Need to know how much your chip is going to cost to make?
(09/09/2020 | Reading, UK) – Sondrel has launched a service that estimates the cost of turning a conceptual integrated circuit into silicon, dubbed the Architectural Study Service.
“As one of the world’s largest chip design consultancies, we have the ability to look at the idea for a new chip and respond with an report of how to make it, and how much it will cost, with a high degree of accuracy,” claimed Sondrel founder and CEO Graham Curren. “We have designed hundreds of chips so we can draw on this experience to propose how it could be done, what technologies are needed and what it would cost per chip. Even before we undertake this detailed study, our knowledge means we provide a quick indication of costs that gives an indication of viability.”
Driving leading edge chip design from Europe
(October 21, 2020 | Reading, UK) – A UK chip design house is aiming to become one of the world’s major custom chip supply chain services providers. Graham Curren, chief executive of Sondrel, talks to Nick Flaherty about its 7nm and 5nm designs, recruitment and the plans for the company.
There is a company in Europe regularly doing leading edge, large chip designs on 7 and 5nm process technologies. Sondrel in Reading, UK, is the largest chip design house in Europe and aiming to be one of the largest supply chain companies for the custom chip business. It already works with the major foundries, but is now offering support all the way from concept to finished, packaged chips.
“We do design and ASIC supply, focused on digital designs in newer technologies, principally FinFET. In terms of the history we are 19 years old with design centres in China, India, Morocco and the UK and with a sales and technical support office in the US in Santa Clara,” said Graham Curren, founder and CEO of Sondrel.
“There’s a lot of design services companies in Europe but we are bigger with over 200 staff and have the capability to do designs. Everything is below 28nm and the vast majority below 16nm and there isn’t really anyone else in Europe with that capability and not many in the world – GUC, Socionext, Faraday Technology and Alchip,” he said.
Sondrel starts its third major ODC design for customer
(October 21, 2020 | Reading, UK) – Sondrel has announced that it has started its third major design for one of its international customers, part of a family of high-speed networking chips. The second recently taped out and was over 600 square millimetres in size using a 7 nm process node.
“The chips are designed using our ODC service,” explained Graham Curren, CEO and Founder of Sondrel. “ODC stands for Outsourced Design Consultancy and means we supply a team of design engineers that work exclusively for a customer as though they were within that company. This is a very popular working arrangement for our big customers as they know that they are using a team that is experienced at working both together and as an embedded, integrated part of the overall project team. This gives much better results than the alternative of customers using individual design engineers. In addition, each Sondrel ODC team has access to the whole of the rest of the 200 plus engineers working for Sondrel to brainstorm for ideas, additional skills and experience.”
Sondrel has been providing ODC design service for a number of years and so all its engineers are equipped for home working with secure connections to Sondrel servers and customer servers, and are used to working as a team with members from Sondrel’s different sites around the world. As a result, the Covid restrictions have had no impact on the company’s ability to deliver projects on time.
Sondrel Says the Secret of Digital Chip Design is all in the NoC
(October 22, 2020 | Reading, UK) – There has been a great deal of disruptive change within the embedded electronics design community, and this has created pressure on developers to create the next generation of advanced digital ICs. The next generation of microcontrollers, ASICs, and FPGAs will all be systems-on-chip (SoC)s to one extent or the other, with multiple cores and advanced functionality.
This means that it is critical to ensure that the data moves around the chip between blocks efficiently using a Network on Chip (NoC). Without a proper on-chip communications solution, any given chip would need significantly more memory to operate as effectively without latency, which is not cost-effective. Every part of the chip that needs high-speed wide-bandwidth data flow between them should be located as close together as possible, but without a proper bus setup processor performance will be compromised.
A complex network of interconnections is needed to route the data traffic between blocks, in addition to data from off-chip memory. This could mean over a dozen layers of horizontal interconnections, plus a number of vertical connections between those layers. All this must be dynamically controlled within the NoC, with buffering to smooth and optimize data flow as demand changes, like when two IP blocks are using the same memory.
Turnkey Service provides concept to shipping service for faster time to market
(October 26, 2020 | Reading, UK) – One of the biggest challenges for a company with a new idea for a chip is managing the whole chain from design through manufacturing and testing to shipping silicon. To solve this, Sondrel provides a full turnkey service that manages every stage of the process of taking a chip from concept to final silicon.
“We have been designing chips for decades,” explained Graham Curren, Sondrel’s CEO and Founder. “We have seen the issues that occur further down the supply chain after us so often that we now offer a complete service that extends to cover the whole supply chain. We work with customers from the very start of concept planning and architecture of a new chip though its design, prototyping and production so we have an intimate working knowledge of every aspect of the chip. And we have earned the trust of the customer so they know that we will provide the continuity of service and excellence right through the rest of the supply chain.”
Sondrel’s Silicon Operations Team supervises and manages all the companies that supply downstream stages after the design is done from liaising with the fabs through to selecting the most appropriate packaging OSAT, Test Development and logistics partner for shipping the final packaged and tested chips.
Fabrice Debart, Sondrel’s Silicon Operations Manager, said, “This fully integrated, end-to-end service ensures that there are no discontinuities or delays in the supply chain. For our customers, this means having a single point of contact to deal with all of the supply chain aspects, allowing them to focus on their core business. This also means a faster time to market for them because we know where possible problems and bottlenecks may arise and how to solve them. For example, how to test a chip with billions of transistors to make sure it is working to specifications? How to define the right test strategy and implement enough test accesses in order to get an optimal coverage and reduce the risks of latent defects? This is even more true in Automotive which requires higher level of quality and targets zero defects. The integrated relationship between the Silicon Operations Team and the chip design team allows us to be very effective in those areas.” Further details are available at www.sondrel.com