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Wireless sensor nodes are autonomous devices incorporating sensing, power, computation, and communication into one system. Applications for large scale networks of these nodes are presented in the context of their impact on the hardware design. The demand for low unit cost and multiyear lifetimes, combined with progress in CMOS and MEMS processing, are driving development of SoC solutions for sensor nodes at the cubic centimeter scale with a minimum number of off-chip components. Here, the feasibility of a complete, cubic millimeter scale, single-chip sensor node is explored by examining practical limits on process integration and energetic cost of short-range RF communication. Autonomous cubic millimeter nodes appear within reach, but process complexity and substantial sacrifices in performance involved with a true single-chip solution establish a tradeoff between integration and assembly.