Completing The Silicon Lifecycle Management Puzzle

Building a foundation to monitor, analyze, and optimize semiconductor devices throughout design, manufacture, test, and deployment.


The year 2020 will be remembered for many reasons. The global pandemic, the political struggles and the extreme weather will occupy our thoughts for many years. There was another event that occurred in 2020 that will also be remembered in a smaller, but very important portion of the world. It’s the year that Synopsys acquired Moortec to complete the silicon lifecycle management (SLM) puzzle. SLM is a relatively new discipline that monitors, analyzes, and optimizes semiconductor devices throughout design, manufacture, test, and deployment. SLM’s core principles are to gather useful data about each chip and analyze that data to improve chip and system performance. Gathering this data requires technology that is close to my heart – in-chip monitoring. With the Synopsys acquisition of Moortec, the SLM puzzle is now complete.

The concept of checking dynamic conditions within a chip has been around for many years. Crude schemes whereby sensors are used to protect devices from over-heating or for detecting brownouts on voltage supplies are reasonably well understood and have been deployed for the last decade or two by forward-thinking design teams. What makes 2020 special is that during this year the industry began to embrace a step-change in the use of embedded sensors and monitors to facilitate SLM, which could have a potential market of $3bn/year by 2023. Global players in semiconductor design, fabrication, test and system deployment began putting the pieces together to unlock substantial new services and capabilities for systems that utilize advanced semiconductor devices.

It is well-known that the use of advanced semiconductors is seeing explosive growth. The ubiquitous use of AI and machine learning is driving much of this growth. These systems demand predictable, low-latency performance and extreme reliability. SLM holds the promise of realizing these requirements. Enhanced product screening during manufacture, adaptive test programs for better fault finding, and products that are individually optimized for power and speed are examples of capabilities made possible by SLM. Accurate scheduling of maintenance and even predicting failures before they occur are also possible.

These concepts are not new. They have been applied successfully to aerospace, logistics, and automotive disciplines for years. Have you seen the vast telemetry data from Formula One race cars back to the pit crew? Even supermarket freezer compartments are centrally monitored to help avoid interrupted ice cream sales. Ice cream aside, the implications of lifecycle monitoring for silicon devices is significant. We know that advanced semiconductors play a critical role in products, systems and the broader technologically based services that touch our lives.

During 2020, I realized that Synopsys and Moortec shared a vision to make technology better by understanding more about the make-up of each silicon device and how, throughout its lifetime, the device responded to continually changing software stimuli and environmental conditions. Moortec provided a global leadership position for in-chip monitoring IP, with a large customer footprint and delivery credentials for FinFET down to 5nm (and soon on 3nm). Moortec had been delivering PVT monitoring solutions since 2010. This focus allowed Moortec engineers to closely understand customer challenges, which in turn allowed for a compelling sensing solution to be delivered to over 110 customers globally.

Synopsys provided a global leadership position in semiconductor design automation and IP development and integration, with reach from early design to production deployment. Through its sophisticated and widely deployed design flow, Synopsys is able to create an information backbone, from the chip to the edge to the cloud. With this combination of technology and lifecycle coverage, it was clear that a unique and unparalleled solution to the industry was in the offing.

Synopsys’ acquisition of Moortec defines an exciting roadmap of monitors, sensors, structures and software to measure devices during manufacture and deployment in the field. This information can be used to optimize future design flows, to screen for optimal reliability, and to assess and optimize each chip for power and speed performance. It can also be used to implement predictive system maintenance, optimize performance based on changing conditions and spot potential security breaches in the field. Other pieces of the puzzle fell into place in 2020. The Synopsys acquisition of Qualtera is an example.

As 2020 draws to a close, let’s dare to be optimistic and perhaps even excited about what 2021 will bring for the semiconductor industry as well as for society. You can learn more about the Synopsys Silicon Lifecycle Management Platform here and you can learn more about Moortec’s in-chip monitoring and embedded sensing fabrics here. My next blog will dig into more detail about the impact of Moortec’s technology on the Synopsys SLM platform and highlight benefits to each of the key application areas of data center, AI, automotive and 5G & consumer.

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