At first sight the latest acquisition by Synopsys doesn’t make much sense. The deal to acquire the semiconductor and flat panel display technology from BISTel, a developer of engineering equipment systems for semiconductor smart manufacturing in South Korea is not a typical deal for the EDAS company.
In recent weeks it has acquired Code DX, a developer of application security risk management software that automates and accelerates the discovery, prioritization, and remediation of software vulnerabilities. The deal adds a team of R&D engineers experienced in vulnerability correlation and integrating security testing activity across the entire software development pipeline.
The BISTel business unit acquisition will enable Synopsys to expand its industry-leading process control solutions with real-time, adaptive intelligence capabilities required for efficient wafer fab operations.
Which might seem odd. Synopsys is not involved in making semiconductor processing equipment, although the technology will go into the existing process control solutions for semiconductor fabs with integrated and comprehensive yield management tools. But it is the AI expertise of BIStel that is key. BIStel has an analytics prediction solution to enhance manufacturing quality and efficiency, and Synopsys is looking at the team of experienced engineers to accelerate technology development using real-time manufacturing predictive analysis.
Chip makers use BISTel’s real-time monitoring and detection software that quickly detect the sources and types of yield issue then apply root cause analysis to pinpoint the failure mechanism and the underlying cause of the problem.
"Semiconductor fabs are rising to the challenge of meeting market demand for products that drive the global economy," said Howard Ko, general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group at Synopsys. "Combining Synopsys' and BISTel's expertise in fab solutions will enable us to bring to market innovative process control products that help our customers maximize their economic opportunity."
Analytics are an increasingly important part of the Synopsys portfolio, as fab data is not just fab data. That data is used to improve the silicon process and predict problems that might happen in the fab. But the data has a wider use.
Synopsys bought UK sensor maker Moortec to provide key data about the performance of a chip design, both during manufacturing and test, and out in the field. It has extended this to the latest 3nm process technology at TSMC. This data can be collected throughout the life of a chip out in the field, with predictive algorithms identifying potential problems before they happen.
The BIStel deal allows the data from the fab process to be analysed alongside the data from the chip from functional test, and linked to the performance of the chip through its lifetime. This allows other chips in the fab at the same time to be checked and monitored more closely. This is especially important for safety-critical designs such as automotive ASIL-D implementations.
Similarly UltraSoC developed an on-chip network to monitor performance, but just before it was bought by Siemens EDA it signed a deal with semiconductor tool developer PDF Solutions on fab data and AI-based predictive analytics.
The BIStel move highlights the increasingly important role that the EDA tool vendors play with AI machine learning algorithms operating on huge pools of data from the fab out into the field.
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