Tag Archives: chip

Samsung Believes the Automotive Chip Shortage Could Impact Phones

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The ongoing automotive chip shortage is reportedly having ripple effects throughout the industry. Samsung is reportedly concerned that problems in one area of the semiconductor market could spill over into others.

The problem is that there’s not enough chip capacity to go around, according to the Financial Times. Automakers have lobbied governments and chip manufacturers for help worldwide. TSMC has pledged to expedite orders for auto manufacturers, and other foundries across the world are likely making similar vows. That company’s statement on the topic is relevant to Samsung’s concerns: “While our capacity is fully utilized with demand from every sector, TSMC is reallocating our wafer capacity to support the worldwide automotive industry.”

TSMC has previously indicated it was converting some manufacturing to respond to additional demand in the automotive sector. But the fact that its capacity is fully utilized means the foundry is playing a game of musical chairs as far as who gets allocation priority on which product lines. Automotive chips aren’t typically built on leading-edge process nodes, but the nature of the semiconductor shortage has caused shortages across the entire industry.

TSMC’s Q2 2020 revenue, with additional data on revenue by node.

Samsung is specifically concerned that it won’t be able to deliver new phones on time because foundries will be too busy building chips for other companies, including the automotive industry. Foundry shortages could squeeze the smartphone industry by limiting the number of devices available in-market. Samsung is particularly exposed in this scenario: It’s both the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, the largest DRAM manufacturer, and the largest NAND manufacturer. If smartphone supplies are limited, Samsung will eat the hit in three separate ways.

The fear of an automotive slowdown has led governments to put an unusual amount of pressure on TSMC, according to the report. Companies in the US, Japan, and Europe have reportedly engaged in direct talks with the foundry, as well as raising the issue with Taiwan’s government.

“We believe that as economies are struggling due to the pandemic, governments, especially in the countries hit worst by the virus, see car demand as a rare growth impulse important for their overall economies,” an unnamed Taiwanese official told the Financial Times. “We would not normally see this kind of approach if it were only about a few individual companies.”

The reason we’re in this mess in the first place, ironically, is that the market for cars bounced back faster than expected. During the pandemic, TSMC reduced the capacity it allocated for vehicle production after auto sales cratered. Now that vehicle sales are ticking up again, auto manufacturers need that capacity back. Problem is, it’s still in use producing everything else.

ExtremeTech suspects that companies will soon start talking about semiconductor shortages easing in June or July rather than the March-April timeframe that’s been floated recently. AMD has already indicated it expects supply to remain tight through this time frame, and it’s not the only TSMC customer that’s going to be supply-limited.

Pre-built gaming systems remain the best way to get your hands on a new AMD Ryzen 5000, Radeon, or Ampere GPU. It’ll be interesting to see if Rocket Lake picks up any customers on the basis of being easier to find in-stock. Auto manufacturers haven’t made any dramatic business moves in response to the ongoing supply problem, at least not yet. Hopefully, the demands of various markets can be met without destabilizing any specific market.

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Researchers Create Particle Accelerator on a Chip

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You’ve no doubt heard of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the massive particle accelerator straddling the border between France and Switzerland. The large size of this instrument allows scientists to do cutting-edge research, but particle accelerators could be useful in many fields if they weren’t so huge. The age of room-sized (and larger) colliders may be coming to an end now that researchers from Stanford have developed a nano-scale particle accelerator that fits on a single silicon chip. 

Full-sized accelerators like the LHC push beams of particles to extremely high speeds, allowing scientists to study the minutiae of the universe when two particles collide. The longer the beamline, the higher the maximum speed. Keeping these beams confined requires extremely powerful magnets, as well. It all adds up to a bulky piece of equipment that isn’t practical for most applications. For example, cancer radiation treatments with a particle accelerator could be much safer and more effective than traditional methods. 

The team from Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory didn’t set out to build something as powerful as an accelerator that takes up a whole room. The chip features a vacuum-sealed tunnel 30 micrometers long and thinner than a human hair. You can see one of the channels above — electrons travel from left to right, propelled by 100,000 infrared laser pulses per second, all of them carefully synchronized to create a continuous electron beam. 

The LHC does the same basic thing as this chip but on a much larger scale. Credit: Maximilien Brice/CERN

The chip is currently a proof-of-concept, but it’s not powerful enough for medical research applications at just 0.915 kilo-electronvolts (keV). The team estimates you’d need 1 million electron volts (1MeV) to make the system useful for medical research. That’s the equivalent of accelerating electrons to 94 percent the speed of light, and the prototype is 1,000-fold short of that. Still, the team is hopeful this design can scale up. The chip is a fully integrated circuit with all the necessary components built in — an increase in channel density should yield an increase in beam energy. 

