Inside the 8086 processor, tiny charge pumps create a negative voltage
You might wonder how a charge pump can turn a positive voltage into a negative voltage. The trick is a “flying” capacitor, as shown below. On the left, the capacitor is charged to 5 volts. Now, disconnect the capacitor and connect the positive side to ground. The capacitor still has its 5-volt charge, so now the low side must be at -5 volts. By rapidly switching the capacitor between the two states, the charge pump produces a negative voltage.
Inside Nithurst Farm — an architect’s sci-fi dream
As you approach Nithurst Farm, architect Adam Richards’ new house, the sheep look up suspiciously from their grazing. You feel like an intruder. Sitting in the middle of the undulating Sussex countryside, the house looks more like a piece of railway viaduct or a bit of agricultural or industrial infrastructure left over from some obscure purpose than a conventional dwelling. It might even be a ruin, the stray remains of a Roman villa.
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.