14 July 2006

A special shout-out to Carlton Hair International at the San Francisco Shopping Center. They turned a week of potential bad hair days into a week of compliments with a short-notice appointment on Monday. Didn't cost an arm and a leg, either. (Well, maybe just an arm. SuperCuts they're not.)

And further thanks to the Marriott concierge for the recommendation.

Posted 03:10 AM

Once again, IEEE Spectrum proves that it is required reading for people interested in electronic devices and the businesses based on them. The May 2006 issue brought, among other things, an excellent article on counterfeit electronic components.

Posted 02:36 AM

A few years ago, a company gave flash drives away at their Semicon West seminar. It was a new and unique idea: many people had never seen flash drives before.

This year, I received three of them, plus an MP3 player. Clearly the cost of these things has come way down. Great news for consumers, but see yesterday's post. It's really tough to make money on commodity products.

Posted 02:24 AM

13 July 2006

My husband has asked me to take a car service back from the airport on Friday, instead of expecting him to pick me up. Yes, our marriage is fine, thanks. And to make sure it stays that way, he's going to avoid dealing with the traffic nightmare caused by the recent collapse of ceiling tiles in the I-90 connector tunnel.

The Boston Globe provided a nice cutaway diagram of the failed support structure. Apparently the bolts used to secure the tile hangers to the tunnel roof pulled out. I'm not a civil engineer, but a few bolts stuck in epoxy doesn't seem like a great way to suspend three tons of concrete to me.

Also, redundant design is a good idea in life-critical applications. Apparently only one hanger actually failed. As MIT professor Steve Banzaert said, "I can't imagine anybody signing off on a design of suspending 3-ton concrete panels such that the failure of any one hanger would lead to 12 tons of concrete coming down on the highway."

Posted 02:09 AM

Observations from Semicon West:

Readers? I have readers? EEK! I guess I need to get in gear and update the site, huh? (And many thanks for all the kind comments.)

Chocolate fountains sometimes splash. Bother. But many thanks to the party host for offering to pay my dry cleaning bill.

If a hotel is going to ask me to conserve energy by turning off lights and using the same towel and sheets more than once, that's fine. But don't turn around and try to sell me bottled water from Fiji, ok? Conservation begins at home.

Casino themes are big this year. Why???

On a more serious note....

Solar cells are very big, for everyone from polysilicon suppliers to makers of thin film deposition equipment. Expect them to remain so as long as oil prices continue to climb. Regular readers may congratulate themselves for already knowing this.

No one knows what's going to happen in advanced (post-45 nm node) lithography. High-index immersion raises the ugly specter of the 157-nm lithography debacle. Even EUV's supporters concede that it still has a long way to go. Which leaves double patterning. It's expensive, but relies on well-established technologies. It also shifts some of the burden away from the photomask to designers (how do you fracture a pattern for double patterning?) and stepper manufacturers (overlay is really really important). I'd say it has to be considered the frontrunner until proven otherwise, at least for the 32 nm node and probably 22 nm as well. For more, see my two-part series on lithography, in the June and August issues of Semiconductor Manufacturing Magazine.

Flash is big big big. There is no end to flash memory growth in sight. The consumer appetite for flash is insatiable. All of which may very well be true, but that doesn't mean you can make any money selling the stuff. See also DRAMs, commodification of.

The same is true of integrated circuits in general. Volume, measured as the number of transistors, continues to grow at a steady 10% per year. Revenue, unfortunately, does not. This makes paying for things like advanced lithography very difficult.

There's more, but I'd better save something for tomorrow. I've got readers to consider. Yikes! (runs, hides, cowers)

Posted 12:44 AM


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