of steam for several nodes, and that becomes more obvious at each new node. To extend into new markets and new process nodes Chipmakers Look To New Materials. There are a number of compounds in use already (generally are being confined to specific niche applications), such as gallium arsenide, gallium nitride, and silicon carbide. Silicon will be supplemented by 2D materials to extend Moore’s Law. Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), a class of 2D materials derived from basic elements—principally tellurium, selenium, sulfur, and oxygen—are being widely explored by researchers. TMDCs are functioning as semiconductors in conjunction with graphene. Graphene, the wonder material rediscovered in 2004, and a host of other two-dimensional materials are gaining ground in manufacturing semiconductors as silicon’s usefulness begins to fade. Wide-bandgap semiconductor materials like gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) are anticipated to be used in many more applications in 2018. Future progress increasingly will require a mix of different materials and disciplines, but silicon will remain a key component.

Interconnect Materials need to to be improved. For decades, aluminum interconnects were the industry standard. In the late 1990s, chipmakers switched to copper. Over the years, transistors have decreased dramatically in size, so interconnects also have had to scale in size leading to roadblock known as the RC challenge. Industry is investing significant effort in developing new approaches to extend copper use and finding new metals. There’s also some investigation into improvements on the dielectric side. The era of all-silicon substrates and copper wires may be coming to an end.

Application markets

Wearables are a question mark. Demand for wearables slowed down in 2017 so much that smart speakers likely outsold wearable devices in 2017 holiday season.  eMarketer is estimating that usage of wearable will grow just 11.9 percent in 2018, rising from 44.7 million adult wearable users in 2017 to 50.1 million in 2018. On the other hand market research firm IDC estimates that the shipments of wearable electronics devices are projected to more than double over the next five years as watches displace fitness trackers as the biggest sellers. IDC forecasts that wearables shipments will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 18.4 percent between 2017 and 2021, rising from 113.2 million this year to 222.3 million in 2021. At the same time fitness trackers are expected to become commodity product. Tomorrow’s wearables will become more fully featured and multi-functional.

The automotive market for semiconductors is shifting into high gear in 2018. Right now the average car has about $350 worth of semiconductor content, but that is projected to grow another 50% by 2023 as the overall automotive market for semiconductors grows from $35 billion to $54 billion. The explosion of drive-by-wire technology, combined with government mandates toward fully electric powertrains, has changed this paradigm—and it impacts more than just the automotive industry. Consider implications beyond the increasingly complex vehicle itself, including new demands on supporting infrastructure. The average car today contains up to 100 million lines of code. Self-driving car will have considerably more code in it. Software controls everything from safety critical systems like brakes and power steering, to basic vehicle controls like doors and windows. Meeting ISO 26262 Software Standards is needed but it will not make the code bug free. It’s quickly becoming common practice for embedded system developers to isolate both safety and security features on the same SoC. The shift to autonomous vehicles marks a major shift in the supply chain—and a major opportunity.

Many applications have need for a long service life — for example those deployed within industrial, scientific and military industries. In these applications, the service life may exceed that of component availability. Replacing an advanced, obsolete components in a design can be very costly, potentially requiring an entire redesign of the electronic hardware and software. The use of programmable devices helps designers not only to address component obsolescence, but also to reduce the cost and complexity of the solution. Programmable logic devices are provided in a range of devices of different types, capabilities and sizes, from FPGAs to System on Chips (SoC) and Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLD). The obsolete function can be emulated within the device, whether it is a logic function implemented in programmable logic in a CPLD, FPGA or SoC, or a processor system implemented in an FPGA or SoC.

Become familiar with USB type C connector. USB type C connector is becoming quickly more commonplace than any other earlier interface. In the end of 2016 there were 300 million devices using a USBC connection – a big part was smartphones, but the interface was also widespread on laptops. With growth, the USBC becomes soon the most common PC and peripheral interface. Thunderbolt™ 3 on USBC connector promises to fulfill the promise of USB-C for single-cable docking and so much more.


