Here is our second post about the SOI Consortium’s Japan Symposium this past fall. This will provide summaries of eight very informative presentations on SOI in IoT and automotive by NXP, Dolphin Design, Leti, Silvaco, Arm, I-fuse and Secure-IC. There’s a lot of content to summarize, so this post is about twice as long as those we usually do. But you’ll want to read right to the end, for sure!
In case you missed our previous post on the 5G/RF-SOI presentations given at the Japan event, you can read it here. Our next and final post on the Japan event will cover photonics presentations by Cisco/Luxtera, TowerJazz, GlobalFoundries, Leti, Cadence and Soitec.
By way of reminder, the Japan SOI Symposium was a great success, with both days well attended. If your company is a member of the SOI Consortium, you can now access most of these presentations on our website. You can also click on the illustrations in this post to see them in enlarged versions.
For NXP, FD-SOI introduced the ability to easily add different functionalities to the technology node like ULP, eNVM, support for high-voltage and embedding RF. For them, said Cheek, it’s about the range, and with adaptive back bias, you can “get crazy”, so you can really achieve amazing things. In fact, they think they now have the lowest leakage SRAM in the industry, thanks to body biasing. The i.MX 7ULP is finding significant success in wearables. Their “crossover” chips are the latest beneficiaries of FD-SOI with body biasing. The “new normal”, they offer huge improvements for real-time operating systems – which is of course key for edge computing. (As you can imagine, the audience was intently taking notes throughout — this was a really excellent talk!) It also is great for machine learning, as it is designed to unlock the potential of voice-assisted end nodes. The IP they needed is now available from multiple vendors, noted Cheek, such as Tensilica and VeriSilicon. Another key play will be in visuals for industrial computing. He concluded by observing that the automobile is the ultimate IoT machine, with 10x the amount of code now found in leading edge airplanes. That’s where the i.MX8 and 8X come in.
Jon Cheek gave this presentation on the second day of the Japan event. Long-time followers of SOI will know that NXP has been excelling in high-voltage (HV) SOI for well over two decades now (including the pioneering work done by Philips, now part of NXP: their EZ-HV SOI patent dates back to 1993). It’s probably safe to say that NXP’s SOI-based automotive chips are used by virtually every carmaker on the planet. HV follows well behind the leading edge – it’s currently mostly around 130nm (the limits are related to metalization). Reason #1 it’s on SOI? SOI-based technologies are incredibly reliable, especially in the automotive culture targeting the three zeros (0 emissions, 0 accidents and 0 time wasted). Today’s car manufacturer’s are going to a distributed environment, and SOI still provides a huge advantage, making parts that are smaller, lower power and more reliable – so it drives a lower BOM for automakers.In conclusion, said Cheek, NXP’s leadership through SOI innovation enables scalable solutions, high voltage & analog integration, sensor integration, and reliable & safe passenger experience.
Dolphin has a series of platforms, techniques and IP for increasing speed and drastically improving energy efficiency in SoC design. Gaude introduced their Speed Platforms, which include a Power Management Platform and a Processing platform, both of which make dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. The Power Management Platform keeps control of power management from architecture to design, resulting in a 10x improvement in energy efficiency. The Processing Platform comprises configurable RTL clusters for best-in-class (100x) energy-efficiency. Gaude then turned to the Dolphin’s Adaptive-Body Bias (ABB) IP for breakthrough energy-efficiency with FD-SOI. This is real-time, “on-the-fly” body biasing: the IP does it all. It is silicon-proven on GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX with Arm cores and Invecus standards cells & SRAM, with breakthrough energy efficiency.
The massive use of IP is both an advantage and a challenge, began Blaesi. There are solutions out there, but they are disconnected. Typically SoC/IP designers, IP librarians and support folks use various systems, while procurement, finance and legal use others. This is a problem for both the providers and the consumers of IP. Silvaco has a new system called Xena that centrally organizes all IP data: it’s an IP repository for tracking accounts, products, contracts, devices, support, compliance and reporting. One of the first beneficiaries of Xena will be the SOI ecosystem, as providers of SOI IP are already signing on. Beyond the organizational advantages, Xena has patented “finger printing” and “DNA analysis”, so there is a digital representation of each IP on an SoC that can’t be reverse engineered. Each fingerprint contains list of unique signatures of each file in an IP or SoC. A file’s unique signature is created from the entire file content, and that signature is guaranteed to be unique to that content. It enhances support for all versions of common design files: hard IP, soft IP, and embedded software. Because it’s cloud or enterprise based, it will be particularly useful for large organizations. Fingerprinting and DNA analysis are vendor agnostic, universal, and easy-to-use tools and methodologies for IP lifecycle management, he concluded.
