Amazing, from 2″ to 17″ wafer sizes in 35 years!

February 9, 2007

In January my son, Steve, popped into the Intel museum in Santa Clara, California to look at the 4004 display mentioned in a previous post.

He came back with various photos some of which showed how semiconductor wafer sizes have increased over the last 30 years. This is the most interesting one.

1969 2-inch wafer containing the 1101 static random access memory (SRAM) which stored 256 bits of data.

1972 3-inch wafer containing 2102 SRAMswhich stored 1024 bits of data.

1976 4-inch wafer containing 82586 LAN co-processors.

1983 6-inch wafer containing 1.2 million transistor 486 microprocessors

1993 8-inch wafer containing 32Mbit flash memory.

2001 12-inch wafer containing Pentium 4 microprocessors moving to 90 nanometer line widths.

Bringing the subject of wafer sizes up to date, here is a photo of an Intel engineer holding a recent 18-inch (450mm) wafer! The photo was taken by a colleague of mine at the Materials Integrity Management Symposium – sponsored by Entegris, Stanford CA June 2006.

The wafer photo on the left is a 5″ wafer from a company that I worked for in the 1980s called European Silicon Structures (ES2). They offered low-cost ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) prototypes using electron beam beam lithography rather than the more ubiquitous optical lithography of the time. The technique never really caught on as it was uneconomic, however I did come across the current use of such machines in a Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden if I remember rightly.

If you want to catch up with all the machinations in the semiconductor world take a look at ChipGeek.


An update on the art of pitching…

January 23, 2007

An excellent overview on the art of pitching to potential investors can be found on Guy Kawasaki’s blog written by Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Venture.

“Endless articles, books, and blogs have been written on the topic of business plan presentations and pitching to investors. In spite of this wealth of advice, almost every entrepreneur gets it wrong. Why? Because most guides to pitching your company miss the central point: The purpose of your pitch is to sell, not to teach. Your job is to excite, not to educate. “

Take a read; it contains a lot of sense.

Here are some of the points that I believe to be important:

  • What is the industry pain you are solving? This is often not articulated early enough or never at all leaving question marks in the recipients head as to what problem you are solving. The natural follow on to this is to show how your company provides an answer! The bigger the pain and the more unaddressed it is the better of course!
  • Are you just another clone? The world is already full of successful and wanabe companies in many sectors – VoIP, web conferencing and social networks to name but three. Why are you different and why will you succeed? IMHO, if you are, you have a significant challenge ahead. Uniqueness can be a problem as well, but rather that than being #75 in a particular segment.
  • Be clear right up front WHAT YOU DO. You’d be surprised in how many presentations the audience is still confused about thi9s half an hour into the flow.
  • Pick up on what the listener wants to hear. Are they looking for that YouTube world beater and nothing else is of interest to them? Are they cynical about your channel to market or the difficulty you might have selling to carriers?
  • Demonstrate that you know about the competitive landscape. Talk about competitors knowledgably and about the challenges you face in getting your product sold. Show your experience and that you are not naïve.
  • Make sure the presenter shows PASSION and ENTHUSIASM. Start-ups are principally about people and if the presentation is dull, boring and goes on and on it will not go down well.
  • Don’t spend 1/2 hour on the first slide. So easy to do, especially if questions are asked. Make sure you keep to your time slot and avoid using it all up on the first few slides. This happens time and time again. Of course if they want to spend hours and hours with that’s great!
  • Don’t use unexplained acronyms. In fact don’t use them at all if you can avoid it. You are not presenting to industry experts and they will probably not know what they mean. This is so often the case in telecoms presentations. If you do use them, always provide an explanation. I’ve seen slides stuffed with not-obvious acronyms.
  • Look for audience body language Look at your audience to gauge feedback and provide guidance for what to say. I was at a presentation last year where one of the audience left the room and the presenter didn’t even notice!
  • Never say “I’ll answer that question in a minute”. Answer it there and then but succinctly as nine times out of ten you never get round to it.
  • Get the balance right between technology and business. If you spend too much on early slides, business and finance stuff often gets forgotten.
  • Practice. It really does help.
  • Don’t rely on them having a live Internet connection for a demo. Getting this set up will be a distraction at a crucial time. Have it as a demo on a PC as getting the projector to work will be difficult enough!
  • Have a backup. For both notebook and the principle presenter.

And I thought it was all so easy. Come to think of it, maybe the above are all mistakes I’ve made over the years!


Default editor in Outlook 2007 is Word?

January 18, 2007

I’ve just been reading an interesting newsletter from Kevin Yank at sitepoint called Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007.

And, according to Kevin:

While the IE team was soothing the tortured souls of web developers everywhere with the new, more compliant Internet Explorer 7, the Office team pulled a fast one, ripping out the IE-based rendering engine that Outlook has always used for email, and replacing it with … drum roll please … Microsoft Word.

That’s right. Instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer 7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS that is built into Word 2007 to display HTML email messages.

Now, everyone who does any HTML editing knows that any programme within the Microsoft Office suite produces the most awful HTML code imaginable and nothing has been done in with Outlook HTML rendering for years.