Power electronics

The power electronics market continues to grow and gain more presence across a variety of markets2017 was a good year for electric vehicles and the future of this market looks very promising. In 2017, we saw also how wireless charging technology has been adopted by many consumer electronic devices- including Apple smart phones. Today’s power supplies do more than deliver clean and stable dc power on daily basis—they provide advanced capabilities that can save you time and money.

Wide-bandgap semiconductor materials like gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) are anticipated to be used in many more applications in 2018. At the moment, the number of applications for those materials is steadily increasing in the automotive and military industry. Expect to see more adoption of SiC and GaN materials in automotive market.

According to Battery Market Goes Bigger and Better in 2018 article advances in battery technologies hold the keys to continuing progress in portable electronics, robotics, military, and telecommunication applications, as well as distributed power grids. It is difficult to see lithium-ion based batteries being replaced anytime soon, so the advances in battery technology are primarily through the application of lithium-ion battery chemistries. New battery protection for portable electronics cuts manufacturing steps and costs for Lithium-ion.

Transparency Market Research analysts predict that the global lithium-ion battery market is poised to rise from $29.67 billion in 2015 to $77.42 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 11.6 %. That growth has already spread from the now ubiquitous consumer electronics segment to automotive, grid energy, and industrial applications. Dramatic increase is expected for battery power for the transportation, consumer electronic, and stationary segments. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the global energy-storage market will double six times between 2016 and 2030, rising to a total of 125 G/305 gigawatt-hours. In 2018, energy-storage systems will continue proliferating to provide backup power to the electric grid.


Memory business boomed in 2017 for both NAND and DRAM. The drivers for DRAM are smartphones and servers. Solid-state drives (SSDs) and smartphones are fueling the demand for NAND.  Both the DRAM and NAND content in smartphones continues to grow, so memory business will do well in 2018.Fab tool vendors found themselves in the midst of an unexpected boom cycle in 2017, thanks to enormous demand for equipment in 3D NAND and, to a lesser degree, DRAMIn 2018, equipment demand looks robust, although the industry will be hard-pressed to surpass the record growth figures in 2017.

NAND Market Expected to Cool in Q1 from the crazy year 2017, but it is still growing well because there is increasing demand. The average NAND content in smartphones has been growing by roughly 50% recently, going from approximately 24 gigabytes in 2016 to approximately 38 gigabytes today.3D NAND will do the heavy memory lifting that smartphone users demand. Contract prices for NAND flash memory chips are expected to decline in during the first quarter of 2018 as a traditional lull in demand following the year-end quarter.

Lots of 3D NAND will go to solid state drives in 2018. IDC forecasts strong growth for the solid-state drive (SSD) industry as it transitions to 3D NAND.  SSD industry revenue is expected to reach $33.6 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 14.8%. Sizes of memory chips increase as number of  layer in 3D NAND are added. We’ve already scaled up to 48 layers. Does this just keep scaling up, or are there physical limits here? Maybe we could see a path to 256 layers in few years.

Memory — particular DRAM — was largely considered a commodity business. Though that it’s really not true in 2017. DRAM memory marked had boomed in 2017 at the highest rate of expansion in 23 years, according to IC Insights. Skyrocketing prices drove the DRAM market to generate a record $72 billion in revenue, and it drove total revenue for the IC market up 22%. Though the outlook for the immediate future appears strong, a downturn in DRAM more than likely looms in the not-too-distant future. It will be seen when there are new players on the market. It is a largely unchallenged assertion that Chinese firms will in the not so distant future become a force in semiconductor memory market. Chinese government is committed to pumping more than $160 billion into the industry over a decade, with much of that ticketed for memory startups.

There is search for faster memory because modern computers, especially data-center servers that skew heavily toward in-memory databases, data-intensive analytics, and increasingly toward machine-learning and deep-neural-network training functions, depend on large amounts of high-speed, high capacity memory to keep the wheels turning. The memory speed has not increased as fast as the capacity. The access bandwidth of DRAM-based computer memory has improved by a factor of 20x over the past two decades. Capacity increased 128x during the same period. For year 2018 DRAM remains a near-universal choice when performance is the priority. There has been some attempts to very fast memory interfaces. Intel the company has introduced the market’s first FPGA chip with integrated high-speed EMBED (Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge): The Stratix 10 MX interfaces to HMB2 memory (High Memory Bandwidth) that offers about 10 times faster speed than standard DDR-type DIMM.

