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Editor’s Choice: Our Top 10 News Articles of 2023

December 31, 2023 by Jeff Child

Looking back on the year, here’s a review of the most popular News articles on All About Circuits.

2023 was another exciting year of technology news, with everything from semiconductor lithography innovations to amplifiers for 6G comms. Our goal is to cover the most important and interesting news related to electronics engineering.

Although artificial intelligence (AI) was prevalent throughout our news coverage this year, interestingly those weren’t on our list of the most popular. See my look at the 2023 AI trend in my Top Trends article from earlier this week.

 

2023 All About Circuits Top News Articles

Image from Adobe Stock (licensed)

 

Here, I present the most popular All About Circuits news article from each of our regular writers. Most of these articles are in our main area of our coverage, including chips, design tools, and other electronic components. But a couple board-level news stories also made the cut.

 

Nvidia Rolls Out Computational Lithography Software Suite

As semiconductor nodes shrink and chip designs become more complex, so too has the compute needs of the algorithmic modeling involved in these processes. Addressing those demands, Nvidia rolled out a new software library for computational lithography at its March 2023 GTC event.

 

cuLITHO is a library that accelerates computational lithography and is meant to be embedded into OPC software. cuDOP is for diffractive optics and cuCompGeo is for computational geometry, cuOASIS for optimization, and cuHierarchy for AI.

cuLITHO is a library that accelerates computational lithography and is meant to be embedded into OPC software. cuDOP is for diffractive optics and cuCompGeo is for computational geometry, cuOASIS for optimization, and cuHierarchy for AI. Image used courtesy of Nvidia

 

Called cuLitho, the suite is an extension of Nvidia’s CUDA library optimized for the workloads associated with computational lithography. It consists of tools and algorithms for GPU acceleration and claims to speed up the manufacturing process for semiconductors by orders of magnitude over CPU-based methods.

Nvidia claimed a 40x speed up of inverse lithography with cuLitho, resulting in 3x to 5x more masks being generated per day than possible with CPU systems.

Check out the article here:

NVIDIA Unveils cuLitho: A “Breakthrough in Computational Lithography”

 

Meminductor Emerges as the Third “Mem” Component

It’s not every year that a new type of electronic component makes its debut. You may have heard of memresistanance and memcapacitance? Earlier this year, researchers at Texas A&M demonstrated “meminductances,” opening the door to a new circuit element: the meminductor.

Our article on this news explains how the meminductive behavior was discovered by the researchers. The story also discusses how the completed trinity of “mem” devices could prove useful in the future.

 

The simulated and experimental setups for the meminductor demonstrated the ability to remove the effects of resistance and provided experimental evidence of meminductance.

The simulated and experimental setups for the meminductor demonstrated the ability to remove the effects of resistance and provided experimental evidence of meminductance. Image used courtesy of Nature Scientific Reports

 

To create an experimental meminductor, the Texas A&M group needed a mechanism that could passively modify inductance in relation to the applied current. The team placed an air-wound coil on a rod that partially contained a ferromagnetic material between two magnets. As the current through the coil changed, the coil moved in relation to the ferromagnetic rod, changing the inductance.

Learn more about it in the article here:

Texas A&M Discovers New Circuit Element: The Meminductor

 

Intel Glass Substrate Packaging Technology Eyes a Chiplet Future

The substrate is a key puzzle piece in the making of ICs. Advancing that technology forward, in early fall, Intel announced a new glass-substrate technology geared for the next generation of high-power processors.

 

Glass substrate system-in-package prototypes.

Glass substrate system-in-package prototypes. Images used courtesy of Intel

 

Although glass substrates are not a new concept, they typically have been used for the smallest of chips. Intel’s new offering is designed to marry the thermal advantages of glass substrates properties and other improved substrate characteristics to its largest chips with a newly developed large glass substrate technology.

The article explains how glass substrate technology has advantages over organic substrates in a chiplet situation. For instance, the smooth glass surface enables tighter design rules for the interconnects, which means a greater interconnect density—much needed in chiplets.

Check out the article here:

Intel Develops Glass Substrate for Next-Gen Advanced Chip Packaging Needs

 

Spice Up Your Designs With Free QSPICE

Although it’s been around since the ‘70s, the industry-standard in-circuit simulation scheme is still some version of SPICE. Failure rates using SPICE have long been a problem. Aiming to fix this issue, this summer Qorvo rolled out QSPICE, a new circuit simulation software built specifically with analog and power designers in mind.

 

QSPICE is a modern simulation solution for power and analog designers.

QSPICE is a modern simulation solution for power and analog designers. Image used courtesy of Qorvo


Offered free for download, the company says QSPICE uses advanced numerical methods in its simulation engine to increase the speed and accuracy of modern computing hardware, like SSD-aware memory management and GPU-based UIs.

Qorvo reports that QSPICE reduces simulation runtimes and achieves a 100% completion rate, a significant feat compared to standard simulation failure rates of up to 15%. You can read more about it here:

Qorvo Releases Free Circuit Simulation Software, QSPICE

 

Motor Control ICs Marry Embedded MCU and Rich Power Functions

Today’s automobiles have extremely demanding requirements when it comes to power circuitry and control integration. Infineon took those challenges straight on with its August announcement of its TLE988x and TLE989x families of MCU-embedded power ICs for highly-integrated power electronics.

 

The TLE988x and TLE989x (shown) families of MCU-embedded power ICs combine compute, communications, and power-driving capabilities into a single package.

The TLE988x and TLE989x (shown) families of MCU-embedded power ICs combine compute, communications, and power-driving capabilities into a single package. Image used courtesy of Infineon

 

For its part, the TLE988x offers H-bridge control with the integrated gate driver, allowing designers to control up to four external power transistors to accomplish two-phase motor control. A built-in 32-bit Arm Cortex-M3 processor enables general-purpose computing on-chip. 