The team’s current goal is to improve on the current design to add 1,000 stages of acceleration, up from the current single-stage design. That would mean 1,000 acceleration channels like the one seen above, which should fit on a chip about one inch across. That would give the resulting accelerator-on-a-chip enough power to be useful in medical research. This could happen as soon as late 2020.

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Intel to Speed Up Quantum Computers With Cryogenic Chip

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Over the past few months, IBM and Google have released competing claims and announcements about various quantum projects each has in the works, including Google’s claim to have achieved a real-life world first with a demonstration of so-called quantum supremacy. While Google and IBM were slugging it out a few months back, Intel quietly released an editorial focused on what it called “quantum practicality,” which we’ll generally define as “The point at which quantum computers start being genuinely useful.” One of Intel’s biggest points in that editorial was that we may need to scale up to hundreds or even thousands of qubits to perform useful work once error-correcting qubits are factored into the equation.

In retrospect, Intel was laying the groundwork for the quantum control processor, dubbed Horse Ridge after one of the coldest spots in Oregon, that it announced today. Horse Ridge isn’t a conventional CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce or even anything we could refer to as a quantum computer — not, at least, in and of itself. Horse Ridge, which is fabricated on Intel’s 22nm process, is a cryogenic control chip that’s intended to control multiple qubits simultaneously.

Currently, each qubit is individually wired and specifically controlled. This makes the entire cooling apparatus significantly more difficult to design (and requires individual wire routing for each and every qubit). Horse Ridge is meant to simplify the development of quantum computers in two respects: It can control multiple qubits at once, and it can operate at higher temperatures. While an operating environment of 4 Kelvin might not sound balmy, it’s significantly warmer than the microkelvin temperatures required for current quantum computer operation. Intel’s bet with Horse Ridge is that by increasing component tolerance for heat, it’ll be possible to integrate more hardware into a quantum system, allowing for further scaling and additional performance over the long term.

It’s a little funny, if you think about it. With modern transistors, we’re facing flat performance because we can’t move heat out. With quantum computers, we’re performance-and-scaling limited partly because we can’t move heat in. According to Intel’s director of quantum hardware Jim Clarke, “If we can effectively solve the challenges of controls and interconnects in quantum systems, quantum practicality will soon appear on the horizon.”

It’s not clear if Horse Ridge has applicability to systems other than the silicon spin qubits Intel has been working on. Our guess would be “No,” given that everything IBM and Google seem to have demonstrated to-date is proprietary in-house technology. Intel’s insinuation with Horse Ridge seems to be that while it hasn’t been breaking records with the sheer number of qubits it can build, it may have found a more effective way to scale to higher figures in the long term. Intel also seems to be betting on silicon long-term in a way that IBM and Google aren’t.

Is that the right move or the wrong one? I’d be lying if I pretended to be qualified to answer that question. The truth is, it’s not clear to me if Intel’s overall silicon expertise can be translated to a leadership position in quantum technology. I do think Intel is correct when it emphasizes that quantum computing is, generally speaking, a marathon rather than a sprint. I think it’s also early enough in the overall quantum market that there’s a lot of room for innovative approaches to the problem. Frankly, it’s too early to be expecting much in the way of commercial return for any company. Quantum is going to continue to drive headlines for the next few years, but real-world applications are still an uncertain distance away.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Opening a Hotel in Texas

Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Opening a Hotel in Texas | Entertainment Tonight

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Joanna and Chip Gaines' Daughters Take Turns Cradling Their Baby Brother

Joanna and Chip Gaines‘ daughters love their new baby brother.

The Fixer Upper star, who recently gave birth to her fifth child, son Crew, took to Instagram Story on Saturday to share two sweet videos of her girls, 11-year-old Ella and 8-year-old Emmie Kay, cradling the family’s two-week-old bundle of joy while swinging in a hammock.

In the clips, the home makeover couple’s daughters are relaxing and enjoying the summer day alongside little Crew, who’s fast asleep in a green onesie.

“Taking turns…” the Homebody author wrote on one of the videos. The couple is also parents to two boys; 13-year-old Drake and 9-year-old Duke.

Joanna Gaines Daughter and Son

Instagram Story

Joanna Gaines Daughter and Son

Instagram Story

The HGTV stars welcomed Crew on June 23. “And then there were 5..” Chip tweeted following his son’s birth. “The Gaines crew is now 1 stronger! 10 beautiful toes and 10 beautiful fingers all accounted for, and big momma is doing great! #blessedBeyondBelief.”

A couple hours after the initial tweet, Joanna shared the first picture of her newborn.

