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.

Reducing design cycle time for semiconductor startups: The path from MVP to commercial viability

The journey from an initial concept to a market-ready product in the semiconductor industry is complex and resource-intensive. For startups and spinoffs particularly, evolving from a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to the commercially viable Proof of Market (PoM) stage, requires efficient and strategic use of technology and resources.

The critical race to Proof of Market

In the semiconductor industry, the race to PoM is a pivotal phase for startups. Given the industry’s inherent challenges and substantial financial stakes, accelerating the journey from MVP to PoM is essential for success.

  • Market Competition: 20% of startups fail due to competition, as reported by CB Insights. In this competitive landscape, moving rapidly from PoC to PoM is crucial.
  • Cost of Failure: The average startup cost in the semiconductor industry exceeds $250 million, with respins adding approximately $25 million each, highlighting the high financial stakes.
  • Time-to-Market Pressure: Delays in semiconductor production, which often lead to significant revenue losses, are a major concern.
  • Design Complexity: The increasing complexity of SoC designs, with market demands outstripping engineering capabilities, adds to the challenge of timely market entry.

Startups, including those in incubation stages, initially focus on demonstrating their PoC by developing an MVP. Often built using technology not ideal for mass production, the MVP’s role is to showcase the concept to early adopters and investors and to secure access to low-cost foundry services. This stage is vital, but the true test of market viability occurs in the transition to PoM when startups face the significant challenge of transitioning their design to technology suitable for commercial mass production.

Reaching PoM 40% faster with AMALIA

Thalia’s AMALIA software suite enables startups to efficiently migrate their analog and mixed-signal IPs to technologies appropriate for Tier 1 foundries or to develop a second product. Utilizing AMALIA’s unique blend of automation and AI-enhanced tools, startups can dramatically cut their design cycle time and operational costs. The suite comprises:

  • Technology Analyzer: Automates the comparison between starting and target technologies, generating a list of compatible devices for efficient design migration.
  • Circuit Porting: Utilizes the output from Technology Analyzer to produce schematics in the chosen technology, preserving placement and floorplan for enhanced design reliability.
  • Design Enabler: Employs AI and machine learning algorithms for optimizing circuit performance when porting doesn’t meet design constraints.
  • Layout Automation: Maintains the intelligence gathered during silicon verification in the final layout, automating repetitive tasks and conducting design rule checks.

By streamlining the design process and minimizing manual interventions, AMALIA facilitates a 40% faster (minimum) move to PoM compared to other analog design migration approaches.

For semiconductor startups, achieving PoM swiftly is a crucial milestone in their journey to commercial success. With AMALIA’s capability to expedite the design migration process startups can reduce financial exposure and design cycle time while effectively positioning themselves in a competitive market. This expedited transition is not just about reaching the market quickly; it’s about ensuring sustainable growth in a challenging and rapidly evolving technological landscape.