|Abstract. The needs of the microelectronics technology transfer in the form of the ASIC develpoment for the SME are presented. The activity in this field in Europe and in Poland are shortly described. Finally, the organization of the Support Center for Microelectronics Application and the first experience are given.|
The microelectronics technology transfer in the form of the ASIC development for SMEs, which is widely applied in Europe, has in our opinion at least two goals:
The specific character of the microelectronics application in SME is based on:
The better economical results for enterprises in case of ASIC application arise from the savings in comparison with discrete solutions, because of miniaturization, smaller power consumption and better reliability. The copying of the ASIC is much more difficult and expensive.
In reality, customers of the ASICs Support Center are usually the people, who cannot organize themselves the design, prototyping and manufacturing processes. The reason of such inability could be lack of competence (in case of all non-microelectronic enterprises, not particularly SMEs) as well as economical reasons (in case of smaller enterprises).
Well known are [e.g. 1,2] the activity of the EMAC (European Microelectronics Application Competence) and numerous actions undertaken by ESPRIT, JESSI and national programs in Europe in favour of simplifying microelectronics technology transfer [3,4,5].
European trend, mentioned above, was adopted by the East and Central European countries. For many of them it created the chance for continuing the research and applications of microelectronics better corresponding to the economical scale of these countries, than microelectronics of standard IC s (i.e. standard microprocessors and memories).
The Institute of Electron Technology in Warsaw, the largest institute working in the field of microelectronics in Poland, being the part of the Scientific and Production Center of Semiconductors (since 1970 up to 1990) designed about 200 SSI, MSI and LSI integrated circuits, that were afterwards manufactured by TEWA factory belonging to the same Center.
After free market economy was introduced in Poland the Scientific
and Production Center of Semiconductors and TEWA factory went
bankrupt. The institute adapted itself in a better way to the
new economical conditions, seeking its chance in the ASICs [5,6].
2. TOWARDS THE SUPPORT CENTER FOR MICROELECTRONICS
Implementation of new policy started from the participation of IET in TEMPUS Joint European Project Advanced Joint European Project for Microelectronics Design Methodologies" in 1991. It was the first contact with very modern IC design tools: Cadence and HSpice software and SUN SPARC workstations. Afterwards a participation in EUROCHIP/EUROPRACTICE project enabled practical verification of these tools by the design and prototyping of the modern ICs using advanced design methodologies and European silicon foundries.
The discussion on the methodology of the microelectronics technology transfer, which took place in the framework of the COST Project - East European Microelectronics Cooperation Network" and participation in the European Conferences on technology transfer [1,2] permitted to define the first shape The today's state of the microelectronics technology transfer to SME in Poland has been strongly influenced by W.Kuzmicz and his co-workers from the Warsaw University of Technology [9,10].
Understanding the chances and needs of the microelectronics application in the national economy of Poland IET initiated its ASIC activity as the statutory tasks as well as in the framework of the individual research projects . The results were: further modern tools for ASIC design - new SUN SPARC workstations and Synopsys, Vantage Spreadsheet, Mint, Dracula software.
The Ordered Research Project Application-Specific Electronics" established in 1995 by the State Committee for Scientific Research on the initiative of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce with budget of over 5 MECU was an important decision for development of the ASIC Two research institutes, two universities and one commercial enterprise participant in the project. The main goal of this project is restructuring of the Polish microelectronics from the standard ICs microelectronics to ASICs and the integration of the activities of the Polish microelectronics institutions.
There are three main parts of the project:
Expected results of the project are:
Another activity of IET is participation in European CAD Standardization
3. SUPPORT CENTER FOR MICROELECTRONICS APPLICATION.
Taking into account:
the SUPPORT CENTER FOR MICROELECTRONICS APPLICATION (SCMA) was established at the Institute of Electron Technology in Warsaw. The main task of the Center is organization of the design, prototyping, manufacturing and testing of the ASICs.
Support Center for Microelectronics Application (SCMA) is a part of the Institute of Electron Technology (IET), Warsaw and is headed by the Vice-Director for Microelectronics Application. SCMA was established for the purpose of promotion and support of microelectronics applications in Poland. This is achieved by designing, prototyping and manufacturing processes of application specific integrated circuits and systems for SME which have not access to design tools and semiconductor foundries.
Support Center for Microelectronics Application is mostly a virtual" organization. Only a few (1 - 3) persons are foreseen as the full time staff. At their disposal however, is an experienced staff of IC and system designers as well as world known design tools such as Cadence, VHDL, Synopsys, Xilinx, Silicon Compilers. During the last three years about 20 ASICs were designed and fabricated at West European silicon foundries using different processes (CMOS, HBIMOS 1-2 m) and the above mentioned modern tools. Some of the ASICs designed were quite sophisticated, including devices based on microprocessor kernel. IET also has its own laboratory processing line which enables prototyping and manufacturing ICs in 3 m CMOS technology as well as photodetectors and silicon micromechanical sensors.
The main SCMA services include:
SCMA offers also consulting in the following areas:
The following divisions of IET act on behalf of the Support Center for Microelctronics Application:
SCMA has also a wide cooperation in the area of the ASIC education
with the Institute of Microelectronics and Optoelectronics, Warsaw
University of Technology - group headed by Professor Wies³aw
Kumicz and Institute of Electronics, Technical University
of Lodz headed by Professor Andrzej Napieralski. An educational
activity, not only for graduate and post graduate students, but
also for engineering and management staff of the SMEs will be
conducted mostly by the institutes mentioned above.
4. FINAL REMARKS
The preparation for the establishing of the Support Center for Microelectronics Application has taken relatively long time. We have met several difficulties during this period. They include:
Two of them were at least partly solved:
Unfortunately financial procedures concerning SCMA-like activities are still not definitely solved.
The most important positive facts which helped to start SCMA were:
The first commercially licensed project for ASIC design in IET and manufacturing in EUROPRACTICE foundry was signed. Further projects are in preparation. Having some experience in the ASIC design and manufacturing, the most important problem to solve is to gather enough managerial and legal experience in operating the Support Center.
The authors thanks Prof. C.A. Ambroziak and Dr Henryk M. Przew³ocki
for the reviewing the text and remarks concerning the subject
of the paper.
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