Tuesday, July 24, 2007

“The Best Phone that Anybody Has Ever Made.”
Sunday, July 01 11:09 AM 2007
“Steve Jobs has said, repeatedly, that this is the best iPod that Apple has ever made, and it is. It’s also the best phone that anybody has ever made,” says Lev Gossman (Time). “The user interface,” Grossman marvels, “is crammed with smart little touches — every moment of user interaction has been quietly stage-managed and orchestrated, with such overwhelming attention to detail that when the history of digital interface design is written, whoever managed this project at Apple will be hailed as a Michelangelo, and the iPhone his or her Sistine Chapel.”


“Like a Star Trek Gadget Come to Life”
Sunday, July 01 05:56 PM 2007
Shortly after activating his new iPhone, Michael DeAgonia (Computerworld.com) received his “ first phone call. A few moments after that, I got another. I was able to swap between calls, merge them, put them on hold, and separate them without hassle. Other phones, of course, do that as well. What’s the difference here? The multitouch screen and interface. I can confirm what early reviewers have already pointed out: it works like magic.” The iPhone, DeAgonia indicates, “ isn’t a collection of features, it’s a well-thought-out multi-function device with functions bound together by a drop-dead simple, drop-dead gorgeous interface. The sum is more than the parts.”


“iPhone buyers have no regrets,” says Edward C. Baig (USA Today). Baig spoke with Jason Kramer, the chief strategy officer of Interpret, a market research firm that conducted a survey of recent iPhone purchasers. The study found that “90% of 200 owners said they were ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ satisfied with their phone. And 85% said they are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ likely to recommend the device to others.” The findings, says Kramer “are ‘pretty much off the charts.’” 7/24/2007


Sunday, April 15, 2007


Date: April 12, 2007
More on:
Microarrays, Computer Science, Mobile Computing, Information Technology, Batteries, Biometric
3-D Chips: IBM Moves Moore's Law Into The Third Dimension

Science Daily — IBM has announced a breakthrough chip-stacking technology in a manufacturing environment that paves the way for three-dimensional chips that will extend Moore's Law beyond its expected limits. The technology – called "through-silicon vias" -- allows different chip components to be packaged much closer together for faster, smaller, and lower-power systems.

IBM extends Moore's Law to the third-dimension: An IBM scientist holds a thinned wafer of silicon computer circuits, which is ready for bonding to another circuit wafer, where IBM's advanced "through-silicon via" process will connect the wafers together by etching thousands of holes through each layer and filling them with metal to create 3-D integrated stacked chips. The IBM breakthrough can shorten wire lengths inside chips up to 1000 times and allow for hundreds more pathways for data to flow among different functions on a chip. This technique will extend Moore's Law beyond its expected limits, paving the way for a new breed of smaller, faster and lower power chips. (Credit: Image courtesy of IBM Research)
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The IBM breakthrough enables the move from horizontal 2-D chip layouts to 3-D chip stacking, which takes chips and memory devices that traditionally sit side by side on a silicon wafer and stacks them together on top of one another. The result is a compact sandwich of components that dramatically reduces the size of the overall chip package and boosts the speed at which data flows among the functions on the chip.

"This breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM," said Lisa Su, vice president, Semiconductor Research and Development Center, IBM. "This allows us to move 3-D chips from the 'lab to the fab' across a range of applications."

The new IBM method eliminates the need for long-metal wires that connect today's 2-D chips together, instead relying on through-silicon vias, which are essentially vertical connections etched through the silicon wafer and filled with metal. These vias allow multiple chips to be stacked together, allowing greater amounts of information to be passed between the chips.

The technique shortens the distance information on a chip needs to travel by 1000 times, and allows for the addition of up to 100 times more channels, or pathways, for that information to flow compared to 2-D chips.

IBM is already running chips using the through-silicon via technology in its manufacturing line and will begin making sample chips using this method available to customers in the second half of 2007, with production in 2008. The first application of this through-silicon via technology will be in wireless communications chips that will go into power amplifiers for wireless LAN and cellular applications. 3-D technology will also be applied to a wide range of chips, including those running now in IBM’s high-performance server and supercomputing chips that power the world’s business, government and scientific efforts.

