IC Packaging – #37

Packaging engineers are the unsung heroes of the IC world. Packaging Expert Jesse Rebeck sits down and explores the complexities of IC packaging.

The unsung heroes of the IC world – packaging engineers!

The pictures I promised:

The UXR Amplifier Fanout Package:

UXR_Amplifier_FanOutPackage

Bert Signal Conditioning Hybrid Packaging:

BERT_SignalConditioning_HybridPackage

UXR Data Processor Flip Chip Packaging:

UXR_DataProcessor_FlipChipPackage

New 110 GHz Oscilloscope – UXR Q&A #35

Brig Asay, Melissa, and Daniel Bogdanoff sit down to answer the internet’s questions about the new 110 GHz UXR oscilloscope. How long did it take? What did it cost? Find out!

Brig Asay, Melissa, and Daniel Bogdanoff sit down to answer the internet’s questions about the new 110 GHz UXR oscilloscope. How long did it take? What did it cost? Find out!

 

Some of the questions & comments

S K on YouTube: How long does it take to engineer something like this? With custom ASICs all over the place and what not…

Glitch on YouTube: Can you make a budget version of it for $99?

Steve Sousa on YouTube: But how do you test the test instrument?? It’s already so massively difficult to make this, how can you measure and qualify it’s gain, linearity etc?

TechNiqueBeatz on YouTube: About halfway through the video now.. what would the practical application(s) of an oscilloscope like this be?

Alberto Vaudagna on YouTube: Do you know what happen to the data after the dsp? It go to the CPU motherboard and processed by the CPU or the data is overlayed on the screen and the gui is runner’s by the CPU?

How does a piece of equipment like that get delivered? I just don’t think UPS or Fedex is going to cut it for million+ dollar prototype. It would be nice to see some higher magnification views of the front end.

Ulrich Frank:mNice sturdy-looking handles at the side of the instrument – to hold on to and keep you steady when you hear the price…

SAI Peregrinus: That price! It costs less than half the price of a condo in Brooklyn, NY! (Search on Zillow, sort by price high to low. Pg 20 has a few for $2.7M, several of which are 1 bedroom…)

RoGeorgeRoGeorge: Wow, speechless!

R Bhalakiya: THIS IS ALL VOODOO MAGIC

Maic Salazar Diagnostics: This is majestic!!

Sean Bosse: Holy poop. Bet it was hard keeping this quiet until the release.

jonka1: Looking at the front end it looks as if the clock signal paths are of different lengths. How is phase dealt with? Is it in this module or later in software?

cims: The Bugatti Veyron of scopes with a price to match, lol

One scope to rule them all…wow! Keyesight drops the proverbial mic with this one

Mike Oliver: That is a truly beautiful piece of equipment. It is more of a piece of art work than any other equipment I have ever seen.

Gyro on EEVBlog: It’s certainly a step change in just how bad a bad day at the office could really get!
TiN: I have another question, regarding the input. Are there any scopes that have waveguide input port, instead of very pricey precision 1.0mm/etc connectors?
Or in this target scope field, that’s not important as much, since owner would connect the input cable and never disconnect? Don’t see those to last many cable swaps in field, even 2.4mm is quite fragile.

User on EEVBlog: According to the specs, It looks like the 2 channel version he looked at “only” requires 1370 VA and can run off 120V.  The 4 channel version only works off 200-240V

The really interesting question: how do they calibrate that calibration probe.
They have to characterize the imperfections in it’s output to a significantly better accuracy than this scope can measure.  Unless there’s something new under the sun in calibration methodology?

Mikes Electric Stuff‏ @mikelectricstuf: Can I get it in beige?

Yaghiyah‏ @yaghiyah: Does it support Zone Triggering?

User on Twitter:

It’ll be a couple paychecks before I’m in the market, but I’d really be interested in some detail on the probes and signal acquisition techniques. Are folks just dropping a coax connector on the PCB as a test point? The test setup alone has to be a science in itself.

I’d also be interested in knowing if the visiting aliens that you guys mugged to get this scope design are alive and being well cared for.