The newsletter talks about many areas of incompatibility but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at actually how much bloat these MS apps add to simple HTML code. So I created a Hello world! text in a single-celled table to compare. The results are shown below:

Simple html (92)

<table border=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″>
<tr>
<td>Hello world!</td>
</tr>
</table>

Frontpage (187 – 103% bloat)

<table border=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ style=”border-collapse: collapse” bordercolor=”#111111″>
<tr>
<td width=”100%”><span lang=”en-gb”>Hello world!</span></td>
</tr>
</table>

Word (517 – 461% bloat)

<style>
<!–
table.MsoTableGrid
{border:1.0pt solid windowtext;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
}
–>
</style>
<p><span lang=”en-gb”>Word</span></p>
<table class=”MsoTableGrid” border=”1″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ style=”border-collapse: collapse; border: medium none”>
<tr>
<td width=”113″ valign=”top” style=”width: 3.0cm; border: 0.0pt solid windowtext; padding-left: 5.4pt; padding-right: 5.4pt; padding-top: 0cm; padding-bottom: 0cm”>
<p class=”MsoNormal”>Hello world!</td>
</tr>
</table>

Excel (572 – 521% bloat)

<table x:str border=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ width=”64″ style=”border-collapse:
collapse;width:48pt”>
<colgroup>
<col width=”64″ style=”width:48pt”>
</colgroup>
<tr height=”17″ style=”height:12.75pt”>
<td height=”17″ width=”64″ style=”height: 12.75pt; width: 48pt; color: windowtext; font-size: 10.0pt; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; font-family: Arial; text-align: general; vertical-align: bottom; white-space: nowrap; border: medium none; padding-left: 1px; padding-right: 1px; padding-top: 1px”>
Hello world!</td>
</tr>
</table>

Even I’m surprised about the 500+ bloat! with Excel. Personally I would never use Word as an HTML editor and I would certainly never use it as the default editor for Outlook – it’s the 5 minute load time as much as the awful HTML editing that bugs me!

If anyone has comments or solutions about this issue, pleaselet me know and I’ll pass it along.


Explanations about how certain companies can offer ‘free’ international calls

January 12, 2007

On TechCrunch today is an interesting post Complicated Laws = Free Calls about a new service that offers free calls to many ‘foreign countries’ (that’s you and me in the UK by the way).

It’s the comments that are well worth a read, as there some good explanations of the bizarre regulations that make this possible. The UK has had its own selection of companies and its own curious regulations for some time.


Cable & Wireless’ new logo – see it here first!

January 10, 2007

Well, I couldn’t resist taking a drive over to the C&W Bracknell campus to take a look at the new logo. So here they are. Everyone will have thier own opinion, so I’ll leave it to you to make comments below!

This is the sign at one of the car parks.

and the two receptions at Bracknell.


To see a history of C&W logos – C&W rebranding?


C&W rebranding?

January 10, 2007

I heard on the grapevine the other day that C&W is in the process of rebranding. Now I don’t know whether that is for the global business or just the UK arm. It seems that the ‘deathstar’ has finally died. I see this is a very sad day, breaking yet another link with the old pre 2000 C&W we all knew so well. The signs are already up in Bracknell I here? The new branding can be seen here.

Evidently, the logo is being replaced with Cable&Wireless with no spaces and a selection of pastel shades as a background. Interestingly, employees are allowed to choose their own colour as a background!

However, time do have to change and I remember the furore when Mercury in the UK was told to change their name and logo to that of C&W by Dick Brown. It was the end of the world I seem to remember! However, the company survived to live another day.

I guess there was a similar rumpus when the deathstar logo itself was brought in to replace the original ‘snail’ logo adopted when C&W was privatised along with British Telecom all those years ago. I understand the adoption took place around the end of 1967 or early 1968.

I guess if it helps the company to turn around and achieve success then I’m all for it, as long as it didn’t cost too much! Do you remember the old rumour that C&W spent $1m acquiring cw.com back in 2000. It’s good to remember that original C&W web site started under the desk of Russ Ede in Group Development as the Board at the time did not understand what the Internet was all about!

Just to complete the logo history, on the left is the two globes the Imperial pre-privitisation days. The one on the right was used by the Exiles club and was known as the red horse for pretty obvious reasons. A colleague mentioned that the telegraphic address of the company back then was Empiregram. Those were the days!


The real consequence of six years of change

January 8, 2007

For the last few years of the 90s I managed a web site which for some reason I called cipx.net – Carrier IP Xchange (IP is Internet Protocol not Intellectual Property!). The site was an attempt to get to grips the phenomenal number of companies supplying the communications community with IP equipment and software. It was also an attempt to categorise them so that I could understand which companies operated in a particular market sector. It was also useful to see who the existing competition was for a start-up.

This proved to be a rather difficult exercise as companies had a propensity to not define what they did too tightly on their web sites, an approach that we still see today. You can easily speculate as to why this should be!

In those days, many companies were not even supplying IP based stuff as they had still not recognised the tsunami nature of this new IT derived protocol. This web site eventually totalled many hundreds if not thousands of companies with all the technology bubble start-ups. It certainly felt that way in the optical / photonic sector!

I’ve recently decided to resurrect this site on TechnolgySpectra but it’s proving to be an interesting challenge that will take me a few months to complete I suspect.

It’s not only that I needed to get rid of just Enron by going through each and every link, but hundreds of other companies that I can categorise as follows:

• Companies that are still operating as an independent operation
• Companies that have merged – several times sometimes!
• Companies whose domain cannot be found
• Companies whose domains are now held by 3rd party and advertising God knows what.

I even had half a dozen stealth companies in the “What do they do” section but I’ll never know what as all the URLs bounced.

Also, some of the categories have a folklore sort of feel to them such as ASP services, eStore, eTailers, catalogue shopfronts, terabit switching (BTW, I noticed that the 1st terabit HD was announced yesterday), bandwidth exchanges and WAP. I guess these all need updating over time.

It’s not only companies that are affected but forums as well. I do have to smile to see that the ATM forum is now the MFA Forum and looks at MPLS, Frame Relay and ATM technologies! All those years of telling everyone that ATM was dead! Now, what was Bill Gates favourite saying?

This is going to take me some time!