Updated: 5/16/2006; 11:18:34 AM.

Ken Novak's Weblog
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daily link  Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Sun Power wins contract for Oroville solar power project: "San Rafael-based Sun Power & Geothermal Energy Inc. said Monday it won an $8.4 million contract to design and build a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic system for the Butte County Center [administration building and 2 jails] in Oroville. .. Four solar arrays made of more than 9,000 185-watt modules will generate all power for the buildings. Funding for the system will be matched 50 percent by a renewable energy rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric Co." Projected operation: June 2004 (8 months install). $8.40/watt total system cost.  By my calcuations, that's a simple payback period of 30-40 years.  Total system installed cost would have to drop by 4x to compete without subsidy with the PGE grid.  11:32:05 PM  permalink  

5 Commandments:  Annotated history of laws from Moore, Metcalfe, and 3 others.  11:14:30 PM  permalink  

Stacking chips without wires and solder: "Everybody complains about the long wires on circuit boards that limit the speed of inter-chip communication. But, now engineers at Sun Microsystems [have] eliminated the need for them entirely.

Sunís solution is to put the chips close enough to one another so that they can communicate directly, without using wires at all. Called proximity communication, the technique is the brainchild of Sun vice president Ivan E. Sutherland, best known for cofounding Evans and Sutherland, a groundbreaking computer graphics company, back in the late 1960s.  The technique, explains Robert Drost, a principal investigator on the project, relies on capacitive coupling. "When two conducting structures are close to one another, an electrical signal on one of them causes an electrical signal to appear on the other," he says.

So, in place of the conventional output pads to which wires would be bonded, the engineers built an array of small metal plates, 50 nm on a side, above the top wiring layer of a chip, covering the entire chip with a micrometer-thick protective layer called a scratch coating. [When] two chips face to face so that the metal plates lined up, allowing the plates to communicate with their counterparts capacitively through two thicknesses of the scratch coating. To use this approach in a system with many chips an upper array of chips, spaced slightly less than a chip-width apart, would overlay a bottom array. The two arrays would be offset so that each corner of a chip in the upper array overlaps a corner of four chips in the lower array .. "That allows you to build a two-dimensional system of arbitrary size," Drost explains."

Advantages: higher data rates, lower power, and replacement of faulty chips without soldering. 

"No plans are yet in place to commercialize the technology. Sun is developing the technique under a contract with the U.S. DARPA.  .. More than one company is seeking ways to speed up interchip communications. In August 2002 Infineon Technologies AG announced a new method of connecting stacked ICs in 3-D packages .. The Infineon approach uses small copper pads on the tops of the chips and puts them face to face in the package .. with a thin layer of solder, making a direct electrical connection ..The first wafers to use this technology are being processed now with the first products expected in 2004."

  11:00:06 PM  permalink  

New wireless mouse doesn't need a pad: "The sensing element within the mouse is a vibrating metal beam that resembles a tiny tuning fork. Gyration says that when the device is rotated around either of the two axes, the vibrating beam reacts to the change in angular momentum. The severity of any reaction is measured and reported as a voltage change relative to a reference voltage. These fluctuations in voltage are, in turn, digitized and delivered as data that a computer can use to track the device's motion.

A rechargeable nickel-metal hydride battery can run the mouse for about 40 hours between charges. A charging cradle with a 120-V ac adapter and software for making it easier to control various popular PC programs are included. Ultra GT Keyboard Suite. Price: US $99.95 with keyboard; $79.95 for just the mouse and RF receiver http://www.gyration.com"

  10:50:26 PM  permalink  

Wireless Networks Gain Spectrum: Controversy over its usefulness over long distance: "The Federal Communications Commission set aside a new slice of airwaves yesterday for wireless Internet users, a move the agency said was designed to encourage the spread of high-speed data access in rural and other underserved areas. ..

Some public interest groups criticized the FCC's decision yesterday, saying the particular slice of airwaves targeted by the agency is not well suited for delivering a robust, high-speed data stream to a wide area. They argued that the 255 new frequencies can't carry a data stream capable of penetrating walls or even passing through leafy trees. .. But FCC officials said several start-up companies have already demonstrated that the new frequencies can deliver data over relatively long distances. "I have no idea where they get their information, but they [the signals] can go five miles," said Edmond Thomas, FCC chief of engineering and technology."

  10:45:08 PM  permalink  

US moves - quietly - toward a flat tax: Bush cuts and state tax increases almost eliminate the last bit of progressivity.  And a useful stat: "Between 1979 and 2000, the richest 1 percent enjoyed a 201 percent improvement in their average after-tax income. That compares with 15 percent for those in the middle 20 percent of the income spectrum and 9 percent for those in the bottom 20 percent."  10:30:01 PM  permalink  

Information Patterns - Toucan Navigate: "Toucan Navigate delivers maps and core GIS functionality to members of Groove shared spaces including: 1) Co-browsing or the ability to have entire teams seeing the same map concurrently regardless of their physical location. Zoom changes, panning or layer visibility are propagated to all space members. 2) Co-editing of map features and attributes, or the ability each member has to add, edit and delete map objects in a decentralized manner."  3:56:01 PM  permalink  

Informational Design - Dr. Sam Savage: Stanford author of a book and an Excel plug in for modelling.  Nice philosophy:

  • The Industrial Revolution .. involved harnessing the power of physics. To grasp the power of physics with our hands often requires an industrial designer to develop an appropriate handle. Some important handles include the steering wheel, the light switch and the typewriter keyboard.
  • [In the] Information Revolution, the power we are harnessing this time is not physical, but abstract and mathematical. The field of Informational Design is evolving to help us to grasp this power not with our hands but with our minds. Thus the goal of the informational designer is to develop a mindle. Some important recent mindles are:
    • Spreadsheet models, which allow us to grasp the results of different investment strategies 
    • Radar screens, which allow air traffic controllers to grasp the locations of aircraft 
    • Medical Imaging, which allows doctors to grasp what's going on inside our bodies 
  10:28:01 AM  permalink  

 

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Last update: 5/16/2006; 11:18:34 AM.