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Week In Review: Design, Low Power

Interoperable CDC verification; rapid signal integrity analysis; Navitas takes over silicon control IC JV; semi revenue up 1.1% in 2022.

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Worldwide semiconductor revenue increased 1.1% in 2022 to $601.7 billion, up from $595 billion in 2021, according to preliminary results from Gartner. The combined revenue of the top 25 semiconductor vendors increased 2.8% in 2022 and accounted for 77.5% of the market. The memory segment posted a 10% revenue decrease. Analog showed the strongest growth, up 19% from 2021, followed by discretes, up 15%.

Accellera formed the Clock Domain Crossing (CDC) Working Group with the aim of defining a standard CDC collateral specification to ease SoC integration. “Our objective is to develop a standard format to capture CDC/RDC/Glitch intent. This will enable interoperability of CDC collateral generated by different CDC verification tools,” said Dammy Olopade, CDC Working Group Chair. “During the upcoming working group meetings, we will focus on the effort to produce a normative Language Reference Manual (LRM).”

In other standards news, Accellera contributed its Security Annotation for Electronic Design Integration (SA-EDI) Standard 1.0 to the IEEE for the development of the P3164 draft standard. SA-EDI 1.0 defines a specification that documents security concerns for hardware IP and its associated components when integrated into an IC. The standard is design-, product-, and tool-independent.

Products & deals

Keysight Technologies introduced a high-speed digital simulation tool that supports rapid signal integrity (SI) analysis for hardware engineers and PCB designers. The tool performs electromagnetic (EM) simulation on signal nets and reports SI metrics, such as channel return and insertion loss, and also automates performance comparisons between different versions of a design and generates simulation reports that expedite verification prior to building physical prototypes.

Renesas Electronics announced a new automotive Intelligent Power Device (IPD) to safely and flexibly control power distribution within vehicles. Features include accurate detection of abnormal currents such as overcurrent, even at low loads.

Infineon Technologies debuted a new 3-phase gate driver IC. The 160 V silicon-on-insulator (SOI) gate driver features an integrated power management unit (PMU) and is available in a QFN-32 package with a thermally efficient exposed power pad. It targets battery-powered industrial BLDC motor control drives including cordless power tools, robotics, drones, and light electric vehicles.

Global Unichip Corp. (GUC) used Cadence tools to create advanced HPC and CPU designs. The HPC design was created using the Innovus Implementation System on TSMC’s N3 process and featured a 3.5 million instance count that reached clock speeds of up to 3.16GHz. The CPU design was created using the Cerebrus Intelligent Chip Explorer and the digital full flow on the TSMC N5 process technology.

Samsung Electronics debuted a 200-megapixel image sensor targeted for premium smartphones. It uses pixel binning, which simulates different pixel sizes to accommodate varying lighting levels.

With an increasing number of companies interested in devices based on the RISC-V ISA, and a growing number of cores, accelerators, and infrastructure components being made available, either commercially or in open-source form, end users face an increasingly difficult challenge of ensuring they make the best choices.

Acquisitions

Navitas Semiconductor will acquire the remaining minority interest in its silicon control IC joint venture from Halo Microelectronics for $20 million in Navitas stock. The joint venture was formed in 2021 by Navitas and Halo to develop application-specific silicon controllers that are optimized to work in combination with Navitas GaN ICs.

Microsoft acquired Fungible Inc., a maker of high-efficiency, low-power data processing units (DPUs). The deal will boost its data center infrastructure teams.

As designs become more heterogeneous and disaggregated, they need to be modeled, properly floor-planned, verified, and debugged in the context of a system, rather than as individual components.

Research

IBM Research shared an overview of research it was involved with in 2022 related to semiconductors, AI and hybrid cloud, quantum computing, and security, along with major trends emerging across those areas. “We believe that vertical chip integration will lead to the next generation of chips, and packaging breakthroughs for high-performance computing, including 3D chiplets, will provide hardware advances to improve AI computations,” wrote Darío Gi, IBM senior vice president and director of research. “In-memory computing offers another opportunity to further improve energy efficiency for AI computations. We also believe that the trend of separating compute from storage that has allowed more flexible scaling and lower prices will continue.”

A new thin-film circuit was developed to produce terahertz waves and custom-tailoring their frequency, wavelength, amplitude, and phase. The integrated photonic circuit made of lithium niobate was developed by researchers at EPFL, Harvard University, and ETH Zurich, who say it could have applications in both the electronic and optical realms. “Generating waves at very high frequencies is extremely challenging, and there are very few techniques that can generate them with unique patterns. We are now able to engineer the exact temporal shape of terahertz waves – to say essentially, ‘I want a waveform that looks like this,’” said Cristina Benea-Chelmus of the Laboratory of Hybrid Photonics (HYLAB) in EPFL’s School of Engineering.

An MXene-based thin film device, fabricated by spray coating, that can block electromagnetic radiation was developed by researchers at Drexel University. They say it could be used to adjust the performance of electronic devices, strengthen wireless connections, and secure mobile communications against intrusion. “Dynamic control of electromagnetic wave jamming has been a significant technological challenge for protecting electronic devices working at gigahertz frequencies and a variety of other communications technologies,” said Yury Gogotsi, professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering.

Engineers from UNSW Sydney and quantum startup spin out Diraq discovered a new way of precisely controlling single electrons nestled in quantum dots that run logic gates. The new mechanism is also less bulky and requires fewer parts. “Since it’s based on the same CMOS technology as today’s computer industry, our approach will make it easier and faster to scale up for commercial production and achieve our goal of fabricating billions of qubits on a single chip,” said Andrew Dzurak, professor in quantum engineering at UNSW and CEO and founder of Diraq.

Find the latest research in the technical papers library.

Upcoming events

Check out upcoming events and webinars. Some on the horizon:

Jan. 23-Jan. 25, Florida Semiconductor Week, Gainesville, FL

Jan. 24-Jan. 26, Chiplet Summit, San Jose, CA

Jan. 28-Feb. 2, SPIE Photonics West, San Francisco, CA

Jan. 30-Feb. 1, AR/VR/MR: SPIE event focused on augmented, virtual and mixed reality, San Francisco, CA

Jan. 31-Feb. 2, DesignCon, Santa Clara, CA

Feb. 23, Phil Kaufman Award Ceremony and Banquet, San Jose, CA

Feb. 27-Mar. 2, DVCon U.S. 2023, San Jose, CA

Further reading

Check out the latest Low Power-High Performance and  Systems & Design newsletters for these highlights and more:

  • The potential of FP8 for AI
  • Importance of choosing the right memory at the edge
  • Why existing tools and methodologies are stretched to the breaking point
  • IP reuse as a result of system complexity
  • A look back at 2022

If you’d like to receive Semiconductor Engineering newsletters and alerts via email, subscribe here.



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