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Submission + - Toshiba develops MRAM for mobile processors (bit-tech.net)

Taco Cowboy writes: Toshiba has announced the development of a prototype memory element for a spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM) as a replacement for static RAM (SRAM) cache for mobile devices.

The new memory element overcomes the longstanding operating trade-off by securing improved speed while reducing power consumption by a whooping 90%. The improved structure is based on perpendicular magnetization and takes element miniaturization to below 30nm. Introduction of this newly designed "normally-off" memory circuit with no passes for current to leak into cuts leak current to zero in both operation and standby without any specific power supply management.

Toshiba expects to bring the new memory element to STT-MRAM cache memory for mobile processors integrated into smartphones and tablets, and will promote accelerated R&D toward that end.


Submission + - Mass 450mm wafers production by 2018 (taipeitimes.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) the world’s top contract chipmaker, yesterday said it planned to start mass-producing next-generation 450mm wafers using advanced 10-nanometer technology in 2018.

The advanced 10-nanometer chips could first be used in mobile devices and other consumer electronics, like game consoles, that demand high-performance and low power consumption.

The plan was included in the latest technology roadmap unveiled by TSMC about one year after the chipmaker attributed its delay in making 450mm wafers, originally scheduled in 2015, to semiconductor equipment suppliers’ postponement in developing advanced equipment for manufacturing amid the industrial slump.

Chipmakers can get 2.5 times more chips from a 450mm wafer than from a 300mm wafer.

Taiwan and South Korea are expected to be the two largest markets for semiconductor equipment this year, with purchases totaling US$9.26 billion and US$11.48 billion respectively, according to SEMI figures.

While in other news, Industry migration to 3D ICs to take place in 2015-16

The industry's gradual migration toward 3D ICs with through-silicon vias (TSV) is unlikely to happen until 2015 or 2016, according to sources at semiconductor companies. Volume production of 3D ICs was previously estimated to take place in 2014.

Leading foundries and backend assembly and test service companies have all devoted much of their R&D efforts to TSV development, and are making progress. The major players are believed to be capable of supporting 3D ICs by 2014, but the emerging technology going into commercial production may not take place until around the 2015-16 timeframe.


Submission + - TSMC to add FINFET to its upcoming 20nm process node (semiwiki.com) 1

Taco Cowboy writes: TSMC is heading full speed towards the 20nm territory but it has a problem — TSMC's standard planar transistors are not scaling well from 28nm to 20nm, causing a reduction of the power/die savings and performance boost customers have come to expect from a process shrink

DR. Chenming Hu, a TSMC Distinguished Professor of Microelectronics at University of California in Berkeley, coined the term FinFET 10+ years ago when he and his team built the first FinFETs and described them in the 1999 IEDM paper. Dr. Hu decided to NOT register patents on the design or manufacturing process to make it as widely available as possible

With the implementation of FINFET on TSMC's upcoming 20nm node process, it will dramatically cut power that leaked through a transistor when it was off, and that will offer TSMC a significant competitive advantage against the second source foundries.


Submission + - Acer's founder calling Microsoft bluff (digitimes.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: Microsoft's announcement of "Surface", its own branded tablet computer running Windows 8 has roughed some feathers among the tech supply chain in Taiwan.

The founder of Acer, Mr. Stan Shih, commenting on the "Surface", is calling Microsoft bluff

According to Shih, Microsoft has no reason to sell hardware because such sales bring much less profit than licensing its software products

In addition, Microsoft will also have to face with the many difficulties marketing tablet PCs on its own, including production management, distribution, and after-sales maintenance service

BTW, two other stories had already appeared on Slashdot regarding Microsoft's own branded tablet — "Surface" — since its announcement:




Submission + - Jobs that require technological skills - 77% in 10 years (mslearn.net)

Taco Cowboy writes: The world we live in is changing rapidly, as we speak.

A few years ago, the author of TFA had to have the headlights on his car repaired. Knowing how easy it was to change a light bulb in his previous cars, the author first tried to do it himself, only to realized that he needed a trained professional

When the author showed up at a local repair shop for assistance, the car mechanic took a quick look and immediately informed that he was not able to help.

The car was really nothing fancy, but it is a late generation model

The mechanic explained that the car has “smart lights” that anticipate the flow of the road ahead and he did not have the software necessary to calibrate the car’s headlights.

When enquired about the mechanic's approach to hiring and training, he confirmed that knowledge of computers and software are absolutely a must-have for his employees today.

In fact, research done by International Data Corporation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Data_Corporation ) predicts that the percentage of all jobs requiring some technology skills will grow from 50% today to 77% in the next decade.

In fact, they estimate that 60% of the jobs that will exist in 10 years do not even exist today.

How is this applied to the IT professionals involving in hardware designing / software programming field ?

On another blog ( http://www.tomsitpro.com/articles/UNESCO-it_careers-vocational_education_training.-it_professionals,1-268.html ) the author believes that learning how to learn, and keeping your learning skills sharp and pointy, is the best hope for ongoing employment, career growth and advancement.

In addition to keeping up with day-to-day responsibilities and deliverables, we need to start including research and learning as part and parcel of our regular working behaviors.

The author claims that anything less–such as attempting to stay in one’s comfort zones or sticking to tried and true or routine systems and software–risks being left behind the ever sweeping wave of innovation and technology.

Therefore, I wish to ask all Slashdot readers, how prepared are you to face the future?


Submission + - MRAM with Infinite Re-Write Cycles (rdmag.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: Researchers at Helmholtz Center in Berlin, Germany, have developed a magnetic valve that could give a big boost for spintronics — fast switching non-volatile memory that could also replace conventional memory systems

Nowadays, the data storage units are either volatile or non-volatile. For the former, the information is lost as soon as the device is switched off, and for the latter the information remain intact for many years. Due to thermal effects, they are also practically unusable after about ten years

In particular, when the bits are only a few nanometres in size, they lose stability. Once lost, the magnetization direction of the hard magnetic layer cannot easily be set again in the original direction. This leads irretrievably loss of data

This stability issue can now be addressed with the new spin-valve concept. By tuning the magnetic properties of the hard ferromagnetic layer, the so-called RAM memory building-blocks (RAM stands for random access memory) can be manufactured with controlled life-time of the stored information of weeks, months or years. Thereafter, the magnetic orientation can be resettedin the original state, which increases considerably the overall life expectancy of the information as compared to the existing non-volatile MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory). These memory building-blocks are now certainly highly sought-after in the field of micro-electronics, but have not been able, to date, to be established in the markets due to high costs and technical problems

With this new spin-valve concept, electronic devices can now be developed that, similar to the MRAM technology, are operable immediately after being switched on and allow their data storage units to be re-written indefinitely number of re-write cycles

Slashdot previously carried another report on spintronics at http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/09/27/1327235/purdue-researchers-demonstrate-low-power-fast-fetram-memory


Submission + - New Book: "BIOS Disassembly Ninjutsu Uncovered" (blogspot.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: The unedited version of a new book "BIOS Disassembly Ninjutsu Uncovered (1st Edition)" has been released in a PDF file

The English version of the book, in shipping form, is 450 pages, while the Russian version is over 600 pages

This downloadable version is the un-edited version. Some rough edges should be expected

Download the book at the following links:




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