There is search going on for a viable replacement for DRAM. Whether it’s STT-RAM or phase-change memory or resistive RAM, none of them can match the speed or endurance of DRAM. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we see at least two more generations after 1x. XPoint is also coming up as another viable memory solution that could be inserted into the current memory architecture. It will be interesting to see how that plays out versus DRAM.

5G and IoT

5G something in it for everyone. 5G is big.  5G New Radio (NR) wireless technology will ultimately impact everyone in the electronics and telecommunications industries. Most estimates say 2020 is when we will ultimately see some real 5G deployments on a scale. In the meantime, companies are firming up their plans for whatever 5G products and services they will offer. Though test and measurement solutions will be key in the commercialization cycle. 5G is set to disrupt test processes. If 5G takes off, the technology will propel the development of new chips in both the infrastructure and the handset. Data centers require specialty semiconductors from power management to high-speed optical fiber front-ends. 5G systems will drive more complexity in RF front-ends .5G will offer increased capacity and decreased latency for some critical applications such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving vehicles. The big question is whether 5G will disrupt the landscape or fall short of its promises.

Electronics manufacturers expect a lot from Internet of Thing. The evolution of intelligent electronic sensors is creating a revolution for IoT and Industrial IoT as companies bring new sensor-based, intelligent systems to market. The business promise is that the proliferation of smart and connected “things” in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provides tremendous opportunities for increased performance and lower costs. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has a market forecast approaching $100 billion by 2020. Turning volumes of factory data into actionable information that has value is essential. Predictive maintenance and asset tracking are two big IoT markets to watch in 2018 because they will provide real efficiencies and improved safety. It will be about instrumenting our existing infrastructures with sensors that improve their reliability and help predict failures. It will be about tracking important assets through their lifecycles.

A new breed of designers has arrived that is leveraging inexpensive sensors to build the intelligent systems at the edge of the Internet of Things (IoT). They work in small teams, collaborate online, and they expect affordable design tools that are easy to use in order to quickly produce results. Their goal is to deliver a functioning device or a proof-of-concept to their stakeholders while spending as little money as possible to get there. We need to become multi-functional engineers who can comfortably work in the digital, RF, and system domains.

The Io edge sensor  device usually needs to be cheap. Simple mathematical reasoning suggests that the average production cost per node must be small, otherwise the economics of the IoT simply are not viable. Most suppliers to the electronics industry are today working under the assumption that the bill-of-materials (BoM) cost of a node cannot exceed $5 on average. While the sensor market continues to garner billions of dollars, the average selling price of a MEMS sensor, for example, is only 60 cents.

Designing a well working and secure IoT system is still hard. IoT platforms are very complex distributed systems and managing these distributed systems is often an overlooked challenge. When designing for the IoT, security needs to be addressed from the Cloud down to each and every edge device. Protecting data is both a hardware and a software requirement, as more data is being stored and analyzed in edge devices and gateways.

The continued evolution of powerful embedded processors is enabling more functionality to be consolidated into single heterogeneous multicore devices. You will see more mixed criticality designs – those designs which contain both safety-critical and non-safety critical processes running on the same chip. It’s quickly becoming common practice for embedded system developers to isolate both safety and security features on the same SoC.


There is clearly a lot of hype surrounding machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) fields. Over the past few years, machine learning (ML) has evolved from an interesting new approach that allows computers to beat champions at chess and Go, into one that is touted as a panacea for almost everything. Machine learning already has delivered beneficial results in certain niches, but it has potential for a bigger and longer lasting impact because of the demand for broad insights and efficiencies across industries. Also EDA companies have been investing in this technology and some results are expected to be announced.

