Silego scaling cost-effective agility in mixed-signal

August 24, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Silego Technology Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), which has been described as one of best-kept secrets in Silicon Valley, has shipped 1 billion units of its custom configurable mixed-signal ICs (CMICs) in the last two years.

But that is only just the start of what could be achieved according to CEO John Teegan who is now seeking additional application areas for the company's mixed-signal ICs and a possible IPO.

The company was founded in 2001 and is still privately held, but with unit shipments expected to be about 600 million units in 2016 it has clearly reached significant revenue and apparently with no direct competitors. That said at least one company, Anadigm Inc. (Mesa, Arizona) has been around for many years selling field programmable analog arrays.

Silego's offering is based on a one-time-programmable mixed-signal function array approach to analog, timing, some digital and power integration. Over the last several years the company has based its offering on a series of base die integrating a number of analog and digital functions. When put together with design software this allows users to develop custom circuits that are then characterized by way of on-die antifuse switches. Even though functions are analog they can be trimmed and checked physically for suitability in rapid order.

Silego and its customers get economies of scale through foundry partner TSMC and its 0.18-micron CMOS process used for the chips. Standard processing and packaging keeps part costs down in the 30¢ range, while prototyping can be iterated over a few days and production reached in weeks, the company states.

From the system designers' perspective one part can eliminate multiple discrete components from the bill of materials and save square centimeters of PCB real estate, while saving cost and time to market.

A timeline of CMIC devices. Source: Silego.

That may sound like an unstoppable win but it all depends on there being a CMIC base device that supersets the system designers' requirement. Choosing the right set of resources to include on a die has been what challenged the traditional field programmable analog array (FPAA) market. However, with 1300 design wins to date claimed across about

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