Process technology analysis: Navigating analog IP migration with precision

Analog design migration is a key enabler of innovation in the semiconductor market. It’s no longer just an engineering consideration however, it’s a strategic imperative for any company looking to bring new solutions to market and maintain a competitive edge. More recently, this approach has become even more critical as geopolitical factors introduce supply chain uncertainties, making robust and adaptable design migration strategies essential.

With the industry’s push toward smaller nodes for better power, performance, area (PPA), and cost, the need for an effective migration process is crucial to enhance productivity, manage node complexity, satisfy evolving design rules, and maximize the return on original IP designs.

The critical role of process technology analysis

For design engineers considering migrating an existing analog IP to a new node, a clear understanding of process technology analysis is crucial. Device performance, technology characteristics, functional requirements, and design methodology are integral components that engineers must consider. Precision and strategy are critical to successfully navigating the complexities involved.

Traditionally this analysis would be a labor-intensive manual process, often involving scripts and spanning several months. The resulting resource-heavy analyses and prolonged timeframes frequently causing significant delays to critical business decisions. Given the increasing complexity in technology and market demands, this approach is quickly becoming unsustainable.

Streamlining Migration with AMALIA Technology Analyzer

With Thalia’s AMALIA Technology Analyzer (TA) software however, it is possible to move from away from manual, time-consuming processes, to rapid, automated analysis. AMALIA TA automates the evaluation of device electrical characteristics, providing the essential data businesses need to make quick, informed decisions about the most suitable technology nodes and devices for their projects.

AMALIA TA suggests optimal process nodes and devices, speeds up design porting feasibility, and generates detailed reports that drive sound, data-driven decisions and helps businesses mitigate risks. The turnaround time for analysis with AMALIA TA can be as short as 2 to 4 weeks, a significant improvement on the unpredictably long periods typically associated with manual analysis.

The efficiency of AMALIA TA is rooted in its key features which include a user-friendly GUI, quick device test case setup, and thorough device characteristic extraction using industry-standard simulators like Cadence Spectre and Siemens AFS. It provides detailed reports and color-coded tables that clearly outline parameter differences, supporting the decision-making process. It’s also equipped to run rigorous corners and Monte Carlo analysis, culminating in intelligent reporting on device characteristics and a comprehensive device mapping table.

It does this using a streamlined process with clearly defined steps:

  1. Define: Identify the source and target PDKs, devices, and schematics.
  2. Run Wizard: Auto-generate model sets and test cases, with the option for manual adjustments.
  3. Review & Run Analysis: Examine and tailor model sets and test cases to fit precise needs.
  4. Final Output: Receive a detailed report on device electrical characteristics and a device mapping table, empowering engineers with actionable insights.

Tools like AMALIA TA are revolutionizing the analog design migration process, transforming it into a manageable, precise, and time-efficient endeavor. For design engineers worldwide, AMALIA TA not only keeps pace with technological evolution but ensures leadership in innovation and market responsiveness.

The crucial role of second source management and IP reuse in the semiconductor landscape

The global semiconductor industry is witnessing rapid transformation, fuelled by an ever-evolving technological landscape, recent geopolitical tensions and expected growth in 2024. This has magnified the need for diversification within the supply chain and a robust second sourcing strategy. Semiconductor businesses need to be able to reuse and migrate their IP seamlessly between foundries. By harnessing the power of IP reuse through the AMALIA software suite, businesses can achieve supply chain security, mitigate business risks, and improve efficiency and overall reliability. 

Understanding second source management

Second source management is essentially the strategy of partnering with alternative foundries to ensure timely manufacturing and delivery of Silicon IP and IP-based electronics. Given the competitive and unpredictable nature of the semiconductor industry, having an exclusive reliance on a single supplier can lead to potential delays or supply chain challenges. 

Diversifying partnerships through a strategic second source approach allows businesses to spread their dependencies. This not only helps them minimize and mitigate potential risks but also provides a buffer against unforeseen supply chain interruptions, for example queues at foundries for certain technologies and nodes. Moreover, having multiple suppliers in diverse geographical regions can act as an insurance against geopolitical uncertainties, regional foundry availability and unexpected price increases.  

Importance of process node availability

Choosing the right process node is pivotal, defined by its electrical characteristics, the availability of desired devices, and the cost implications of manufacturing. In the subsequent sections, we’ll look at how the AMALIA software suite helps businesses in making informed decisions upfront when considering analog IP migration. 

The benefits of a second source

  1. Risk mitigation: By employing a second sourcing strategy, businesses ensure that product deliveries don’t rely on a single supplier or a supply chain with higher risk profile. This dilution of dependency significantly reduces associated risks.
  2. Supply chain resilience: Second sourcing instills confidence regarding capacity and priority within foundries. Collaborating with a mix of large and smaller foundries offers more flexibility in production, timely deliveries, and the ability to navigate large-scale deals and geopolitical uncertainties

A proactive approach with AMALIA

Being proactive with sourcing begins by identifying critical IP components essential for product functionality and performance. The next steps are: 

  1. Technology Analysis: AMALIA’s Technology Analyzer tool provides a comprehensive comparison of process technologies based on electrical characteristics. This allows for the identification of devices in the target technology that are electrically comparable and more efficient compared to the source IP technology. 
  2. Circuit Porting: AMALIA’s Circuit Porting software translates existing IP design schematics from the source technology and integrates them into the target technology, ensuring that 60-70% of IP blocks meet the required specifications without any design alterations.
  3. Design Verification & Centering: AMALIA’s Design Enabler assists in quickly adjusting circuits to fulfil specific requirements and constraints and helps achieve optimal PPA even if some blocks necessitate design tweaks or architectural changes.
  4. Automated Layout Generation: AMALIA’s Layout Automation tool facilitates the creation of layouts based on existing designs, ensuring accurate device placement and routing while minimizing changes to the existing floor plan and layout

What sets the AMALIA software suite apart is its comprehensive end-to-end nature, covering the entire design flow process and every stage involved. The cumulative speed enhancements at each step leads to significant time and cost savings of at least 40% overall giving businesses an edge in a fiercely competitive market.  

The semiconductor industry’s current trajectory requires businesses to view second sourcing not just as an option, but as a pivotal strategy. Whether it’s about securing product deliveries, reducing supply chain risks, or navigating uncertain geopolitical influences, a well-structured second source management strategy is indispensable. 

Thalia’s AMALIA software suite is revolutionizing this space, offering a time-efficient, cost-effective solution to analysing multiple potential target technology nodes and migrating critical IP from one technology node to another. Whether you’re interested in individual software tools or the entire suite, AMALIA provides both licensing and commercial SaaS-based solutions to cater to diverse business needs. When preferred, Thalia can also help set up and facilitate the use of the AMALIA software directly on a customer’s own servers and data center, ensuring that the IP remains securely within the customer’s controlled environment.