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Tech firms partner on 32/28nm SoC designs

Jul 28, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Synopsys has joined a partnership that includes ARM, as well as “Common Platform” members IBM, Chartered, and Samsung, to reduce the cost of SoCs fabricated using 32- or 28-nanometer technology. The group is showing off early results from test chips at the Design Automation Conference (DAC) show this week in San Francisco, according to eWEEK.

The partnership combines Synopsys design tools and ARM Ltd's core IP for mobile devices with a new 32/28nm high-k metal gate foundry process developed by the Common Platform alliance, says the eWEEK story by Jeffrey Burt. Formed in 2006 by IBM, Chartered and Samsung, the Common Platform alliance has developed a common bulk CMOS process technology across the manufacturing facilities of the three companies.

The Common Platform project was said to have begun at the 90nm process level, and has been extended to 65nm, 45nm, and, now, 32nm technologies. More than 350 process development engineers from the three companies are collaborating at IBM's 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York, says Common Platform.

According to Burt, ARM has been working with the group for 18 months now on mobile processors. The addition of Synopsys is expected to speed up the process. A key goal of the expanded group's efforts is to reduce power consumption and power leakage in chips with the challenging new 32 and 28nm process technology, says the story.

The story quotes Tom Lantzsch, VP of marketing for ARM's Physical IP Division, as saying that products developed through the partnership should reach market in 2011. The group uses the term "mobile Internet devices" to describe its target market, although this may refer to a broader range of handheld devices than originally suggested by the MID term coined by Intel.

Synopsys DesignWare mixed-signal IP in a typical embedded product

Burt quotes Kevin Meyer, VP of industry marketing and platform alliances at Chartered, as saying the addition of Synopsys should greatly accelerate the group's work to reduce costs, risk, and design to market in developing mobile system-on-chips (SoCs). Synopsys sells design flow tools including its Galaxy Implementation Platform, Lynx Design System, and DesignWare connectivity IP (see diagram above).

In November, Synopsys and MCCI Corp. announced an alliance to produce USB 3.0 compliant semiconductor IP and Linux-ready GPL'd drivers using DesignWare tools. DesignWare is said to provide implementation IP, verification IP, and hardened PHYs.

In 2006, researchers at the IBM Almaden Research Center achieved a breakthrough on the road to 28nm fabrication when they developed high-quality line patterns using deep-ultraviolet 193nm optical lithography, producing spaced ridges just 29.9nm wide. This bested the previous 32nm limit by 2.1nm, slightly wider than the diameter of a DNA helix.


The expanded Common Platform-based group for MID SoC development will be demonstrating results from its test chips at the DAC show this week, July 26-31, at the San Francisco Moscone Center. The eWEEK story on the partnership may be found here.

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