Chip Industry Week In Review

Renesas to buy Altium; Arm’s chiplet architecture; imec’s open PDK for N2; SRAM scaling; chip industry apprenticeships; commercial open-source chip; Wi-Fi 7 test platform; high-NA EUV demo; global registry for tracking AI supercomputer chips.


By Susan Rambo, Karen Heyman, and Liz Allan.

Renesas plans to acquire Altium, maker of PCB design software, for $5.9 billion. In a conference call, Renesas CEO Hidetoshi Shibata cited Altium’s PCB design software and digital twin virtual modeling as key components of its future strategy. “I believe it will generate transformational value for our combined customers and our stakeholders,” Shibata said. Altium will continue to be led by CEO Aram Mirkazemi as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Renesas.

Arm is working with 20 partners to standardize partitioning choices for chiplet-based designs, with the goal releasing an Arm Chiplet System Architecture (CSA) that helps designers reuse IP among multiple suppliers. Arm also is standardizing AMBA protocols to use across multiple chiplets.

AI investments in Europe are growing.  Microsoft will invest about €3.3 billion ($3.5 billion) in Germany over two years to expand its data center capacities for AI and cloud computing applications, reports AP News. Google, meanwhile, is opening an AI research hub in Paris and will host at least 300 researchers.

A report from OpenAI, the University of Cambridge, and multiple others said AI chip hardware is “a strong intervention point for risk-reducing AI policies” and suggested creating a global registry tracking the flow of chips destined for AI supercomputers.

Another report, this one from the nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said that India has a chance to play a significant role in semiconductor assembly, test, and packaging, and that it can attract fabs to develop chips at 28nm and above.

Open silicon nonprofit lowRISC and the OpenTitan coalition produced the world’s first commercial quality open-source chip. Google launched the coalition in 2018, aiming to make a completely transparent and trustworthy secure silicon platform. Other members include Winbond and ETH Zurich.

Special Report: SRAM Scaling Issues, And What Comes Next

While it will remain a workhorse memory, using SRAM at advanced nodes requires new approaches.

Quick links to more news:

Design and Power
Manufacturing and Test
Pervasive Computing

Design and Power

Imec introduced an open process design kit and training program for the N2 node that can be used for virtual digital designs, including backside power delivery. The PDK will be embedded in tool suites from Cadence and Synopsys.

Cadence integrated its AI-driven OrCAD X and Allegro X with Dassault Systèmes’ extended 3DEXPERIENCE Works Portfolio in a cloud-based system, for use by customers of SOLIDWORKS. Customers’ team members will be able to collaborate on printed circuit board (PCB) and 3D mechanical design and simulation.

This week’s Low Power-High Performance newsletter features these top stories:

  • AI Tradeoffs At The Edge: AI is increasingly moving from the data center to the edge, where larger amounts of data need to be processed much more quickly than in the past.
  • Re-architecting Hardware For Energy: Power has been a second-class citizen when it comes to optimization, but thermal is becoming the great limiter for what will be possible in the future.

Keysight joined the AI Safety Consortium, which was created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop science-based standards and guidelines for the development and deployment of AI. The consortium has over 200 members.

EdgeQ is using Arteris’ FlexNoC network-on-chip IP in its 5G Base Station-on-a-Chip for small-cell and macro-cell applications. The chip handles both multi-mode 4G and 5G and uses a software-defined physical layer. AI in the chip can handle RF spectrum monitoring, indoor location positioning, 5G massive MIMO scheduling, among others. The chip has a RISC-V architecture.

Microchip launched TimeProvider 4500 grandmaster, a more accurate hardware timekeeping platform for high-speed network interfaces up to 25 Gbps. The company says the platform can keep accurate time down to a single nanosecond, which is needed for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSes) and data centers.

Quantum-related research is picking up steam. Researchers from the University of Tokyo adapted a terahertz split-ring resonator to move quantum data beyond the qubit and the quantum chip. The U.K. Department for Transport will test an algorithm developed by Q-CTRL and Oxford Quantum Circuits on a quantum supercomputer to find a better way to schedule trains. And researchers from Cornell University found spin-active single defect centers in gallium nitride (GaN), similar to those found in diamond, SiC, and hexagonal boron nitride. Their results may help with scalable and integrated quantum sensing applications.

Manufacturing and Test

SkyWater signed a production agreement with Nautilus Biotechnology to supply silicon-based microfluidic bio chips for Nautilus’ proteome analysis system, a growing niche for advanced semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.

ASML is readying its $350 million High-NA EUV machine, which went on display for the first time last week in ASML’s Dutch headquarters, reports Reuters.

Tower Semiconductor submitted a proposal to India’s government to build an $8 billion chipmaking facility, reports Reuters. Tower is looking to manufacture 65nm and 40nm chips with the help of government incentives.

Keysight launched a Wi-Fi 7 wireless test platform that emulates networks, Wi-Fi devices, and traffic for WiFi 7. It can output RF at WiFi 7 scale (including 4X4 MIMO 320 MHz bandwidth), and hundreds of clients at once, for the latest IEEE 802.11be standards and use cases. E7515W has unique physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layers, providing greater data analysis.

Fig. 1:  The E7515W UXM Wireless Connectivity Test Platform, Keysight’s network emulation platform for Wi-Fi 7.  Source: Keysight 

Flex Logix joined the Intel Foundry Services (IFS) Accelerator IP Alliance, which provides access to Intel’s process design kits, such as Intel 18Å, to provide embedded FPGA and reconfigurable DSP/AI solutions for mutual customers. Intel will provide updates on its foundry business and process roadmap at IFS Direct Connect on Feb. 21 in San Jose, California.

