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Keynotes worth seeing at DesignCon 2020

Keynotes worth seeing at DesignCon 2020
Silicon photonics, fiber optic communications, design for chip-IP security and microsystems in NASA’s SOFIA project are just a few of the topics covered.

What do these topics have in common?

  1. The Future of Fiber Optic Communications: Datacenter and Mobile
  2. Design for Security: The Next Frontier of Smart Silicon
  3. Microchips in Space: How Device Design Enables Amazing Astronomy

The answer is that all use microchips and microsystems but in very different ways and for differing motivations.

In the first one, complex system-on-chips (SoC) are integrated with fiber optics to enable dizzyingly fast high-speed connections between processors, memory storage, and interfaces in data rooms and mobile devices across the world.

With so much going on in the world of fiber optic communications, it’s important for designers to keep up to date with the basic engineering issues. The catalyst for this interest is that the global fiber optics market is predicted to grow from 5 billion USD in 2018 to 9 billion USD by the end of 2025.

In his upcoming keynote at Designcon 2020, Chris Cole, VP of Advanced Development at II-VI, will discuss past trends and new developments in fiber optics for datacenter and mobile applications. Two ongoing trends are the replacement of copper wires by fiber optics in the data room as well as the replacement of direct detection by coherent detection in optical systems.

Cole will also explain the major limitations of power and density in communications, and new technologies like Silicon Photonics (SiPh) and co-packaging. Silicon photonics involves the study of optical properties of the group-IV semiconductor and how it can be used to generate, manipulate and detect light. Silicon is prevalent in photodetectors and solar cells, among other technologies.

To learn more, visit: The Future of Fiber Optic Communications: Datacenter

Image Source: Imec

The second topic considers Design for Security as a way to protect our design intellectual property (IP) as well as our personal data. A new “Design for X” (where X = security) methodology is needed to deal with today’s silicon threats.

“As we move into the everything-connected-all-the-time era of devices where much of our personal information is accessible, we move into an era where designing for security is crucial,” explains Warren Savage, Visiting Researcher, Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security, University of Maryland. “Imagine what it will mean to our industry if the public loses all trust in our connected IoT gadgets as more data breaches occur, exposing our bank accounts, medical information, and more.”

Image Source: DARPA

Designing for security is a very complex endeavor as it involves not only hardware and software but also the entire supply chain. The era of exponential data generation and access is exploding around us at such speed that designers will need to increase their portfolio of skills now to include security.

In the last several years, DARPA has focused on the security threat with several initiatives as the US government acknowledges the risk not only to our data and design IP but also to our national security. This concern seems justified by the ongoing attacks by unfriendly foreign powers on IoT devices, power infrastructures, businesses, local governments and even private citizens.

In his keynote, Savage will show the community how we got to where we are today – from the days of single-transistor designs to billion-transistor system-of-chip (SoC) platforms and how design-for-security must become a ubiquitous part of the future.

To learn more, visit: Design for Security: The Next Frontier of Smart Silicon

Finally, microchips in space looks at the fascinating applications of the rapidly evolving field of small, low power air and space electronics aboard drones, high-flying planes and small satellites. In this case, the application involves NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy or SOFIA in which a Boeing 747SP jetliner has been modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope with miniaturized, low power electronic microchips.

“Space is not only the final frontier, but also an infinite one,” explains Zaheer Ali, Product Assurance Manager at USRA (Universities Space Research Association) and Mission Operations of NASA’s SOFIA. “Human understanding and exploration of space is critical to both the growth and sustaining of humanity. My talk will discuss how micro devices help drive our understanding of space.”

Image Source: NASA

After hearing this keynote, attendees will have a better understanding of research devices used in astronomy and other space related research. In addition to the keynote, Ali will be a panelist with other experts sharing insights on how device design can drive progress in Industry 4.0.

To learn more, visit: Microchips in Space: How Device Design Enables Amazing Astronomy

Keynotes are a great way to gain a high-level insight into important topics. But how does one learn quickly about a lot of more specific subjects? By attending “lightning talks.” It’s like speed dating but with conference papers. Come listen to a collection of 7 to 10-minute conference paper presentations covering a variety of topics and tracks on power coupling, optical transceivers, device-less sensing, power supply noise, power estimation, signal integrity optimization and more.

There is still more to learn at Designcon2020. Here’s but the merest sampling of the technical topics that caught my attention:

Panel – Untangling Standards: The Challenges Inside the Box

Panel – EDA Roadmap for Machine Learning and AI Standardization

Panel – The Cat’s Out of the Box: Quantum Computing and Electronic Design

Panel – 800G & Beyond: Optical Transceiver Technology

Boot Camp – Relating SI and PI for High-Speed Digital Boards: FPGA DDR4 Case Study

Tutorials – Radiated Emissions: Debugging and Pre-Compliance Testing

Tutorial – Electronic/Photonic IC Design for 5G RF Applications

Tutorial – Introduction to the IEEE P370 Standard and It’s Applications for High-Speed Interconnect Characterization

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

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