Archive | June, 2012

Fruit Products That Contain Little Fruit

28 Jun

Don’t you love fruit tarts? Not pop tarts, fruit tarts. The dessert that has clear shiny sugar coating over actual fruit. Sure there’s added sugar, but the fruit, for the most part is intact, edible, and recognizable. If you’re looking for the fruit tart experience elsewhere, you may be disappointed. You might see a strawberry on a package, but expecting one in the food itself maybe asking too much of food manufacturers. Considering their products could never make it into the produce isle, we uncover marketing claims that tout “real fruit,” put colorful fruit graphics on packaging and even go so far as listing the number of servings of fruit in their products only to let you down. For those of us who take the 5-a-day challenge seriously, it’s high time to expose the truth about fruit in processed food. With deceptive smoothie bars and fast food restaurants serving oatmeal with added fruit, we have to stay informed about what we’re really being served.

Real Fruit from Concentrate?

General Mills is in some hot water about their Fruit Roll-up and Fruit by the Foot snacks. With the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a California woman sued the Golden Valley-based packaged foods giant for misleading consumers about their products’ healthiness. According to the lawsuit, their “made with real fruit” claim incorrectly describes the fruit snacks’ ingredients, which, in spite of the flavor of the product, only contain pears from concentrate. One Fruit Roll-Up contains 50 calories. The products remaining ingredients, which include dried corn syrup, sugar and cottonseed oil. Stretch Island Fruit Co. makes “fruit leather” and while its ingredient list contains no sweeteners, its strawberry fruit strip’s first listed ingredient is apple puree concentrate. While strawberry puree is an ingredient, it’s third behind, wait for it, pear puree concentrate. Fig Newtons are now known as just Newtons, but at least they really do contain figs, in addition to sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and regular corn syrup of course. A similar product that makes the “made with real fruit” claim, NutriGrain bars, only contain strawberry puree from concentrate as well. What’s real about concentrated fruit?

Fake Fruit and Little Fruit

Most of us know that Froot Loops and Fruity Pebbles have no real cherries floating around in the box, but a blueberry cereal should, right? Not so much. Special K’s blueberry cereal has blueberries in its ingredient list, but I’m unsure why it’s listed after “contains 2% or less of.” In that same area 6 artificial colors are also listed. Surprisingly sugar is the third listed ingredient behind rice and whole grain wheat. It’s safe to say the whole blueberries on the front of the box didn’t make it into the bag. We previously reported on foods with fake blueberries, and just wanted to remind you the blueberry deception is still in full effect. 

Sugary Yogurt with a Little Fruit

I like yogurt, but I buy it plain in a half gallon tub for a reason. I read the ingredient list of a couple of the major brands of yogurt and found that sugar is listed before fruit most of the time. Both Dannon and Yoplait include sugar, corn starch and high fructose corn syrup, sandwiching the strawberries listed in their yogurt’s ingredients. The Ricera, Silk and Whole Soy &Co. brands of yogurt list evaporated cane juice, a product that originates from sugar cane just as white sugar, before their blueberry, raspberry and Apricot Mango fruit inclusions. Chobani’s Stawberry Greek Yogurt and Breyers’ Yo Crunch Bluberry Fruit Parfait both list their fruit contents before sweetener, but alas, there’s still sweetener. Even the Stonyfield Farm YoBaby yogurt has more sugar than sweet potatoes in it. Forgo the flavored yogurt if you can and you’ll bypass additional preservatives as well. Plain yogurt generally has a simple ingredient list of milk and yogurt cultures. 


Demise of analog is exaggerated

28 Jun

Over the last 20 years, the world population grew at a compound annual growth rate of 1.4 percent, recently surpassing the 7 billion mark. During the same time period, overall semiconductor unit sales grew at a CAGR of 9.2 percent, reaching 660 billion chips in 2010, according to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization.What’s interesting is that the analog semiconductor unit CAGR during the same period was 10.3 percent. That’s 92 billion analog chips in 2010, or higher than the overall semiconductor market. That’s over 13 analog chips per human on the planet – each year!

It’s safe to say that “the demise of analog” has been greatly exaggerated.

This rising growth of analog content in products is driven by new solutions to old applications (think hybrid electric vehicles, televisions and LED light bulbs), new applications such as personal computing with smartphones/tablets and smarter automobiles and new markets in personal medicine, alternative energy and safety/security.

