Business, Hardware

Meet the Silicon Tech Enablers that Make Chips Possible

The Common Platform is comprised of companies that collaborate to bring us tomorrow. Their events draw related companies within the industry, many of which were at the Forum held earlier this month. It was a showcase to draw customers from the electronics and semiconductor arena to the participating companies which offer manufacturing, products, tools, services, and support.

Not surprisingly everyone is advertising their ability to reduce development costs, create better, faster, smaller electronic building blocks, automate design, manage power, and speed delivery times. The come-hither blurbs in the handouts didn’t make it easy to differentiate between the offerings.

But then, it is called Common Platform, and the commonalities were evident. The big names, or Platinum Sponsors as they are called, are ARM, Cadence, Mentor Graphics, and Synopsys. Here is a vignette of each company as presented in our press bags.

Cadence is concentrating on electronic design automation (EDA) with their EDA360 which takes in the entire spectrum of the design process with reliability and profitability as its goal. The application helps create, integrate, and optimize designs for silicon chips, system-on-chip devices, and complete systems.

Caption: Mentor Graphics and Cadence at Common Platform Forum

Mentor Graphics also focuses on EDA products offering a complete IC-design-to-silicon solution that promises a short design cycle time, improved productivity, and high yield for devices manufactured at 28nm and below. Their products include the Tessent suite for production test, built-in self test, failure diagnosis and accelerated yield learning.

Synopsys, another EDA focused company BSN profiled as the Betty Crocker of chip design, touts a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of implementation, verification, IP, manufacturing and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) solutions. Everyone is attempting to manage power, yield, system-to-silicon verification and the time it takes to produce the desired result. Synopsys claims to excel in these endeavors with less cost and with minimal scheduling risk.

Synopsis’ Lynx lets design teams create optimized 32/28nm HKMG system-on-a-chips faster and with low integration risk and cost

The two Gold Sponsors, and InfoTech, didn’t fall far from the tree. ChipEstimate offers their InCyte Chip Estimator (depicted on the right) to help users visualize tradeoffs throughout the chip design cycle.

Design specifications will include selection of gate counts, performance goals, off-chip bus connections, memory configurations, and optional connectivity. ChipEstimate users can look through the IP portfolios of their partners to select an IP vendor or see which foundries support the IP they select.

Infotech Enterprises bases their solutions on global collaborative engineering. They draw on 8,000 professionals at 30 locations worldwide to meet complex engineering challenges. The teams hold many industry standard certifications such as AS9100 and ISO 27001.

They provide concept to silicon and system prototype solutions for ASIC/FPGA engineering and embedded software development. Their design concepts cross nodes up to 28nm. They specialize in product development, lifecycle support, geospatial engineering and plant engineering. 

Fabless UK chip maker ARM designs the technology that lies at the heart of advanced digital products. The company offers 32 bit RISC microprocessors, graphics processors, and video engines, as well as enabling software, cell libraries, embedded memory, and high speed connectivity products. They claim to provide a total system solution for a fast path to market. Their technology roadmap can be seen in the image below.

This year’s Common Platform Technology Forum was not a consumer electronics show. It was a series of hard-core, chip design, foundry manufacturing, product delivery sessions for industry insiders that was geared to engineers, with presentations of serious scientific R&D situations. If you didn’t have one when you went, you felt as if you had been studying for a PhD dissertation by the time you left.