The Human Genome Project (HGP) was started in the late 1980’s with the goal of mapping all the chemical base pairs which make up DNA and mapping genes. It was expected to take 15 years and finished 7 years early. It’s even cheaper to sequence DNA now.
Biosense a non invasive anemia test. In the coming years, we may be able to detect more using electroplethysmography as the means to measure and diagnose other key indicators of health.
There are a few companies I believe are trying to build something like aHuman Data Project. The missing piece of the pie seems to be the ability to consolidate and donate my healthcare records the same way I might donate my organs. I was hoping to find a button like this somewhere on the internet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.
The goal would be to map records of the following for each human in the project.
People should be able anonymize their healthcare data and push it to a large database for the betterment of humanity.
I hope this at the very least creates a viable discussion about the Human Data Project(HDP) and its potential relevance moving forward. HN Thread Here:
TL;DR: IC design costs too much. There’s no version control in IC design, you can’t fork someone’s design, and the cost of failure is abnormally high. There’s no feedback loop for electronics commercialization. The cost of failure is too high. One company, Efabless, is fixing it all.
The Reality for many IC designers.
Academic and independent projects go to the graveyard. In many universities there is a clear process for “transferring” innovation to the commercial domains. When it comes to VLSI/Semiconductor education and research, it doesn’t seem to have a path for much effort, evident in “results” of learning as well as partially developed systems – SW or HW – including many prototyped chip.
A backlog of potential innovation and very real potential.
Depending on where you go in the world, the “results” are stored in drawers, boxes, and some form of electronic storage on dusty computers. I googled ‘chip layout’ and found IC(integrated circuit) designs that never became real – I am generalizing – but many of them were hard and long engineering effort by students and tinkerers with new ideas. I became mesmerized by the chip layouts I was able to find on google images. (image search: chip layout). I could stare endlessly.
Commercializing dead designs via additional development or enabling the original designers to build their idea with free resources is worth the effort.
If these designs – are collected, there is a chance that 10% or even 5% of these designs – over time and space – would have valuable innovation – that’s partially developed and, IF, seen by a potential “consumer” – could solve a key problem, especially if it is evolved with a commercial solution in mind. This has had me thinking a lot about the space. One of the reasons Semiconductor investors have gone down by an order of magnitude in the last 10 years is the unforgiving cost of failure in the space.
The Four Causes of Graveyard IC Designs
‘Experts’ – who believe they can predict future demand of IC’s when in fact they have no clue about the future. The barrier to innovation is the ‘advice’ of someone who was once an expert thinking that they can predict the future of electronics and/or the viability of an IC design in the market.
There’s a lot of confusion for students about who owns the intellectual property which prevents designs from going into prototyping production. Many Universities have IP transfer policies but these are difficult to navigate because the process of IP transfer is often invisible. The University students often don’t pursue patents and when they don’t do that, there’s nothing to sell and the University has nothing to sell because it’s abstracted. It’s not clear as to what is the innovation. The process of IP registration also has abnormally high administrative costs as well which are not always funded by the school. Who’s going to pay for the patent?
Most IC’s are being built with donated technologies [hardware, labs, software] sponsored (for good reasons) by commercial entities preventing commercialization and landlocking the outcome of academic work into graveyards. This also prevents the 2 guys in a garage model as the all in cost of a single IC prototype from A to Z might be ~$400K. Single IC design software licenses range from $10,000 to $50,000 (or more) a license. Companies that make IC design software: Cadence, Synopsis, and Mentor Graphics and many smaller with specific applications. These companies had significant positive contribution on the way the semiconductor industry has evolved. Yet, they are also bound by many constraints that do not allow for changing the accessibility of their software.
Access to manufacturing, physical prototyping, and lab instrumentation require extremely high minimum order quantities.As a result, even the prototyping services like MOSIS, CMP, andEuropractice solve the problem to a certain degree as a mediator, but it’s still not a complete and highly accessible solution. They provide multi-project wafers(mpw’s) which share the cost of the wafer across people, but there still remains no one-stop-shop where you can do it all. This presents a barrier to individuals from producing IC’s.
Why it matters: How many chip designs are useful? How many tinkerers want to create their own IC’s?
How many of these chip designs are useful? More importantly, what happens to the 2 guys in a garage who have an idea and need to build an IC? The cost of failure for the ’2 guys in a garage’ is too high. More importantly, the cost of failure in IC’s is just too high. It doesn’t mean that all of the chip layouts are valuable, but if even 10% are useful, that’s meaningful. Designing an IC takes weeks and months of engineering effort. Can any of the that work be collected, shared, allowing many other eye and minds to see if there is value?
