Week In Review: Design, Low Power

Arm heads toward IPO; graphene chip acquisition; EDA revenues up; more SiC for Infineon; $3B for German quantum.


Arm advanced its progress toward an initial public offering, confidentially submitting a draft registration statement on Form F-1 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The size and price range for the proposed offering have yet to be determined.

Graphene IDM Paragraf acquired Cardea Bio, a maker of graphene-based biocompatible chips. Cardea has developed a biosignal processing unit that enables conversion of molecular biomarkers, DNA, RNA, and proteins, into digital signals, enabling biological sensing for applications such as disease detection, food quality assessment, environmental monitoring, and multi-omics research. Cardea will be renamed Paragraf USA. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The electronic system design (ESD) industry revenue increased 11.3% from $3.47 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021 to $3.86 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, reports the ESD Alliance. The four-quarter moving average, which compares the most recent four quarters to the prior four, rose 12.6%. “The electronic design automation (EDA) industry posted double-digit gains in Q4 2022, with increases in all major product categories,” said Walden C. Rhines, Executive Sponsor of the SEMI Electronic Design Market Data report. “All geographic regions recorded growth in the quarter, with Asia Pacific reporting a double-digit increase.”

Increasing complexity, disaggregation, and continued feature shrinks is all adding up to a big data leakage problem for chipmakers.

A lot of excitement, and a fair amount of hype, surrounds what AI can do for the EDA industry. But many challenges must be overcome before AI can start designing, verifying, and implementing chips. Should AI replace the algorithms in use today, or does it have a different role to play?

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) found that worldwide sales of semiconductors totaled $119.5 billion during the first quarter of 2023, a decrease of 8.7% compared with the fourth quarter of 2022 and 21.3% less than the first quarter of 2022. Sales for the month of March 2023 increased 0.3% compared with February 2023.

Products & tools

Infineon Technologies introduced a dual-port USB-C power delivery (PD) solution with integrated boost controller for in-car charging applications. The PD solution is specifically designed for automotive applications that support Display Port (DP) in alternate mode, enabling USB devices to charge while simultaneously sharing multimedia content with the vehicle. Infineon also launched a new automotive power module. It will be available with different current ratings, voltage levels (750V and 1200V) and Infineon’s EDT3 Si IGBT and CoolSiC G2 MOSFET. Additionally, Infineon inked new silicon carbide supply agreements with SICC and TanKeBlue. The company also broke ground on its upcoming 300mm power electronics fab in Dresden, Germany.

Keysight Technologies gained approval for 5G New Radio (NR) reduced capability (RedCap) conformance test cases for use with Keysight’s 5G network emulation conformance test platform. Test cases span all test types from protocol and radio frequency transmitter/receiver to radio frequency demodulation and radio resource management.

In-circuit monitors and sensors are playing an increasing role in silicon lifecycle management and concepts around reliability and resiliency — both during design as well as in the field. They can enable a much more granular understanding of what exactly goes wrong in real-time and open the door to recovery schemes to keep devices functioning, at least until they can be repaired or replaced.

Neo Semiconductor debuted its 3D NAND-like DRAM technology. The 3D X-DRAM cell array structure is based on capacitor-less floating body cell technology. It can be manufactured using a 3D NAND-like process and needs only one mask to define the bit line holes and form the cell structure inside the holes. The company estimates it can achieve 128 Gb density with 230 layers.

Infineon Technologies uncorked a wireless charging controller IC for applications requiring higher wireless power transfer such as industrial applications, healthcare equipment, robotics and drones, vacuum cleaners, power tools, docking stations, and smartphone chargers supporting Qi Extended Power Profile (EPP). The transmitter supports 50 W wireless power transfer using a high-power proprietary charging protocol and a wide input voltage range of 4.5 to 24 V.


Tenstorrent licensed Arteris IP’s Ncore and FlexNoC interconnect IP for its AI chiplet systems that are tailored to specific workloads and applications.

Test lab ritt7Layers is using Keysight’s set of wireless network emulation and testing solutions to verify the conformity, functionality, and performance of Open RAN equipment. The lab setup includes the Keysight Open RAN Architecture (KORA) and Network Emulation Solutions to provide end-to-end testing for 5G and 4G/LTE networks.

