PASADENA, Calif.--Two-year-old Pivotal Technologies Corp. here today announced a multi-year agreement with silicon foundry UMC Group of Taiwan to supply and support a series of analog and mixed-signal design functions for 0.25-, 0.18- and 0.15-micron logic processes.
The agreement is the first in the second phase of UMC's Gold IP program. The new phase addresses the interoperability of intellectual property (IP) core from independent suppliers.
"This partnership is being put in place to lower the risk of integrating analog/mixed-signal IP with logic in SoC," said K.C. Murphy, president and CEO of Pivotal Technologies. "At quarter micron and below, we are seeing customers face the challenge of getting real systems-on-chip and not just another design."
As part of the agreement, UMC and Pivotal will work together to thoroughly test several key SoC elements for communications and multi-media applications. These tests will be conducted on various logic processes and provide an "SoC-integration ready format," according to Pivotal and partner UMC, based in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
The pact falls under UMC's Gold IP program, which sets up an environment for independent IP suppliers to sell IP core directly to foundry customers for UMC's processes. "The first phase focused on 'hardening' discrete blocks for foundry processes, and now we are getting to the interoperability phase," explained Jim Ballingall, vice president of worldwide marketing at UMC based in Sunnyvale, Calif.
UMC expects to announce several more second-phase agreements with IP suppliers in the coming year. The program will also include alliances with electronic design automation (EDA) tools suppliers and other services providers.
The overall goal is to "make it easier for our customers to get closer to the 'Holy Grail' of plug-and-play IP," Ballingall added.
The jointly supported portfolio includes of analog and mixed-signal SoC components from Pivotal's Fulcrum line of A/D converters, D/A converters, and phase-locked loops (PLLs). The 0.25- and 0.18-micron functions are now available with 0.15-micron cores expected to be made available in 2000 when UMC introduces its next-generation logic process.
Pivotal's analog and mixed-signal blocks have been designed for logic processes. This makes it easier to add analog and mixed-signal functions to SoC designs that usually contain embedded processors and other logic IP cores, said Ballingall. "If you can do all of this on one chip, SoC is a no-brainer," he added.
Agreeing, Murphy said, "This is especially true as we approach 0.18 micron, where the voltage drops to 1.8 volts. Now you can also have tremendous power savings as well as cost savings in packaging by having single-chip systems."