Meanwhile, the TLE989x, supports three-phase motor control, giving the designer control over six external power transistors. Read about the ICs here:

Infineon Puts More Under the Hood of New MCU-embedded Power ICs

 

Don’t Forget the Humble Resistor, Capacitor, and Inductor

It’s true that passive components such as resistors, capacitors, and inductors don’t usually capture their share of headlines. But this article definitely made it into our top 10 of highest pageview articles. 

This roundup article covers a trio of passive components newly released. First is Stackpole Electronics’s RMEF series of general-purpose thick-film chip resistors. They are said to offer all the benefits of thick-film technology, including cost and performance, while being completely RoHS compliant.

 

Würth Elektronik’s PFC inductor family.

Würth Elektronik’s PFC inductor family. Image used courtesy of Würth Elektronik

 

The second product is Kyocera AVX’s family of SCM double-layer, series-connected supercapacitor modules. They feature an equivalent series resistance (ESR) as low as 2.5 mΩ. Last but not least, the article covers Würth Elektronik’s expanded line WE-TORPFC toroidal power factor correction (PFC) chokes. The line grew to include 17 new parts suitable for continuous-conduction mode (CCM) boost converters.

Check out the story here:

Würth Elektronik’s PFC inductor family. Image used courtesy of Würth Elektronik

 

Tiny 100 GHz Amplifier IC Paves the Way to 6G

As communications networks build out 5G and eye next-gen 6G systems, achieving efficient reliable data transmission is a constant challenge. Serving those needs, in early 2023 NTT Corporation announced a new amplifier IC module that offers high amplification performance all the way up to the 100 GHz bandwidth.

 

Photo of the baseband amplifier IC using InP HBT technology.
Photo of the baseband amplifier IC using InP HBT technology. Image courtesy of NTT

 

Our article about the new device discusses the demands of high-frequency amplification, why it’s needed in 5G and 6G networks, and how NTT's amplifier can help.

NTT’s technology was based on two major innovations: the use of InP-based heterojunction bipolar transistor (InP HBT) technology and advanced packaging mounting to incorporate a DC block function into the IC. Find out more by reading the article here:

Targeting 6G, “World’s First” Compact Amplifier IC Breaks 100 GHz

 

What’s That in the Sky? A Tiny Rocket Thruster Based on MEMS

When we think of space rockets, it’s easy to first think of huge towering thrusters fed by large tanks of fuel. Newer ion and electric propulsion systems now exist as an alternative, but even these are too large for the emerging class of nano and pico satellites that weigh less than 10 kg.

Addressing this need, this fall the ESA (European Space Agency) tested a micro rocket thruster aimed at these nano and pico satellite applications. The device was designed by a team at The Imperial College of London.

 

ICE-Cube thruster designed for nano satellites.

ICE-Cube thruster designed for nano satellites. Image courtesy of ESA

 

The new thruster, dubbed ICE-Cube (Iridium Catalysed Electrolysis CubeSat Thruster), uses electrolysis to separate hydrogen and oxygen out of water. It then recombines the gasses in a combustion chamber less than 1 mm in length. So small, in fact, that it requires use of a MEMs fabrication process.

Learn about this innovation in our article here:

ESA Demos MEMs Rocket Thruster That’s as Small as a Coin


These next two articles stray from the core coverage of All About Circuits in that they aren’t about the normal chip-oriented topics we focus on. These are news articles about board-level products, and in particular ones aimed at the hobbyist arena.

All that said, the popularity of these next two articles shows the broad interest of you readers—or maybe headlines with “Raspberry Pi” and “Arduino” in them get an automatic bump.


Raspberry Pi Stockpile Issue Addressed to Keep the Supply Chain Filled

Raspberry Pi SBCs are mostly used by hobbyists, but there’s a growing set of add-ons being used by professional engineers. During the pandemic and associated silicon shortage of 2021, Raspberry Pi products were going out of stock.

 

Close-up view of PiBeam

Close-up view of PiBeam. Image used courtesy of Kickstarter

 

To make these products available again, this summer Raspberry Pi CEO, Eben Upton, announced that Sony will help to stockpile the non-silicon parts of Raspberry Pi. This article talks about this news, along with a couple announcements of some new Raspberry Pi products at the time.

These include the PiBeam, an IR transceiver based on the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, and Seeed Studio's upgrade of its reTerminal device called reTerminal DM, a Raspberry Pi-powered HMI device.

Read the article here:

As Raspberry Pi Products are Restocked in Thousands, New Designs Emerge

 

UNO R4 Becomes the Newest Addition to the Arduino UNO Family

On par with Raspberry Pi, Arduino is among the most popular and well-known electronics platforms. Back in March of this year, Arduino added to its  popular UNO family when it announced the UNO R4.

 

Arduino UNO R4.

Arduino UNO R4. Image used courtesy of Arduino

 

Our article goes over the features and capabilities of the Arduino UNO R4 as well as the hardware that underlies it. The UNO R4 is powered by the Renesas RA4M1 32-bit MCU based on an Arm Cortex-M4 core. This contrasts it with UNO R3, which was built on the AVR-based ATmega328P. By using an Arm core, the UNO R4 offers a 3x boost in performance—including an increase in processing power, memory, and functionality.

Check out the article here:

Arduino Welcomes a New Addition to the UNO Family: The UNO R4

 

Tell Us Which 2023 All About Circuits News Articles Were Your Favorites!

Page view numbers tell us good information, but we want to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments below. Tell us which 2023 articles you enjoyed the most, and what you’d like to see more of in 2024. See you in the new year!