University of Cambridge will contribute to the £11 million (~$13.9M) fund for establishing an innovation and knowledge center, led by the University of Bristol, for next-gen wide/ultra-wide bandgap compound semiconductors.

Special Report: Chip Ecosystem Apprenticeships Help Close The Talent Gap

Registered apprenticeships, community colleges, and in-house training can help build a broad workforce pipeline for technician roles and more advanced positions.


The French government suspended an EV leasing program only six weeks after its launch due to demand outstripping supply, reports the Guardian. The lease of €100 (~$107) a month for a European-built car was designed to help low-income households and cut carbon emissions. The program will resume next year.

Stellantis invested €103 million (~$110.9M) in its plant in Szentgotthard, Hungary, including grants and contributions from the Hungarian government to increase its production capacity of electric drive modules (EDMs). The company also announced select models of its battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in North America will adopt the proposed SAE J3400 connector, starting in 2025.

Germany-based Schaeffler extended an agreement to use Ansys‘ tools to drive sustainable product development, including reduced waste from physical prototypes. Schaeffler designs and manufactures precision parts for hybrid/electric powertrains and industrial applications.

Chinese EV maker BYD is considering setting up a plant in Mexico, seeking to establish an export hub to the U.S., reports NikkeiAsia.

Sony and Honda formed an EV joint venture with plans for three models by 2023, reports NikkeiAsia.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled certain Waymo driverless vehicles, which incorrectly predict the future motion of a towed vehicle, leading to a possible collision.

Shell closed some hydrogen light duty passenger fueling stations in California due to supply complications and market factors.

Argonne National Laboratory researchers used generative AI, ML, and simulations to identify environmentally friendly metal-organic framework materials used in catalysts and converters.

Researchers at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT-CSAIL) discovered microstructured composites using a computational design system that integrates physical experiments, physics-based simulations, and neural networks. The composites are tough, durable, and stiff, making them ideal for use in cars and airplanes.


New York University and University of Calgary researchers analyzed the hardware security bug characteristics in Google’s OpenTitan silicon root of trust (RoT) project.

Intel warned of more than 30 vulnerabilities.

In a blog titled “Staying ahead of threat actors in the age of AI,” Microsoft said state-backed hackers from Russia, China, and Iran have been using OpenAI tools to hone their skills and trick targets.

At a White House roundtable on quantum computing cybersecurity, senior officials emphasized the importance of encryption technology in the delivery of critical government services.

Boeing selected BAE Systems to upgrade and modernize the vehicle management system computer for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueling system.

Utility company Duke Energy will decommission energy-storage batteries produced by China-based CATL due to U.S. government concerns about hacking, reports Reuters.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)’s Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative announced its 2024 priorities: To defend against advanced persistent threat operations, improve the cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure, and decrease the likelihood and impact of AI-related threats and vulnerabilities. CISA also issued other alerts, including security updates for Microsoft and Adobe.

Pervasive Computing

Infineon released a Bluetooth module with low-energy long-range (LE-LR) support for such applications as industrial IoT, smart home, asset tracking, beacons and sensors, and medical devices.

The industrial machine vision market is expected to grow from $6.9 billion in 2023 to $7.8 billion in 2029, at a 2.1% CAGR, reports Yole. The focus is on software and AI development as well as hardware innovation in 3D, non-visible, and event-based applications.

ETH Zurich and Microsoft researchers used mixed reality devices to simplify human-robot interaction, enabling robots to perform more complex tasks.

Berkeley Engineering researchers calculated all the orientations of a rolling sphere to better understand holonomy, aiming to achieve more efficient navigation with spherical robots.

NTU Singapore set up a pilot lab for rapid prototyping of ultrathin and stretchable electronics that detect bioelectric signals from skin, muscles, and organs, and transmit these signals to control robots or other electronic devices.

Princeton Engineering researchers:

The International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory called for flight concepts that can further technology for orbiting laboratories, such as chemical and material synthesis in space, translational medicine, and in-space edge computing.


Find upcoming chip industry events here, including:

Event Date Location
2024 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) Feb 18 – 22 San Francisco, CA
PCI-SIG Developers Conference Feb 19 – 20 Taipei, Taiwan
Symposium on Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap Feb 21 – 23 San Jose, CA
Phil Kaufman Award and Banquet Feb 22 San Jose, CA
SPIE Advanced Lithography + Patterning Feb 25 – 29 San Jose, CA
Renesas Tech Day UK Feb 27 Cambridge, UK
Keysight EDA Connect World: HSD and RF Feb 28 -29 Santa Clara, CA
International Symposium on FPGAs Mar 3 – 5 Monterey, CA
DVCON: Design & Verification Mar 4 – 7 San Jose, CA
ISES Japan 2024: International Semiconductor Executive Summit Mar 5 – 6 Tokyo, Japan
ISS Industry Strategy Symposium Europe Mar 6 – 8 Vienna, Austria
All Upcoming Events

Upcoming webinars are here.

Further Reading and Newsletters

Read the latest special reports and top stories, or check out the latest newsletters:

Systems and Design
Low Power-High Performance
Test, Measurement and Analytics
Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials
Automotive, Security and Pervasive Computing


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