The Wall Street Journal passed out their Technology Innovation Awards. Needless to say, they stuck with known electronics brands, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, and eInk for first place slots, and a few in the medical/health care field, such as Novartis for tracking medical supplies for delivery where they are needed, and Abbott Labs for an absorbable stent.

Intel was given first place in the semiconductor category. The report didn’t say what other semiconductor companies were in the running. There were categories as well for robotics, software, wireless, information security, and biotechnology, among others. WSJ judged companies that broke with conventional ideas, went beyond marginal improvements, and have potential for impact in their field.

In the semiconductor industry, "smaller, faster, cheaper" is the mantra of the design and manufacturing firms. Lately, less energy consumption has been added to that wish list. Intel caught the judge?s eye for a three dimensional transistor design that… are you ready… "makes it possible to build a smaller semiconductor, while improving performance and reducing energy consumption." Bingo – we have a winner, even though Tri-Gate was a technology invented by AMD back in 2003 (planned introduction with 14nm process on Fully-Depleted SOI wafers). This shining example of innovative technology according to WSJ is known to us as Ivy Bridge. It is said to be able to squeeze upwards of six million Tri-Gate transistors into the period at the end of this sentence. In September, DigiTimes reported that "Intel has recently decided to delay its Ivy Bridge platform launch from the end of 2011 to March 2012." Looks like WSJ got a sneak preview.

Other semiconductor companies are looking to the future as well. Samsung recently announced a new 28nm HKMG technology called 28nm-LPH that offers 60 percent active power reduction and 55 percent performance boost at the same leakage over 45nm low power SoC designs.

AMD's technology roadmap for 2010-2013, including 28nm process
AMD’s vision as presented at the Global Foundries Technology Convention

The chipset in the Apple iPhone 4S uses a custom design by Apple and produced by Samsung, however TSMC is vying for the processor in the iPhone 5. TSMC?s future is also rumored to include volume production on 14nm in 2015 while AMD is looking forward to their upcoming Dublin and Macau 28nm processors.

In a list of 171, Ranker suggests the top semiconductor companies in the world and sorts them alphabetically from AGEIA to Zoran, including Intel. This list falls alongside the top 18 craziest naked women in news report history, and the dumbest reality shows of all time, so go figure the list?s validity or relevance.

Proud employees at Agilyx win WSJ award for turning plastic waste into oil

Proud employees at Agilyx win WSJ award for turning plastic waste into oil

Runner up for medical devices in the WSJ awards was Columbia University and Claros Diagnostics who developed a hand-held diagnostic device that identifies infectious diseases from a single drop of blood. This low-cost device will benefit patients of health care providers in remote regions of third world countries. Another runner up was Agilyx in the energy category. With an odd twist, they are converting plastic waste back into a synthetic crude oil. Their base system can convert 10 tons of plastic into approximately 60 barrels (or approximately 2,400 gallons) of oil per day. The company?s CEO, Chris Ulum, comes from a background at IBM and Sun Microsystems.

That just goes to show, you don?t have to go far to find a connection with the big boys no matter the field.