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Copper based ICs have reached nano-meter densities, with wire so small, that no current seizes to flow. The University of Cambridge professors John Robertson and Santiago Esconjauregui have devised a possible future solution. They are growing Carbon Nanotube in greater density than ever before, up to 5 times the most current working technology.


Through the annealing step, the deposit of catalyst onto a substrate are heated creating groupings of nanoparticles. The next step grows the nano-tubes. Normally, this process does not yield tubes that can carry sufficient amounts of current for use in ICs. But in the professor's case that place multiple deposits and annealing, produces bundles of nano-tubes capable of handling the current necessary. They claim that even higher densities are possible.


This is good step towards Carbon Nano-Tubes replacing copper in microchip manufacturing, but controlling the positions and laying out an actual circuit with Robertson and Esconjauregui's achievement has not been shown. And, they are only 2 people.


Which brings me to a realization. With so many people working with carbon nanotube and like technology, they all need to be pulling in the same direction. A global initiative will take us all into the future, now. Just a thought.




A.I. space travel

Posted by Eavesdropper Mar 28, 2011


Spacecraft and rockets with no personnel onboard  are controlled by people on the earth's surface. There is one major issue with this arrangement, time to action responses. When a rocket's onboard sensors discover an error, it relays the information back to earth and operators from there figure a way to handle the situation. The further the craft sits from earth, the longer it takes to handle a problem.



The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science at JAXA seek to eliminate the delay by creating an artificial intelligence to handle much of a space vehicle's operations. The rocket, called Epsilon, will be able to diagnose issues, make repairs, provide and implement solutions. The Epsilon will make its first space flight in 2013.



I was under the idea that there was something like this already in place, some sort of error checking and correcting on board. This new knowledge makes space travel look a little less high tech. See more at the JAXA Site.





Self-repairing processor

Posted by Eavesdropper Mar 21, 2011



CRISP has developed a multi-core processor that will test and repair itself, sort of. There is an on-board resource manager that will test to see if a core is malfunctioning, and if so, send the tasks to a functioning core. The idea is to create a chip that will always work 100% of the time regardless of internal component failures. ‘‘Because of the rapidly growing transistor density on chips, it has become a real challenge to ensure high system dependability. The solution is not to make non-degradable chips, it's to make architectures that can degrade while they keep functioning, which we call graceful degradation. With the right dependability infrastructure many-cores can be a solution', says Hans Kerkhoff accociate professor at the University of Twente.


Still in the design, prototype, stage, this technology may very well be the standard future of chip design. My old critic is what is the "resource manager" gets corrupted due to a bad core? I'm sure more details will emerge over time on how they will handle such events.


CRISP stands for Cutting edge Reconfigurable ICs for Stream Processing. It is a collaborative effort from the University of Twente, Tampere University of Technology, Thales Netherlands, Recore Systems, Atmel, and NXP at the moment.





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“As electronics become more advanced, we are approaching the point where conventional materials like copper can’t take the heat. For computing to go faster and electronics systems to become more capable, better cooling solutions such as GE’s prototype substrate will be required to allow this to happen,” says Dr. Tao Deng, a senior scientist at GE Global Research.



GE and DARPA are teaming up to create a new "Phase-Change" material that in its prototype form demonstrated 2x thermal conductivity of copper at 1/4th the weight. The material is also able to withstand 10x gravity environments. Since this is a military endeavor, the gravity requirement means this will be used about aircraft. An additional unique feature brings "surface engineered coatings that both repel and attract water." Condensation will become less of an issue. Often, waterproof coatings on PCBs are used in military devices, but could wear away or peal under certain circumstances.



Dr. Tao Deng's blog has just started, I will keep an eye on this one to bring more breakthroughs and announcements as they happen.






The purpose is to watch the person who made the lunch, make it, while you eat it. And also, so the preparer can watch you eat it. A never ending cycle. Researchers at Ochanomizu University have embedded a camera and LCD touchscreen into a lunchbox (bento). The video starts playing as soon as the box is opened, and likewise, recording begins. The team wants to make the camera smaller and add a bit of video editing ability to the lunchbox (a sentence rarely uttered in history). 


