Common Platform foundries build links to design to push 32nm

Synopsys has joined ARM, IBM, Chartered Semiconductor and Samsung in an attempt to shift fabless chipmakers to the 32nm Common Platform processes quickly.

By providing a ready-made chip-design environment, the aim is to pull customers into 32nm design much more quickly than they might have without having this kind of support, according to Kevin Meyer, vice president of marketing at Chartered. “We believe customers can come to this technology a full year earlier,” he claimed.

Synopsys will use the Lynx design environment that it built in the past few years to hook together a ready-made flow that will act as the gateway to production at the Common Platform foundries. ARM will supply libraries and IP cores that have been tried out on test chips. The environment is meant to resemble the setup that design groups within integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) have traditionally done for themselves when dealing with their captive fabs.

Tom Lantzsch, vice president of marketing for physical IP at ARM, said: “We felt we needed to change the way we interact with some of our partners. Essentially, it is a recreation of the value chain that historically been done within IDMs.”

IBM sees the 32nm node being crucial. Much like the existing 130nm and 65nm, Mark Ireland, vice president at IBM Semiconductor Platforms, said companies are increasingly skipping nodes, they will most likely skip 45nm and 40nm processes when migrating from 65nm nodes as they seek to improve logic density and reduce costs.

“From what we have seen, 32nm will be a very long lived node. There is a lot of excitement about it and a lot of companies will be skipping to 32nm,” Ireland claimed.

The rise of chip design in Asia is playing a large role in the decision to roll out this kind of environment. Meyer pointed to the large number of 65nm designs being done now in the Far East and claimed that advanced-process design work is growing rapidly in the region.

John Chilton, senior vice president of marketing at Synopsys refused to discuss the commercial arrangement that has seen the company decide to customise its Lynx environment, normally sold through the professional services group, for a Common Platform flow.

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