Hi Daniel, just out of curiosity and within any limits of NDAs, can you go into how the design process goes for one of these bleeding-edge instruments? Mostly curious how much of the physical design, like the channels in the hybrid, are designed by a human versus designed parametrically and synthesized

Battlebots 2018 & the Hardcore Robotics Team – #27

“I tend to not turn Tombstone on outside of the arena – it scares the crap out of me.” – Ray Billings, Hardcore Robotics team captain. We sit down with BattleBots’ resident bad boy to talk about the engineering behind the world’s meanest fighting robots. We also talk robot carnage. Because we know you’re really here for robot carnage.

“I tend to not turn Tombstone on outside of the arena. It scares the crap out of me…” – Ray Billings, Hardcore Robotics team captain. We sit down with BattleBots’ resident bad boy to talk about the engineering behind the world’s meanest fighting robots. We also talk robot carnage. Because we know you’re really here for robot carnage.

Agenda:

00:03 Ray Billings leads the Hardcore Robotics Battlebots team, and is the “resident villain” on Battlebots.

00:40 Mike went to high school with Ray’s son

01:15 Ray’s robot, “Tombstone” is ranked #1 on the Battlebots circuit. Highlights here.

1:34 The winner trophy for Battlebots is a giant nut.

2:00 Ray doesn’t turn on the robot very often outside of the arena

2:35 Ray’s carnage story: he bent a 1” thick titanium plate

3:20 You have to see combat robots live to get the full experience

4:10 The first match of Battlebots 2018 should be one of the most epic Battlebots fights of all time

4:30 Ray has done over 1,000 combat robot matches in 17 years

5:00 How Ray got into Battlebots

6:25 The main robot is called an offset horizontal spinner. It spins a 70-75 lb bar at 2500 rpm.

7:40 The body is 4130 choromoly tubing. The drive motors were intended for an electric wheelchair, and the weapons motor is from an electric golf cart.

8:20 Normal electrical motors are not designed to work for combat robots. Ray significantly stresses the motors.

8:50 The weapon motor was designed to be used at 48V 300A, but Ray uses it at 60V and 1100A (at spinup). This would overheat and destroy the motor, so it shouldn’t be done long-term.

9:40 – 70-80kW at spinup, and no start capacitor. He just uses a big marine relay.

10:00 Ray’s robot has 1 second to be lethal

10:30 If there’s a motor-stall potential mid match, Ray will turn off the motor to save batteries/electronics

11:00 What’s the weak point of Ray’s robot? One match, the weapon bar snapped in half.

11:40 Ray uses tool-grade steel, so it won’t bend, it’ll just snap.

12:40 The shock loads can break the case. The weapon motor looks like it’s rigidly mounted, but because it’s on a titanium plate it has some shock absorber. There’s also a clutch system in the sprocket to help offset shock.

13:40 Ray’s robot has to take all of the force that the opponent’s robots do (equal and opposite), but if it’s coming in a direction you want vs. one you don’t want you can design-in protection.

14:40 What test challenges were faced during assembly and design?

It’s been highly iterated. There are no shortcuts for designing combat robots. You have to see where something breaks, then adjust.

15:45 When Ray started in 2004, his robot was just a “middle of the pack” robot. With years of iteration, it’s now a class-dominant robot.

16:45 Ray spins up the robot at least once before a competition. It’ll pick up debris from the ground and throw it around.

17:50 Battery technology and batteries for combat robots: Originally they used lead acid batteries for their current ability. Now, almost everyone uses Lithium chemistry. The sport is about power-to-weight ratio, so the lighter batteries have given people much more flexibility.

19:00 Why aren’t there gas powered combat robots? There are some that have flamethrowers, and there are a couple gas powered ones. However, they aren’t as dependable.

20:15 Ray has wrecked arenas. The arena rails are 1/2” steel, and Ray can cut a soda-can sized hole in them. He’s wrecked panels and ceiling lights.

21:20 Combat robot communication systems: today everything runs on 2.4 GHz digitally encoded systems. They often use RC plane controls because they are highly customizable and there are a lot of available channels.

22:00 Drive systems: the wheels & motors come together. They use a hard foam in the tires so you can’t get a flat.

22:45 Centrifugal force – not a huge problem because the blade spins in-plane. But, when he gets bumped up the blade fights gravity before it can self-right.

24:40 The rest of the Hardcore Robotics team is three people.. The team is Ray, his son (Justin), and his friend Rick. Rick used to run his own team, but has more fun fabricating and building robots than he does driving them.

