Showing posts with label ASIC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ASIC. Show all posts

How to Inexpensively Design an ASIC in 5 Weeks

If you have ever designed a standard cell ASIC from scratch, you probably still have the scars to show for it. Designing a standard cell ASIC is not for the weak-hearted. A new generation of ASIC, (dubbed the NEW ASIC), is gaining momentum as an alternative to both standard cell ASIC and FPGA design which is explained in this paper. This new generation of ASIC combines the fast turnaround, low up-front development costs and simple design flow benefits that are normally associated with FPGAs, with the low unit power consumption and cost approaching that of a standard cell ASIC.

SPARK: A Parallelizing Approach to the High-Level Synthesis of Digital Circuits

SPARK is a C-to-VHDL high-level synthesis framework that employs a set of innovative compiler, parallelizing compiler, and synthesis transformations to improve the quality of high-level synthesis results. SPARK takes behavioral ANSI-C code as input, schedules it using speculative code motions and loop transformations, runs an interconnect-minimizing resource binding pass and generates a finite state machine for the scheduled design graph. Finally, a backend code generation pass outputs synthesizable register-transfer level (RTL) VHDL. This VHDL can then by synthesized using logic synthesis tools into an ASIC or can be mapped onto a FPGA.

Application Specific IP

One of the major barriers for Semiconductor IP commercialization is to provide evidence for an IP's quality. A common approach by IP vendors is to prove the quality of their IP in a test chip. Usually the Die contains the IP block separated from the System-on-a-Chip (SoC). It is, though, uncertain how the block will function in ASSP and ASIC products, potentially damaging its perceived commercial value. In Rosetta's methodology, the IP Core is a block within a subsystem, integrated to enable the subsystem functionality and targeted for a specific market and application. By analyzing the specific requirements of the market and application, and by providing an IP package targeted at those requirements, we solve and mitigate the IP quality

Phase-locked loops (PLLs) Demystified

Over the past decade, Phase-Locked Loops (PLLs) have become an integral part of the modern ASIC design. PLLs provide the clocks that sequence the operation of the various blocks on an ASIC chip as well as synthesize their communications. There are various types of PLLs targeting specific applications. Read this white paper to learn more about the types of PLLs and how they work in certain technologies.

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Layoff Watch!

Announced Worldwide Layoffs As of 30th January 2009

Infineon - 3000
Qimonda - 3000 (Bankrupt: 23 Jan 09)
Renesas - 150
ST - 4500 (Updated)
TI - 3500
Corning - 4900(New)
NXP - 4000
Philips - 6000
ST+NXP(Wireless) - 500
Toshiba - 500
FreeScale - 400
Brooks - 10%+350 (New: Exact # not known)
AMD - 500
Broadcom - 300
Xilinx - 200
LsiLogic - 500
Trident - 9%
Entergis - 200
Cadence - 625
IBM - 200
NOVA M - 250
Anadigic - 100
Intersil - 9%
Nortel - 5000
Sun Microsystems - 6000
Sandisk - 3000

This information has been compiled from various news sources and the authenticity cannot be fully verified. This information shall only be used primarily to get a feel of the overall job outlook and any analysis beyond this is shall be the whole responsibility of the person who is embarking on this research.

ASIC equivalent gates for Virtex

4-input LUT 6
4-input ROM 32
3-input LUT na
16x1 RAM 64
32x1 RAM 128
16 Shift Reg LUT 64
CLB flop 8
CLB latch 5
IOB flop 8
IOB latch 5
IOB Sync latch na
Block RAM 16,384
Clk DLL 7,000
F5 MUX 3
F6 MUX 3

If you do some quick math, one can calculate the typical ASIC gates for a
Virtex 1000, which has a 64x96 CLB array:
( 64*96 CLB )* ( 2 Slices/CLB )* ( 20 Gates/Slice ) = 245,760 Gates.

FPGA & ASIC based design

The main diferrence between ASIC and FPGA based design is in the Back-end.
In FPGAs there is not much activities in back end.

FPGA flow:

ASIC flow:

Low power design

Primarily design for low power depends on the characteristics design being accomplished. If it is a multi-million gate design we cannot implement any technique that is gate specific, it has to be a global technique.
  1. Multi-Vdd, variable Vdd and Multi-Vth seems to be a good global solution.
  2. Reducing the clock speed will result in low power consumption, but on the cost of performance.
  3. Using power headers and power footer transistors on logic gates cuts down power.
  4. You could separate the design in blocks, which can go in to sleep mode.
  5. Another solutions is variable VDD and variable frequency (as Intel or AMD do).This means, you adapt VDD and frequency to the necessary performance.
  6. Gated clocks and Logic Addressable clocks, dis adv - timing problems due to improper latching of signals, and difficult to test.
  7. -ve edge triggered flops, (nor+inv) = 1.5 gates, +ve edge triggered flops, (and+inv) = 2.5 gates, so -ve has less gates, less glitching and hence low power.

Any more thoughts and ideas are welcome.

Application Specific Integrated Circuit ( ASIC )

An application-specific integrated circuit or ASIC comprises an integrated circuit (IC) with functionality customized for a particular use (equipment or project), rather than serving for general-purpose use.

For example, a chip designed solely to run a cash register is an ASIC. In contrast, a microprocessor is not application-specific, because users can adapt it to many purposes.

The initial ASICs used gate-array technology.

The British firm Ferranti produced perhaps the first gate-array, the ULA (Uncommitted Logic Array), around 1980. Customisation occurred by varying the metal interconnect mask. ULAs had complexities of up to a few thousand gates. Later versions became more generalized, with different base dies customised by both metal and polysilicon layers. Some base dies include RAM elements.

In the late 1980s, the availability of logic synthesis tools (such as Design Compiler) that could accept hardware description language descriptions using Verilog and VHDL and compile a high-level description into to an optimised gate level netlist brought "standard-cell" design into the fore-front. A standard-cell library consists of pre-characterized collections of gates (such as 2 input nor, 2 input nand, invertors, etc.) that the silicon compiler uses to translate the original source into a gate level netlist. This netlist is fed into a place and route tool to create a physical layout. Routing applications then place the pre-characterized cells in a matrix fashion, and then route the connections through the matrix. The final output of the "place & route" process comprises a data-base representing the various layers and polygons in GDS-II format that represent the different mask-layers of the actual chip.

Finally, designers can also take the "full-custom" route in implementing an ASIC. In this case, an individual description of each transistor occurs in building the circuit. A "full-custom" implementation may function five times faster than a "standard-cell" implementation. The "standard-cell" implementation can usually be implemented quite a bit quicker and with less risk of errors, than the "full-custom" choice.

As feature sizes have shrunk and design tools improved over the years, the maximum complexity (and hence functionality) has increased from 5000 gates to 20 million or more. Modern ASICs often include 32-bit processors and other large building-blocks. Many people refer to such an ASIC as a SoC - System on a Chip.

The use of intellectual property (IP) in ASICs has become a growing trend. Many ASIC houses have had standard cell libraries for years. However IP takes the reuse of designs to a new level. Designers of most complex digital ICs now utilise computer languages that describe electronics rather than code. Many organizations now sell tested functional blocks written in these languages. For example, one can purchase CPUs, ethernet or telephone interfaces.

For smaller designs and/or lower production volumes, ASICs have started to become a less attractive solution, as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) grow larger, faster and more capable. Some SoCs consist of a microprocessor, various types of memory and a large FPGA.

So having said, this blog is dedicated to Digital Electronics, VLSI, ASICs, SOCs etc.