Analog articles of 2020

Analog articles of 2020
Feature articles |
Peter Clarke highlights a dozen stories from eenews analog in 2020 that worth a second look.
By Nick Flaherty

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February

This one caught my interest because Richard Chang is a shaker, mover and risk-taker in China’s semiconductor industry. Chang was the founding CEO of SMIC and his latest operation is also a foundry, SiEn (QingDao) Integrated Circuits Co. Ltd. (QingDao, Shandong, China). It was formed in 2018 and we reported that Chang had come to Europe to help get things started. ST process technology is base for Chang’s next Chinese foundry.

March

GateMate is a European designed and manufactured FPGA family from Cologne Chip AG, a long-time provider of telecommunications chipsets and IP. That is significant in the context of a European Union that is seeking to build strategic independence from the US and Asia. Low-cost European FPGA launched with IPCEI support.

April

A 3D version of Synopys’ Design Compiler might seem a trivial next step. But remember it is the EDA communities’ steadfast refusal to go 3D that has prevented the mainstream adoption of heterogeneous multi-die packaging for a couple of decades. But now the momentum behind the ‘chiplet’ movement is strong and Synopsys has responded. Synopsys launches 3D design compiler.

May

Graphics IP licensor Imagination Technologies Ltd. was sold in 2017 to a US/Cayman Isles private equity company funded by Chinese money. In early 2020 then-CEO Ron Black cried “foul” over moves by China Reform Holdings to nominate four directors to the company (see Management threat stalls China’s Imagination coup).

Things were batted around with executives resigning, threatening to resign, and promises from the owners that Imagination would stay based in the UK. Then came the news that Imagination had formed a joint venture BAIC Group Industrial Investment Co. Ltd. the investment arm of Beijing Automotive Group as a principle way of licensing technology into China’s automotive sector. At the time, Imagination did not indicate the amount of funding or the proportions that the two parties would hold.

My reaction and Imagination’s response to it can be read via these links.

Opinion: China has had its way with Imagination

Imagination: We’re engaged with China, as we should be

Next: Second half of the year of the pandemic


June

As spring turned to summer we were much taken with Sony’s move to put AI processors next to CMOS image sensors – a field in which it is the clear market leader – and to go further by mounting subscription services on top of its software and hardware. Opinion: Sony’s plan for smart image sensors could be a game changer

August

In this year of pandemic discontent, we continued to be interested in the research of Qian Wang at the University of Cambridge. Her research is looking into the possibility of making artificial leaves that could convert carbon-dioxide and water into oxygen and formic acid. Improved artificial leaf a step closer to climate-saving deployment.

September

We were surprised at how calmly/indifferently people reacted to the news that a leading foundry had been forced to close down manufacturing because of a ransom-ware attack. Report: Tower set to pay hackers to regain control

October

We have been following the progress of Professor Carlos Paz de Araujo of the University of Colorado – and the founder of Symetrix Corp. – for more than 25 years. And so, we were eager to break the news that ARM had looked at his latest non-volatile memory technology and some senior engineers there found it sufficiently interesting to form a company. ARM forms spin-off to pursue CeRAM memory

November

Europe’s largest chip company makes news throughout the year. But towards the end of the year it was the unionized work force that were sending out the press releases. Strikes roll on at STMicroelectronics

December

As this annus horribilis draws to an end we hear of no fewer than 17 nations within Europe making a commitment to invest in the local design and production of processors and semiconductors. They also are trying to stake a claim on a fifth of the European Recovery and Resilience fund, worth up to €145 billion, but whether they will get any significant part of it remains to be seen. Opinion: Money’s not the problem for Europe’s semiconductor rebuild

And finally we draw your attention to Silicon Valley’s Micro Magic Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) Its 1GHz RISC-V processor consumes 10mW, with the voltage down at 350mV and measuring consumption in the ALU pipeline and I and D caches but not including the I/O.

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