25:30 There will be 6 fights/hour, and the show will be on the Discovery channel and the science channel premiering May 11th.

26:15 The first fight got leaked in some promo footage, Tombstone vs. Minotaur.

26:35 Would Ray rather fight a good robot or a bad one? Ray says “anyone.”

Battlebots 2018 (season 3) will have “fight card” fights, then a playoff of the top 16 robots.

27:50 A given frame only lasts an event or two before needing to be replaced. This many fights is really hard on the robot.

29:20 Combat robot kits are a great way to get into the sport, especially ant-weight and beetle weight kits.

30:00 Stupid questions

31:15 Ray wants to try a new hammer robot, a full-shell spinner, and a vertical spinner.

32:40 Support Ray by getting Hardcore Robotics gear from battlebots.com and the toys from Target, Amazon, hexbugs, etc.

33:15 Ray is also an engineer at Intel.

Data Analytics for Engineering Projects – #23

Learn some best practices for engineering projects that have huge amounts of data. Data analytics tools are crucial for project success! Listen in on today’s EEs Talk Tech electrical engineering podcast.

It seems most large labs have a go-to data person. You know, the one who had to upgrade his PC so it could handle insanely complex Excel pivot tables? In large electrical engineering R&D labs, measurement data can often be inaccessible and unreliable.

In today’s electrical engineering podcast, Daniel Bogdanoff (@Keysight_Daniel) sits down with Ailee Grumbine and Brad Doerr to talk about techniques for managing test & measurement data for large engineering projects.

 

Agenda:

1:10 – Who is using data analytics?

2:00 – for a hobbyist in the garage, they may still have a lot of data. But, because it’s a one-person team, it’s much easier to handle the data.

Medium and large size teams generate a lot of data. There are a lot of prototypes, tests, etc.

3:25 – The best teams manage their data efficiently. They are able to make quick, informed decisions.

4:25 – A manager told Brad, “I would rather re-make the measurements because I don’t trust the data that we have.”

6:00 – Separate the properties from the measurements. Separate the data from the metadata. Separating data from production lines, prototype units, etc. helps us at Keysight make good engineering decisions.

9:30 – Data analytics helps for analyzing simulation data before tape out of a chip.

10:30 – It’s common to have multiple IT people managing a specific project.

11:00 – Engineering companies should use a data analytics tool that is data and domain agnostic.

11:45 – Many teams have an engineer or two that manage data for their teams. Often, it’s the team lead. They often get buried in data analytics instead of engineering and analysis work. It’s a bad investment to have engineers doing IT work.

14:00 – A lot of high speed serial standards have workshops and plugfests. They test their products to make sure they are interoperable and how they stack up against their competitors.

15:30 – We plan to capture industry-wide data and let people see how their project stacks up against the industry as a whole.

16:45 – On the design side, it’s important to see how the design team’s simulation results stack up against the validation team’s empirical results.

18:00 – Data analytics is crucial for manufacturing. About 10% of our R&D tests make it to manufacturing. And, manufacturing has a different set of data and metrics.

19:00 – Do people get hired/fired based on data? In one situation, there was a lack of data being shared that ended up costing the company over $1M and 6 months of time-to-market.

 

 

 

Wide Bandgap Semiconductors for Power Electronics – Electrical Engineering Podcast #20

Wide bandgap semiconductors, like Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) are shaping the future of power electronics by boosting power efficiency and reducing physical footprint. Server farms, alternative energy sources, and electrical grids will all be affected!

Wide bandgap semiconductors, like Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) are shaping the future of power electronics by boosting power efficiency and reducing physical footprint. Server farms, alternative energy sources, and electrical grids will all be affected! Mike Hoffman and Daniel Bogdanoff sit down with Kenny Johnson to discuss in today’s electrical engineering podcast.

 

Links:

Fact Sheet: https://energy.gov/eere/articles/infographic-wide-bandgap-semiconductors

Fact Sheet
https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/12/f5/wide_bandgap_semiconductors_factsheet.pdf

Tech Assessment (Good timeline information)
https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/02/f19/QTR%20Ch8%20-%20Wide%20Bandgap%20TA%20Feb-13-2015.pdf

Agenda – Wide Bandgap Semiconductors

Use in Power Electronics

3:00 What is a wide bandgap semiconductor? GaN (Gallium Nitride) devices and SiC (Silicon Carbide) can switch on and off much faster than typical silicon power devices. Wide bandgap semiconductors also have better thermal conductivity. And, wide bandgap semiconductors have a significantly lower drain-source resistance (R-on).
For switch mode power supplies, the transistor switch time is the key source of inefficiency. So, switching faster makes things more efficient.

