Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) – circuits that are made to order to meet customers’ needs – are used in a great number of technical fields of application. As digitalization continues its advance, they will become even more widespread. This calls for increasingly specialized application expertise as well as flexible solutions and rapid response times on the part of ASIC manufacturers. Although these conditions are ideal for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), it is still mostly large semiconductor groups that develop ASICs. The reasons for this lie in the various peculiarities of ASIC development.
ASICs are often highly complex and are predominantly manufactured in relatively small batches. In addition, product validation in semiconductor production is very expensive, resulting in high investment costs and significant economic risk for the company.
For this reason, AnastASICA aims to make it possible for SMEs to produce new, especially powerful ASICs much more economically than before. This will considerably boost the competitiveness of smaller companies. In addition, the new design methods should help create synergies between SMEs that will facilitate the faster and more accurate integration of existing IP cores into new systems.
The AnastASICA project partners are focusing on the following key deliverables:
- Develop a structured method to determine requirements for the ASICs as well as the IP cores they contain. Structure the IP core design from spec to finished IP core through a novel IP design flow.
- Continuously improve the hierarchical ASIC design as regards performance of the overall system, IP core transferability and total system costs (system optimization). Doing so should considerably reduce the time and risk involved in the design phase.
- Demonstrate the capabilities of the new method by implementing various IP cores for HF radio communication and signal conversion; the automotive industry uses such IP cores to map sensor signals and to transmit data.