Open source chips from Germany are possible

In order to be able to have semiconductor components manufactured that reliably do not contain any hidden or unwanted functions, the respective contract manufacturer must disclose the Process Design Kit (PDK) for his manufacturing technology. Until now, only the US contract manufacturer SkyWater has provided such an open-source PDK. Now the IHP Solutions department of the Leibniz Institute for High-Performance Microelectronics (IHP) in Frankfurt an der Oder is following suit.

Frank Vater from the IHP announced at the Free Silicon Conference (FSiC) 2022 in Paris that the PDK for the in-house 130-nanometer manufacturing technology S13G2 would be disclosed. This allows chips with digital, analog and high-frequency circuit parts to be manufactured.

IHP Solutions also offers multi-project wafers (MPW) on which chips from different developers or clients are produced together. This shortens the production time for the individual projects and reduces costs.

Globalfoundries (GF) also recently published a PDK, one primarily for microcontrollers with 180-nanometer structures (GF180MCU). GF, like SkyWater, cooperates with Google and even offers the free production of small sample quantities as part of the EFables program.

SkyWater Technologies is already working on one further open PDK for chips with 90-nanometer structures on fully depleted silicon-on-insulator wafers (FD-SOI, SKY90FD-PDK).

the Free Silicon Foundation also drives the development of open EDA tools for the development of semiconductor devices.

For EU companies and research institutes there is Service providers such as Europractice, which help on the way from design to physical production of chips, for example on MPWs. You can also find them on the Europractice website Dates and prices for multi-project wafers; according to this, the square millimeter of chip area on the IHP SG13G2 currently costs at least around 6200 euros.

  • Also listen to the podcast Bit-Rauschen on the subject of EDA tools for chip development:

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