The teams purpose is to spread the love on making and enjoying the lunch, but they fail to see the real potential. Watching TV shows, movies, youtube videos over lunch. I'm sure this device will pop up in the news again, in a leaner, better form. Good luck researchers.





The XIM 3 stand for XBOX Input Machine version 3. For those  who do not know, the XIM 3 allows for a keyboard, mouse, joystick, and other USB based devices to be adapted to the console. But that is not the end of the device's features. In many games a little autoaim functionality is added to help the player aim using a controller, since the controller is not the most precisely controlled input device. The XIM 3 has onboard software called "Smart Translators" that takes a particular game's aiming and movement actions and attempts to remove any autoaim and movement aids to give a PC like keyboard and mouse feel. Let's take a look at this achievement from the inside.



The device is stylish and does not feel cheap. The casing, a dense plastic, sits the screen at an angle allowing the player to see the information while seated as if at a desk, within the LCD's viewing angle. 3 A type USB ports are on the back for, presumably, a keyboard, mouse, and XBOX controller. The XBOX controller is needed, ultimately, for sending the control signals to the console. The XBOX addresses a controller and expect signals. The XIM piggybacks on the controller signal. A mini usb port is present for a connection to the XBOX console itself. A barrel plug for a power adapter is also present, which may be needed at a user adds a USB hub for more devices.



The XIM 3 shell is held together with 2 visible screws and two underneath foot-pads. Inside shows the screen ribbon cable connected to the mainboard on the base. The screen model number is SG100331. Ribbon cable is marked TS8001S FKJ40010 V1.0. The LCD is a QVGA panel



The mainboard has a model name HDDC3C02 made by HDDC inc. No information could be found on the company or model number. However, the central microcontoller is a NXP - LPC1768FBD100LPC1768FBD100. A cortex M3 100Mhz 32 Bit ARM processor with 65KB RAM and 512KB program memory space. On the mainboard is a Texas Instruments TUSB2046BTUSB2046B 4-port Full-Speed USB Hub, hence XIM3's 4 ports. (The hub requires 3.3V, the assumption is that the NXP ARM is also run at the same voltage.) Also present is a MAX3421EE USB peripheral host controller with SPI interface. This controller digital logic and analog circuitry necessary to implement a full-speed USB peripheral, or in this case the T.I host controller. (Supply voltage for the MAX chip is also 3.3V) Not to surprise anyone, but a LD33 F022 (3.3V) linear voltage regulator powers the whole system. My only complaint about the system are the experience I had with the 3 main USB ports. It was easy to bend a pin out of place, impeding cable inserts. However, I bent the pins back in place, and all was well.




There is no additional memory, so the entire program sits in 512KB. Overall, it is an impressive design, circuit, packaging, and the code must be exquisite. This is an example of only one person accomplishing an amazing feat on his own. Inspiration to all of us and our ideas.


XIM 3 units are finally available at the XIM Technologies website on a regular basis. When the XIM was first released, the attention and web traffic was so great that it crashed the servers. After the website's servers were upgraded, "OBsIV" the creator of XIM, would only open the store privately for short periods, like 5 minutes. The only way to the store was knowing the direct address, and was not available from the home page. Some people were using other services, like "alertbox," to monitor when the site would open. Eventually, everyone who desperately wanted one, now has one. For the record, the one pictured above was purchased in a 5 minute window in February.


Want to know how the device performs in games? I will relate my experiences in an up and coming post.




Missouri University of Science and Technology is resolved to make a handheld scanner that can see through anything. Similar to airport scanners, this hand held camera used millimeter and microwave signals to peek inside. In real time, this camera takes 30 frames per second and can construct a representation of objects at different layers. No word on the depth it can go, but the team calls it “non-intrusive.” Originally conceived Dr. Reza Zoughi in 1998, the first prototype was made in 2007. Since then the design has been made smaller and more portable. Currently the system runs off of a battery about the size of a laptop power cell. Zoughi said about the product’s future, “Further down the road, we plan to develop a wide-band camera capable of producing real-time 3-D or holographic images." As of 2010, this concept is patented. At the moment, objects to be scanned have to pass between the camera and a backplane. The team is hard at work to eliminate the pass through feature and just make it a camera. Although modesty will soon be a thing of the past, it is an impressive achievement.


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