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Posts Tagged ‘TSMC’

Herb Reiter: The three-legged stool of Technology Choices

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

 

Herb Reiter, founder and president of eda2asic, has been in the semiconductor and EDA industry for 30+ years, including stints at Barcelona Design, Viewlogic, Synopsys, VLSI Technology, and National Semiconductor. In the last few years, Reiter’s work has focused on SOI, 2.5/3D ICs, and FinFET topics in semiconductor design and manufacturing. Straightforward enough, until you realize that these are significantly different ‘3D’ technologies, where ‘3D’ means different things to different people.

In a recent phone call, I asked Reiter to distinguish between what he calls the “three legs” of technology choices and to weigh in on which “leg” is most likely to succeed.

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Fully-depleted SOI …

Per Reiter, “The original technology was partially-depleted SOI, a fairly thin film of silicon on top of a thin insulating layer. IBM came up with the idea, because substrate capacitance was slowing their chips down. They realized if they put in the insulating layer, they wouldn’t have to worry about substrate capacitance, because the oxide layer would insulate things.

“The planar transistor gate cannot reach all of the electrons in an 80-nanometer channel, cannot fully control the flow, and causes what we called ‘body-effect’ and ‘kink-effect’ design challenges. That’s why partially-depleted SOI was not widely used. So fully-depleted silicon on insulator, FDSOI, was introduced. It only has about a 20-nanometer active film on top of the oxide layer. The gate is sitting on top of the active film and can control all of the electrons passing through the source/drain channel, which is why it’s called fully-depleted SOI.

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Semicon West 2013: a quick sponsor eval

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

 

A note: Since composing this blog, the terrible crash took place at SFO. This tragedy is being felt keenly in the tech industry as it is possible that some of those on board were coming to San Francisco for Semicon West. Many people at the conference may have a special connection to the injured and/or have had their travel plans radically altered while SFO is attempting to deal with the aftermath. The people at EDACafe wish to express their deep concern for everyone affected by the accident.

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This is clearly a holiday week, so most people are paying more attention to the barbeque than next week’s massive Semicon West in Moscone Center, so let’s keep this pre-event note short and to the point.

It is always [somewhat] telling to see who is and who is not sponsoring conferences, and Semicon West is no exception. What can be discerned, for instance, from the fact that GlobalFoundries is a sponsor of the conference this year, but TSMC is not? That Mentor Graphics and Synopsys both have their names on the sponsor list, but Cadence does not?

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pre-DAC 2013: TSMC certifies ATopTech, CDNS, MENT, SNPS

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

 

In the old days, TSMC made a big toolflow announcement every year at DAC, and hosted a lively ‘partner pavilion’ where dozens of companies were showcased in small auxiliary booths that stood in addition to their conventional booths elsewhere in the Exhibit Hall.

At DAC 2103 in Austin, however, something different is happening. Hosted by GlobalFoundries, this year’s ‘foundry pavilion’ will showcase countries, not corporations: “The DAC Global Forum celebrates contributions and future plans of nations around the globe to the field of electronic design in past (sic) 50 years.” Should be very interesting; check out Booth #137 in Austin.

In the meanwhile, TSMC’s taking this week prior to DAC 2013 to announce various tool certifications, including FinFET v0.1 design enablement: “The tool certification serves as the foundation of design infrastructure for 16-nanometer FinFET technology.”

It’s always fun to read through these types of joint announcements, at least if you’re easily amused by the exercise of comparing the quotes embedded in dueling Press Releases. TSMC Senior Director Suk Lee, for instance, is quoted in all four press releases paraphrased below, sent out this week from ATopTech, Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys.

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Antun Domic: in hindsight, Mead-Conway Revolution at DATE

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

 

Not all of the 1600+ people who attended DATE 2013 earlier this year in Grenoble were able to fit into the room where the panel celebrating 30+ years of the Mead-Conway VLSI Revolution took place. Those who could, however, were treated to a lively 90 minutes of conversation on what that revolution meant to the world of electronics and chip design.

Organized by Synopsys’ Marco Casale-Rossi and moderated by U.C. Berkeley’s Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, panelists included Berkeley’s Jan Rabaey, IMEC’s Hugo de Man, CMP’s Bernard Courtois, Columbia University’s Luca Carloni, and  Synopsys’ Antun Domic.

Although I was among those disappointed to have missed the event, I was able to speak after the fact with Antun Domic. He described the ambiance of the SRO session in Grenoble and enumerated several of the points laid out by the panelists, starting with their praise of Lynn Conway and Carver Mead’s ground breaking text book, published in 1980, Introduction to VLSI Systems.

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Chairman Chang: TSMC leaves nothing to chance

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

 

As TSMC Chairman and Founder Dr. Morris Chang made his way up the steps and across the stage on Tuesday morning to keynote at the opening of his organization’s 19th annual global tech tour, the ballroom in the San Jose Convention Center was plunged into silence, one imbued with a palpable sense of both reverence and awe. There were easily a thousand people in the room, but nary a sound. It was astonishing.

Chang positioned himself at the microphone centered on the broad stage and then delivered an equally astonishing twenty-minute address, without notes and only one or two slides. First, he acknowledged his audience …

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EDPS 2013: surf, sand, serenity, semiconductors

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

 

Let’s be honest about this. The reason the Electronic Design Process Symposium takes place every year in Monterey is because of the surf and sunshine. Otherwise, this conference would be so much more appropriately located in Silicon Valley.