In particular, IBM is applying the new through-silicon-via technique in wireless communications chips, Power processors, Blue Gene supercomputer chips, and in high-bandwidth memory applications:

* 3-D for wireless communications technology: IBM is using through-silicon via technology to improve power efficiency in silicon-germanium based wireless products up to 40 percent, which leads to longer battery life. The through-silicon via technology replaces the wire bonds that are less efficient at transferring signals off of the chip.
* Power Processors explore 3-D for power grid stability: As we increase the number of processor cores on chips, one of the limitations in performance is uniform power delivery to all parts of the chip. This technique puts the power closer to the cores and allows each core to have ample access to that power, increasing processor speed while reducing power consumption up to 20 percent.
* Bringing 3-D stacking to Blue Gene supercomputing and memory arrays: The most advanced version of 3-D chip stacking will allow high-performance chips to be stacked on top of each other, for example processor-on-processor or memory-on-processor. IBM is developing this advanced technology by converting the chip that currently powers the fastest computer in the world, the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer, into a 3-D stacked chip. IBM is also using 3-D technology to fundamentally change the way memory communicates with a microprocessor, by significantly enhancing the data flow between microprocessor and memory. This capability will enable a new generation of supercomputers. A prototype SRAM design using 3-D stacking technology is being fabricated in IBM's 300 mm production line using 65 nm- node technology.

3-D chip research at IBM

IBM has been researching 3-D stacking technology for more than a decade at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center and now at its labs around the world. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has supported IBM in the development of tools and techniques for extending chips to the third dimension, with the aim of driving better performance and new applications of chip technologies.

IBM chip breakthroughs

This is the fifth major chip breakthrough in five months from IBM, as it leads the industry in its quest for new materials and architectures to extend Moore’s Law.

In December, IBM announced the first 45nm chips using immersion lithography and ultra-low-K interconnect dielectrics.

In January, IBM announced “high-k metal gate,” which substitutes a new material into a critical portion of the transistor that controls its primary on/off switching function. The material provides superior electrical properties, while allowing the size of the transistor to be shrunk beyond limits being reached today.

In February, IBM revealed a first-of-its-kind, on-chip memory technology that features the fastest access times ever recorded in eDRAM (embedded dynamic random access memory).

Then in March, IBM unveiled a prototype optical transceiver chipset capable of reaching speeds at least eight-times faster than optical components available today.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by IBM Research.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Lamont Wood
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com Mon Apr 9, 8:30 AM ET

Just when you got used to hard drives with hundreds of gigabytes (hundreds of billions of bytes) they do it: make one with a terabyte (a trillion bytes).

Yes, you can now get a terabyte hard drive on a desktop PC. Breaking the ice with a Hitachi drive was Dell, with “Area 51” game-oriented machines from its Alienware subsidiary. The 1T option initially costs $500.

In case you’re wondering, as printed text a terabyte would occupy 100 million reams of paper, consuming some 50,000 trees. It is enough to hold 16 days (not hours) of DVD-quality video, or a million pictures, or almost two years worth of continuous music.

You might not have any songs that last for two years, but that’s irrelevant, indicated Henry Baltazar, storage analyst for The 451 Group, a technology analyst firm in San Francisco. “There will be a demand for it, since a lot of people have digital media, like movies, pictures and music,” Baltazar told LiveScience.

“Larger devices will become more commonplace, and we will see the same kind of transition from gigabyte to terabyte drives as we previously saw from megabyte to gigabyte drives—in fact, the move from 500 gigabytes to a terabyte has taken longer than expected.”

The leap from 500G to 1T required a breakthrough in “areal density” (how tight the bytes are packed on the surface of the disk), according to Doug Pickford, a marketing executive at Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. The trick, he explained, was to move to Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), where each bit is a perpendicular rather than a linear magnetized spot on the disk—as if the bits were standing up rather than lying down.

Currently, areal density is growing at about 35 to 40 percent per year, and the techniques used to create the 1T drive are expandable to make a 5T drive, Pickford said. More work will be needed to surpass the 5T hurdle, but he foresaw no physical limitations until drives reach a capacity of at least 50T.

At that point, they’ll hold about a century of music.

Incidentally, for planning purposes, the next level is the petabyte (a quadrillion bytes); and then the exabyte (one quintillion bytes); and then the zettabyte (one sextillion bytes); and then the yottabyte (one septillion bytes.)

* New Technique Stores Data in Bacteria
* New Computer Hard Drives Better, Faster, Stronger
* Broadband's Powerful Future

Friday, February 23, 2007


Flash drives are now assuming the same storage capacity as hard drives. Adtron introduces 160 GB Solid State Flash Disk. Just a month ago 32 GB was just announced.

Monday, February 05, 2007

World's oldest newspaper goes digital

By KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writer Mon Feb 5, 2:41 PM ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - For centuries, readers thumbed through the crackling pages of Sweden's Post-och Inrikes Tidningar newspaper. No longer. The world's oldest paper still in circulation has dropped its paper edition and now exists only in cyberspace.

The newspaper, founded in 1645 by Sweden's Queen Kristina, became a Web-only publication on Jan. 1. It's a fate, many ink-stained writers and readers fear, that may await many of the world's most venerable journals.



