PragmatIC offers flexible printed 6502 processor

August 24, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
PragmatIC offers flexible printed 6502 processor
Printed electronics pioneer PragmatIC Semiconductor Ltd. (Cambridge, England) has manufactured a flexible version of a nearly 50-year old 8bit processor – the iconic 6502 – using its FlexIC foundry.

The FlexIC foundry offers manufacturing on a thin-film transistor (TFT) process. The ICs can be as thin as 30-microns with a four-layer metal stack for interconnect. The device library is based on standard cells and includes transistors, resistors and capacitors. A physical design kit (PDK) provides compatibility with standard EDA tools.

The original 6502 was developed by MOS Technology Inc. in 1975 as a simplified, faster and less expensive version of Motorola's 6800 8bit CISC processor. A CMOS version of the 6502 was subsequently released by Western Digital Center (WDC) who estimates that more than 6 billion 65XX processors have been shipped.

The 6502 was designed in to some of the earliest personal computers and gaming systems, as well as being an inspiration for subsequent RISC ideas including the earliest Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) designs.

PragmatIC said its flexible 6502 was laid out and manufactured in less than two weeks and that a second iteration has been taped out to optimise for pinout, footprint and speed.

"I see what PragmatIC is doing to be as transformational as what we did at MOS Technology back in the 1970s," said Bill Mensch, founder of WDC, in a statement issued by PragmatIC. Mensch created the original 6502 with Chuck Peddle. "In validating the 6502 design on their FlexIC Foundry, we can now extend the original goal of the design to support embedded processing for the Internet of Everything."

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