The Battle of AI Processors Begins in 2018. Machine learning applications have a voracious appetite for compute cycles, consuming as much compute power as they can possibly scrounge up. As a result, they are invariably run on parallel hardware – often parallel heterogeneous hardware—which creates development challenges of its own. 2018 will be the start of what could be a longstanding battle between chipmakers to determine who creates the hardware that artificial intelligence lives on. Main contenders on the field at the moment are CPUs, GPUs, TPUs (tensor processing units), and FPGAs. Analysts at both Research and Markets and TechNavio have predicted the global AI chip market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 54% between 2017 and 2021.



Battery Market Goes Bigger and Better in 2018

Foundry Challenges in 2018

Smart speakers to outsell wearables during U.S. holidays, as demand for wearables slows

Wearables Shipments Expected to Double by 2021

The Week In Review: Manufacturing #186

Making 5G Happen

Five technology trends for 2018

NI Trend Watch 2018 explores trends driving the future faster

Creating Software Separation for Mixed Criticality Systems

Isolating Safety and Security Features on the Xilinx UltraScale+ MPSoC

Meeting ISO 26262 Software Standards

DRAM Growth Projected to be Highest Since ’94

NAND Market Expected to Cool in Q1

Memory Market Forecast 2018 … with Jim Handy

Pushing DRAM’s Limits

3D NAND Storage Fuels New Age of Smartphone Apps

$55.9 Billion Semiconductor Equipment Forecast – New Record with Korea at Top

Advanced Packaging Is Suddenly Very Cool

Fan-Outs vs. TSVs

Shortages Hit Packaging Biz

Apple Watch 3 shipment growth to benefit Taiwan IC packagers in 2018

Rapid SoC Proof-of-Concept for Zero Cost

EDA Challenges Machine Learning

What Can You Expect from the New Generation of Power Supplies?

Optimizing Machine Learning Applications for Parallel Hardware

FPGA-dataa 10 kertaa nopeammin

The 200mm Equipment Scramble

Chipmakers Look To New Materials

The Trouble With Models

What the Experts Think: Delivering the next 5 years of semiconductor technology

Programmable Logic Holds the Key to Addressing Device Obsolescence

The Battle of AI Processors Begins in 2018

For China’s Memory Firms, Legal Tests May Loom

Predictions for the New Year in Analog & Power Electronics

Lithium-ion Overcomes Limitations

Will Fab Tool Boom Cycle Last?

The Next 5 Years Of Chip Technology

Chipmakers Look To New Materials

Silicon’s Long Game

Process Window Discovery And Control

Toward Self-Driving Cars

Sensors are Fundamental to New Intelligent Systems

Industrial IoT (IIoT) – Where is Silicon Valley

Internet of things (IoT) design considerations for embedded connected devices

How efficient memory solutions can help designers of IoT nodes meet tight BoM cost targets

What You Need to Become a Multi-Functional Engineer

IoT Markets to Watch in 2018

USBC yleistyy nopeasti


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    With Help From Hydrogen, Spintronics Takes One Step Closer to Digital Logic

    Spintronics has been in the lexicon of post-CMOS alternatives for so long, it can be easy to forget that there are still significant hurdles to clear in order for it to become the basis for new types of transistors.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Metal-Air Transistor Replaces Semiconductors

    It is widely predicted that the doubling of silicon transistors per unit area every two years will come to an end around 2025 as the technology reaches its physical limits. But researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, believe a metal-based field emission air channel transistor (ACT) they have developed could maintain transistor doubling for another two decades.

    The ACT device eliminates the need for semiconductors. Instead, it uses two in-plane symmetric metal electrodes (source and drain) separated by an air gap of less than 35 nanometers

    Using metal and air in place of semiconductors for the main components of the transistor has a number of other advantages

    “Devices can be built on ultrathin glass, plastics, and elastomers,” says Nirantar. “So they could be used in flexible and wearable technologies.”

    tungsten, gold, and platinum were evaluated as metals of choice.

    “We also need to optimize the operating voltage as the electrode metal tips are experiencing localized melting due to concentrated electric fields,” notes Nirantar. “This decreases their sharpness and emission efficiency. So we’re looking at designs that will increase collector efficiency to decrease stress on the emitter.”

    theoretical speed of an ACT is in the terahertz range

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Comms Chips Grew Fastest in Q3

    Wireless communication chip sales increased by 12.3% in the third quarter, the fastest growth rate of any semiconductor category, according to IHS Markit.

