Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


PVCLOUD Report Summary

Project ID: 738922

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PVCLOUD (Innovative Cloud-Based PV Workflow for Semiconductor Foundries)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Physical verification (PV) is an obligatory stage in microchip design. A layout (topology) 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 takes 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. In the IC development cycle PV tools are used for dozens of quick checks at the beginning and extremely intense computing at the final stages. This uneven intensity of computing tasks makes expensive yearlong licenses inefficient.
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 by the end of the first year
3) To expand the services to at least 2 another leading European fabs during the second year

To achieve these objectives the following work package breakdown structure was proposed, with work packages WP3-WP5, and WP7 re-iterated for each another fab involved. The first two objectives of the project – both planned for the first year – have been successfully achieved. Significant progress has been also achieved in further expansion of the PVCLOUD services. Due to deep interest of a leading European fab - the second targeted fab –– in implementation of PVCLOUD for the f

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The major effort carried out in 2017 concerned implementation of the PVCLOUD solution at the pilot fab up to the start of commercial exploitation. Within this major task the team performed the following activities:
• Identified the pilot fab, contacted it, presented the PVCLOUD solution
• Signed a partnership agreement for implementation of PVCLOUD
• Completed and released PowerDRC/LVS 2.3 - the base version for the PVCLOUD project
• Collected from the pilot fab, specified, and implemented additional requirements for PowerDRC/LVS
• Developed and released PowerDRC/LVS 2.3.1 with additional features requested by the pilot fab
• Developed and certified PowerDRC/LVS verification rules for using at the pilot fab
• Installed and setup PVCLOUD hardware and software
• Customized Nefelus CMS for the pilot fab hardware and software specifics
• Ran PVCLOUD in trial mode by selected pilot fab clients. The provided feedback was used to further improve the PVCLOUD software

Along with that, the PVCLOUD team was engaged in:
• Preliminary activities aimed at expanding the PVCLOUD solution to the second and third fabs. Based on the assessment of the leading European fabs, identified and contacted the second and third fabs for the project. The negotiations resulted in the evaluation of PowerDRC/LVS by leading European fab, certification of PowerDRC/LVS rules for this fab, and agreed on the start of PVCLOUD activities at this fab in H1 2018.
• Activities on dissemination of the PVCLOUD solution
o Announced the PVCLOUD solution at DATE 2017 conference
o Promoted PVCLOUD through the company website, accounts in social networks, direct mailers, and an article in EE Times – the leading publication in the global EDA industry
• Further development of the project infrastructure

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Until the end of the project POLYTEDA CLOUD expects:
- In addition to already implemented PVCLOUD solution at IHP implement it at two leading global fabs thus providing access to affordable state-of-the-art PV services to wide range of customers of those three leading European foundries including SMEs
- Increase the number of customers of the Amazon-based PVCLOUD solution thus providing access to affordable PV services to chip makers also beyond fabs
- By providing PV services on pay-per-use basis through the four PVCLOUD instances enhance profitability and performance of the European SMEs involved in chip design
- Involve more EDA vendors to cloud-based pay-per-use model thus achieving yet more profitability of the European EDA SMEs due to lower tool expenses
- Lower dependency of the European EDA companies on the US vendors of the EDA tools
- Revitalize European EDA by shortening time to market for the EDA projects due to high availability and low cost of powerful hardware configurations provided by PVCLOUD

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