This presentation began with a review of the explosion in devices with IoT and related investments, then connected all the ways in which innovations powerhouse Leti is contributing – from the SOI wafer level to the chip level – which is to say practically everywhere! Especially hot topics in FD-SOI included: the roadmap to sub-10nm; CoolCube monolithic 3D; new embedded memories; power amplifiers; Ultra-Wide Range DSP; smart sensing & local processing (including haptics, imaging, infrared & advanced processing); local processing with edge AI; and spike coding for deep neural networks. He showed information on two always-on/on-demand transmission 28nm FD-SOI IoT test chips that taped out in mid-2019: the Warrior and the Samurai. And finally, he covered silicon-proven IP that Leti has for FD-SOI including power management blocks, lots of RF IP (including low-power RF wake-up), sensor interfaces, clockless network-on-chip and new SRAM technologies. These and more will be covered at the next Leti Innovation Days in Grenoble (June 2020) – during which in parallel, btw, there will also be a European SOI Summit hosted by the SOI Consortium.
Subtitled A perspective on system optimization with Arm FDSOI IP, this presentation reviewed how Arm is enabling system gains through optimization across IP boundaries. This is work happening in the Arm Artisan Physical Design Group (PDG), which provides logic, memory and POP (processor optimization package) IP as well as various products to help ease implementation challenges for advanced nodes. In this case the focus is on Total Compute enablers on Samsung 28nm FD-SOI (called 28FDS) – specifically three building blocks recently launched on FD-SOI. The first is the 128Mb Wide Capacity embedded MRAM (an eNVM to replace eFlash) compiler for storage delivered to Samsung in July `19. It was demonstrated in silicon in the Musca-S1 Smart IoT Device Demonstrator on 28FDS, an energy efficient IoT device with eMRAM secure boot & on-chip storage. [Read our coverage from March 2019 here.] The second is a novel design developed with Spin Memory. It recently taped out on 28FDS and is slated for delivery in 2020. Adding an “Endurance Engine to the eMRAM that was delivered in 2019, the ARM-Spin innovation delivers RAM-like performance with increased speed and endurance. What’s at issue here is a change in use cases. Use cases served by eFlash were not written to that often; now with sensors (as in IoT) that continually gather and write data, eFlash endurance is not sufficient. The third is billed as an SRAM replacement compiler. Its MRAM as RAM in A-class systems, with significant energy and performance gains. Again, this is a use-case issue: retention is lower (this is for weeks & months, whereas the other solutions are for >10 years). But you can get more RAM than SRAM into the same footprint, so you get a 60% reduction in DRAM traffic and increased performance. Delivery for this is marked as 2020+.
I-fuse is a disruptive OTP (One-Time Programmable) technology without disrupting a fuse. The goal was a 100x increase in reliability at 1/100th of the cell size and 1/10th the power. It has now been demonstrated in GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX FD-SOI technology for energy harvesting applications. In the OTP IP technologies, explained Dr. Chung, they defied the conventional wisdom of breaking a fuse to maintain a permanent programmed state forever: Attopsemi’s I-fuse™ is actually a “non-breaking” fuse. “I don’t mind to break a fuse, but I do care about breaking a fuse by explosion”, said Dr. Chung. “The I-V curve of programming a fuse beyond the break point actually shows more like an explosion. The anti-fuse OTP also ruptures gate oxide by explosion. On the contrary, I-fuse™ is a disruptive OTP technology without disrupting a fuse.” He concluded, “By using MOS as switches to enable discharging two capacitors, through cell and reference cell respectively, and compare the discharge rates, the resistance in the cell can be determined higher or lower than the reference resistance so as to convert into logic data. The read energy consumed is only 1/100 of the conventional sensing, which is good for energy harvest IoT applications. Eventually most IoT devices will be battery-less.”
In addition to opportunities, the impact of AI on IoT (aka AIoT) adds new threats to edge devices. Design for security and in-depth security is required, down to the physical layer. For example in automotive, sensors gather data and AI analyzes it – but the enabler is security. The challenge of AI is the increase in data and connectivity with unsecured devices. FD-SOI is a key for Secure-IC’s Securyzer security module: it leveragesFD-SOI properties to secure the AIoT world. It is flexible, and tuned for each customer. Here, FD-SOI enables the creation of physically secure systems, with secure boot and firmware updates, cryptographic services, key management and secure storage.