ASN had a chance to talk to François Brunier of Soitec, who’s leading this important project.
Advanced Substrate News (ASN): Can you tell us briefly about OCEAN12?
Francois Brunier (FB): OCEAN12 stands for Opportunity to Carry European Autonomous driviNg further with FD-SOI technology up to the 12nm node.
OCEAN12 deals with “Ultra-low power computing solutions for automotive and aeronautics using all the range of FDSOI technologies”. This project with a budget of 103M€ brings together 27 partners from 7 different countries. The project received the ECSEL JU* label under the 2017 call. ECSEL is an EU-driven public-private partnership enabling the co-financing of innovation in electronic components and systems both by Member States and the European Union.
ASN: Why is this project needed?
FB: As of today a car has around 500 million transistors. These electronic components represent already an important vector of valorization and differentiation for the automotive industry and for the consumer. The increased autonomy of the vehicles will require a very strong build-up of computational capacities. 50 to 100 times more transistors could be required for a level 5 (fully autonomous car). Following this trend an autonomous car will require power consumption equivalent to 50 to 100 computers running continuously (without taking into account the car propulsion).
The power consumption of these components becomes a key element in the choice of technologies. We believe that our technologies on SOI present the best assets to meet this challenge.
The FD-SOI substrates, technologies and designs developed in OCEAN12 offer a palate of different solutions to this challenge: increased performance for data processing (including Artificial Intelligence); much higher energetic efficiency; and smaller form factors to fit in embedded systems like autonomous cars with higher integration and reliability, and enabling safe connectivity.
The OCEAN12 project will demonstrate that SOI technologies are able to meet these challenges through relevant demonstrators in the targeted fields.
ASN: What are the project goals?
FB: OCEAN12 will bring concrete solutions to the main challenges of smart connectivity and low power consumption in the automotive industry.
As such, OCEAN12 will build awareness around the key enabling technologies in substrate development, transistor behavior, and the design and fabrication of integrated circuits up to the system and end-user application levels. We will show that the technology is advantageous for automotive and aerospace applications, which are strategic sectors for Europe. Having the whole supply chain in Europe means having trusted and secured components made in Europe.
The OCEAN12 project goals stand on three pillars:
First: Confirming the technology foundation. Ocean12 puts the FD-SOI substrate and device developers in direct contact with the full value chain of suppliers and end users. This gives the entire ecosystem visibility into current and future needs, and ensures that substrate and device solutions are both technically feasible and correctly aligned with actual system requirements.
Second: Creating concrete, innovative demonstrators in automotive (Audi, Bosch) and aeronautics (Airbus, Thales). These demonstrators are a first step in defining the context and environment to prove the advantages of these technologies in real application cases, showing they are useful and as such prefigure a final system and a potential future product roadmap. Demonstrators should be as close as possible to the final application.
Third: Broadening the design ecosystem, with the big companies, the small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and the research organizations (universities, RTOs). We have a critical mass of 16 design ecosystem partners focusing their efforts on FD-SOI. The project leverages that dynamic FD-SOI design ecosystem for IC product migration to FD-SOI and the creation of new IP. Inventing the future components in Europe is also key.
ASN: Can you tell us more about the demonstrators? When will we see them?
FB: There are four demonstrators. All these demonstrators will be delivered by the end of the project in 2021:
Always-on wake-up systems (Audi, Bosch, Leti). With such a system we can imagine an application to monitor our car when it is parked in a parking lot for a long time. The sensors would remain aware of everything that goes on around the car. Based on sensor observations, the car can make decisions on further actions to take. This can be used in many future car applications like intrusion detection or vehicle access systems. But you will not have to worry about battery drain: even though all the sensors are always on, they go right back into a very low-power sleep mode thanks to FD-SOI technology.
mm-Wave integrated radar SOCs (Bosch and Audi), which will benefit from all the innovations of FD-SOI thanks to its low consumption properties, but also the optimization of the sensors. The performance gain is made over the entire system with adaptations between analog and logic.
High-performance video processor for aeronautics. (Airbus, Thales, Kalray). Kalray, a French SME working on Massively Parallel Processor Arrays (MPPA) aims to demonstrate an ultra-low power, low-cost, high-performance neural processor on FD-SOI technology. This demonstrator would be key for Airbus and drones with high-performance, low-power cameras. Airbus and Audi have partnered on air and ground mobility services.
Microcontroller plug-and-play board. This demonstrator lead by ST will allow for the development of new solutions in the domain of GNSS/GPS.
ASN: Can you tell us more about the partners?
FB: The OCEAN12 consortium of 27 partners involves 8 large groups, 9 SMEs and 10 universities/RTOs. These partners come from 7 different European countries.
The eight large groups include: Soitec, the world’s leading provider of FD-SOI substrates; EVG, a leading global equipment supplier; GlobalFoundries and STMicroelectronics, the two major European FD-SOI foundries; and Bosch, as a Tier 1 automotive supplier. At the top of the value chain, high-end European automotive manufacturer Audi, the avionics industrial giant Airbus, and Thales for security issues, will develop product demonstrations.
Ten highest-level research institutes support the industrial consortium. They include CEA-Leti (FR), Fraunhofer(GE), IMS (FR), INP Grenoble (FR), TU Dresden (GE), U. Paderborn (GE), Bundeswehr U. Munich (GE), Eberhard Karls U. Tübingen (GE), Instituto de Telecomunicações (PT), and Warsaw UT (PL). They increase the competitiveness through technological innovation and transfer of technical know-how while gaining new expertise working with global leaders.
In addition, OCEAN 12 has a very strong SME consortium covering the supply chain in the fields of new equipment, IP, system integration and fabless companies. They include: IBS, UnitySC (HSEB), MunEDA, Kalray, AED Engineering, ISD, EVOTEL, M3 Systems and Design&Reuse.
All these partners have longstanding experience of cooperation in various national and international frameworks and are specialists in their fields of activity. Their contributions are essential for the success of the project.
ASN: What is the timetable?
FB: The project started on April 1st 2018. The kick off with all the partners was held at Soitec on 29 September 2018. It was a great success. The project runs through December 2021, by which point everything has to be demonstrated.
ASN: Can you clarify the funding structure?
FB: The budget is about €103.6M. If the project succeeds, we get European Commission funding. In that case, just over 20% of the eligible cost – about €23M – is subsidized at the European level. The seven countries with companies or organizations participating in the project will then roughly match the European subsidies, contributing about €27M.
These ECSEL-type public-private projects are a tried and true model in Europe, maximizing synergy across ecosystems.
To conclude, in the name of the consortium I’d like to thank the ECSEL JU, the European Commission and our National Funding Agencies from France (DGE), Germany, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria and Poland. Such a project would not exist without them.
*ECSEL JU: Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking