[sdiy] Design your own chips

John Speth johnspeth at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 8 19:18:53 CEST 2020

This endeavor sounds just about right for a person who's equipped to do 
the work (having aptitude and test equipment). It sounds like something 
an inexperienced or uninformed chip designer might struggle with 
(somebody like me).

The big dogs in the chip design business community use post fab testing 
to assure the silicon was accurately produced and packaged. It's a 
service a buyer can purchase from the fab. One can choose not to test 
and let it be part of the cost of free. The slides didn't mention any 
post fab testing. It did mention using an iterative qualification 
process that the designer can do after taking delivery (basically trial 
and error until a chip is deemed working). Trial and error can be 
prohibitively costly (time and money) if enough turns are needed. 
Complexity will certainly drive the risk higher. One of the great 
benefits of trial and error is it's often the most instructive.

I was a SW engineer for a fabless ASIC company. I observed that test is 
the not-so-glamorous part of the design process. It's the part of the 
process that the engineers spent the most time on.


On 7/8/2020 1:26 AM, Ben Stuyts wrote:
> Well, that has been possible for quite a while. It’s the cost of manufacturing that is a problem. I found this on another mailing list: https://fossi-foundation.org/2020/06/30/skywater-pdk
> It seems to be partly sponsored by Google, and you can have your own (open source) chips made for free, starting in November. It looks it’s not just digital but that there are some analog blocks available.
> Any takers? :-)
> On the other hand, I saw that Coolaudio just announced their version of the CEM3397.
> Ben
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