4:00 They will also reduce the size of power electronics.

6:30 Wide bandgap semiconductors have a very fast rise time, which can cause EMI and RFI problems. The high switching speed also means they can’t handle much parasitic inductance. So, today’s IC packaging technology isn’t ideal.

8:30 Wide bandgap semiconductors are enabling the smart grid. The smart grid essentially means that you only turning on things being used, and turning off power completely when they aren’t being used.

9:35 Wide bandgap semiconductors will probably be integrated into server farms before they are used in power grid distribution or in homes.

10:20 Google uses a lot of power. 2.3 TWh (terawatt hour)
NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/technology/google-details-and-defends-its-use-of-electricity.html

It’s estimated Google has 900,000 servers, and that accounts for maybe 1% of the world’s servers.
So, they are willing to put in the investment to work out the details of this technology.

11:50 The US Department of Energy wants people to get an advanced degree in power electronics. Countries want to have technology leadership in this area.

13:00 Wide bandgap semiconductors are also very important for wind farms and other alternative forms of energy.

Having a solid switch mode power supply means that you don’t have to have extra capacity.

USA Dept of Energy: If industrial motor systems were wide bandgap semiconductors took over, it would save a ton of energy.

14:45 A huge percentage of the world’s power is consumed by electrical pumps.

16:20 Kenny’s oldest son works for a company that goes around and shows companies how to recover energy costs.

There aren’t many tools available for measuring wide bandgap semiconductor power electronics.

19:30 Utilities and servers are the two main industries that will initially adopt wide band gap semiconductors

20:35 When will this technology get implemented in the real world? There are parts available today, but it probably won’t be viable for roughly 2-5 years.

21:00 Devices with fast switching are beneficial, but have their own set of problems. The faster a devices switches, the more EMI and RFI you have to deal with.

Spread spectrum clocking is a technique used to pass EMI compliance.

24:00 Band gaps of different materials: Diamond 5.5 eV Gallium Nitride (GaN) 3.4 eV Silicon Carbide (SiC) 3.3 eV

Heterogeneous Computing & Quantum Engineering – #17

Learn about parallel computing, the rise of heterogeneous processing (also known as hybrid processing), and quantum engineering in today’s EEs Talk Tech electrical engineering podcast!

Learn about parallel computing, the rise of heterogeneous processing (also known as hybrid processing), and the prospect of quantum engineering as a field of study!

 

Audio link:

00:40

Parallel computing used to be a way of sharing tasks between processor cores.

When processor clock rates stopped increasing, the response of the microprocessor companies was to increase the number of cores on a chip to increase throughput.

01:44

But now, the increased use of specialized processing elements has become more popular.

A GPU is a good example of this. A GPU is very different from an x86 or ARM processor and is tuned for a different type of processing.

GPUs are very good at matrix math and vector math. Originally, they were designed to process pixels. They use a lot of floating point math because the math behind how a pixel  value is computed is very complex.

A GPU is very useful if you have a number of identical operations you have to calculate at the same time.

4:00

GPUs used to be external daughter cards, but in the last year or two the GPU manufacturers are starting to release low power parts suitable for embedded applications. They include several traditional cores and a GPU.

So, now you can build embedded systems that take advantage of machine learning algorithms that would have traditionally required too much processing power and too much thermal power.

 

4:50

This is an example of a heterogeneous processor (AMD) or hybrid processor. A heterogeneous processor contains cores of different types, and a software architect figures out which types of workloads are processed by which type of core.

Andrew Chen (professor) has predicted that this will increase in popularity because it’s become difficult to take advantage of shrinking the semiconductor feature size.

6:00

This year or next year, we will start to see heterogeneous processors (MOOR) with multiple types of cores.

Traditional processors are tuned for algorithms on integer and floating point operations where there isn’t an advantage to doing more than one thing at a time. The dependency chain is very linear.

