Skip to main content

Innovative Cloud-Based PV Workflow for Semiconductor Foundries

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PVCLOUD (Innovative Cloud-Based PV Workflow for Semiconductor Foundries)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Physical verification (PV) is an obligatory stage in microchip design. A layout of each new device has to be checked to find and fix errors made by developers before manufacturing at a semiconductor fabrication plant (fab). The check is performed with special Electronics Design Automation (EDA) software - Design Rule Checking (DRC) tool to see whether the layout meets certain requirements and limitations specified by the selected process node. An error overlooked at this stage may result in loss of multimillion dollars due to development of a malfunctioning microchip. PV is a time-consuming stage of the design process. It may take up to several days for a DRC tool to make one iteration on modern super-large microchips, which significantly limits the capacity and efficiency of fabs and semiconductor industry.

The current industrial challenges being addressed by the PVCLOUD solution:
1) High cost of software licenses. The EDA market is dominated by three US-based monopolists that provide their PV tools through subscription-based per seat licensing.
2) European competitiveness in microelectronics. The solution will shorten time-to-market for IC design teams thus helping them be more competitive. It will also lead to regional growth of start-ups and fast implementation of their IP in silicon (fabrication)
3) Efficient use of resources. Not only PVCLOUD solution is most accurate, but less time and personnel is needed to support it and deliver PV services from fabs to customers.
4) Direct access to fabs. IC design teams usually have to work with fab tools through intermediaries that is not convenient. PVCLOUD will decrease transactional costs.

The main socio-economic challenges being solved:
1) An error missing on PV stage leads to creating malfunctioning microchip and may cost several million dollars of losses for semiconductor manufacturers
2) Malfunctioning microchips can result in withdrawal of large product path or even lead to accidents caused by products (for instance, car accidents in automotive industry, etc.)

The POLYTEDA CLOUD solution is to centralize at fabs both the preliminary and final (sign-off) verification of design data and to lower - by using POLYTEDA’s high quality cloud-ready PV tool - the entry barrier for smaller design companies caused by high costs of computer-aided design (CAD) software. The proposed PV toolset uses innovative algorithms and approaches, ultimately disrupts the existing market by decreasing the dependence on large US-based industry players, optimizing the traditional manufacturing process and ensuring cost-effectiveness. The proposed toolset has a strong focus on the EU: not only it provides powerful functionality and performance for European manufacturing, but it also lays down the foundations for revitalizing and boosting the European semiconductor industry.

The project goal of developing cloud-based PV workflow and services for European foundries is to be achieved through the following objectives:
1) To run successful pilot project with one of the top 7 European fabs during the first year
2) To start commercial exploitation at the pilot fab
3) To expand the solution to two another leading European fabs during the second year

All objectives of the project have been successfully achieved. POLYTEDA CLOUD implemented the PVCLOUD solution at three major European semiconductor foundries and started its commercial exploitation. Significant progress has been also achieved in further expansion of the PVCLOUD services to the global markets outside Europe. Addressing requests from those potential customers, POLYTEDA CLOUD and Nefelus started commercial exploitation of another standalone PVCLOUD instance based on Amazon AWS platform. It stands for hosting SMEs not subscribed to the specific single foundry process and educational customers driving public available design kits like Nangate FreePDK and MOSIS SCMOS.
The major effort carried out in 2017-2018 concerned implementation of the solution at three top European foundries up to the start of commercial exploitation. Within this major task the team performed the following activities:
• Negotiated with the target fabs, presented the innovative solution to them
• Collected fabs' requirements for enhancement of the product
• Implemented the enhancements in new GA versions of PowerDRC/LVS and new versions of cloud management system.
• Developed and certified PowerDRC/LVS run sets for high priority processes named by the target fabs
• Performed installation and configuring of the cloud-based innovative solution for fabs
• Conducted training of the fabs staff in charge of PVCLOUD exploitation and support
• Promoted the availability of PVCLOUD through the company website, accounts in social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), performed direct mailer campaigns, phone calls, and the technical articles published at EDACafe, EENewsEurope – the leading publication in the global EDA industry

Along with above-mentioned, the POLYTEDA CLOUD team was engaged in:
• Activities aimed at expanding the PVCLOUD solution to more European foundry partners and fabs outside the Europe. The negotiations resulted in the evaluation of PowerDRC/LVS, starting preparation of PowerDRC/LVS rules for those fabs. Agreed on the starting of PVCLOUD activities in H1 2019.
• Announced the PVCLOUD solution at DATE 2017 conference
• Presented and demoed the commercial PVCLOUD@AmazonAWS solution at DATE 2018 conference
• Together with IHP fab - presented and demoed IHP-PVCLOUD at EuMW 2018 conference
• Further development and enhancement of the PVCLOUD infrastructure with respect to cloud management system (CMS)
• Starting of expansion the PVCLOUD solution from a pure PV platform to a full EDA flow covering all obligatory stages of IC design at one of the European foundry partner`s private cloud.
As the result of the project, POLYTEDA CLOUD:
- Implemented PVCLOUD solution at IHP, TowerJazz and X-FAB semiconductor foundries thus providing access to affordable state-of-the-art PV services wide range of customers
- Implemented standalone Amazon-based PVCLOUD solution thus providing access to affordable PV services to educational customers including those beyond fabs
- By providing PV services on pay-per-use basis through the four PVCLOUD instances enhanced profitability and performance of the European SMEs involved in chip design
- Lowered dependency of the European EDA companies on the US vendors of the EDA tools
- Involved more EDA vendors for cooperation on cloud-based pay-per-use model thus achieving yet more profitability of the European EDA SMEs due to lower annual expenses for tool licenses
- Revitalized European EDA by shortening time to market for the EDA projects due to high availability and low cost of powerful multi-CPU hardware configurations provided by PVCLOUD via Amazon AWS.
POLYTEDA CLOUD and IHP fab presenting PVCLOUD @ EuMW 2018
Login page at TowerJazz-PVCLOUD
PVCLOUD during pilot exploitation
POLYTEDA CLOUD @ DATE 2018 conference - demoing PVCLOUD
CEO of POLYTEDA CLOUD at EIC Innovation Summit 2018 in Berlin
POLYTEDA CLOUD @ DATE 2017 conference
Cloud Management System running dashboard monitor
POLYTEDA CLOUD @ DATE 2018 conference - our booth
CEO of POLYTEDA CLOUD during negotiations with IHP GmbH in Germany
The official DATE 2018 brochure advertising PVCLOUD
The end user configuring DRC session at X-FAB-PVCLOUD
Brussels SME Instrument Champions Welcome Day held by EASME