“Our baby boy, Crew Gaines, is here and we couldn’t be more in love. He made an unexpected (and speedy) entrance into the world two and a half weeks early. Which is fitting given he was a sweet surprise from day one,” she wrote alongside an Instagram slideshow with photos of her family at the hospital. “Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We are so grateful.”

Since Crew’s arrival, Joanna has been sharing sweet moments of her growing boy. See more in the video below.

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Joanna Gaines Praises Husband Chip as He Prepares for First Marathon

Joanna Gaines is a proud wife! 

The pregnant Fixer Upper star took to Instagram on Friday to gush over her husband, Chip Gaines, as he prepares to run his first marathon in Waco, Texas, on Sunday. The Silo District Marathon is actually being hosted by the HGTV couple to raise money for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation to fund research into rare cancers and their treatment.

“It all started with a lofty goal that he first considered while writing his book Capital Gaines,” Joanna captioned a shot of Chip running. “Then last October Chip randomly ran into @gigrunewald in Central Park where she shared some of her story. It was then that Chip was inspired to take this goal of running a marathon and turn it into something bigger: raising money and awareness for rare cancer research.”

“This weekend 6,000 runners from all 50 states and 7 countries will participate in our first annual #SiloDistrictMarathon right here in Waco, TX. All profits from this race will go to her foundation @bravelikegabe,” she continued. 

“Chip, I couldn’t be prouder of you. I am thankful for your big heart and big vision. Go get ’em this weekend, and you better believe I’ll be the first in line at the finish to give you the biggest hug!” Joanna added. “#yourbiggestfan#yougotthis #26.2miles.”

ET recently spoke with Joanna as she reflected on how pregnancy has changed while expecting her fifth child with Chip, nine years after giving birth to their fourth child, daughter Emmie. 

“It feels like it’s all brand-new, even the things that are available now to moms,” she said. “Everything is so fun, these things are really going to help me!”

“I am having so much [fun] now that my kids are older,” added Joanna, who is expecting a baby boy. “Time goes by so fast, so this was one of those things where I’m trying to cherish every moment, but back then I had four kids [aged] 4 and under. I was right in the thick of it, trying to figure things out, and now I have four older helpers. They are so excited.”

See more on Joanna’s pregnancy in the video below. 

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Tiny Injectable Chip Can Monitor Alcohol Levels in the Body

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Checking alcohol levels in your body usually requires a breathalyzer or a blood test. The breathalyzer is quick and easy, but they can be inaccurate. Blood tests are accurate, but you need a medical professional to draw blood and run the test. Engineers at UC San Diego are working on an alternative in the form of a tiny injectable chip. Once in place in the body, it can check alcohol levels and communicate them to an external device.

The chip is truly compact with a volume of about one cubic millimeter (you can see it compared with a penny and 16-gauge needle above). It’s injected under the skin (no surgery required), where it interacts with the interstitial fluid to detect alcohol in your system. That is the fluid that surrounds your cells. The team suggests the chip could be ideal for use in alcohol treatment programs, which usually require patients to undergo frequent testing. That might strike people as a bit invasive and big-brother-y, but it could provide faster, more reliable readings than other methods.

Embedded in the chip are three sensors. One is coated with alcohol oxidase, which interacts with alcohol to generate aldehyde and hydrogen peroxide. The sensor can measure the byproducts to determine how much alcohol is in the bloodstream. The two additional sensors measure pH levels in order to calibrate the readings from the alcohol sensor and ensure it’s accurate.

The chip was designed to have very low power usage, but it’s still just a cubic millimeter. That doesn’t leave room for a battery, but the data transmission takes care of power as well. The chip has a limited range, though the researchers envision a smartwatch or similar device near the injection site. The watch pings the chip with radio frequency signals that are reflected back with modifications that relay its data. It takes just three seconds for the chip to complete a reading and send its data. That should limit the battery impact on the wearable device.

So far, the chip has been tested in laboratory settings with a simulated fluid environment under pig skin. The next step is to see how the chip works inside a living creature. In the future, the team hopes to design sensors based on this one that can detect other compounds. One day, you may be injected with various micro-sensors that relay information to a wearable device for continuous health tracking.

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Google Announces ‘Bristlecone’ Quantum Computing Chip

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Google makes the world’s top search engine, mobile OS, and plenty of other consumer products. However, it also makes big bets on emerging technology like machine learning. That technology is beginning to make an impact on Google’s products, but its work on quantum computing is more theoretical. Maybe not for long, though. Google has just announced a new “Bristlecone” custom quantum computing chip that could lead to a major breakthrough known as “quantum supremacy.”

