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Mixed Signal ASIC Design Flow

Swindon’s ASIC Design Flow – Delivering technical and commercial advantages for nearly 50 years

Swindon’s enhanced analogue and mixed-signal custom integrated circuits, designed to our customer’s demanding requirement, delivers a product with a distinct and unique technical and commercial advantage.

Swindon’s full turnkey service (FTK) starts from initial specifications through to the supply of volume tested and calibrated ASICs, including analogue and mixed signal ASIC design, production test development, packaging, component production, logistics and supply chain management. Swindon also provides full evaluation, characterisation, industrial and automotive qualification (AEC Q100) and full failure analysis in accordance with defined industry standards such as TS 16949.

This FTK service enables our customers to be able to focus on their core competencies whilst Swindon designs, manufactures, production tests and supplies their custom ASIC solution to anywhere in the world.

Asic design flow

Swindon’s ASIC Design Flow – How Swindon develops and delivers an ASIC project

The Swindon team consists of Consultant, Design, Layout, Verification and Test engineers working together in a structured and controlled process that delivers the optimum outcome for our customers. This is split into various phases, which themselves are further divided into Work packages.

As Swindon is a fabless FTK ASIC supplier, everything is conducted in-house apart from the wafer processing and the packaging. This provides our customers with a proven and trusted supplier, who takes full responsibility for every phase of the development project, including the supply of 100% production tested ASICs.

1 Initiation Phase

Feasibility and Quotation

Swindon will conduct initial meeting and discussions with the customer to determine the following;

  • Project objectives – custom ASIC requirements both technically and commercially.
  • Feasibility – Can the objectives be met?
  • Technology – what is the optimal process node to achieve the objectives?
  • Chip partitioning – what topology is to be targeted – ASIC, SoC or SiP?

Once this has been completed to both parties’ satisfaction, a Technical Report will be produced, free of charge and with no obligation, by Swindon. This report will describe the finding from the above from a technical viewpoint. This is conducted to ensure that Swindon has fully understood the technical requirements and commercial objectives of the proposed ASIC development.

Once the customer is satisfied with the content of the report, Swindon will supply a quotation that will cover all aspects of the project, starting with the ASIC specification and ending with the production release of the chip.

The quotation will cover all work packages, project timings and milestones and associated payment milestones.

The quotation will include the following;

  • Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) price – includes all engineering and pre-production samples.
  • Production ASIC price.
  • Development, prototype and production release schedule.
  • Project and payment milestones and associated deliverables.

The customer can fully budget for the entire project from this one detailed document as there are no hidden charges or design iterations.

A full Development Agreement will be entered into upon acceptance of the quotation. Swindon has internal legal teams which assist in the drafting of the document. This is highly useful to both parties as it assists in the expediting of a signed contract.

Project Set Up

Project set up is the initial start of the project and will consist of the following:

  • Project kick off meeting
  • Design Kit Installation – containing design and layout guidelines and rules and device, static and dynamic timing checks and other process design rules as required by the foundry.
  • Third-party IP discovery and shortlisting
  • Project Planning Gantt Chart

2 Concept Phase

The concept phase consists of the following;

  • Formal capture of initial customer requirements in an industry-standard requirements management tool.
  • Develop ASIC Specification.
  • ASIC Modelling to validate the specification

The concept phase is the capture of all the customer’s unique requirements and to produce an ASIC specification. The ASIC specification is critical in defining the detailed requirements of the ASIC, including max – min on all key parameters. This document is key to the on-time and on-budget project, as any ambiguity within the specification can lead to costly redesign work and project delays. 

3 Development Phase

Swindon’s team of ASIC designers, utilising our own IP library from production proven former designs and supplemented by the digital block IP libraries of its foundry partners, form the base for a predictable development plan.

In all ASICs, where market leadership is the aim, there will be a requirement for custom circuits to provide that competitive edge. Swindon has a depth of engineering talent that ensures that all aspects of the design can be met in-house. This ensures that the customer will still meet the critical time-to-market but also benefit from a unique solution and product.

The ASIC development phase includes:

  • Mixed signal ASIC design (analogue and digital)
  • Corner simulations and verifications
  • Custom layout
  • Synthesis of all digital sections
  • Top level integration, layout and verification
  • Design documentation
  • Implement wafer probe and ATE production test programmes
  • Qualification plan
  • Design Tape Out procedure
  • Engineering samples production and verification (Multi Layer Mask (MLM) or Multi Project Wafer (MPW)
  • Customer evaluation of prototypes
  • Customer acceptance of design

4 Pre-Launch Phase

Pre-launch is another key aspect of the ASIC design flow, and it is within this phase that the ASIC moves from being an engineering sample / prototype / per production device into a fully qualified production released ASIC.

The process from design development to volume production Swindon and our customer must fully validate the ASIC performance. Prior approval by the customer of the ASICand the qualification results are required prior to Swindon production releasing the ASIC.

Swindon has been production releasing our ASICs for volume production for nearly 50 years and it is a key competence in our design flow. Swindon production tests 100% of the ASICs that we deliver, either at wafer probe, ATE or both, at our test facilities in the UK and Malaysia.

Our objective is to create an efficient high yielding manufacturing solution to fulfill the unique requirements of each customer and to meet stringent market demands.

The pre-launch phase consists of the following:

  • Completion of production test program and hardware
  • ASIC qualification
  • ASIC production release – PPAP
  • Production tape out
  • Set up commercial supply agreements, demand planning and first production order
  • Supply 100% fully tested devices

Swindon Silicon Systems is a global leader in the design and supply of automotive and industrial mixed signal ASIC solutions for today’s increasingly connected world.

Come and speak to us about your custom ASIC project, in an informal and no obligation discussion.

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