SAN FRANCISCO — Big processors and fat memories used to dominate the headlines at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). Those chips were still present this year, but increasingly, a groundswell of slim sensors, wireless components, and other devices for the Internet of Things are on the rise here.
The event also hosted a session on embedded processors for deep learning (see pages 9 and 10 of this report). It was a fountain of fresh ideas in architecture for squeezing down the high-performance demands of still-evolving neural networks.
At the lowest end, Imec researcher Kris Myny showed an NFC barcode made up from 1,712 transistors on a plastic substrate (bottom of page).
“This was my pet project,” said Myny, who has attended the last nine ISSCC gatherings with increasingly sophisticated examples of his team’s work. “For a long time, I wanted to get data from flexible electronics into silicon in devices like smartphones — this year, we showed it’s really possible.”
Myny showed (above) a prototype electronic game using RFID-embedded cards developed in partnership with game maker Cartamundi, the Milton-Bradley of Belgium. No word on when or whether that demo might turn into a product.
Researchers have plenty of work ahead in plastic electronics. Future wearables will require much denser components to gather and process biological data. They also need some form of non-volatile memory, another huge challenge.
On the business side, Imec seeks display makers such as Taiwan’s AU Optronics, which was a partner in this work, to license and make the flexible devices. So there are plenty of opportunities for Myny to attend future ISSCC events.
Next page: Sigfox slashes IoT node costs
(Images: EE Times)