FREMONT, Calif. -- Virage Logic Corp. today claimed development of the industry's first on-chip self-test and repair memory solution for system-on-chip designs. The STAR (self-test/repair) memory system will lower costs and increase SoC production yields by making embedded memory blocks more intelligent, said the Fremont company.
The technology embeds a complete memory test-and-repair function on chip, Virage Logic said. Consequentially, expensive automatic test equipment (ATE) and laser-repair tools are not needed, according to the company.
Virage said its design includes three intellectual property (IP) blocks, which work together to create the intelligent, self-repairing embedded memories. The system uses redundancy to replace defective bits, but it also has a dedicated memory test-and-repair processor. The STAR processor automatically accesses each memory location on the SoC design and uses patented self-repair and redundancy allocation algorithms to work around problems, Virage said.
The repair data, or "signature," is stored in the STAR fuse box or special registers in the embedded memories. This information can be executed at wafer sort in production facilities or when end equipment is powered up, said Virage.
"Adding self-test and repair processing circuits is the third leg in our strategy to improve the yield of devices that use on-chip memory," said Yervant Zorian, Virage's vice president and chief scientist. "Today, you cannot integrate large amounts of SRAM without solving the yield problem, which is a huge burden for one of the fastest growing segments, communications and networking."
The STAR SRAM embedded memories is the first in a series of memory system planned by Virage. The SRAM technology is designed for SoC applications up to 4 megabits for a single "instance," said the company. These applications include communication and networking IC products for the Internet infrastructure systems. Currently, there are three versions of the STAR SRAM--the 4 Mbit and the 512-kilobit single-port and 256-Kbit dual-port embedded memory compilers.
The starting price for the STAR memory system is $170,000 in the United States. Virage said it is pursuing both license fees and royalties per chip shipments.