PARIS ARM, IBM and Cadence, under the umbrella of the SOI Consortium, have joined forces to ease the access to energy-efficient silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology.
The essence of the 'Ready for SOI Technology' program is to provide chip and system designers access to SOI design intellectual property (IP) and make this IP available through a SOI portal hosted on the ChipEstimate.com website.
And, seeking to form a complete ecosystem that enables designers to take full advantage of the benefits of SOI technology, IBM, ARM and Cadence said they are inviting other companies to participate by offering their IP and services on the SOI Portal. Boeing and Synopsys have already joined the effort.
A survey conducted by the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) and SOI Consortium in 2008 confirmed promising interest in SOI technology, with 23 percent of the participants currently using SOI technology. Two-thirds, or 64 percent, said they do not use it today, but are interested in its potential benefits.
The survey reflected the need for more education and availability of ecosystem deliverables from silicon, IP and EDA suppliers, and that there is a particular need for more SOI libraries at different technology nodes and for more silicon suppliers. The survey confirmed a top agenda item to address is the perception of cost as the top barrier to adoption.
With the 'Ready for SOI Technology' program, an initial offering of SOI IP has been provided by IBM, ARM and Cadence.
About fifty foundational IP blocks are initially available, including standard cell libraries, mixed-signal libraries, memory compilers (SRAM, register file, eDRAM, ROM, TCAM), PLLs, general purpose and specialty I/Os, SERDES, Data converters (ADC and DAC), voltage and temperature sensors, as well as power management kits.
This is silicon-proven, specified Horacio Mendez, executive director of the SOI Industry Consortium.
Duncan Needler, marketing director, IBM Microelectronics, commented: "The portfolio here is more than adequate to do a full chip design for everyone who is interested. We expect many more companies to join us with specialty IP in the short and long term. The entire IP is fairly robust for an initial offering but we expect more specialized IP over the next months and years."
Commenting on the collaboration, Mendez declared: "We have spent over the last year a fair amount of effort proving ourselves and anyone the advantages of SOI, and that came to a point of final proof with the ARM 1176 remapped from bulk to SOI."
In Oct. 2009, ARM indeed achieved the implementation of ARM's 1176 core in 45nm SOI, and Mendez noted that SOI process technology demonstrated up to 30 percent chip performance improvement and 40 percent power reduction compared to bulk silicon technology at the same technology node.
In addition to power efficiency, Mendez emphasized that SOI enables improved density and integration, extended high temperature range and improved radiation robustness and soft-error rate.
Giving the IBM perspective and long-time faith in the SOI technology, Neddler declared: "We are at our seventh generation with SOI from IBM. We initially started this to enhance the performance of our system business, and we have done it over 7 generations now. We started to take this technology to the OEM market 3 or 4 generations ago. A couple of years ago, we enlisted the SOI Consortium to make it more mainstream."
He continued: "We have been very successful with SOI with partners such as Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. We are now looking to further expand, and an open ecosystem is essential. I think that is a critical step in making it happen: an open-source for IP independent of companies like IBM. I see this as a very important development, one of a series of things that you will see happen in the next 12 to 18 months that will further solidify the direction of SOI in the marketplace and take it from the very high performance to a much more generic condition in the market."