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Comment Everything ... everything is conspiring. (Score 4, Interesting) 474

The gates are now so small that the electron wave function has a pretty high probability of being "on the other side" of the gate. As gates shrink, leakage power goes up very rapidly. Even when they're "off", the gates are consuming too much power (leaking it to ground.)

Also, think about 5 Ghz, IBM's fastest chips. At 5 Ghz, the clock speed is 200 picoseconds, and a 10 deep pipeline can allocate about 20 ps to each gate transition. That's a lot to ask, given that resistance and capacitance don't scale down linearly with dimensions. You also have to populate your chip with a lot of decoupling capacitors in order to hold the charge locally for each transition (because you can't get the power from off chip in 20 ps.) To fight the increased RC load (proportionally) you're putting in more buffers (big amplifiers).

As if that weren't enough, you have the fact that a 14 nm gate is about 20 silicon atoms across. When you start doping the substrate, your actual behavior is all over the place because one or two more dopant atoms represent a 10-20% shift, up or down (total shifts of 40-50%.)

So, your gates are too small, they all behave differently, they have to drive a relatively larger load, and the suckers are too hot.

Comment Tired of sellers begging for positive feedback (Score 1) 205

I hate ebay, in part because of the constant begging for positive feedback.

Now I'm getting it from Amazon's sellers. Every purchase that's not from Amazon itself results in emails asking me to leave positive feedback, reminders that if I haven't left feedback I still can. I got tired of that pretty quickly on ebay. "A+++++++++" seller ... gack. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but doing exactly what I paid you to do is actually "C" level work.

There's also the "used book scam" which has hit me twice. Find a relatively inexpensive copy of a rare book. Order said copy. Copy ships. Copy never arrives. "So sorry, it must have gotten lost in the mail." Next day the same seller has a copy available at 3X or even 10X the price you paid.

It appears that they get "seller's remorse" and pretend to ship you a book (with no tracking, of course) and then miraculously find another copy they can sell closer to the prevailing rate. Several sellers seem to have a lot of feedback that implies this is what's happening.

The third scam I've seen is the "I don't really have the book, but I'll have someone else ship you a copy" ... Order from seller "A", book arrives from seller "B". They offer a book at a slightly higher price and better quality than the other seller.

Comment Star Wars universe is "lived in" (Score 1) 359

This was seen as a huge difference when Star Wars came out. I'm old enough to remember the reviewers talking about how the universe looked lived in and worn, unlike the "just from the factory" cleanliness of Star Trek.

There were many comparisons between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise.

Comment Everyone makes $1,000,000 mistakes (Score 2) 377

During a panel discussion with very senior technical leads, the question came up: "How many of you have made a $1,000,000 mistake?"

Every single one raised their hand. This was a very large semi-conductor company, and everyone had been involved in at least one instance where bad masks were made because a check was skipped or step was botched in the design flow.

I worked on a chip design where it took six design revs to get clean masks. All five of the prior revs had avoidable (human) errors during the design and build process.

Pay me now (in time running checks) or pay me later (in nre: non-recoverable expense) for bad hardware.

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