Die shrink: How Intel scaled down the 8086 processor
> The revolutionary Intel 8086 microprocessor was introduced 42 years ago this month so I’ve been studying its die. I came across two 8086 dies with different sizes, which reveal details of how a die shrink works. The concept of a die shrink is that as technology improved, a manufacturer could shrink the silicon die, reducing costs and improving performance. But there’s more to it than simply scaling down the whole die. Although the internal circuitry can be directly scaled down, external-facing features can’t shrink as easily. For instance, the bonding pads need a minimum size so wires can be attached, and the power-distribution traces must be large enough for the current. The result is that Intel scaled the interior of the 8086 without change, but the circuitry and pads around the edge of the chip were redesigned.
How Giant Ships Are Built
> Almost everything at this American shipyard exists at enormous scale. Vessels are constructed over years. Experience is developed over decades. The work is so spread out across the yard and over time that, to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell what is being hammered, wired or welded — and whether it’s right-side up or upside down.
> When finished, more than a hundred pieces are fused into a hulking mass of metal that will be set afloat to connect an ever-shrinking world.
Pictures from inside the German intelligence agency BND
> The German foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) is moving to a brand new headquarters in Berlin. Here we show some unique pictures from inside the former headquarters in the village of Pullach and also give an impression of what the new building looks like.
Extracting ROM constants from the 8087 math coprocessor's die
> I opened up an 8087 chip and took photos with a microscope. The photo below shows the chip’s tiny silicon die. Around the edges of the chip, tiny bond wires connect the chip to the 40 external pins. The labels show the main functional blocks, based on my reverse engineering. By examining the chip closely, various constants can be read out of the chip’s ROM, numbers such as pi that the chip uses in its calculations.
A Codebreaker's Dream: The Bombe!
> What is this, sporting dozens of colorful knobs, almost like a “turn-the-knob” toddler’s game at a playground in a nearest mall? This the awesome British Bombe electro-mechanical codebreaking machine which only had one purpose: to determine the rotor settings on the German cipher machine “ENIGMA” during WW2.
Animated optical illusions. These are very nice.
Tiny transformer inside: Decapping an isolated power transfer chip
> I saw an ad for a tiny chip that provides 5 volts of isolated power: You feed 5 volts in one side, and get 5 volts out the other side. What makes this remarkable is that the two sides can have up to 5000 volts between them. This chip contains a DC-DC converter and a tiny isolation transformer so there’s no direct electrical connection from one side to the other. I was amazed that they could fit all this into a package smaller than your fingernail, so I decided to take a look inside.
> “Japanese researchers are closing in on understanding why electrical storms have a positive influence on the growth of some fungi,” Physics World reported last month, with some interesting implications for agriculture.
Some cool pictures.
'Soviet Space Graphics' takes you inside the cosmic visions of the USSR
> One new book transports readers back to the early days of Soviet spaceflight with an unbelievable collection of stunning, colorful and nostalgic images. “Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR,” (Phaidon, 2020), released April 1, is a masterful compendium of images showcasing space design ideas from the then Soviet Union from the 1920s through the 1980s. It highlights the beauty of early space design in imaginative, colorful artworks.
OldNYC: Mapping Historical Photographs
Our Favorite Rides of 2019
> Every week The Wall Street Journal’s My Ride column profiles vehicles and their owners, with surprising back stories. Here’s a look back at 2019.
> A young Studebaker fan, a historic race car made newly famous by a Matt Damon movie and a Corvette expert’s Corvette are among the My Ride column’s highlights this year
Add a little Canada to your website
> hockey player checks out lumberjack while woman in Canadian tuxedo looks on in disbelief
All about the new ML Super Resolution feature in Pixelmator Pro
> To create the ML Super Resolution feature, we used a convolutional neural network. This type of deep neural network reduces raster images and their complex inter-pixel dependencies into a form that is easier to process (i.e. requires less computation) without losing important features (edges, patterns, colors, textures, gradients, and so on). The ML Super Resolution network includes 29 convolutional layers which scan the image and create an over-100-channel-deep version of it that contains a range of identified features. This is then upscaled, post-processed and turned back into a raster image. Below is a simplified representation of the neural network.
Not quite all about it, and there’s better references for the technique, but neat to see this trickle down to entry level photo editing.
The cutting-edge holiday cottages of Dungeness
> Dungeness is unusual both biologically and geologically: a cuspate foreland formed by the meeting of longshore drift from the north and west, there are 600 species of plants, abundant birdlife as well as moths and invertebrates not found elsewhere. Officials have designated it a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There’s a birdwatching centre, a miniature railway for day-trippers, two lighthouses and two pubs. And looming over it all, the power station — two of those in fact, opened in 1965 and 1983, sitting side-by-side on the beach.
> Recent years have brought an even more intriguing element to this unlikely mix: Dungeness is becoming a focus for pioneering architecture, as former fishermen’s shacks, coastguard cottages, industrial and military buildings are transformed into cutting-edge seaside retreats.
The wet bird
> This image won the March-April 2000 round of the Internet Ray-Tracing Competition, with the topic “City”
> There are many city pictures in Oyonale. Cities are a favourite subject of mine, so that the IRTC “City” topic was somehow perfect.Too perfect actually, because it came at a time when I was of tired of making urban pictures. I didn’t want to make another “something strange happens here” picture, or model another building. I wanted fresh ideas that would involve the use of new techniques.
> Of course, even with the city as the main attraction, the image still lacked concept. The Megapov documentation provided the solution: because meshes can be copied (almost) endlessly, they?re good candidates for motion blur. So here it was: the picture would be about New York (actually a fantasy twin), and it would involve a motion-blurred character. Since motion blur is primarily a photographic effect, it was another excuse to make the picture highly realistic. The character could be a ghost from the past : a human being, like a XIXe century lady, or even an animal. I briefly ran experiments with a deer, but I decided that I had made enough of “animals in the city” pictures. The character also could be a simple, hurried passer-by. In fact, I’m still not sure of what the blurred character really is.
Book Cover Archive
Covers of books.
A look inside the never-before-seen interior of San Francisco’s Ferry Building clock tower
Beware the shitty autoplaying videos. Support local news!
But some of the pictures are kinda cool.
An Incredible Move: The Indiana Bell Telephone Building
> The massive undertaking began on October 1930. Over the next four weeks, the massive steel and brick building was shifted inch by inch 16 meters south, rotated 90 degrees, and then shifted again by 30 meters west. The work was done with such precision that the building continued to operate during the entire duration of the move. All utility cables and pipes serving the building, including thousand of telephone cables, electric cables, gas pipes, sewer and water pipes had to be lengthened and made flexible to provide continuous service during the move. A movable wooden sidewalk allowed employees and the public to enter and leave the building at any time while the move was in progress. The company did not lose a single day of work nor interrupt their service during the entire period.
The role of posters in video game worldbuilding
> Symbolic of a larger universe, video game posters provide the gateway to a more expansive world.
Uzbekistan's opulent metro