A quantum computer can take various forms — they could even run on a liquid or gas medium rather than a computer chip. What really sets a quantum computer apart from a regular digital computer is the fundamental nature of how data is encoded via quantum properties like superposition or entanglement. A digital bit is either 0 or 1, but a quantum bit (or qubit) can be 0, 1 or a superposition of both states. Google’s new Bristlecone chip has a whopping 72 qubits compared with just nine qubits in the last one.

One of the greatest challenges in making a quantum computer viable is countering so-called quantum decoherence. Interference from the environment causes incorrect calculations and a higher error rate than any standard digital computer. You can compensate for errors by shielding your computer from interference, for example by cooling it to extremely low temperatures. You can also correct for some error in a quantum system. Google’s previous 9-qubit linear quantum computer managed impressively low error rates of between 0.1 and 1 percent.

Google Quantum Computing

Google intends to continue focusing on keeping the error rate down with first and second order error-correction with a technique called surface code. Researchers believe this will allow for the development of quantum algorithms on actual hardware like the Bristlecone chip. Google says that the Bristlecone chip could maintain sufficiently low error rates to reach a significant threshold known as quantum supremacy. That’s the point at which a quantum computer can perform a well-defined calculation faster than a digital supercomputer. Past estimates have suggested you’d need at least 50 qubits at low decoherence to accomplish that feat, so Google could well be within striking distance.

The new chips are being operated in Google’s Quantum AI lab right now. Google researchers have also developed new benchmarking tools specifically for measuring the performance of Bristlecone. It’s possible Google will announce significant breakthroughs in the coming years thanks to this new quantum hardware. However, it might take quite a bit longer before quantum computing affects your life.

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Everything Chip and Joanna Gaines Have Told Us About Welcoming Baby No. 5 Post-'Fixer Upper'

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Five is a lucky number for the Gaines family — now more than ever! Chip and Joanna Gaines announced Tuesday night that they’re expecting their fifth child, sharing the good news with fans by posting a very adorable dual “bump” photo to Chip’s Instagram. Gaines party of 7.. (If you’re still confused.. WE ARE PREGNANT) @joannagaines A post shared by Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) on Jan 2, 2018 at 7:08pm PST Before the announcement, Chip shared three hints that his wife was pregnant again. First,…

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DARPA, University of Michigan Team Up to Build ‘Unhackable’ Chip

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DARPA has announced a $ 3.6 million grant to a University of Michigan team with the goal of building an “unhackable” processor. Software-based security has proven incapable of meeting this goal, and while hardware models like Intel’s IME or ARM’s TrustZone have had better luck overall, these systems can be affected by major bugs themselves and don’t protect the entire contents of the microprocessor.

Todd Austin, leader of the Morpheus project at UM, likens his team’s design to a giant Rubik’s Cube. His architecture focuses on moving data stored within the chip to various randomized locations while also constantly re-encrypting stored passwords. Even if a hacker managed to find a memory block with a password in it that was vulnerable to decryption, the data won’t be there by the time the password-cracker finishes its work. Even modern GPUs, which are staggeringly good at password decryption, require time to work.

“We are making the computer an unsolvable puzzle,” Austin said. “It’s like if you’re solving a Rubik’s Cube and every time you blink, I rearrange it. What’s incredibly exciting about the project is that it will fix tomorrow’s vulnerabilities. I’ve never known any security system that could be future proof.”

DRAM-Hammer

Rowhammer targets either the single purple row to flip the yellow bits or can target both yellow rows to flip the purple bits.

What the Michigan team is describing would be an incredibly useful set of capabilities — if it can be made to work. We’ve seen exploits before, like Rowhammer, that function precisely by targeting a given area of memory and hammering adjacent rows with repeated accesses in an attempt to flip bits within the target row (hence the name). Zero-day exploits are a common and potentially devastating problem. And frankly, it’s simply downright tiresome to be forever chasing down security bulletins and updating various applications. A chip that could juggle its memory addresses and keep data safely encrypted could be useful in a wide range of security applications.

What’s less clear is how easily the technology could be integrated into modern processors or what impact these rapid-fire data shifts would have on functionality. The DARPA SSITH project (System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware) specifically states that “The strategic challenge for participants in the SSITH program will be to develop new integrated circuit (IC) architectures that lack the current software-accessible points of illicit entry, yet retain the computational functions and high-performance the ICs were designed to deliver.”

DARPA’s goal is to fund initial development on a processor design capable of preventing one or more of seven security flaws: Permission and privilege escalations, buffer errors, resource management, information leakage, numeric errors, crypto errors, and code injection. These seven types of attacks supposedly comprise a whopping 40 percent of all attack types; cutting even one or two of them out could significantly reduce security issues in the military and consumer world.

(Image credit: DARPA)

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