Custom IC Design – Providing technical and commercial advantages

Swindon’s enhanced analogue, digital and mixed-signal custom integrated circuits, designed to our customer’s demanding requirement provides an end 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 design, test, 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, tests and supplies their custom ASIC solution to anywhere in the world.

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

The Swindon team consists of Consultant, Design and Layout engineers working together in a structured planned process to deliver the optimum outcome for our customers. We start by agreeing the system specification, then on to an early design simulation, through layouts and prototype evaluation and onto full production testing.

 

ASIC Design and Supply Process Flow

Agree System Specification

Customer Application Review

  • Review customer system requirements / specifications
  • Establish ASIC requirements
  • Produce Technical Report (if required) which includes, target die size, fabrication process, packaging requirements, test requirements

ASIC Fixed Price Quotation

  • Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE)
  • Production unit price
  • Development, prototype and production schedule
  • Milestones and deliverables

Agree System Specification

Customer Application Review

  • Review customer system requirements / specifications
  • Establish ASIC requirements
  • Produce Technical Report (if required) which includes, target die size, fabrication process, packaging requirements, test requirements

ASIC Fixed Price Quotation

  • Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE)
  • Production unit price
  • Development, prototype and production schedule
  • Milestones and deliverables

Project Start/Preliminary ASIC Review

Project Start/Preliminary ASIC Review

  • Review System Specification
  • Commence ASIC Specification
  • Review all schedules and project plan

ASIC Fixed Price Quotation

  • Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE)
  • Production unit price
  • Development, prototype and production schedule
  • Milestones and deliverables

Project Start/Preliminary ASIC Review

Project Start/Preliminary ASIC Review

  • Review System Specification
  • Commence ASIC Specification
  • Review all schedules and project plan

ASIC Fixed Price Quotation

  • Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE)
  • Production unit price
  • Development, prototype and production schedule
  • Milestones and deliverables

Initial Design and Layout

Initial Design & Layout

  • Top level design
  • Device partitioning
  • Analog circuit design
  • Digital circuit design
  • Customer / foundry IP
  • ASIC Floor Plan
  • Built-In test features
  • Complete ASIC specification

Initial Design and Layout

Initial Design & Layout

  • Top level design
  • Device partitioning
  • Analog circuit design
  • Digital circuit design
  • Customer / foundry IP
  • ASIC Floor Plan
  • Built-In test features
  • Complete ASIC specification

Design Review/Simulation and Check

Design Review

  • Review circuit performance
  • Review physical layout status
  • Design and layout revisions (if required)

Simulation and Checks

  • Simulate over temperature and voltage
  • Complete Design Rule Checks (DRC’s)
  • Complete Layout Vs. Schematic (LVS)
  • Prepare test plans and specification

Design Review/Simulation and Check

Design Review

  • Review circuit performance
  • Review physical layout status
  • Design and layout revisions (if required)

Simulation and Checks

  • Simulate over temperature and voltage
  • Complete Design Rule Checks (DRC’s)
  • Complete Layout Vs. Schematic (LVS)
  • Prepare test plans and specification

Prototype Fabrication/Test Program Development

Prototype Fabrication

  • Multi Layer Mask (MLM) production
  • Engineering wafers fabrication
  • Package devices

Test Program Development

  • Prototype test program and hardware
  • Production test program and hardware

Prototype Fabrication/Test Program Development

Prototype Fabrication

  • Multi Layer Mask (MLM) production
  • Engineering wafers fabrication
  • Package devices

Test Program Development

  • Prototype test program and hardware
  • Production test program and hardware

Prototype Evaluation

Prototype Evaluation

  • Wafer probe (if required)
  • Package devices
  • Customer evaluates packaged prototypes
  • Design and layout revisions (if required)

Prototype Evaluation

Prototype Evaluation

  • Wafer probe (if required)
  • Package devices
  • Customer evaluates packaged prototypes
  • Design and layout revisions (if required)

Prototype Acceptance Review

Prototype Acceptance Review

  • ASIC performance versus specification
  • Reliability Testing Review
  • Yield Analysis Review
  • Proceed to Production

Prototype Acceptance Review

Prototype Acceptance Review

  • ASIC performance versus specification
  • Reliability Testing Review
  • Yield Analysis Review
  • Proceed to Production

Production

Production

  • ASIC qualification
  • ASIC production release
  • Production tape out
  • Supply 100% fully tested devices

Production

Production

  • ASIC qualification
  • ASIC production release
  • Production tape out
  • Supply 100% fully tested devices

Analogue IC Design

Analogue design is one of Swindon’s primary areas of expertise. Over the years we have developed many analog IP blocks which can be used across many applications. Our proven analogue design covers many areas such as Analogue to Digital Convertors (ADC), Digital to Analogue Convertors (DAC), Amplifiers (OP Amps, TIA, LNA, VGA etc), Synthesizers, Voltage Regulators and Convertors (many different architectures), Voltage Controlled Oscillators (VCO’s), Constant Current Generator, Filters and Signal Conditioning to name but a few.

