The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) trade group recently released its 2006 Five Technologies to Watch.
Smaller, faster, cheaper
Fourth-generation silicon-germanium foundry technology from IBM dubbed 8HP boosts performance twofold over the company's previous 180-nm technology. Circuits made with the smaller 130-nm bipolar complementary metaloxide semiconductor (BiCMOS) process combine enhanced RF communications and analog functions with core digital computing capabilities of standard CMOS chips. A lower-cost variation of 8HP called 8WL extends battery life in cellular handsets and gives them more functions.
8HP targets applications that run at tens of gigahertz such as automotive radar for blindside detection and collision warning or advanced cruise control. Other potential applications include Wi-Fi chips for next-generation wireless personal-area networks and backbone nets, software-defined radios for cellular handsets that convert signals from the antenna directly into digital form, high-speed a/d and d/a converters for data acquisition, direct-to-baseband radio receivers, and signal synthesis. The technology is compatible with IBM's ASIC platform so it works with a wide range of proprietary circuit blocks and standard-cell library elements.