Free chips courtesy of Google, SkyWater, eFabless

Free chips courtesy of Google, SkyWater, eFabless

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

The free offer is open to any and all on the one condition that the design must be open-source and be published in detail down to the GDS tape level. The FOSSi Foundation is a not-for-profit company backed by sponsors registered in the UK. FOSSi stands for Free and Open Source Silicon. The offer is limited to digital ICs for now, but with plans to extend libraries to cope with analog and RF designs.

Tim Ansell, a software engineer at Google, used a Youtube video organized by FOSSi, known as a Dial-Up Talk, to announce that an open-source PDK for SkyWater’s 130nm digital manufacturing process is now available.

At the same time Google is paying for US design management company eFabless to organize the sending of designs to SkyWater Technology Foundry and for a series of open-source multiproject wafer (MPW) shuttle runs there. Each shuttle run will have about 40 design slots. The first run is scheduled for November 2020.

The shuttle runs are completely free of charge, Ansell said. He added that the PDK is available to be cloned at GitHub with no non-disclosure agreement to sign. However, if users want to contribute to the PDK there is a something to sign with Google, he added. eFabless said it would make design with the PDK easy by integrating numerous resources on its cloud-based design platform.

Each slot on the multiproject wafer shuttle comes with a RISC-V core, power circuitry and RAM occupying about 6 square millimeters and a further 10 square millimeters available for open-source designs to be implemented on.

Next: Just digital . . . for now

Ansell said that right now the digital standard cells are available but that the project intends to add analog and RF circuits, and compilers for SRAM and flash memory. The second shuttle run will be early in 2021 and they should follow on a quarterly basis thereafter.

Those who are interested to submit their designs must send a Git respository URL containing their design to They will receive an email back if their design is accepted.

“An open, manufacturable PDK was the main blocker in a fully open flow between RTL and a physical chip, and we’re extremely excited to see that blocker removed,” said the FOSSi Foundation, in a statement.

Related links and articles:

Tim’s Dial-Up talk

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