Highlights this week: 👁Facebook is now Meta, ⚡️zapping molten tin with lasers, 💰GlobalFoundries $26B IPO, and 💡an open-source ASIC design conference

👩🔧 Featured job: Astranis is hiring a Senior Electrical Engineer (Avionics). See more roles in the Interesting Jobs section below!

🔗 Last week’s most-clicked link: A great tweet listing interesting startup ideas in the satellite imagery space (like crop insurance fraud finder)

Facebook now ‘Meta’, with lots more hardware.

What’s happening: Facebook will now be known as Meta. The rebrand is part of the company’s efforts to shift gears away from being known as just a social media company and focus on Zuckerberg’s plans for building the metaverse -- a future vision of the internet that is a persistent shared digital space (and includes AR or VR hardware).

Some background: Facebook (err, 'Meta'), has a growing hardware portfolio that includes a video-chat device, smart-glasses, AR/VR headsets, an upcoming smart-watch, and rumors of a phone. This isn't to say they haven't faced challenges with hardware development in the past -- in 2018, Facebook essentially shut down their hardware R&D lab, Building 8. Facebook's own hardware engineers have exclaimed skepticism around the VR push, saying "this is going to take a long time, ie breakthroughs in physics, etc". Zuck seems determined, though, announcing at their Q3 earnings call that 2021 operating profits would fall by ~$10B because of the company’s huge investments in VR and metaverse-related hardware.

  • Meta announced Project Cambria, a high-end Mixed Reality headset built for the metaverse. Meta feels that it will have a product ready next year.
  • “Meta” name: While obviously tied to the “metaverse,” Zuckerberg already owned the URL meta.org for his medical philanthropic arm.
  • Zuck demo’d what metaverse life may look like: including virtual fitness, exploration, and workplace activities.
Dive Deeper: AR/VR tech

Detailed breakdown of the Oculus Rift CV1 VR headset

inspectAR uses Augmented Reality for PCB debug and rework

A primer on LED's in VR headsets from Texas Instruments


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Analog Deep-Dive: GlobalFoundries $26B IPO 🏭

We publish deep-dives covering engineering topics, history, and companies each week! Read the entire GlobalFoundries thread on twitter.

GlobalFoundries (GFS), one of the world’s top five semiconductor manufacturers, went public last week amid a global chip shortage. The IPO gave GFS a market valuation of $26 billion. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spike in demand of semiconductors used in cars, home appliances, phones, and PC’s has led to billions of dollars of investment pledges to ramp up production from all the major foundries.

In 2008, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) spun off its manufacturing operations and partnered with Mubadala Investment Company (Abu Dhabi’s investment arm). Together they formed GFS, developing specialized semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. Today, GFS is headquartered in Malta, NY and the company’s primary offerings address the smart-device, industrial IoT, automotive, and personal computing markets. (RF SOI, FinFET, CMOS, FDX, SiGe, SiPh).

GFS has invested more than $29 billion over the last decade to “build a global manufacturing footprint” and a resilient supply chain. Over the summer, GFS broke ground on a new fab, in Singapore, investing more than $4 billion in the site.

GFS’s top 10 customers are worth over $1T: Qualcomm, MediaTek, NXP Semiconductors, Qorvo, Cirrus Logic, AMD, Skyworks Solutions, Murata, Samsung, and Broadcom.

Interesting Links 🔗:

ASML effectively has a monopoly on the EUV lithography market for semiconductors. Their $180M machine has over 100k parts, and zaps molten tin with 50,000 laser pulses per second to generate EUV light.

Tesla announced their first Non-Tesla EV superchargers, starting with 10 Dutch locations.

Learn how to design ASIC’s with open source tools, free, at the OpenTapeOut conference. We’re attending.

In 1847, pharmacist Oliver Chase develops the first lozange-cutting machine, transforming candy from artisan --> industrial. He then went on to develop a machine for pulverizing sugar and more inventions.

A Paper proposing a simple external circuit to be added to each node on a communication bus to make protocols like I2C and SPI more robust for aerospace applications.

Another incredible video from garage-IC-fabricator Sam Zeloof -- this time detailing how he improved upon his first design to manufacture an even more dense and technically impressive chip. He used Photoshop for the physical circuit layout!

Reverse-engineering an unusual IBM modem board from 1965. Thru-hole haven. Schematics, oscilloscope waveforms, teardown pics, BOM breakdown, and more.

One Interesting Picture 📸: narcotics-smuggling submarine 💊

One Interesting Tweet 🐦: Delivery Time >> 5 months! 🚐