A GPU is good at doing multiple computations at the same time so it can be useful when there aren’t tight dependency chains.

Neither processor is very good at doing real-time processing. If you have real time constraints – the latency between an ADC and the “answer” returned by the system must be short – there is a lot of computing required right now. So, a new type of digital hardware is required. Right now, ASICs and FPGAs tend to fill that gap, as we’ve discussed in the All about ASICs podcast.

9:50

Quantum cores (like we discussed in the what is quantum computing podcast) are something that we could see on processor boards at some point. Dedicated quantum computers that can exceed the performance of traditional computers will be introduced within the next 50 years, and as soon as the next 10 or 15 years.

To be a consumer product, a quantum computer would have to be a solid state device, but their existence is purely speculative at this point in time.

11:50

Quantum computing is reinventing how processing happens. And, quantum computers are going to tackle very different types of problems than conventional computers.

12:50

There is a catalog on the web of problems and algorithms that would be substantially better on a quantum on a computer than a traditional computer.

13:30

People are creating algorithms for computers that don’t even exist yet.

The Economist estimated that the total spend on quantum computing research is over 1 Billion dollars per year globally. A huge portion of that is generated by the promise of these algorithms and papers. The interest is driven by this.

Quantum computers will not completely replace typical processors.

15:00

Lee’s opinion is that the quantum computing industry is still very speculative, but the upsides are so great that neither the incumbent large computing companies nor the industrialized countries want to be left behind if it does take off.

The promise of quantum computing is beyond just the commercial industry, it’s international and inter-industry. You can find long whitepapers from all sorts of different governments laying out a quantum computing research strategy. There’s also a lot of venture capitalists investing in quantum computing.

17:40

Is this research and development public, or is there a lot of proprietary information out there? It’s a mixture, many of the startups and companies have software components that they are open sourcing and claim to have “bits of physics” working (quantum bits or qbits), but they are definitely keeping trade secrets.

19:50 Quantum communication means space lasers.

Engineering with quantum effects has promise as an industry. One can send photons with entangled states. The Chinese government has a satellite that can generate these photons and send them to base stations. If anyone reads them they can tell because the wave function collapsed too soon.

Quantum sensing promises to develop accelerometers and gyroscopes that are orders of magnitude more sensitive than what’s commercially available today.

21:35

Quantum engineering could become a new field. Much like electrical engineering was born 140 years ago, electronics was born roughly 70 years ago, computer science was born out of math and electrical engineering. It’s possible that the birth of quantum engineering will be considered to be some point in the next 5 years or last 5 years.

23:00

Lee’s favorite quantum state is the Bell state. It’s the equal probability state between 1 and 0, among other interesting properties. The Bell state encapsulates a lot of the quantum weirdness in one snippet of math.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World’s Fastest ADC – #13

Learn about designing the world’s fastest ADC in today’s electrical engineering podcast! We sit down with Mike to talk about ADC design and ADC specs. Hosted by Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman, EEs Talk Tech is a twice-monthly engineering podcast discussing tech trends and industry news from an electrical engineer’s perspective.

 

We talk to ASIC Planner Mike Beyers about what it takes to design the world’s fastest ADC in today’s electrical engineering podcast.

Video Version (YouTube):

 

Audio Only:

Intro:
Mike is an ASIC planner on the ASIC Design Team.

Prestudy, learn about making an ASIC.

00:30

What is an ADC?

An ADC is an analog to digital converter, it takes analog data inputs and provides digital data outputs.

What’s the difference between analog and digital ASICs?

1:00
There are three types of ASICs:
1.Signal conditioning ASICs
2. Between 1 and 3 is a converter, either digital to analog (DAC) or analog to digital (ADC)
3. Signal processing ASICs, also known as digital ASICs

1:50
Signal conditioning ASICs can be very simple or very complicated
e.g. Stripline filters are simple, front end of an oscilloscope can be complicated

2:45
There’s a distinction between a converter vs. an analog chip with some digital functionality
A converter has both digital and analog. But there are some analog chips with a digital interface, like an I2C or SPI interface.

4:25
How do you get what’s happening into the analog world onto a digital interface, and how fast can you do it?

