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Comment: Re:The old timers were right (Score 1) 136

by drhank1980 (#47579279) Attached to: HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port

I work in semiconductor manufacturing. The very first place I worked out of college ran the manufacturing execution system on OpenVMS. It was a bit of an shock to get a log in to the VMS cluster on my first day as this was in the 2000s and I had only learned about VMS in my operating systems classes as a historical example. I have also noticed that the older Nikon imaging tools have OpenVMS running the main application controlling the tool.

I found OpenVMS to be a great zero frills system for doing this type of work. I am sure there are plenty of manufacturing sites that will be interested in the port to x86 so they can get some more modern (and reasonably priced) hardware to support their mission critical applications without having to start from scratch with a new system.

Comment: Re:Patent on blue LEDs? (Score 1) 129

This is just the latest round of lawsuits on this I assume they are trying to get as much cash as possible before it expires. I went to BU for my undergrad (even took solid state physics from Theodore Moustakas) and there was a similar undisclosed settlement in 2001-2002 about the same manufacturing process. The patent is not so much about having a blue LED but having a economical way to manufacture them on a mass scale.

Comment: Re:350mm (18inch) wafer (Score 1) 267

by drhank1980 (#45616037) Attached to: Moore's Law Blowout Sale Is Ending, Says Broadcom CTO

There will also be a cost reduction from the more efficient use of the ARC (anti-reflective coating), top coats, and Photoresist applications on the larger wafers. Coat dispense volumes do not go up significantly with larger wafers in a spin coat application so you effectively get more imaging for the same volume of chemical. Seeing as many of the lithography materials are some of the most expensive in the process this benefit can be very significant. Of course controlling these thicknesses to within a few angstroms across essentially a medium pizza will be a major challenge.

Also I was pretty sure the SEMI standard was for 450mm wafers. It will be interesting to see how many people adopt the new equipment for 450mm production, because the up front costs will be astronomical.

Comment: Re:false dichotomy in summary (Score 2) 752

by drhank1980 (#45398127) Attached to: Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners

Actually crime in the USA is also down.

I am not saying our extremely high incarceration rate is the primary cause for the reduction in crime. But in spite of what is commonly reported about America, crime is actually improving. I would expect if we did a similar reduction in sentences for drug offenders, and have some better support for those getting out of jail we would have gotten a bigger reduction probably at a lower cost, but being "soft on crime" does not help anyone win elections

Comment: Re:Transistoacking has probably reached its limits (Score 1) 156

by drhank1980 (#45297225) Attached to: The Mile Markers of Moore's Law Are Meaningless

As somebody who works in Lithography, I can let you know that they have not been using visible light for a long time. All fine resolution lithography is designed around as close to a monochromatic light source as possible. Having a significant spread in the light spectrum was just not consistent to do much below the 1.0 um feature size. This is because of the diffraction spread is very dependent on the wavelength and the fact that the photons have different energies thus reacting differently (or not at all) in the photoresist on the wafer.

Thus broadband lithography gave way to g-line (465nm visible blue) which gave way to i-line (365nm Ultra-Violet); Next was deep UV (248nm), Now 193nm is still used in state of the art systems today with lots of tricks such as immersion (where the light goes into water before it hits the wafer to increase the NA of the system) and double patterning (splitting up the image into multiple images that are combined in the etch processes after). Extreme UV is 13.5nm light is the next step but it is a very difficult light source to work with and the systems outrageous sums of money even for this industry.

What you are completely correct about is the importance of connectivity. I went from working in a dying 1xx nm CMOS fab this year to a thriving 1.0+um fab that makes wireless components. The lithographic part of the process (and just cramming more and more transistors on a die) is not the key value to our customers; its the exotic materials that we use to target more and more bands of wireless connectivity. I expect there will always be a demand in the market for more and faster transistors for pure computation. Its unfortunately no longer where the market growth is; thus the ROI on developing these technologies is looking more and more risky for businesses. What I have found interesting is that just about everybody working on the high end of the industry is pretty confident that the transistors will work at the 5nm-7nm node so there is still an incentive to head in that direction for now. After that will require some radical re-thinking about the materials used in computational machines.

Comment: Re:How safe? (Score 3, Interesting) 947

by drhank1980 (#45226837) Attached to: How Safe Is Cycling?
My cycling experience in Colorado has been the same (ditched my car in 2010). I frequently have cars shocked that I actually stopped at a stop sign when I am commuting to work, because all of the drivers here are so used to most cyclists blowing through them without stopping. I have also had far more close calls on the biking only trails in town with people not paying attention while riding than on the streets. The right mindset for riding is "being right doesn't bring you back" so always assume all other vehicles are going to do something dangerous when on the road.

Comment: Re:Why dribble about GPUs? (Score 1) 91

by drhank1980 (#45220379) Attached to: Next-Gen GPU Progress Slowing As It Aims for 20 nm and Beyond
In the discussions I have had with other people that I work with in the semiconductor industry, the primary case against FD-SOI was business not technical. FD-SOI is very expensive as a starting material and the sourcing of the stuff was iffy at best when Intel decided to go FinFet. It was also questionable if it would scale well to 450mm wafers, something that TSMC and Intel really want.

Comment: Re:Nothing new (Score 1) 953

by drhank1980 (#43522145) Attached to: Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade

The price has nothing to do with the lack of leverage for the fab. In semiconductors, there has been a massive consolidation of vendors as tools become more and more specialized (and thus far more expensive to design).

For example if you want to buy an immersion ArF lithography tool, you have exactly two vendors to choose from. Both 1 2 of these vendors will charge you tens of millions of dollars for a single tool, and both will make no promises about software upgrades, unless you pay for a service contract.

At the next generation if you want to buy an EUV lithography tool, you have exactly one vendor, with a nice long waiting list (of your competitors) to get a tool. So good luck trying to negotiate on the software patches for the PC attached to it. Also the last quote I heard about for one of these tools was actually over 100 Million USD.

You know you've landed gear-up when it takes full power to taxi.