Preparing the Ecosystem for 20nm Design

Smarter, faster, smaller, greener, always-on, ubiquitous – the list of mobile device attributes continues to grow as we continue to expand the capabilities of products that allow us 24/7 access to the information we deem important to our lives and that shift the center of computing applications from the PC to the palm of our hands.

As system level and hardware designers grapple with the complexity of developing these next-generation devices, those of us on the foundry side, together with our partners, are tasked with providing them with the tools to leverage the heretofore unattainable performance improvement and power reduction afforded by 20nm technology. The process of harnessing the enormous complexity of 20nm design rules into designer friendly IP and EDA elements, requires in depth collaboration with our partners and customers.

Each new process node presents its own set of challenges. Take a look at a recent Q&A with Cadence Design System’s Richard Goering, where I share an advanced look at the hurdles we face with 20nm technology.

In order to smooth the transition from 32/28nm to 20nm designs, Samsung Foundry has taped out its first test chip. Our recent press release provides additional details. Working with our partners – ARM, Cadence and Synopsys – we implemented a broad suite of prototype cell architectures and router enhancements designed to fully exploit the chip density, performance and low-power potential of 20nm technology. Silicon data from this test chip will provide the basis for optimized IP layouts and router innovations that will bring the full potential of 20nm to designers’ workstations in a “design-ready” state in parallel with process development and qualification. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Samsung will be running 20nm shuttles for early customer access to silicon data for their custom design elements in the second half of this year.

With the help of our partners, we hope to solve critical design challenges that will allow our customers to bring their next-generation chips to market at a faster pace.

How do you think 20nm designs will change the market? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.