Free chips courtesy of Google, SkyWater, eFabless

July 07, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
Free chips courtesy of Google, SkyWater, eFabless
The FOSSi Foundation has announced that it is now possible for anybody to get ICs manufactured for free with support from Google, SkyWater Technology Foundry and eFabless.

The free offer is open to any and all on the one condition that the design must be open-source and be published in detail down to the GDS tape level. The FOSSi Foundation is a not-for-profit company backed by sponsors registered in the UK. FOSSi stands for Free and Open Source Silicon. The offer is limited to digital ICs for now, but with plans to extend libraries to cope with analog and RF designs.

Tim Ansell, a software engineer at Google, used a Youtube video organized by FOSSi, known as a Dial-Up Talk, to announce that an open-source PDK for SkyWater's 130nm digital manufacturing process is now available.

At the same time Google is paying for US design management company eFabless to organize the sending of designs to SkyWater Technology Foundry and for a series of open-source multiproject wafer (MPW) shuttle runs there. Each shuttle run will have about 40 design slots. The first run is scheduled for November 2020.

The shuttle runs are completely free of charge, Ansell said. He added that the PDK is available to be cloned at GitHub with no non-disclosure agreement to sign. However, if users want to contribute to the PDK there is a something to sign with Google, he added. eFabless said it would make design with the PDK easy by integrating numerous resources on its cloud-based design platform.

Each slot on the multiproject wafer shuttle comes with a RISC-V core, power circuitry and RAM occupying about 6 square millimeters and a further 10 square millimeters available for open-source designs to be implemented on.

Next: Just digital . . . for now

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