Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Google Partners with SkyWater and Efabless to Enable Open Source Manufacturing of Custom ASICs

First open source foundry PDK enables full manufacturing chain for open hardware

Google-sponsored MPW shuttle program now accepting design submissions.

SkyWater Technology, the trusted technology realization partner, and Efabless, a crowdsourcing design platform for custom silicon, today announced design submissions are now being accepted for a series of Google-sponsored open source Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) shuttles that will run at SkyWater. Through a partnership between Google, SkyWater and Efabless, open source designs selected by the program will be fabricated at no cost to the designers.  The MPW program is enabled by the first foundry-supported open source process design kit (PDK) for 130 nm mixed-signal CMOS technologies (SKY130 process). The initiative will enable a complete open source manufacturing supply chain for custom application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and has been discussed in a series of talks produced by the FOSSi (Free and Open Source Silicon) Foundation including presentations by Google and Efabless.

Google has a strong history of supporting open source silicon through being a founding member of both the RISC-V Foundation and the Linux Foundation’s CHIPS Alliance project. Parthasarathy Ranganathan, distinguished engineer, Google said, “Working through its Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), Google is actively engaged in helping seed the open silicon space, specifically by providing funding, strategic, and legal support to key open hardware efforts including lowRISC and CHIPS Alliance.”

In support of the shuttle program, Efabless has released a complete Apache 2.0-licensed open source RTL2GDS design stack, referred to as openLANE, that supports the SKY130 PDK and is available to designers worldwide. With open source designs and a standardized test harness produced by Efabless that is open and freely available, verification results can be easily and cost-effectively replicated by other designers, enabling a new model to evaluate and iterate on ideas. This community-based model also brings a new and effective approach to product verification and security.

This offering has implications for accelerating innovation in the 130 nm mixed-signal SoC node popular for IoT type applications by removing barriers and obstacles relating to experimentation and collaboration for IC design. The model and its innovative outcomes are extensible to advanced nodes over time.

“Launching the portal for design submission is a milestone in connecting a global community of experts who can openly collaborate to create and verify ASICs and supporting IP,” said Mohamed Kassem, Efabless chief technology officer and co-founder. “The open source model multiplies the collaboration in semiconductor chip design. And this is just the start. Over time we expect to see advanced (and high quality) designs coming from the open source community.”

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John Kent, SkyWater executive vice president of technology development and design enablement said,  “We expect the new open source foundry PDK to serve as an excellent enablement engine for generating re-usable IP which will amplify idea generation and feed product development that is ongoing in the IoT and industrial space.”

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