I started questioning Mohamed Kassem about 30 days ago regarding what I had found. He’s the CEO of efabless, a semiconductor company that’s fundamentally changing the way electronics are designed and commercialized. Here’s an interesting article about his company: efabless Q&A.
I gathered that efabless is doing 1 things that make them very unique.
Open innovation and Co-creation for hackers, makers, and tinkerers. –They provide an environment in which electronics designers can ideate, build, and order full production quality IC’s at 1/20th the cost and receive them in the mail in 4 to 10 weeks.
If you designed an IC in and it’s in the graveyard or you dream of designing an IC and bringing it to production, you should read on…….
efabless is building the world’s first, complete and largest open-source library of IC designs. If it becomes a reality, efabless would be the first community/open-cocreation-driven fabless IC design company with a special market place for semiconductor chips designed by community and commercialized by efabless. Imagine github on steroids for IC design with a built in customer feedback loop.
A large stadium full of IC collaborators…..
Think along localmotors.com, quirky.com,topcoder.com, andinnocentive.com. By putting the pieces together and allowing the engineers and innovators to push designs, get feedback, buy in, and maybe some amazing products could be commercialized. Think about what happened in the Open Source SW and the outstanding innovation from the community that surpassed the largest corporations.
Imagine if you could ‘fork’ an IC design and get compensated with a royalty if someone forked your designs.
We should contribute to this open library to become an early adopter of the open IC community. They’re inviting people from the community to contribute designs. I’m positive that efabless is the pioneer in this space of OpenIC, it will be one of those huge “More than Moore” level of innovations. If you designed a pre-silicon or post-silicon IC that is now in the graveyard or have an idea you want to build? efabless will enable you to resurrect it or help you build it, give you all the tools to do so, and give you a royalty on any commercialization of your chip design.
Mohamed Kassem: “If you have any pre-silicon or post-silicon IC Designs that are now in the graveyard or if you’ve always had an idea that you’ve wanted to design, we are calling you and want to connect. If you want to get your own design ideas made into an IC, we want to connect. We want to grant you access to everything you need to design or redesign the chip at no cost to you and we’ll make it available to the world, credited to you, and if commercialized, you get a guaranteed royalty. Email me directly with the word chip layout at mkk [at] efabless [dot] com and we’ll grant you access to efabless’s tinker.link program”
If you do email efabless with a design, please send them:
A little information in who you are and why you’re interested in IC design.
Relevant attached files whether it’s GDS files or images or anything relevant.
Disclaimer: You should have the ownership rights over whatever you send their way.
My Next post. I’ll be putting another post on how efabless is making the cost of failure extremely low in the world of electronics commercialization and why I’m excited about their technology. PS: A fun little game for IC designers is to look at the images and try to guess what the chip is by identifying resistors, RF components, etc… For example…
12 Reasons SpaceX Won’t Fly a Manned Mission to Mars by 2030
Elon Musk has claimed that SpaceX can get a manned mission to Mars by ~2030. I think this is impossible given the monetary and engineering constraints, but here’s why…. Keep in mind, the Saturn V took ~$40 Billion to build in today’s dollars and took us ~1/600th the distance. Agreeably, only the acceleration matters, but it will take a sufficient acceleration, cargo capacity, and engineering to get to Mars and back. To be very clear, I’m a space junkie, grew up near NASA, and I think it’s totally possible to take a manned mission to Mars, just not under a deadline of 2030. Here’s a short list of 12 reasons that a Manned Mission to Mars by 2030 might be simply impossible.
Cargo Capacity — Scaling is Hard.
Proper Maintenance — Accessibility is Important
MTBF Expectations are too high.
Jet Fuel is Corrosive and Methalox engines are a tough design proposition.
Cosmic Radiation — Impedes human interoperability.
Solar Panels —Mars Dust Storms impede sunlight.
Living Module — 7 month duration for a living module.
Microbial Realities — We rely on microbes to live.
Parachute Design — Size vs. Thrust vs. Jettisoning Fuel
Electronic Protection — Shielding is Resource/Weight Intensive.
Eye Sight — Your ability to see diminishes in space and we don’t quite know how this works fully. (This one is huge)
Muscle Loss- you lose muscle mass as you stay longer in space.
1. Cargo Capacity Increases
The trade offs between mass, volume, and cargo capacity as you scale any space-venturing vehicle are very real. The further you go in space, the more space you need to store things for long duration. The Saturn V Rocket had a lot of crazy characteristics.
