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ASIC platform promises reduced NRE costs

Posted: 15 Apr 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:platform ASIC? costs NRE? 110nm technology process?

ON Semiconductor Corp. has licensed 110nm process technology and associated IP from LSI Corp. to serve as the basis for a new ASIC platform, which is said to offer high-density and performance while minimizing non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs and time-to-market.

The 110nm system platform, SP110, delivers better performance and lower power consumption than some mainstream 130nm technologies and is less expensive than more advanced process nodes, according to ON Semi. The platform features a maximum operating frequency of 450MHz, the company said.

With the new system platform, ON Semi is targeting the market for mid-range (over 90nm) products, particularly for customers in the communications, consumer, industrial, medical and military/aerospace sectors, according to Vince Hopkin, VP of digital products at ON Semi. While leading-edge devices at 32nm may grab the headlines, Hopkin said analyst data suggests that more than half of designs today are still 130nm and above.

"This technology really fits between 90nm and 130nm and, from a cost perspective, it's very competitive," Hopkin said. "When you start looking at NREs, compared to 130nm we will be best in class, compared to 90nm it will be much less."

Hopkin emphasized that the 110nm devices will be fabbed at the company's facility in Gresham, Oregon. This facility, purchased from LSI in 2006, enables ON Semi to run smaller lots than ASIC vendors who use silicon foundries, Hopkin said. The fact that the fab is located in the United States is very valuable to some customers, he added.

"That is a big deal," Hopkin said. "I think this as one of the attractive points for ON Semi." Hopkin added that the 110nm technology would also be used for ON Semi's standard products and application-specific standard products.

Hopkin said ON Semi believes the introduction of SP110 will entice more customers to convert FPGA designs to ASICs. The company believes it is the leader in the ASIC conversion market, which Hopkin estimated to be worth about $300 million per year in total.

"We definitely feel like this product is going to push customers that way," Hopkin said.

SP110 uses low-k copper interconnect, providing up to nine metal layers, including two redistribution layers, ON Semi said. The technology supports core voltages of 1.2V and I/O voltages of 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V and 5.0V, according to the company. ON Semi offers both a netlist and RTL handoff methodology for SP110, the company said.

Under the terms of the agreement with LSI, ON Semi will offer a suite of IP, including a Serdes solution supporting PCIe, Gigabit Ethernet and XAUI interface standards, the company said. SP110 customers will also be able to take advantage of other silicon-proven, synthesizable IP from the ON Semi portfolio including blocks for USB 2.0, Ethernet MAC, microcontrollers, timing generators and DDR 1/2/3 memory controllers, the company said.

Keith Jackson, ON Semi president and CEO, said SP110 demonstrates ON Semi's commitment to the ASIC business. In December 2007, the company acquired AMIS Holdings Inc., parent company of ASIC vendor AMI Semiconductor, for approximately $915 million in stock.

ON Semi plans full production design acceptance for SP110 designs starting late in Q4 09.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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