4:35
Mike Hoffman designed a basic ADC design in school using a chain of operational amplifiers (opamps)
A ladder converter, or “thermometer code” is the most basic of ADC designs

6:00
A slow ADC can use single ended CMOS, a faster ADC might use parallel LVDS, now it’s almost always SERDES for highest performance chips

6:35
The world’s fastest ADC?

6:55
Why do we design ADCs? We usually don’t make what we can buy off the shelf.

The Nyquist rate determines the necessary sample rate, for example, a 10 GHz signal needs to be sampled at 20 – 25 Gigasamples per second
1/25 GHz = 40 ps

8:45
ADC Vertical resolution, or the number of bits.

So, ADCs generally have two main specs, speed (sample rate) and vertical resolution.

9:00
The ability to measure time very accurately is often most important, but people often miss the noise side of things.

9:45
It’s easy to oversimplify into just two specs. But, there’s more that hast to be considered. Specifications like bandwidth, frequency flatness, noise, and SFDR

10:20
It’s much easier to add bits to an ADC design than it is to decrease the ADCs noise.

10:42
Noise floor, SFDR, and SNR measure how good an analog to digital converter is.

SFDR means “spurious free dynamic range” and SNR means “signal to noise ratio”

11:00
Other things you need to worry about are error codes, especially for instrumentation.

For some ADC folding architectures and successive approximation architectures, there can be big errors. This is acceptable for communication systems but not for visualizing equipment.

12:30
So, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing ADC.

12:45
Where does ADC noise come from? It comes from both the ADC and from the support circuitry.

13:00
We start with a noise budget for the instrument and allocate the budget to different blocks of the oscilloscope or instrument design.

13:35
Is an ADC the ultimate ASIC challenge? It’s both difficult analog design and difficult high-speed digital design, so we have to use fine geometry CMOS processes to make it happen.

15:00
How fast are our current ADCs? 160 Gigasamples per second.

15:45
We accomplish that with a chain of ADCs, not just a single ADC.

16:15
ADC interleaving. If you think about it simply, if you want to double your sample rate you can just double the number of ADCs and shift their sampling clocks.

But this has two problems. First, they still have the same bandwidth, you don’t get an increase. Second, you have to get a very good clock and offset them carefully.

17:00
To get higher bandwidth, you can use a sampler, which is basically just a very fast switch with higher bandwidth that then delivers the signal to the ADCs at a lower bandwidth

But, you have to deal with new problems like intersymbol interference (ISI).

18:20
So, what are the downsides of interleaving?

Getting everything to match up is hard, so you have to have a lot of adjustability to calibrate the samplers.

For example, if the q levels of one ADC are higher than the other, you’ll get a lot of problems. Like frequency spurs and gain spurs.

We can minimize this with calibration and some DSP  (digital signal processing) after the capture.

20:00
Triple interleaving and double interleaving – the devil is in the details

21:00
Internally, our ADCs are made up of a number of slices of smaller, slower ADC blocks.

21:15
Internally, we have three teams. An analog ASIC team, a digital ASIC team, and also an ADC ASIC team.

22:15
Technology for ADCs is “marching forward at an incredible rate”

The off-the-shelf ADC technologies are enabling new technologies like 5G, 100G/400G/1T Ethernet, and DSP processing.

23:00
Is processing driven by ADCs, or are ADCs advancing processor technology? Both!

24:00
Predictions?

Mike H.: New “stupid question for the guest” section
What is your favorite sample rate and why?
400 MSa – one of the first scopes Mike B. worked on. Remember “4 equals 5”

Copper vs. Fiber Optic Cable and Optical Communication Techniques – #11

Stefan Loeffler discusses the latest optical communication techniques
and advances in the industry as well as the use of fiber optic cable in electronics and long-range telecommunication networks. Hosted by Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman, EEs Talk Tech is a twice-monthly engineering podcast discussing tech trends and industry news from an electrical engineer’s perspective.

Mike Hoffman and Daniel Bogdanoff continue their discussion with Stefan Loeffler about optical communication. In the first episode, we looked at “what is optical communication?” and “how does optical communication work?” This week we dig deeper into some of the latest optical communication techniques and advances in the industry as well as the use of fiber optic cable in electronics and long-range telecommunication networks.

Video version (YouTube):

 

Audio Version:

 

Discussion Overview:

 

Installation of optical fiber and maintenance of optical fiber

We can use optical communication techniques such as phase multiplexing

There’s a race between using more colors and higher bitrates to increase data communication rates.

Indium doped fiber amplifiers can multiply multiple channels at different colors on the same optical PHY.

You can use up to 80 colors on a single fiber optic channel! 3:52

How is optical communication similar to RF? Optical communication is a lot like WiFi 4:07

Light color in optical fiber is the equivalent of carrier frequencies in RF

 

How do we increase the data rate in optical fiber?

There are many multiplexing methods such as multicore, wavelength division, and polarization 4:50

Practically, only two polarization modes can be used at once. The limiting factor is the separation technology on the receiver side. 6:20

But, this still doubles our bandwidth!

What about dark fiber? Dark fiber is the physical piece of optical fiber that is unused. 7:07

Using dark fiber on an existing optical fiber is the first step to increasing fiber optic bandwidth.

But wavelengths can also be added.

Optical C-band vs L-band 7:48

Optical C-band was the first long-distance band. It is now joined by the L-band.

Is there a difference between using different colors and different wavelengths?

Optical fibers are a light show for mosquitos! 8:30

 

How do we fix optical fibers? 10:36

For short distances, an OTDR or visual light fault detectors are often used by sending red light into a fiber and lights up when there’s a break in the fiber

 

Are there other ways to extend the amount of data we can push through a fiber? 11:35

Pulses per second can be increased, but we will eventually bleed into neighboring channels

Phase modulation is also used

PAM-4 comes into play with coding (putting multiple bits in a symbol)

And QAM which relies on both amplitude and phase modulation

PAM-4 test solutions

How do we visualize optical fibers?  14:05

We can use constellation diagrams which plot magnitude and phase

 

Do we plan for data error? 15:00

Forward error correction is used, but this redundancy involves significant overhead

 

QAM vs PAM

64 Gigabot (QAM-64) was the buzzword at OFC 2017 16:52

PAM is used for shorter links while QAM is used for longer links

 

How do we evaluate fiber? 18:02

We can calculate cost per managed bit and energy per managed bit

Energy consumption is a real concern 18:28

 

The race between copper and fiber 19:13

Fiber wins on long distance because of power consumption

But does fiber win on data rate?

Google Fiber should come to Colorado Springs…and Germany!

To compensate for the loss of the signal on the distance, you push more power in for transmitting and decrypting

Fibers attenuate the signal much less than copper does

But the problem comes when we have to translate the signal back into electrical on the receiving end

Is there a break-even point with fiber and copper? 22:15

 

Optical communication technology in the future

What speed are we at now and what’s the next technology? 23:05

600 G technology will be here eventually

We can expect 1.5 years between iterations in bandwidth. This is really slow in terms of today’s fast-paced technology.

We typically see 100 G speeds today

 

Predictions 26:00

 

All About ASICs – #10

Chip sage and ASIC planner Mike Beyers discusses the challenges and trends in integrated circuit design in this week’s electrical engineering podcast.

Hosted by Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman, EEs Talk Tech is a twice-monthly engineering podcast discussing tech trends and industry news from an electrical engineer’s perspective.

The future will be built using ASICs! Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman sit down with chip sage and planner Mike Beyers to discuss the challenges of building custom application specific integrated circuits. This podcast was inspired by the blog post “Creating an ASIC – Our Quest to Make the Best Cheap Oscilloscope

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Audio version:

Discussion Overview:

We’re finally a real podcast now!

What is an ASIC? An ASIC is an application specific integrated circuit, an IC designed for a specific task.

Why do we use ASICs?

ASIC architecture 101 2:46
The main specification people talk about is the size smallest thing you can find on a chip – like the gate of a CMOS transistor

Effective gate length is shorter than the gate length drawn because of the manufacturing  process.

