The PCB Design Magazine

PCBD-Aug2017

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38 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2017 and yet regulated enough to protect against confusion. And since the board design process usually involves a lot of time spent with dif- ferent engineers you will have to decide what interaction constitutes standard design input, and what interaction becomes a change that re- quires process control. And lastly, make sure that you document your work. I'm not talking about documenting your fellow employees here, that kind of thing completely ruins the trust that you are already trying to build. No, I'm talking about keeping organized documentation of the work that you are doing. If I had kept a record of the changes that I had been requested to do I could have eas- ily shown the engineer on what day he request- ed me to make the change, why the request had been made, and how I accomplished the task. There are several ways to accomplish better documentation. One would be to keep electron- ic or hard copies of formal requests like engi- neering change orders, etc. Another would be to keep a personal journal, or log, for the job that you are working on. In some design depart- ments that I've worked in, the "job log" is auto- mated and part of the actual design. I know that this sounds like a lot to do, but you don't have to make a mountain out of a mole hill here. Electronic copies can easily be made, and add- ing a sentence to a Word document or a spread sheet is very simple. The key is to get organized and then stick to that organization consistently. I hope that this helps, and I really wish that I had thought through all these things before I got the blame put on me. Sure, we can say that it really wasn't my fault, but saying that usually won't get us off the hook. Make sure that you've built trust with your co-workers, that you are backed up by controlled processes, and that you can prove through documentation that what you're doing what is requested of you. In this way, you can help to make sure that it really wasn't your fault. And lastly, don't ever joke with my family about Ed- gar Martinez being a lousy hitter. I sure found that one out the hard way! PCBDESIGN Tim Haag is a consultant based in Portland, Oregon. IT REALLY WASN'T MY FAULT! Sometimes a light touch is best. Research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) suggests this may be true in the microscopic world of computer memory, where a team of scien - tists may have found that subtlety solves some of the issues with a novel memor y switch. This technology, resistive random access memory (RRAM), could form the basis of a better kind of non - volatile computer memory, where data is retained even when the power is off. Flash technology has essentially reached its size and per formance limits. RRAM could surpass flash in many key respects: It is poten - tially faster and less energy-in- tensive. But RRAM has yet to be broadly commercialized because of technical hurdles that need addressing. One hurdle is its variability. A practical memory switch needs two distinct states, representing either a one or a zero, and component designers need a predictable way to make the switch flip. The NIST team decided to try a lighter touch— using less energetic pulses of 100 picoseconds, about a tenth as long. They found that sending a few of these gentler signals was useful for exploring the behavior of RRAM switches as well as for flip - ping them. "Shorter pulses reduce the variability," Nminibapiel said. "The issue still exists, but if you tap the switch a few times with a lighter 'hammer,' you can move it gradually, while simulta - neously giving you a way to check it each time to see if it flipped successfully." With a Gentle Touch, NIST Scientists Push Us Closer to Flash Memory Successor

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