The folks from eASIC have just announced the immediate availability of easicopy – an ASIC migration product that provides custom chip designers with a simple, low-risk migration path from eASIC Nextreme and Nextreme-2 NEW ASICs to cell-based ASIC devices. The addition of easicopy enables OEMs to continue to innovate and quickly ramp to volume production using eASIC Nextreme Series devices, and now migrate to lower cost easicopy cell-based ASIC when designs ramp to extremely high volumes.
Before we get into this in more detail, let’s first remind ourselves that eASIC Nextreme (built on a 90 nm process) and eASIC Nextreme-2 (built on a 45 nm process) are families of structured ASICs that are built on a configurable fabric that combines efficient Look-Up-Table (LUT) based logic with single via-layer customized interconnect. These devices deliver many enhancements and advantages for designers considering standard cell ASICs, FPGAs and ASSPs.
Furthermore, before we leap into the heart of this announcement, let’s also remind ourselves as to the traditional logic choices available to chip designers. Typical design criteria include NRE, time to market, power consumption, performance, unit cost, and market uncertainty.
On the one hand we have FPGAs, which are fast to prototype and have a fast time to market, but which are more cost-effective for low volume production runs. The other traditional option is a cell-based ASIC, which offers the highest performance and the lowest power consumption, but which has a high NRE and a relatively long development time. Cell-based ASICs are more cost effective for high and extremely high production runs.
Up until now, the folks at eASIC have mainly addressed the problem of products intended for high production runs (say up to 1 million units) using their Nextreme and Nextreme-2 families of structured ASICs. Some of eASICs customers design directly with these families, which have much shorter design times and much lower NREs than do their cell-based cousins.
Other designers prefer to prototype using FPGAs from Altera and Xilinx (the red portion of the chart below), and to then take these designs and transition them into an Nextreme or Nextreme-2 structured ASIC (the blue portion of the chart below).
eASIC’s eTools provide an auto-interactive transition path that has more than 150 successful tape-outs to its credit. This includes the ability to translate the FPGA’s RTL and timing constraints into forms that can be synthesized into an Nextreme or Nextreme-2 structured ASIC.
As we noted earlier, eASIC’s structured ASICs address the problem of high production runs (say up to around 1 million units), but what about extremely high volume production (say tens of millions of units) as illustrated by the green portion of the chart below? Sometimes a company simply won’t know whether to expect (or hope) that a product will make it from high production to extremely high production. The transition to extremely high production involves its own challenges, including a desire to capitalize on early market success, massive pressure to reduce costs, the selection of an appropriate cell-based vendor.
Well, this is where eASIC’s easicopy comes into play. Working with multiple fab partners, easicopy offers a seamless conversion from Nextreme and Nextreme-2 structured ASICs into their cell-based counterparts.
The easicopy ASIC migration product supports ASIC migrations from 90nm eASIC Nextreme and 45nm eASIC Nextreme-2 families to 130nm, 90nm or 65nm cell-based ASICs from foundries such as Fujitsu Semiconductor, GLOBAL FOUNDRIES and others.
The migration process
OEMs typically engage in an easicopy design once their lower up-front cost Nexteme series design has been proven and is profitably ramping in production. eASIC engineers seamlessly migrate the Nextreme or Nextreme-2 design netlist to an easicopy solution taking care of arduous tasks such as DFT insertion, ATPG, I/O ring and power mesh design, clock tree synthesis, package design, routing, extraction, IR drop and formal verification.
While eASIC engineers are migrating the design to easicopy, OEMs continue to profitably ramp in production with the Nextreme series design, thereby mitigating overall design and production risks. Once the easicopy design is complete OEMs are able to switch production from their Nextreme or Nextreme-2 design to easicopy in order increase gross margins even further.
A real-world example
is the worldwide leader in hard disk devices and storage solutions. In fact I heard that one out of every two hard disk drives on the planet came from Seagate. Well, recently the folks at Seagate created a new product using Nextreme structured ASICs to get the industry’s first solid state hybrid drive to the market ahead of their competitors. As soon as this product was proven, Seagate and eASIC migrated the design from the Nextreme structured ASIC implementation into its easicopy cell-based counterpart.
"Seagate is delighted to have launched Momentus XT, the industry’s first solid state hybrid drive, using the easicopy ASIC Migration product,”
said Kurt Richarz, Seagate executive vice president of sales. “We were able to use Nextreme NEW ASICs to accelerate time-to-market of Momentus XT. eASIC seamlessly migrated our design to easicopy. We see easicopy as a natural extension to our value engineering programs as we take products from initial ramp through to very high volumes.”
”We are seeing more customers who are successfully in volume production with their Nextreme series devices, wanting to ramp to very high volumes,”
said Jasbinder Bhoot, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, eASIC Corporation. “The combination of low-up front cost Nextreme series devices, and the lowest unit cost of easicopy solutions now gives customers the power to freely innovate and seamlessly ramp successful innovations from hundreds of thousands of units to millions of units, all with eASIC.”
For more information on eASIC, Nextreme and Nextreme-2 structured ASICs, easicopy cell-based ASICs, and the FPGA-to-Nextreme / Nextreme-2 and Nextreme / Nextreme-2-to-easiasic migration paths, please visit www.eASIC.com