Across all of these areas, we are seeing a rapid increase in the use of analog chips as well as sensors. An average smartphone now has more than eight sensors! Over the next five years, the CAGR for sensors/actuators is forecasted to grow 6.8 percent faster than the overall IC market, according to IC Insights. A quick look at a typical block diagram of an electronic device illustrates the number of analog and mixed signal IC’s on a circuit board.  These include amplifiers connected to a data source (such as a sensor), data converters, power management chips, clocks and timing devices and interface chips.Let’s take a look at the manufacturing technologies for analog semiconductors. Unlike digital products which march to the beat of Moore’s Law, the logic gate counts of most mixed signal and analog products do not increase significantly from generation to generation. Consequently, analog manufacturing processes migrate much more slowly from one lithography node to the next.

Analog platforms

It would be wrong to assume that analog ICs do not improve in performance or get smaller with each subsequent generation of manufacturing process. Improvements are achieved through device architecture, integration, packaging and materials optimization of separate process technologies for specific types of products. Texas Instruments has more than 50 such process platforms running in production, manufacturing nearly 45,000 products – each process optimized for a specific family of analog semiconductors or MEMS/sensors.

  • High-speed amplifiers typically need finely tuned capacitors, resistors and SiGe bipolar processes, often with SOI substrates to reduce noise.
  • Data converters are manufactured using analog processes with precision thin-film resistors, high linearity capacitors and low noise, well-matched transistors.
  • High-voltage manufacturing processes with thick power metal are essential for building power management ICs. The voltage range of the process is tuned to the application and can vary from a few volts to several hundreds of volts.
  • Micro-controllers are manufactured on mixed-signal process technologies, with key differentiators being low power non-volatile memories and ultra-low power transistors.
  • MEMS and sensors need custom process flows and use unique equipment for deep silicon etching, back-side wafer patterning, wafer-to-wafer bonding, etc.

I have led deep sub-micron CMOS development and more recently, analog technology development. The opportunities in analog development and manufacturing are quite different. Not being limited by a single industry roadmap, there are significant opportunities to differentiate through design, process, packaging and manufacturing.

Creative ideas are welcome!

I have a mental image of speed boats versus an aircraft carrier. Instead of a large development team, the model is one of many small teams, working in parallel on different market opportunities. Two recent examples of differentiated technologies come to mind. We recently developed a fast-write, low-power, non-volatile memory called ferroelectric random access memory to enable ultra-low power mixed signal microcontrollers that consume less than half the power of equivalent flash-based devices.

In another example, TI recently integrated thermocouple elements, MEMS processing along with high precision analog data converters and amplifiers to create a single chip infrared temperature sensor.

Moreover, development is not limited by the lack of availability or the immaturity of process equipment, so time to market at high yields is quite good and the cost of setting up an analog manufacturing line is significantly lower than a CMOS line.

There are others issues as well. Besides obvious technology challenges, analog products and hence analog manufacturing processes last a long time, sometimes over 20 years. This creates years of accumulated process and design IP, PDKs, libraries and Spice models that have to be maintained, updated and continuously improved. Also, managing the diversity of process technologies and products across many factories can be a logistical challenge – or a differentiator for those that do it well.

When it comes to analog, whoever coined the term “more than Moore’s Law” couldn’t have said it better.



Quote of the week

27 Jun

‎”I am thankful to all those who said NO to me. Its because of them I did it myself.” -Albert Einstein

6 easy tips to beat the heat this summer

21 Jun

Summer is here! No matter how much we enjoy going to the beach or eating mangoes, one thing we all detest is the heat and sweat. Following are six easy ways one can adopt to beat the summer heat.
  1. Wear loose-fitting clothes to allow air circulation and keep you cool. Avoid using dark colours as they are good absorbers of heat. Light colours are very soothing in summers. Keep your hair covered with a hat or a scarf.
  2. Drink, drink, drink… plenty of water and fresh fruit juices. Do not wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Water helps regulate your body temperature and compensates the fluid loss from your body due to sweating. The best part is that its zero calories! 🙂
  3. Stay indoors as much as possible. Never forget to apply a high SPF sun block about 15-20 minutes before sun exposure. Do not forget to protect your lips. They are often neglected. Apply a lip balm with some SPF. Also apply sun screen to your feet if you are wearing sandals.
  4. Bath daily at least once to stay fresh but avoid shampooing your hair daily or switch to a mild shampoo (such as baby shampoo).Image
  5. Get plenty of sleep and eat light, nutritious and non-fatty foods. Consume foods such as fruits and vegetables that are high in water content.
  6. Use minimal make-up. Keep your face clean and fresh.
Got any more tips to stay cool and protected on a hot summer day? Do let me know how you beat the heat. Remember, sharing is caring! 🙂

It’s all in the eyes of the beholder!

19 Jun

It's all in the eyes of the beholder!

Beauty is subjective! It’s all in the eyes of the beholder!

(Image from Dove ad campaign)