    Wireless communication chip growth was punctuated by Intel, which saw its sales in the category grow 39% compared with the second quarter. IHS Markit attributed this growth largely to increasingly reliance on Intel modem chips in the latest-generation iPhones. Apple has been relying heavily on Intel modems amid its ongoing feud and legal fight with Qualcomm.

    Meanwhile, sales of memory chips increased sequentially for the 10th consecutive quarter, reaching $45.1 billion, IHS Markit said. Though memory chip pricing has weakened in recent months,

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Measuring Cell Temperature: Watch Where You Put that Sensor

    Accuracy in cell testing can be affected by temperature, thus the need for temp-measurement sensors. And the positioning of that sensor is a sometimes overlooked, but essential, factor.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What’s All This HP Museum Stuff, Anyhow?

    No matter how old, Keysight test equipment is a treasure worth preserving. And so are the memories of those who crossed paths with legends in the industry.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Process Design Kits Are Necessary for Photonics Maturity

    Tools are critical for the development of photonics ICs, just as they were for electronic ICs 30 years ago, experts say.

    Process design kits (PDKs) will be the key enabler to more widespread use of photonics, enabling the devices to more easily make the leap from research to commercial production, a panel of engineers will say at the upcoming DesignCon 2019 conference.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Choosing the Best Advanced Precision Motor for Robotics and Automation

    Advanced robotics and automation are demanding new, precise motion-control solutions. Here’s how design engineers can choose the best ones for their applications.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Samsung’s Big Semi Capex Spending Keeps Pressure on Competition

    Samsung’s two-year capex spending of $46.8 billion nearly matches the combined two-year capex spending of $48.4 set by Intel and TSMC.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The semiconductor industry and the power of globalisation
    Superpower politics may start to unravel it

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel eggheads put bits in a spin to try to revive Moore’s law
    MESO tech uses magnetic spin for ones and zeroes, instead of olde-worlde electrons

    With silicon near its development headroom, Intel has been putting its boffins to work on replacements, and one potential technology revealed in a Nature paper uses room-temperature quantum materials.

    Chipzilla claimed its magneto-electric spin-orbit (MESO) technology’s important characteristics are low voltage (as much as five times below today’s CMOS-based chips) and consequently lower power (between 10 and 30 times lower than CMOS).

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trade Disputes Increase Market Uncertainty
    What a difference a trade war can make.

    The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization held its bi-annual forecast meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona last month, and one of the topics that seemed to be on everyone’s mind is the impact of tariffs and the trade tensions between the United States and China.

    The need to impose tariffs on U.S. imports of semiconductors is perplexing and frequently confusing.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Transistor Uses Metal And Air Instead Of Semiconductors

    Solution for next generation nanochips comes out of thin air

    The secret ingredient for the next generation of more powerful electronics could be air, according to new research.

    Researchers at RMIT University have engineered a new type of transistor, the building block for all electronics. Instead of sending electrical currents through silicon, these transistors send electrons through narrow air gaps, where they can travel unimpeded as if in space.

    The device unveiled in material sciences journal Nano Letters, eliminates the use of any semiconductor at all, making it faster and less prone to heating up.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Designing Space-Rated PCBs

    There’s no doubt that making professional PCB design tools available to the hobbyist has been a net benefit, but there a downside. Not every PCB design can be boiled down to the “one from column A, one from column B” approach. There are plenty of applications where stock materials and manufacturing techniques just won’t cut it. PCBs designed to operate in space is one such application, and while few of us will ever be lucky enough to have a widget blasted to infinity and beyond, learning what’s behind space-rated PCBs is pretty interesting.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Advances In Flat-Pack PCBs

    Right now, we’ve got artistic PCBs, we’ve got #badgelife, and we have reverse-mounted LEDs that shine through the fiberglass substrate. All of this is great for PCBs that are functional works of art. Artists, though, need to keep pushing boundaries and the next step is obviously a PCB that doesn’t look like it has any components at all. We’re not quite there yet, but [Stephan] sent in a project that’s the closest we’ve seen yet. It’s a PCB where all the components are contained within the board itself. A 2D PCB, if you will.

