Week In Review: Design, Low Power

Alphawave to buy OpenFive; MediaTek’s Bluetooth unit to list in Taiwan; optical design; 22nm ReRAM plans; NAND CapEx grows.


Alphawave IP will acquire the OpenFive business unit from SiFive. The $210 million cash deal will bring OpenFive’s high-speed connectivity SoC IP portfolio to Alphawave and nearly double its IPs currently available, including an expanded die-to-die connectivity portfolio as well as adding data center and networking custom silicon solutions. “When we completed our IPO in 2021, we committed to continuing to grow and accelerate our business by deploying the capital we raised. This began with the acquisition of Precise-ITC in 2021, and the addition of the OpenFive team will further accelerate Alphawave’s business. Alphawave can now deliver bundled connectivity-focused IP solutions and custom silicon solutions like chiplets to global customers,” said John Lofton Holt, Executive Chairman of Alphawave. Alphawave has also licensed RISC-V processor IPs from SiFive as part of the transaction.

MediaTek plans to list its Bluetooth chip unit, Airoha, on Taiwan’s Emerging Stock Market, according to Nikkei Asia. The listing aims to raise funds for R&D and hiring, and it is a prerequisite to a full IPO. Airoha Bluetooth chips are included in numerous TWS (true wireless stereo) headsets, with customers reportedly including Sony, Beats by Apple, JBL, Skullcandy, and Xiaomio.

Tools & IP
Synopsys improved interoperability features between CODE V and LightTools optical design and simulation tools. In the iterative design environment, CODE V surface-based models are automatically converted to solid models in LightTools for high-fidelity optical product simulations. Design updates are maintained between the products, including all optical properties, receivers, and sources. Other new features include surface-based modeling in LightTools that allows CAD geometries to be instantly ray traced as free-standing surfaces and as parts of solid geometry for more flexible optical system simulations. In CODE V and LightTools, improvements to diffractive surfaces and volume holographic optical elements support the development of holographic surfaces for head-up displays and AR/VR headsets. Automatic adjustments in CODE V to material indices for varying temperature and pressure conditions support advanced modeling of aerospace and defense systems.

Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Analog FastSPICE platform was certified for UMC’s 28nm high-performance, low-power process technology (28HPCU+). The process aims to balance cost and performance, targeting applications including ICs for Wi-Fi, digital TV, and flash controllers.

Infineon updated its IPOSIM power simulation platform, adding an automated service that allows lifetime estimation of components according to usage and application requirements. It also provides steady-state simulation for power and thermal calculation of a single cycle as well as load cycle simulation for power and thermal calculation of multiple operating points.

Intrinsic ID debuted the latest version of its security hardware IP that uses SRAM as a physically unclonable function (PUF) to derive cryptographic keys. The latest update provides additional security countermeasures, extended testability, and requires less non-volatile memory than previous versions. “Specialized applications in data centers, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence push computing limits and are driving the new features of QuiddiKey. The new product offers security IP that is future-proof and does not require redesign as process nodes keep shrinking and designs become more complex,” said Pim Tuyls, CEO of Intrinsic ID.

Wireless & networking
Keysight released a compliance test solution for validating 112 Gbps serial data center interfaces to IEEE and Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) standards. It enables repeatable testing across a variety of implementation scenarios and supports testing of multiple interfaces, including chip-to-chip, chip-to-module, cabled, and backplane.

Keysight also announced an extended range of 5G new radio (NR) test cases for device and module validation according to a carrier acceptance test (CAT) plan defined by China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC). The new test cases address multiple scenarios for validating the radio frequency (RF) and radio resource management (RRM) performance beyond specifications defined by 3GPP. China Mobile’s carrier acceptance test program ensures 5G devices used by consumers and enterprises as well as in IoT applications perform as intended on the mobile operator’s network.

Memory & storage
Weebit Nano is working with CEA-Leti to design a full IP memory module that integrates a multi-megabit ReRAM block targeting an advanced 22nm FD-SOI process. “FD-SOI technology provides exceptional performance at very low voltages with low leakage and is broadly adopted by the industry. Combining ReRAM technology with FD-SOI holds great promise for low-power embedded devices, which need a new type of non-volatile memory and will benefit from its efficiency and robustness,” said Olivier Faynot, Head of Silicon Component Division, CEA-Leti.

Fujitsu debuted 12Mbit memory density ReRAM. Operating at power supply voltage from 1.6V to 3.6V, it has read current of 0.15mA on average during read operations in an about 2mm x 3mm package. It targets wearables such as hearing aids and smart watches.

Winbond uncorked a 1.2V SpiFlash NOR Flash IC in a 64Mb density, which the company said provides 33% power saving compared to its 1.8V flash variant. It also said that the with 1.2V Flash, the SoC can connect directly to the SPI Flash without a level shifter, reducing the BOM cost and PCB space. It targets small wearables such as TWS headsets and smart watches.

Market research firm IC Insights forecasts NAND flash memory capital spending to rise 8% this year to $29.9 billion, surpassing the previous all-time high mark of $27.8 billion spent in 2018. “New and recently upgraded NAND flash memory fabs include Samsung’s Pyeongtaek Lines 1 and 2 (which are also used for DRAM and foundry); Samsung’s Phase 2 investment in Xi’an, China; Kioxia’s Fab 6 (Flash Ventures) and Fab K1 in Iwate, Japan; and Micron’s third flash memory plant in Singapore. Also, SK Hynix outfitted the remaining space in its M15 plant for NAND flash,” IC Insights said.

IAR Systems added support for 64-bit RISC-V cores in its C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench for RISC-V. Symmetric multicore processing (SMP) is also now supported for high-performance debugging of multicore RISC-V devices.

Segger released a new version of its Embedded Studio for RISC-V real-time memory management for hard real-time C++ support. Supporting all common RISC-V 32-bit and 64-bit cores, it also provides a C++17 Compiler and C++17 Standard Library, combining Segger’s emRun runtime and emFloat floating-point libraries.

Renesas released a reference design for automotive in-cabin wireless charging stations. The P9261-3C-CRBv2 solution includes the automotive-qualified wireless power controller P9261 with MP-A13 3-coils reference design as the wireless power transmitter (TX). It offers a large active charging area with high efficiency and EMC/EMI performance. The reference design offers compliance to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Qi 1.3 standard EPP (Extended Power Profile) for 15W charging. It also supports proprietary charging profiles and is capable of 50W power delivery.

Keysight uncorked new Scienlab SL1302A software, which enables OEMs, primarily in China, to perform electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) interoperability tests based on the GB/T 34657.1 standard.

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