Another key spec is how many transistors you can fit in a square mm
Metal layers for interconnects are also more important, but can cause the mask sets to be more expensive
Do we care more about a gate’s footprint or its depth? 4:11

Will Moore’s Law hit a ceiling? 4:29
What about using three dimensional structures? 5:37
Is Moore’s Law just a marketing number? 5:51

Does technology ever slow down? 6:29

Power is often the largest limiter 6:58
Google builds data centers next to hydroelectric dams 7:34
Battery power 7:43
Power drives cost 7:53

How does the power problem affect ASICs? 8:25
There are power integrity and thermal management concerns
Dedicated routes on an ASIC vs switching on an FPGA 8:14

Who actually uses ASICs? 10:14
IOT technology – 7 nm and 14nm chips

A lot of people are using older technology because it’s much more affordable (like 45 nm)

ASICs on your bike could be a thing? 11:16
SRAM wireless electronic bike shifters 11:57
Is bike hacking a real thing? Yes! Encrypted wireless communication helps prevent it.

Is an opamp (operational amplifier) an ASIC?

What to consider when investing in an ASIC 13:23
What’s the next best alternative to building this ASIC?
With an ASIC, you can often drive lower cost, but you also increase performance and  reliability
Is there a return on investment? 14:24

What happens when Moore’s Law hits a dead end with transistors? 14:46
Could we replace electrical with optical? 15:30
Is it possible that there other fundamental devices out there, waiting to be discovered? 16:20
The theoretical fourth device, the memristor 17:00

Will analog design ever die? Mike was told to get into digital design.

Non-binary logic could be the future 18:23

If someone wants and ASIC, how do they get one? 18:50
In-house design vs. external fabs/foundries, total turnkey solutions vs. the foundry model

You can get a cheaper chip by going to a larger architecture, but the chip will run hotter and slower.

RTL – Most common code languages Verilog or VHDL vs. higher level languages like C 22:50

Behavioral Verilog vs. Structural Verilog 24:00

The history of Keysight ASICs 25:45

Predictions 28:40
How to connect with us 29:00

Optical 101 – #9

How does optical communication work? We sit down with Stefan Loeffler to discuss the basics of optics and its uses for electrical engineering.

Optical communication 101 – learn about the basics of optics! Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman interview Stefan Loeffler.

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Discussion overview:

Similarities between optical and electrical

Stefan was at OFC
What is optics? 1:21
What is optical communication? 1:30
There’s a sender and a receiver (optical telecommunication)
Usually we use a 9 um fiber optic cable, but sometimes we use lasers and air as a medium

The transmitter is typically a laser
LEDs don’t work for optical

Optical fiber alignment is challenging, and is often accomplished using robotics

How is optical different from electrical engineering?

Photodiodes act receivers, use a transimpedance amplifier. It is essentially “electrical in, electrical out” with optical in the middle.

Optical used to be binary, but now it’s QAM 64

Why do we have optical communication?
A need for long distance communication led to the use of optical.
Communication lines used to follow train tracks, and there were huts every 80 km. So, signals could be regenerated every 80 km.

In the 1990s, a new optical amplifier was introduced.

Optical amplifier test solutions

Signal reamplifcation vs. signal regeneration

There’s a .1 dB per km loss in modern fiber optic cable 11:20
This enables undersea fiber optic communication, which has to be very reliable

How does undersea communication get implemented?
Usually by consortium: I-ME-WE SEA-ME-WE

AT&T was originally a network provider

What is dark fiber (also known as dark fibre)?
Fiber is cheap, installation and right-of-way is expensive

What happens if fiber breaks?

Dark fiber can be used as a sensor by observing the change in its refractive index

Water in fiber optic line is bad, anchors often break fiber optic cable 17:30

Fiber optic cable can be made out of a lot of different things

Undersea fiber has to have some extra slack in the cable
Submarines are often used to inspect fiber optic cable

You can find breaks in the line using OTDR – “Optical time domain reflectometry”

A “distributed reflection” means a mostly linear loss. The slope of the reflection tells you the loss rate.

The refractive index in fiber optic cable is about 1.5

Latency and delay 23:00
The main issue is the data processing, not the data transmission

A lot of optical engineers started in RF engineering 24:00

Environmental factors influence the channel, these include temperature, pressure, and physical bends
Recently thunderstorms were found to have an effect on the fiber channel

Distributed fiber sensing is used drilling

Polarization in fiber, polarization multiplexing techniques
Currently, we’re using 194 THz, which gives 50 nm windows

Future challenges for optical 28:25
It’s cost driven. Laying fiber is expensive. And, when all dark fiber is being used, you have to increase bandwidth on existing fiber.

Shannon relation 30:00

Predictions 31:10

Watch the previous episode here!