Cadence is using IBM Cloud HPC for tool R&D workloads as part of a hybrid, multi-cloud approach. It is also using IBM Spectrum LSF as the HPC workload scheduler for handling cloud and on-prem environments.

RISC-V is causing some aspects of verification to be fundamentally rethought, with the ISA’s customizability and extensibility creating new challenges along with new opportunities.


Germany plans to invest €3.0 billion (~$3.3 billion) to build a universal quantum computer by the end of 2026, Quantum Insider reports. By that time, it intends to have a system with 100 qubits, eventually scaling up to 500 qubits. Germany also hopes the project will spur development of the country’s quantum ecosystem.

Australia laid out its national quantum strategy. The country intends to invest in both quantum research and commercialization, along with securing access to quantum infrastructure and materials. Other key parts of the effort involve standards and workforce development.

SEEQC debuted its first-generation reference class quantum computer. The full stack platform incorporates firmware, software packages, and a cloud portal that allows third parties to run algorithms on the system. Built to mimic current generation superconductor quantum computing systems with conventional analog control and readout utilizing room temperature electronics, it will also serve as a benchmark for SEEQC’s upcoming digital single flux quantum (SFQ) chip-based quantum computer.

How close are we to useful quantum computing? It depends on the problem you’re trying to solve, finds HPCwire in an analysis of a new paper from ETH Zurich and Microsoft researchers.

Research notes

Researchers at the University of Minnesota propose a new method of biocomputing. Trumpet, or Transcriptional RNA Universal Multi-Purpose GatE PlaTform, uses biological enzymes as catalysts for DNA-based molecular computing. Researchers performed logic gate operations in test tubes using DNA molecules. A positive gate connection resulted in a phosphorescent glow. The DNA creates a circuit, and a fluorescent RNA compound lights up when the circuit is completed. The platform is reliable for encoding all universal Boolean logic gates (NAND, NOT, NOR, AND, and OR), and logic gates can be stacked to build more complex circuits.

Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich fabricated a new type of transistor from a germanium-tin alloy. Charge carriers can move faster in the material than in silicon or germanium, which enables lower voltages in operation. The alloy is also compatible with the existing CMOS process for chip fabrication and could be integrated directly into conventional silicon chips. The researchers say it has potential for future low-power, high-performance chips, and possibly also for the development of future of quantum computers. It could also be used in optical on-chip data transmission, where a germanium-tin laser is monolithically integrated with the new transistor.

Scientists from the Center for Research in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Materials (CiQUS), Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), University of Cantabria, Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), and Technical University of Denmark (DTU) developed a method for building carbon nanocircuits with tunable properties. They synthesized a new nanoporous graphene structure by connecting ultra-narrow graphene strips, or “nanoribbons,” by means of flexible “bridges” made of phenylene moieties (which are portions of larger molecules). By modifying in a continuous way the architecture and angle of these bridges, the scientists can control the quantum connectivity between the nanoribbon channels and, ultimately, fine-tune the electronic properties of the graphene nanoarchitecture. The tunability could also be controlled by external stimuli, such as strain or electric fields. Possible applications include future electronic devices, circuits for quantum computers, and thermoelectric nanomaterials for renewable energy.

Upcoming events

  • ITF World 2023 – May 16-17 (Antwerp, Belgium)
  • Annual ESD Alliance Membership Meeting & CEO Outlook – May 18 (Santa Clara, CA)
  • International Memory Workshop – May 21-24 (Monterey, CA)
  • Embedded Vision Summit – May 22-24 (Santa Clara, CA)
  • RISC-V Summit Europe – June 5-9 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Symposium-RFIC 2023 – June 11-13 (San Diego, CA)
  • ISCA 2023: International Symposium on Computer Architecture – June 17-21 (Orlando, FL)
  • Supply Chain Forum: Accelerating the digital transformation in logistics – June 21 (Frankfurt, Germany)
  • MIPI DevCon 2023: Mobile and Beyond – June 30 (San Jose, CA)
  • DAC 2023- Design Automation Conference – July 9-13 (San Francisco, CA)
  • More events and webinars

Further reading

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

  • Thermal Integrity Challenges Grow In 2.5D
  • What Designers Need To Know About GAA
  • Transitioning To Photonics
  • EDA Makes A Frenzied Push Into Machine Learning
  • True 3D-IC Problems
  • Designing For In-Circuit Monitors
  • RISC-V Driving New Verification Concepts

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