09 February 2007

Does treating "the terrorists" as a monolithic, multinational entity serve our interests, or theirs? Do we really want to encourage poor farmers in Pakistan to celebrate when Humvees burn in Iraq? In The New Yorker, George Packer argues that different groups of radicals and potential radicals have different grievances, and that the route to success is to emphasize their differences, not their similarities.

Posted 02:57 PM

08 February 2007

Researchers have developed a method for selective deposition of organic semiconductors, New Scientist reports. Selective deposition is especially useful for organics, as many potential applications are in very large area displays. The downside is that the process requires temperatures of several hundred degrees (Celsius), outside the range that most plastic substrates can tolerate.

Posted 09:13 AM

07 February 2007

Information presentation expert Edward Tufte really doesn't like Powerpoint. He believes it is actively hostile to serious discussion, and holds it partially responsible for, among other things, the losses of both the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles. His analysis of the use of PowerPoint by the Columbia accident investigation board and the return to flight task force makes a pretty strong argument for his point of view.

I also discovered that he has a new book out, Beautiful Evidence. Reviews suggest that it is overly repetitive, so I'll remind readers that the Bookstore lists his other books, which I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Posted 11:57 AM

Surprising no one, SEMI reports that Japan and Taiwan both added more capacity than the US in 2006. The survey also found that 300-mm fabs now account for half of all new capacity. Megafabs -- those with capacity of 60,000 wafers per month or more -- are becoming more popular, too.

Now, 60,000 300-mm wafers is an enormous number of chips. At 100 dice per wafer, that's 6 million potential ICs. Per month. While some analysts argue that more flexible manufacturing will help moderate the industry's historic cyclicality, adding capacity in such large increments would certainly contribute to gluts when they occur.

The debate isn't actually that simple, because such large fabs tend to come online in phases, rather than all at once. Still, the economics of scale that justify 60,000 wpm fabs are only realized once the whole facility is running. No one builds that big a cleanroom if they're planning to let half of it sit.

Posted 10:13 AM


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