Design007 Magazine

Design007-Oct2019

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OCTOBER 2019 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 37 hear these noises, and they're scared to death. Pogo goes to find out what's going on. When he comes back, Pogo says, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." We made this bed, and now we have to sleep in it. This isn't the first time this has happened; it's part of the cycle. Shaughnessy: When you look a few years down the road for the PCB design community, do you see any big changes? Ritchey: If I could predict the future, I'd be an investor. But we're kind of settled down to products that are one PCB. You can't get less than that for most things, but that's not true for a smartphone. For most of the rest of the world, I see functionality going up. My sense is that for something like a smartphone—and I think Apple probably would admit this too— it has kind of hit a plateau. How much more function can you put in that anyone needs? Shaughnessy: They're getting a little ridiculous with all of the stuff you can get on your phone. Ritchey: And the phone is misnamed; it's an internet portal and a home theater that hap- pens to have a phone in one tiny corner. You probably have five to six billion transistors in your pocket, and we complain about the bat- tery running down (laughs). The main proces- sor IC for the iPhone 11 has 8.5 billion tran- sistors! I sometimes use this to illustrate how much computing power there is: Cray used to make the biggest supercomputers, and if you have a picture on your phone, rotate the phone 90 degrees, and it flips, that equals the com- puting power of the most powerful Cray com- puter. It's staggering what's in your pocket. Shaughnessy: These cool, new handheld devic- es are helping fuel this entry of more young- sters as designers. It's not a flood, but young people are slowly coming into the industry; some of them want to work on the next iPhone, I imagine. Ritchey: One of my clients is Garmin, the GPS company, and they have a difficult time re- cruiting people because they have to compete against Google and Facebook. Another client is Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm down there every year training a new crop of fresh people right out of college because the ones I trained last year were re- cruited by Google. Shaughnessy: Wow. We're starting to see that more and more, where a company will bring people right out of school and make them take some classes on circuit board design. They run you through a class as soon as you get there. Ritchey: It's returning to how the industry was when I began. Silicon Valley destroyed that model where you trained new engineers. In- stead, you only hired somebody who already had experience. Shaughnessy: I've noticed that designers get a little more respect now, and a few more dollars too, even compared to 20 years ago. Ritchey: Twenty years ago, a board designer was a second-class citizen. Now, it's a skill set that, in a lot of places, is rare. If you want somebody who can do a 24-layer board where all of the links are 28 gigabits per second, it has to be somebody with a lot of experience. Shaughnessy: We appreciate your time, Lee. Thank you. Ritchey: Thank you, Andy. DESIGN007 Twenty years ago, a board designer was a second-class citizen. Now, it's a skill set that, in a lot of places, is rare.

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