    a DIY flat christmas decoration with a ATtiny25, 20 led´s and a coin cell battery

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Silicon-on-Insulator Electro-Optics Yields Advanced Random Number Generator

    By using a laser diode’s sporadic output, optically processing the resultant photons, and converting them to electrical pulses, researchers developed a tiny single-chip, quantum random number generator device.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Take the Guesswork out of Discrete Circuit Design

    A new software tool enables engineers to efficiently design circuits with models of actual vendor resistors, inductors, and capacitors, removing the need to manually determine correct part values after a design is built.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Global Semiconductor Sales Increase 12.7 Percent Year-to-Year in October; Double-Digit Annual Growth Projected for 2018

    The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research, today announced worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $41.8 billion for the month of October 2018, an increase of 12.7 percent from the October 2017 total of $37.1 billion and 1.0 percent more than last month’s total of $41.4 billion. Monthly sales numbers are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average. Additionally, a newly released WSTS industry forecast was revised upward and now projects annual global market growth of 15.9 percent in 2018 and 2.6 percent in 2019.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mitigating Risk Through Verification

    Automatic coverage model generation technology continues to advance.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Honda, NASA, & Caltech Claim Fluoride Battery Breakthrough

    Lithium is one element that is good for making batteries, but it is not the only one. Flouride — the most electro-negative element in the periodic table — is also quite suitable for the task. In fact, fluoride batteries are capable of being 10 times more energy dense than lithium batteries. But until now, they needed to be heated to 150° Celsius (300° F for those living in former British colonies) in order to function.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Selecting Fuses: Simple Procedures to Get the Right Overcurrent Protection for DC-DC Converters

    Fuses protect against overcurrent events by melting their elements and opening the circuit. Fuses must be applied at or below their specified voltage rating, which differs between ac and dc current.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Here’s One Solution to Overcome Those MLCC Shortages

    Supply issues with multi-layer ceramic capacitors have manufacturers and others scrambling to find alternatives, leading some to consider polymer electrolytic caps.

    As many OEMs, plus tier 1 and tier 2 manufacturers will attest, the multi-layer ceramic capacitor (MLCC) industry is currently experiencing a significant capacity and supply issue. The last time we saw such shortages was around the turn of the millennium.

    At times like this, engineers should explore new options and alternative techniques that don’t necessitate having to go through circuit or product redesigns. Polymer electrolytic capacitors such as KO-CAP offer one alternative that, given certain conditions, can help. Going to KO-CAP isn’t always trivial, but if certain things align, such capacitors can be a viable route to explore and take.

    KO-CAP tantalum-based polymer electrolytic capacitors, developed by KEMET, are like any other tantalum capacitor: They comprise a slug of sintered tantalum powder that has a tantalum-pentoxide layer grown on it, with a layer of conductive polymer acting as the cathode. This conductive polymer gives the capacitor much lower equivalent series resistance (ESR) than “traditional” tantalum capacitors.

    deciding to opt for a solution like KO-CAP over MLCC is a matter of managing tradeoffs.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hysteretic-Mode Converters Demystified, Part 1

    A three-part article will examine Hysteretic-Mode converters branded as D-CAP, D-CAP+, D-CAP2, D-CAP3, constant-on-time, or DCS-Control. Among several control methods of switch-mode power supply systems in the power-electronics market, this group of HM control devices is gaining and expanding its share against traditional Voltage-Mode or Current-Mode controls.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Accelerating the Product Development Lifecycle With Faster Test: Navigating the V Diagram

    You and your team contend with increasing system complexity, multi-decade program lifecycles, and resource (time, budget, and expertise) scarcity. At NI, we take a platform-based approach to test by delivering flexible test architectures that drive high reuse across the design cycle and across programs.

    Move test earlier in the design cycle, removing dependencies on other teams
    Reduce repeat tests by better utilizing test data and automating reporting
    Manage distributed test systems effectively in real time from any device

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel, Samsung Describe Embedded MRAM Technologies

    The world’s two largest semiconductor companies both presented new technologies for embedded MRAM in logic chip manufacturing processes last week at the 64th International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here.

    Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) described the key features of spin-transfer torque (STT)-MRAM-based non-volatile memory into its 22FFL process, calling it “the first FinFET-based MRAM technology.” Describing the technology as “production ready,” Intel did not name any foundry customers for the process, but multiple sources said it is already being used in products now shipping.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Performing In-Circuit Inductor and Transformer Measurements in SMPS

    Inductors and transformers serve key roles in switch-mode power supplies. Ensuring they perform as expected requires thorough in-circuit measurements performed under operating conditions. Here’s what you need to know.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Lifecysle Insightsin tutkimuksen mukaan piirikorttisuunnitelmat joudutaan tekemään uusiksi keskimäärin 2,9 kertaa. Tämä tarkoittaa suunnittelujen myöhästymistä ja kymmenien tuhansien eurojen lisäkustannuksia. Siemens-konserniin kuuluva Mentor Graphics esittää avuksi uusittua Xpedition-alustaa.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DARPA to brief industry on initiatives in trusted computing, secure chip use, semiconductor manufacturing

    U.S. military researchers will brief industry later this month on a new initiative to help develop secure integrated circuit technology for trusted computing applications, ranging from manufacturing to systems integration.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Concurrent Test

    The growing challenge to do more in the same time window.

    doing multiple tests at the same time as chip designs become more complex, increasingly heterogeneous, and much more difficult to test at advanced nodes.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Where Advanced Packaging Makes Sense

    Experts at the Table, Part 1: Impact on the supply chain, who’s using advanced packaging, and the cost of packaging versus device scaling.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Growing Promise Of Printed Electronics

    New sensors could vastly extend the reach of electronics, creating new markets and new opportunities within existing markets.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Molex claims first SMT potting connector system

    Molex claims the industry’s first SMT potting wire-to-board connector system with the introduction of the Spot-On 1.5 and 2.0. Molex believes that the new potting system will provide increased processing capability and mechanical reliability in home appliances such as washer/dryers, stoves, and air conditioners.

    The Spot-On connector system utilizes SMT-type potting connectors in conjunction with center PCB nails to absorb the stress caused by temperature fluctuation during operation, thereby reducing cracking in the soldering. A potting sealant protects against water damage while the potential for latch failure is diminished by an inner positive lock design.

    The Spot-On Connector System provides 1.0 to 3.0 A of current and up to 36 available circuits, and the 1.50-mm and 2.00-mm pitch

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Introduction to High Speed PCB Designing: Is FR-4 the Best Board Material Choice for High Speed PCB Design?

    FR-4: Its strengths and its weaknesses

    For as long as I’ve been designing printed circuit boards, FR-4 has been the standard material used for the fabrication of a PCB. Back in the day as junior designers we even had the bad habit of referring to all boards as being “FR-4” whether they were constructed with it or not. FR-4 is a Flame Retardant type 4 woven glass reinforced epoxy laminate. It is a very cost effective material that is both an excellent electrical insulator and very sturdy in dry and humid conditions. It also has good fabrication properties making it an ideal material for constructing a PCB.

    The downside of FR-4 is that it has operating limitations when it comes to excessive power, voltage or heat. If you exceed its operating limits, FR-4’s dielectric properties will break down. This means that the insulation of the material will decrease and it will begin to conduct electricity instead. Another problem with FR-4 is maintaining stable impedance for high speed designs. This is because the dielectric constant of FR-4 can vary across the length and width of the board. Also, the signal losses that are acceptable in non-high speed designs will increase to undesirable levels in FR-4 boards as the speed of the design increases.