Oh well, where’s the harm? Just hop into your favorite woodie, be it a hybrid or an EV, don’t forget the suncream, sandtoys, and surfboard, and head on down to Monterey Bay for two days of great talks, good food, and quiet-ish contemplation, with an emphasis on -ish. The 20th annual EDPS awaits.

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Vertigo: funFITs or fudFITs into finFETS?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

 

To say this is the year of the finFET is somewhat of an understatement, because everywhere you go somebody’s talking about going up instead of out – at ISSCC, at DesignCon, at DVCon, at ISQED, at SNUG, at EDPS, at DAC.

Among the talks so far, one of the best was given by the father of the finFET himself, U.C. Berkeley’s Chenming Hu. If you were at ISQED in Santa Clara on March 5th, you heard Prof. Hu describe how increasing leakage current in planar devices motivated radical new thinking in the late 1990s: Instead of a classic source, drain, gate structure, take a thin film of high-quality silicon material, place gate-dielectric above and below it such that the silicon is never very far from the gate, and then turn the thing 90 degrees so that the source is out the back, the drain’s in front, and the gate material is vertical.

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DAC 2013: Innovation Square

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

 

It’s time to start exploring what’s coming up at DAC 2013 in Austin the first week in June, and one way to do that is to visit the conference website. There you’ll find a variety of interesting things including an interactive Exhibit Hall map, which allows you to run your mouse over any booth and see which company’s going to be located there. Maybe that feature’s been available in years past, but it’s still pretty cool.

Something that certainly is new this year at DAC, however, is Innovation Square. I’ve boldly cut-and-pasted the graphic from the DAC website into this blog so you can see what it entails, which is this: You pay the DAC organization $5500 and for that you get a kiosk-like space, a 24-inch computer monitor, an electrical hook-up for your other stuff, booth-unit graphics, a shared private meeting suite with a schedule that you’ll know in advance, and one paid-in-full conference registration.

In other words, you get a “turn key package” that allows you to have a foot on the ground at DAC without enduring the mystery of “What’s this all going to actually cost me?” True, it looks like any particular company in Innovation Square only has about 15 or 20 square feet of show floor, but if otherwise you couldn’t afford to be on the show floor at all in Austin, this is a great innovation indeed.

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Chenming Hu: Looking at life from both sides now

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

 

Last night, Judy Collins gave a holiday concert at Davies Hall in San Francisco to a sold-out crowd of acolytes. Only an artist of Collins’ fame would be allowed to ofttimes warble off-key, forget the occasional lyric, and natter on in and around the music, yet still receive a standing ovation. After all, at 73 she is still full of performing fire, still full of attitude and life. Her appearance at Davies was a celebration of that life, lived to the fullest and in many different spheres.

Last week, U.C. Berkeley’s EECS Department threw a birthday party/symposium for Chenming Hu in Sutardja Dai Hall for an SRO crowd of past students, present students and acolytes, friends and family. Only an educator and technologist of Hu’s stature – former CTO of TSMC, ‘father’ of the FinFET, ‘godfather’ of BSIM and an international expert on CMOS device models – would be honored thusly in his 65th year by the University, and allowed to hand pick the list of speakers who filled the day-long event.

Not the least among those chosen was Ramune Nagisetty, a former MSEE student of Hu’s, who now leads a team at Intel/Hillsboro. Nagisetty recently added self-taught guitarist and vocalist/lyricist to her CV, and no matter that she ofttimes warbled off-key during her lunchtime and mid-afternoon performances during the symposium, and nattered on in and around her music, she still received a jumped-to-their-feet ovation from Hu et al.

That’s because Nagisetty was just one part of the evidence offered on December 13th – talks, demonstrations, and performances – to prove that Chenming Hu’s life to date has been lived to the fullest and in many different spheres: His family was in attendance to celebrate with the crowd, Hu’s paintings, and those of his wife and sons, were on display in the lobby outside Banatao Auditorium, Nagisetty’s music was presented, and a remarkable group of technologists as diverse as …

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ProPlus: DFY solution unveiled

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

 

The leadership of ProPlus Design Solutions has a long history in EDA, although the company itself is a newly launched startup. Ten years ago, the majority of the leadership were involved in Celestry Design Technologies, Inc., while 5 years ago all of today’s ProPlus executive team were at Cadence. Today the company, based in Silicon Valley, is building on those many years of experience to make inroads in the demanding market for design-for-yield tools.

In late September, ProPlus released its newest product offering, NanoYield for yield prediction and design optimization. When I spoke with Dr. Zhihong Liu, Executive Chairman of the company, he touched on the history of ProPlus and explained the intent of NanoYield.

Per Liu, “ProPlus has foundation technology in modeling that goes back to Celestry, a company acquired by Cadence in 2003. When the team bought the technology out of Cadence, they founded ProPlus and [worked to create] a unique DFY solution, design for yield.

“Before I joined ProPlus two years ago, they were developing lines of technologies for both high-performance parallel modeling and circuit simulation/analysis with true SPICE accuracy. Now we have put everything together to provide an integrated solution for designing better circuits in shorter time, including modeling, simulation and multivariate statistical analysis. No one else in the industry is addressing all three of these together.

“One technology that was originally licensed from IBM is a multivariate High-Sigma solution. We put that together with our own industry-validated solution, and now provide the only integrated solution in the industry, NanoYield.”

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