Swindon has designed and integrated many complex ASICs across numerous geometries.

Mixed Signal and Analog ASIC design service – FAQ

What is the development time from specification to ASIC prototypes?

ASIC design and layout, including prototype silicon, are very dependent upon the complexity of the ASIC that is to be designed. On simple design, prototypes can be available within 20 weeks, however on more complex designs this timescale will be extended to over a year. It is imperative that the design and layout is correct and proven prior to committing to silicon so the more care and diligence that you take at this stage usually produces dividends further down the line.

Do we need to partition our system level schematics for ASIC integration before Swindon can provide us with a quote?

It can be helpful, but is not necessary. Our engineers have extensive background and experience in ASIC and system design and are continuously maintaining familiarity with size/pricing issues of discrete components.

What level of ASIC design expertise should we have to assure a successful project?

The Customer should have detailed familiarity with the system level objectives and the operating environment of the target product. No ASIC design expertise is required.

How can we be sure that all production parts meet specification?

Swindon develops all its own proprietary test software and the test flow and test limits must be first agreed with and approved by the customer before the start of production. Sample parts tested by the production test program are provided for certification. In production Swindon conduct 100% wafer probe and ATE of the packaged devices to guarantee compliance.

What prototyping options are available?

Depending upon the chosen foundry, there are two methods of prototyping silicon devices. The first is an MPW (Multi Project Wafer) which is usually started every two or three months by a foundry. The customer purchases real estate on the wafer, usually 50 or 100 devices, and these are then used as your prototype silicon. The second way is an MLM (Multi Layer Mask) which is proprietary to each customer and is started when required, thus if you miss the tape out date it does not matter. This method is more expensive but it is an excellent development tool. Engineering wafers are also purchased and around a thousand devices per wafer can be yielded. Redesigns are also quicker as wafers can be held at either pre metal or poly. The MPW is the lower cost but the MLM route is far more flexible as a development tool.

Does an ASIC go obsolete?

The two possible components of an ASIC that can go obsolete are the processing and the packaging. Swindon will choose a process with longevity in supply attached to it and most packages can be sourced from more than one supplier. Swindon will even port the design onto a new process if required as a foundry will normally provide 2 years notice of obsolescence. The important fact to note is that Swindon will provide assistance throughout and will not leave the customer in a situation where obsolescence becomes a major issue. A last time buy of packaged devices is a major financial outlay and Swindon aim to find a solution for our customer long before that scenario develops.

What is the NRE cost to develop an ASIC?

This is totally dependent upon the complexity of the design that is to be commenced. Adding RF, micros and memory all adds to the engineering time needed to complete the project. The more complex the design also usually means that a higher speed process is also required. The lower geometry process that is used usually means that the tooling costs are increased. Therefore a simple design on a 0.6µm CMOS may cost in the region of £150k all the way through to production ready samples where a design on a 0.18µm BiCMOS SiGe may be in the region of £600k. Swindon guides our customers through this process and advises on the best process to choose to ensure that the result is an ASIC that provides the customer with the best performance versus price versus size that is achievable.

Can my IP be used in other company’s ASICs?

One of the main reasons why a company will commission an ASIC is to protect its IP. Some ASIC companies will demand that any part of the ASIC can be re used in their other designs. Swindon gives its customers ownership of the final system design ensuring that the IP of the final solution remains firmly in our customer’s possession.

How can I be sure of product quality and reliability?

Quality is a word and function that some companies only pay lip service to. Within Swindon quality is fundamental to the way we operate. TS 16949 and its processes are integral to how we approach all that we do hence all our projects are subject to the strict quality standards. Swindon provides a design and performance warranty on all its ASICs that demonstrates to our customers that the quality of the final product is unsurpassed

ASIC vs. Standard Product

ASICs are being widely used wherever capability, size, cost and, in many cases, resistance to “difficult” environments are key requirements.

Incorporating a device that is specified, designed and manufactured solely for you gives your product a commercial and technical edge over your competitors with obsolescence assurances during the lifetime of your product.

Like to discuss a project or have a question?

Or call us now

+44 1793 649400