R. Colin Johnson of EETimes has shared his choices of 10 redefining technologies for the electronics industry. While the full list includes several software-related trends, many of the technologies listed will have significant impact on electronic design.
I have been cast in the role of technology prognosticator at various times in my career. It can be an entertaining pastime over a few beers with friends, although the stakes can rise dramatically when corporate strategy hangs in the balance.
It's nice to be able to slum off someone else's work in identifying key technologies for a change. With thanks to Mr. Johnson, I'll just add my two cents on the ones I think will have the most impact electronic design and why:
- Death of the PC -- I commented on this one already in an earlier blog. 'Nuff said.
- Death of the Disk Drive -- As mass storage migrates to lighter, faster, and lower power devices, it will certainly enable new products and maybe entirely new product categories, as well.
- Stretchable Electronics Flexes Muscles -- The idea of flexible substrates has been around for a while. As I look at DesignCon papers addressing how properties of PCB materials and layout geometries can affect circuit performance, I can only wonder at the challenge of analyzing the effects when boards are allowed to flex.
- 3D Chips -- I've said before that DesignCon is for those who design chips and those who design with chips. The impact on chip designers is obvious. For those who design with chips, this could lead to another order-of-magnitude increase in the level of functionality possible in a single chip.
- Graphene to Supersede Silicon -- This one seems the farthest out to me, but could have the most profound impact of all. When you think of how much in current electronic design is premised on supporting silicon-based ICs, you realize how moving to graphene changes everything.
There's my take. By my own recollections -- which are impossible to refute, of course -- I'm generally correct concerning what will happen in the world of emerging technologies. The trickier part is predicting when a new technology will take hold and have an impact in the marketplace.
I arranged the list in my best-guess chronological order of when we will feel the impact of each technology. Perhaps not coincidentally, the degree of impact rises as the list progresses, at least by my estimate.
This is where you come in, oh cherished reader. Maybe you see some of these technologies affecting your work already, or maybe your company's role in developing one of them gives you special insight. In any case, this is your invitation to polish your crystal ball and join the fun.