Leti launches Silicon Impulse FD-SOI development program for low-power applications



CEA-Leti announced that seven partners have joined its fully-depleted silicon on insulator (FD-SOI) transistor architecture IC development program, Silicon Impulse, launched to provide a comprehensive IC technology platform that offers IC design, advanced intellectual property, emulator and test services along with industrial multi-project wafer (MPW) shuttles.


The collaborative design platform for advanced processes includes a network of design services and facilities focused on accelerating development of products for today’s and tomorrow’s devices that require low-power use. These include energy-efficient computing systems, Ultra-Low-Power (ULP) Internet of Things (IoT) devices and robust and reliable applications in harsh environments. The platform leverages the competencies and expertise of the CEA-Leti and CEA-List institutes and Leti’s industrial partners, which comprise a wide spectrum of technical and application knowledge.


Silicon Impulse partners are major industrial players in the semiconductor ecosystem, world-class research centers and technology providers. Based on this strong foundation, Silicon Impulse will significantly reduce development time and speed industrialization, thus putting innovative companies at the cutting edge of energy-efficient system development and implementation. It will do this through a network of FD-SOI experts and access to a strong industrial supply chain.

In addition, CEA-Leti is planning to use its research & development license from ARM to demonstrate various energy-efficient processor implementations in FD-SOI for its IoT development platform. The FD-SOI ecosystem also includes Synopsys, with its rich portfolio of proven DesignWare IP products and EDA tools for the FD-SOI design community. Silicon Impulse is in discussion with Synopsys to join the program in order to further extend the program’s reach.


Launched by Leti in 2015, Silicon Impulse is designed to help innovative companies deal with the challenge of switching to new technologies and markets by augmenting both their knowledge of the supply chain and their skills to master the entire design process from ideas to products. To that end, Silicon Impulse will provide technical expertise, knowhow and access to advanced industrial, energy-efficient solutions to get innovators up to speed on the ecosystem of energy-efficient products by facilitating access to FD-SOI technology and manufacturing facilities.


“Leti has always concentrated on research that helps our partners adopt technology to become more competitive in their markets. Now with Silicon Impulse we provide a new service in collaboration with our industrial partners to help companies evaluate, design, prototype and launch new products,” said Marie-Noëlle Semeria, CEO of Leti. “From that foundation, Silicon Impulse will leverage the existing ecosystem to bring the full value chain from research, design solutions and industrialization services to high value-added products. This combination will concentrate through a single entry point all the necessary expertise and competencies to provide innovative companies from any sector with a one-stop-shop opportunity to build leading-edge, energy-efficient systems.”


As electronic devices become increasingly integrated into everyday activities, designing for energy efficiency becomes more important than ever for all mainstream sectors of industry. Embedded systems and particularly the IoT are key enablers in the market, and new entrants (startups, SMEs, large companies) drive innovation. By enabling integration of advanced processes – 28nm FD-SOI technology today – into IoT design and helping companies develop innovative products more rapidly, Silicon Impulse will foster leading-edge technologies and facilitate their adoption for manufacturing.


With the program’s flexible format, Silicon Impulse’s involvement can be limited to architectural consulting or extended to developing and delivering the whole system or anything in between. It can help innovators with their projects from concept through production hand-off. Companies can receive architectural advice and have their products shaped from a very high level, including a feasibility study and recommendations on how to implement the system. Leti and its partners also can provide unique IP and/or technology components such as foundation IP or more complex system level IP blocks, RF, NVM, N/MEMS, 3D components and any other advanced technology to shape a unique and advanced, yet manufacturable, product. At another level, Leti and List could provide embedded software to complete the whole product.


One key goal of the Silicon Impulse platform is to provide and ease silicon access. MPW shuttles are provided to open the doors to a wider set of users and projects. The goal is to enable innovators to test their ideas, especially mixed-signal, analog or RF technologies or any new IP that would require silicon validation in FD-SOI. This also provides an affordable platform for startups and other small companies to build their prototypes and run small volumes until they receive financing and/or demonstrate market traction to build their own mask set. The first 28nm FD-SOI MPW is planned for February 2016 to be processed at STMicroelectronics’ site in Crolles, which is near Grenoble.