    How specific high speed board materials compare with FR4

    Dedicated high speed board materials such as Thermoset Hydrocarbon and PTFE laminates, will have better and more reliable properties in higher frequency designs than FR-4. There some trade-offs

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Flexible Arduino Prototype

    We recently visited NextFlex, the flexible electronics manufacturing institute in Silicon Valley, where they developed a flexible prototype based on the Arduino Mini. Their mission is to make flexible electronics mainstream, opening up all kinds of new applications.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Texas_Instruments_Analog_Fab (Image courtesy of Texas Instruments).
    Texas Instruments Says Smaller Data Converters Will Fit Right I

    Texas Instruments, the largest supplier of analog semiconductors, said on Monday that it had released a new range of data converters that are each the smallest in their class. The products are targeted at customers trying to fit more electronic functions into factory equipment, consumer electronics, cars and network infrastructure, according to the Dallas, Texas-based company.

    “There is a need for more data to support automation happening in the automotive and industrial spaces,” said Tsedeniya Abraham, product line manager for precision data converter products at Texas Instruments. “Many systems are having to add additional sensors at every node but in much smaller form factors than ever before. To support them all, the circuitry around the sensors also has to significantly shrink in size.”

    Texas Instruments said that its latest eight-channel digital-to-analog converters (DACs) are more than 30 percent smaller than any other component in their class. The components have also not had to compromise on reliability, accuracy and channel density in harsh environments, according to Abraham. The 14-bit DAC70508 and 16-bit DAC80508—are available in 2.4mm-by-2.4mm or 3-mm-by-3-mm packages.

    The company also announced new 24-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs). The components, which are available in 3mm-by-3mm or 5mm-by-4.4mm packages

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lam Research’s Chief Executive Resigns Over Alleged Misconduct

    Lam Research said on Wednesday that chief executive officer Martin Anstice had resigned amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct. He became the latest chief executive of a major semiconductor company following Texas Instruments and Intel to step down from his company this year.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Flexible mobile phones and Wearable biomedical devices advance with polymer film conductivity

    A flexible mobile phone or a wearable biomedical device could be the outcome of a polymer film that uses pigment to conduct electricity at higher levels than other conducting plastics.

    The film is transparent, so it could be used for phone displays or a wearable bioelectronic sensor that the patient can wear and not notice that it is there. Polymers that conduct electricity exist, but they use a dopant and their manufacture is more complicated, according to the pigmented plastic’s developers. The new polymer is being developed at the Purdue University-based Materials Innovation for Bioelectronics from Intrinsically-stretchable Organics center.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Fluoride Battery Could Be Charged Just Once A Week

    Most of our devices nowadays use lithium-ion batteries. Their development is a technological marvel, but now that they are common we focus more on the negative than the positive. And the biggest negative is the need to recharge them at least daily. Now imagine a battery that would only need to be recharged once a week.

    That dream is closer to reality now thanks to researchers from various institutions. Their focus has been on fluoride, which can pack a lot more charge in. Now, they have managed to build the first rechargeable fluoride liquid battery that works at room temperature

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Micrometer-Scale Mechanical Switches Work at Just 50 Millivolts

    One solution: ditch the transistors in favor of micrometer-scale mechanical switches. According to research presented this week at the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting, nanoelectromechanical (NEM) relays can switch using just 50 millivolts, that’s about 1/15th of what’s used on today’s processors.

    An inherent property of CMOS transistors called the subthreshold slope sets a lower limit to how little voltage you can use to turn a transistor on

    “Ideally, you want a device with close to no off-state leakage and zero subthreshold swing,” says Ye. And, ideally, that’s what a NEM relay can deliver.

    Ye presented research on relays that come closer to that ideal than ever before. The relays are basically thin, square platforms suspended by springs. Voltage applied to the platform—called the gate to mirror a transistor’s parts—pulls the platform down, contacting two sets of electrodes and allowing current to flow. Remove the voltage, and the gate springs back up, breaking the connection.

    The second innovation had to do with the contacts. Once the gate has slammed down on them, the metal-metal contact requires a bit of extra force to break. In practice this means that a relay that switches on at 200 millivolts, might not turn off until you reduce the voltage to 100 millivolts.

    the resulting devices could operate at 50 millivolts and be combined to form several types of logic gates.

    Relays lend themselves to a different form of logic than CMOS transistors. Called pass-gate logic, it requires fewer devices to achieve the same output.

    They are also working to integrate relays into standard CMOS chips


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