TOKYO — EE Times has learned that Megachips Corp., Japan’s fabless company focused on ASICs and system integration, has struck a deal with Omni Design Technologies (Milpitas, Calif.) to develop the next generation “analog platform” on which Megachips’ customers can build ASICs designed for wired networks including phone lines, coaxial cables and power lines.
Omni Design is a two-year-old start-up founded by prominent analogy chip experts. At a time when analog components are using up an increasingly large fraction of system power budget, Omni Design’s co-founders have set their sights on building highly differentiated, ultra-low power analog and mixed-signal IP cores primarily for use in complex SoCs.
The strategic partnership with Omni Design gives the Japanese ASIC vendor a chance to develop an analog module — consisting of highly differentiated, high performance analog-front-ends (AFEs) that can take advantage of Omni Design’s high speed-Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs).
For Omni Design, the deal with Megachips represents the first big opportunity to strut its high-performance and ultra-low power embedded IP.
Omni Design claims its patented 10-14bit ADCs can achieve sample rates scalable from Megabits per second to Gigabits per second while substantially reducing power compared to existing technologies.
Masa Konishi, senior general manager, communications product line at Megachips, told EE Times, “We’ve been paying attention to what Kush’s team of analog experts has been doing over the last several years.
By Kush, Konishi is referring to Omni Design’s CEO Kush Gulati. Gulati founded in 2007 Cambridge Analog Technologies (CAT), which was acquired by Maxim in 2011.
Although Megachips was never a customer of CAT or Maxim, Konishi said, “We’ve been toying with the idea of licensing analog IP from Kush’s team.”
Asked why Megachips has picked Omni Design as its analog IP partner, Konishi said, “We like the higher performance of their ADC. Their 14bit ADC, for example, can achieve sample rates of 1.4Gigabit per second.”
Konishi’s team is focused on the development of products used for high-speed data communication over wired networks.
Now that the over-the-top (OTT) market is dealing increasingly with large amounts of data, such as movies streamed via Netflix, it is imperative for wireline communication devices to handle high-speed data, Konishi explained. For such applications, ADCs with 10- to 14-bit resolution — whose sampling can speed up to multiple GHz — are ideal.
Another reason why Megachips chose Omni Design is “the track record of Kush’s team,” Konish said. “We’ve been following their advancements in their ISSCC papers.”
In his view, analog integration is getting tougher, especially when designing a complex, high-performance ASIC. “It’s not as if we could simply drop an off-the-shelf ADC into an ASIC.” He said, Megachips’ engineering team “plans to optimize clock, power and noise so that our analog platform can take full advantage of Omni Design’s ADCs.”
Omni Design’s suite of proprietary technologies enables “dramatic reductions in power consumption and significant improvements in the speed and accuracy of a broad variety of circuits,” according to the company. Omni Design's CEO Gulati explains that its fundamental innovation — dubbed SWIFT (Switched Capacitor Fault Tolerant Technology) and protected by multiple patents — is “intended to give circuit designers greater performance and increased flexibility in SoC development.”
Omni Design is currently using this technology “to develop an entire family of ADCs from 10- to 14-bit resolution, and sampling speeds up to multiple GHz,” Gulati noted.
The company boasts that SWIFT technology is “easily implemented in other signal chain elements such as filters, DACs etc.,” which Gulati believes can revolutionize the design of wireless transceivers, for example.
Omni Design has also implemented SWIFT in repeater cores, enabling 10Gbps data transmission over long-haul cables with exceptionally low power consumption and without degradation, the company added.
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