Professor Melvin Breuer holds a tray of defective chips, part of a batch of 1000 donated by a manufacturer. The specially configured computer behind him allows the chips to be use-tested without being soldered into a board. Breuer is devising new test algorithms that will be able to identify potentially usable defective chips accurately.
Flawed Hardware Can Function Well in Many Applications, USC Researchers Find
Computer chip manufacturers traditionally have had a single, simple standard for their product: perfection. But a USC engineer who has spent his career devising ways to have chips test themselves has found that less than perfect is sometimes good enough — possibly good enough to save billions of dollars. "Chips with any flaws at all have always been discarded," said Melvin A. Breuer, a professor in the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical Engineering. "And this significantly increases the cost for the good ones."
When manufacturers start making a complex chip, a very large percentage are faulty, Breuer explained. The percentage goes down as manufacturing techniques improve, he added, but "by the time the technique is thoroughly mastered, the chip is on its way to being obsolete." Some chip designers try to cut the losses by designing redundancy into the circuits, so that when circuitry fails, other circuitry can take its place. Even with these measures (and they have costs), large numbers of chips wind up as extremely expensive industrial waste.
Eric Mankin | EurekAlert!
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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