Saturday, March 25, 2006

Post-it Notes

The 3M Company encourages creativity from its employees. The company allows its researchers to spend 15 percent of their time on any project that interests them. This attitude has brought fantastic benefits not only to the employees but to the 3M Company itself Many times, a spark of an idea turned into a successful product has boosted 3M's profits tremendously. Some years ago, a scientist in 3M's commercial office took advantage of this 15 percent creative time. This scientist, Art Fry, came up with an idea for one of 3M's best-selling products. It seems that Art Fry dealt with a small irritation every Sunday as he sang in the church choir. After marking his pages in the hymnal with small bits of paper, the small pieces would invariably fall out all over the floor. Suddenly, an idea struck Fry. He remembered an adhesive developed by a colleague that everyone thought was a failure because it did not stick very well. "I coated the adhesive on a paper sample," Fry recalls, "and I found that it was not only a good bookmark, but it was great for writing notes. It will stay in place as long as you want it to, and then you can remove it without damage." Yes, Art Fry hit the jackpot. The resulting product was called Post-it! and has become one of 3M's most successful office products.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


New Microchips Shun Transistors

The Game Graphics Chip Race
By John Hudson | Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Feb, 14, 2006

For the first time researchers have created a working prototype of a radical new chip design based on magnetism instead of electrical transistors.

As transistor-based microchips hit the limits of Moore's Law, a group of electrical engineers at the University of Notre Dame has fabricated a chip that uses nanoscale magnetic "islands" to juggle the ones and zeroes of binary code.

Wolfgang Perod and his colleagues turned to the process of magnetic patterning (.pdf) to produce a new chip that uses arrays of separate magnetic domains. Each island maintains its own magnetic field.

Because the chip has no wires, its device density and processing power may eventually be much higher than transistor-based devices. And it won't be nearly as power-hungry, which will translate to less heat emission and a cooler future for portable hardware like laptops.

Computers using the magnetic chips would boot up almost instantly. The magnetic chip's memory is non-volatile, making it impervious to power interruptions, and it retains its data when the device is switched off.

The magnetic architecture of the chip can be reprogrammed on the fly and its adaptability could make it very popular with manufacturers of special-purpose computing hardware, from video-game platforms to medical diagnostic equipment.

"The value of magnetic patterning in storage devices such as hard drives has been known for a long time," said Wolfgang Porod, Freimann professor of electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame. "What is unique here is that we've applied the patterning concept to the actual processing."

The chip's nanomagnets -- on the order of 110-nanometers wide -- can be assembled into arrays that mirror the function of transistor-based logic gates, in addition to storing information. These logic gates are the building blocks of computer technology, giving microchips the power to process the endless rivers of binary code.

A NAND logic gate for example, accepts two inputs to arrive at one output. If both inputs are one, the NAND gate spits out a zero. If one or the other or both inputs are a zero, the NAND gate provides a one as an output.

Porod and his colleagues equipped their new chip with a universal logic gate -- a combination of the NAND and NOR gates. Together, these two logic gates can perform any of the basic arithmetic functions intrinsic to all computer processing.

This exotic method of transistorless processing -- known as magnetic quantum cellular automata -- originally used individual electrons as quantum dots, arranged in a matrix of cells to handle logic operations. But nanoscale magnets proved to be a much better alternative because they were not subject to stray electrical charges, and they were easier to fabricate.

"The magnets were created from ferromagnetic nickel/iron alloy," said Porod. "We evaporated a thin layer of the alloy onto a silicon surface, then patterned the islands using electron-beam lithography."

Logic operations within the processor commence with a pulsed magnetic field on the input magnet, which alters the orientation of its magnetic field. This creates a cascade effect across the array, as magnetostatic attraction and repulsion cause the fields of adjacent magnets to "flip".

"To read the output, we used a scanning probe to infer what the magnetization was," said Porod. "Ideally, in the future, we would like to achieve this (input and output) with the simple application of an electric current."

Although existing technologies use magnetic fields to store information on small chips called MRAMs, this is the first application to produce a chip that can process digital information in addition to storing it.

The potential of chips driven by nanoscale magnets was considered five years ago at London's Imperial College. Russell Cowburn, professor of nanotechnology -- along with his colleagues -- observed that the magnets could exchange information as their fields interacted with each other.

Cowburn is encouraged by the technological leaps made at the University of Notre Dame. "What's really exciting here is that you can implement all of the Boolean functions without using a single transistor," he said.

The new chips also have some important characteristics that might make them ideal candidates for use in future space hardware. "You can't just put a regular DRAM into space, because it won't tolerate the environment. The magnetic technology is radiation-hard, and will be a huge improvement on what they're using now," Cowburn said.

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