LONDON Europe's big three chip makers STMicroelectronics, Infineon Technologies and NXP are all taking part in a three-year European collaborative research project to try and improve thermal-awareness and thermal effect modeling within IC design.
The project has a budget of 11 million euros (about $15 million) and is known as Therminator. The sub-title is "Modeling, control and management of thermal fffects in electronic circuits of the duture." The project is intended to support the strong position Europe has built up in automotive systems and factory automation where the semiconductor devices are often required to work under harsh conditions with temperatures in excess of 100oC.
Other participants include:, Fraunhofer Institutes in Dresden and Erlangen, IMEC, CEA-Leti, ChipVision Design Systems AG, Gradient Design Automation Inc. MunEDA GmbH, Synopsys Inc., Centre Suisse D'Electronique et de Microtechnique SA.
The performance, reliability and integrity of semiconductor circuits has always been temperature-dependent and therefore models that predict the thermal characteristics of semiconductor devices have long been included in EDA. However, the existing design tools and thermal models are not able to handle the new materials and extremely small structures that will be required in future applications and technologies where heat and power management is important.
The goals of the project are: to devise innovative thermal models, usable at different levels of abstraction, and to interface/integrate them into existing simulation and design frameworks; to develop new, thermally-aware design solutions, customized for the different technologies and application domains of interest; to enhance existing EDA solutions via thermally-aware add-on tools that will enable designers to address temperature issues more effectively using their existing design flows.
"To enable [European companies] to fully exploit the opportunities opened up by the semiconductor technologies of the future, including CMOS and alternatives to CMOS, new thermally-aware design paradigms are required," said Salvatore Rinaudo, Therminator project coordinator and Industrial and Multisegment Sector CAD R&D Director at STMicroelectronics.
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