GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) has acquired the PDK (Process Design Kit) engineering team from Smartcom Bulgaria AD in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The newly acquired team will enhance GF’s scale and capabilities, while strengthening competitiveness of its specialized application solutions.
Process Design Kits are the critical interface between a company’s integrated circuit (IC) design and the fabs, which manufacture the clients chip products. Since 2015, Smartcom has supported GF’s PDK development and quality assurance for platform technologies spanning from 350nm to 12nm. Under the terms of the acquisition, GF will acquire Smartcom’s PDK development team of more than 125 employees. The newly acquired team will be led by Dr. Dobromir Gaydazhiev, an industry veteran who has been responsible for leading the business since its inception in 2003. The deal is expected to close in December 2019, following receipt of required regulatory approvals.
With this acquisition, GF is expanding its worldwide design enablement capabilities and strengthening its European footprint. The Sofia operations build on GF’s Fab 1 operations in Dresden, Germany, the company’s Bump Test Facility (BTF) and the AMTC mask house, a joint venture with Toppan. These three facilities with more than 3500 employees and a combined investment of more than US $12B are central to Silicon Saxony, Europe’s largest and most significant microelectronics cluster.
Security and Protection on 22FDX Platform for Connected Systems
GLOBALFOUNDRIES also announced today that it is working with Arm® to offer secure system-on-chip (SoC) solutions on GF’s 22FDX platform, based on FD-SOI, for cellular IoT applications.
With the growing threat of reverse engineering and other illegal threats to IP, it is imperative to protect complex electronic systems at their foundation with hardware-based security IP solutions, including crypto cores, hardware trust and high-speed protocol engines. GF’s 22FDX platform with Arm CryptoIsland on-chip security enclave provides an on-die, hardware-secure solution enabling easy integration of front-end modules (FEM), RF, baseband, embedded MRAM and cryptographic capabilities into a single IoT SoC, while significantly reducing costs.
The 22FDX security solution is now under development on GF’s 300mm production line at Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany.
Demonstration of Ultra-Low-Power Microcontroller for the Internet of Things
In related news, GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Racyics GmbH unveiled a breakthrough in the race to build more power-efficient IoT devices: record-breaking ultra-low-power operation of a commonly used microcontroller core for mixed-signal IoT applications, built on GF’s 22FDX platform.
At GF’s annual Global Technology Conference (GTC) in Munich, the companies demonstrated a 22FDX-based 100MHz Arm Cortex-M4F microcontroller test chip with 84kB of SRAM, which demonstrated an ultra-high energy-efficiency of 6.88 µW/MHz. Key to this outstanding performance is the adaptive body bias (ABB) tunability inherent to 22FDX, along with Racyics’ circuit design approach.
The 22FDX platform with ABB capability enables designers to create circuits where transistor threshold voltage can be tuned, or optimized, to match an application’s requirements for energy efficiency, performance, area, reliability, or any combination. Leveraging this capability, Racyics offers a design IP called ABBX that enables the creation of circuits with reliable, predictable ultra-low voltage operation down to 0.4V. This is done by holistically considering process, supply voltage and temperature inputs to achieve power, performance and area goals with a high yield.
Cellular narrowband (NB-IoT) devices offer one example of why energy efficiency is such a critical IoT requirement. These devices are often expected to operate on battery power for up to 10 years, and to achieve this, sophisticated energy management techniques are used to activate specific functional blocks and power domains only as-needed. When in operation, extreme energy efficiency at the lowest operating voltages are key to achieving the most demanding power budget.
The Racyics ABBX solution is now qualified on GF’s 22FDX platform.