The growing sensitivity to the technologies on Wall Street is clear evidence that the electrical/electronics industry is one that will have a sweeping impact on future development in a wide range of areas that affect our life style, general health, and capabilities. Even the arts, initially so determined not to utilize technological methods, are embracing some of the new, innovative techniques that permit exploration into areas they never thought possible. The new Windows approach to computer simulation has made computer systems much friendlier to the average person, resulting in an expanding market which further stimulates growth in the field.
The computer in the home will eventually be as common as the telephone or television. In fact, all three are now being integrated into a single unit. Every facet of our lives seems touched by developments that appear to surface at an ever-increasing rate. For the layperson, the most obvious improvement of recent years has been the reduced size of electrical/ electronics systems. Televisions are now small enough to be hand-held and have a battery capability that allows them to be more portable.
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Computers with significant memory capacity are now smaller than this textbook. The size of radios is limited simply by our ability to read the numbers on the face of the dial. Hearing aids are no longer visible, and pacemakers are significantly smaller and more reliable. All the reduction in size is due primarily to a marvelous development of the last few decades—the integrated circuit (IC). First developed in the late 1950s, the IC has now reached a point where cutting 0.18-micrometer lines is commonplace. The integrated circuit shown in Fig. 1.1 is the Intel® Pentium® 4 processor, which has 42 million transistors in an area measuring only 0.34 square inches. Intel Corporation recently presented a technical paper describing 0.02-micrometer (20-nanometer) transistors, developed in its silicon research laboratory. These small, ultra-fast transistors will permit placing nearly one billion transistors on a sliver of silicon no larger than a fingernail.
Rather than following a steady growth curve that would be somewhat predictable, the industry is subject to surges that revolve around significant developments in the field. Present indications are that the level of miniaturization will continue, but at a more moderate pace. Interest has turned toward increasing the quality and yield levels (percentage of good integrated circuits in the production process). History reveals that there have been peaks and valleys in industry growth but that revenues continue to rise at a steady rate and funds set aside for research and development continue to command an increasing share of the budget. The field changes at a rate that requires constant retraining of employees from the entry to the director level.
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Many companies have instituted their own training programs and have encouraged local universities to develop programs to ensure that the latest concepts and procedures are brought to the attention of their employees. A period of relaxation could be disastrous to a company dealing in competitive products. No matter what the pressures on an individual in this field may be to keep up with the latest technology, there is one saving grace that becomes immediately obvious: Once a concept or procedure is clearly and correctly understood, it will bear fruit throughout the career of the individual at any level of the industry.
For example, once a fundamental equation such as Ohm’s law (Chapter 4) is understood, it will not be replaced by another equation as more advanced theory is considered. It is a relationship of fundamental quantities that can have application in the most advanced setting. In addition, once a procedure or method of analysis is understood, it usually can be applied to a wide (if not infinite) variety of problems, making it unnecessary to learn a different technique for each slight variation in the system. The content of this text is such that every morsel of information will have application in more advanced courses.
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