Only rocket to go well beyond low earth orbit to the Moon.
2 Million Parts
Total amount of propellant (fuel and oxidizer) in the Saturn V launch vehicle, service module, and lunar module is 5,625,000 pounds.
The ratio of propellant to payload in Saturn V is 50 to 1.
Mars is ~587 times further from Earth than the Moon.
As you scale, somethings become economically de-incentivized because of the nature of the Square Cube Law and proper preventative maintenance. The Square Cube Law as it applies to flight says that the area of a wing grows (mm) and its volume and weight grow cubically (mm*m). This means every new kg you add to a structure makes its build increasingly complex because you have to increase the acceleration.
2. Proper Maintenance
In most mechanical systems a few things happen that make beyond- LEO (low earth orbit) space flight very difficult:
In engineering, we often think heavily about the Mean Time Between Failures(MTBF) when designing parts. The MTBF for any part on any space-going vehicle has to go well beyond the duration of the normal distribution of flight tie. It will take at least 180–300 days to get to Mars.
4. Jet Fuel
Jet Fuel is also incredibly corrosive, which means you’d want to probably dump/get rid of all fuel before you land.
The Mars Science Laboratory came back with ~0.5 Sieverts of radiation after 1 round trip. (There’s many ways to measure radiation.) NASA’s career limit for Astronauts on radiation is something a bit higher, like 1 Sievert. (Keep in mind I used the word ‘career.’) Cosmic radiation presents a mission critical problem and shielding against it requires considerable weight gains to the vehicle.
It takes months for dust from Mars storms to settle. The dust storms obfuscate/block the path of the sun’s rays to the panels. We have the technology to clear off the panels, but what about obfuscation/line of sight issues? It has definitely happened before!!
In mid-2007 a planet-wide dust storm posed a serious threat to the solar-powered Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers by reducing the amount of energy provided by the solar panels and necessitating the shut-down of most science experiments while waiting for the storms to clear. Following the dust storms, the rovers had significantly reduced power due to settling of dust on the arrays. Source:
7. Living Module
What type of module would the crew live in and how would they eat for 7–10 months on the way to Mars from Earth? You have to carry enough food, water, and oxygen for every person. In a single day, you need 6 to 10 pounds of water per a day per a person and I’m not even sure how much Oxygen. Water Recycling is not simple.
8. Microbial Realities
What’s the longest we’ve been unexposed to the environment’s microbes and bacteria? We don’t know how this will affect us in space. The longest any human has been in space was about 438 days, Valeri Polyakov.
Parachutes work differently across varying atmospheres. One of the most stressful landings was the Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. With the parachute deployed in the Mars Atmosphere, its velocity was 200MPH. The parachute was massive and the rover itself weighed 2000 pounds/900 kilograms.
With a crew of 8 people, you approach that weight pretty quickly. Now let’s suppose you only wanted to counter the landing with thrusters, then the proposition quickly becomes more expensive. The tradeoffs between options are extreme.
Electronics don’t behave the same way in deep space. Outside of the Van Allen Belts, space becomes hostile to any sort of electronics you try to take there. Mars surface exploration missions require functionality from -120°C to +20°C for many cycles. The many ways in which electronics can fail in space just for the ISS.
How does space radiation affect electronics?
Radiation effects in the interior of satellites are often grouped into three categories: total ionizing dose, displacement damage and single event effects. Total ionizing dose effects in electronics are the result of damage that usually builds up over a long period of time in an insulating region of an electronic device. This changes the device properties, which results in performance degradation and eventually can cause the device to fail completely. Displacement damage is also a cumulative effect but this occurs in the electronic device’s semiconductor material. These effects also cause the device to deteriorate at first and possibly fail if it is exposed to enough radiation. Single event effects are caused by the passage of a single particle through a sensitive region in an electronic device. There are many types of single event effects, which can be either non-destructive or destructive to the device. The severity of the effect can be so small that it can go unnoticed. At the other extreme it could cause a system in a satellite to shut down.
Space radiation can create other kinds of damage in satellites as well. For example, it can cause electric charge to build up in an insulating material to the point where a discharge can occur that damages something. This discharge is the same type of thing that would happen if you walked across a carpet, touched an object and were shocked by a static discharge. Source: http://lws-set.gsfc.nasa.gov/space_radiation.html#how
Shielding is hard, complex, and treacherous in Galactic Cosmic Ray(GCR) environments.
As you stay in space you lose muscle mass. As you stay in space you lose muscle mass. Even with VASIMR, how do you get to Mars on time, rehabilitate, and have all the supplies to be viable? Not sure how this works.