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The iLabs have been used by students at MIT and from universities in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Sweden, Greece, and Taiwan.

LT1220CS8#PBF_Datasheet PDF

The iLabs have been used by students at MIT and from universities in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Sweden, Greece, and Taiwan.

David Wang, president of Applied Materials Asia, optimistically predicted that as many as 30 fabs are set to be built in China during the next three years, many of which would use 0.25-micron and 0.13-micron process technologies. Wang based his prediction on the assumption that China will continually strive to make more of the chips it consumes, whether for domestic sale or export.

In 2004, China's semiconductor market was about $24 billion, with local fabs supplying less than a quarter of the market. By 2008, Wang said, China will be able to meet only about 35 percent of its needs. By that time, the consumption will reach about $65 billion. If we assume $300 billion for the entire world in semiconductor revenue, then China alone will consume over 20 percent of the world's production. So, therefore, China needs more fabs,” Wang said.

LT1220CS8#PBF_Datasheet PDF

In a recent report, International Data Corp. estimated China's market would be only $45 billion by 2008. China is already the world's second largest IC market. This year, it could move into the top position, according to IC Insights.

The increase has a lot to do with a fast-growing, low-cost electronics systems assembly business that caters mainly to exports. Last year, China produced $170 billion in electronics equipment, or about 11 percent of its GDP; by 2008, some estimates put the total at nearly $300 billion, or about 13 percent of GDP.

Ironically, Applied Materials stands to miss out on part of the predicted equipment-buying boom, since the U.S. Export-Import Bank recently rejected SMIC's request for a $769 million loan guarantee that the Shanghai foundry would have used to buy chip-making equipment from Applied. SMIC is now considering” buying gear from Japanese vendors, according to recent reports.

LT1220CS8#PBF_Datasheet PDF

Still, Applied Materials is one of the biggest OEMs to participate in the used-equipment market, and was a founding member of SEC/N. Many equipment OEMs hold antagonistic attitudes toward that endeavor.

Used-equipment sellers say that China will only get bigger for them. There is a large market for these [used] tools and, interestingly, these processes are also now the most cost-sensitive,” said Barrie VanDevender, vice president of sales and marketing for equipment maker Axus Technology.

LT1220CS8#PBF_Datasheet PDF

One hurdle for both buyers and sellers is a weak network of parts and service providers. Many of the companies are small, and cannot afford to have a permanent office in China. Tim Hayden, president of refurbisher Rite Track, said SEC/N hopes to set up a regional council in China to help buyers and sellers improve the support network.

After founding search engine pioneer Inktomi Corp., Eric Brewer became a paper billionaire — before the market crash. That got him thinking about how he could effect change in the world. Today, as associate professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, Brewer is involved in the ICT4B (Information and Communications Technology for Billions) project, which seeks to engineer high-tech solutions for the Third World so as to create sustainable businesses not dependent on charity. In a small office across from the Berkeley campus, Brewer spoke with passion and zeal about his work.

Halvledarprocesser Bättre processorprestanda via högre klockfrekvenser har i många år uppnåtts med hjälp av förbättrade tillverkningsprocesser och bättre transistorer. Men de senaste åren har fokus förskjutits från klockfrekvens till effektförbrukning. Orsaken ligger i de senaste tillverkningsprocesserna.

Fram tills ganska nyligen var AC-komponenten, orsakad av uppladdning och urladdning av grindar, den viktigaste effektförbrukaren. Men från 90 nm och nedåt blir DC-komponenten, alltså läckströmmen, en allt viktigare förbrukare. Läckströmmen i en 90 nm-process är ofta två eller tre gånger större än i en 130 nm-process med samma matningsspänning. Läckströmmen kan här svara för mer än halva effektförbrukningen.

Komponenter med lägre effektförbrukning kan produceras i speciella processer, till exempel SOI (Silicon on Insulator). SOI minskar parasitkapacitanserna, vilket leder till upp till 25 procent snabbare omkoppling eller 20 procent lägre effektförbrukning. Det görs också försök att introducera isolationsmaterial med högre dielektricitetskonstant för grindarna. Det leder till tjockare isoleringslager och mindre läckströmmar.

Infrastruktursystem med låg effekt ställer nya krav på till exempel spänningsmatningen. Krympande processgeometrier har sänkt matningsspänningen och ökat matningsströmmen. Större och snabbare minnen ger snabbare transienter och kräver bättre sänkning och matning av effekt. De motstånd och kondensatorer som normalt sett används för att hantera höga strömmar och snabba transienter i ett kretskort kan resultera i dålig spänningsreglering, med stora spänningsvariationer över kortet. Slutligen ökar också antalet matningsspänningar, vilket leder till ökad komplexitet.

En kommande standard, kallad PoL (Point-of-Load), löser många av de här utmaningarna genom att ge bättre spänningsnoggrannhet, mindre rippel och snabbare transientsvarstid. Standarden ger också större konstruktionsflexibilitet, eftersom interoperabiliteten mellan olika tillverkare är garanterad.


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