The kit is used to teach students how theories and concepts can be applied in the design of simple logic circuits and in the physical implementation of a simplified microprocessor.
Semiconductor foundries offer PDKs to aid design on a manufacturing process, but due to restricted access and the need for NDAs, this has created a barrier to access by academia. To overcome this issue, SkyWater has collaborated with Cadence to create an open-source chip manufacturing programme on 130 nm CMOS process (SKY130).
The SKY130 process has gained popularity among academia and researchers and can be easily accessed from GitHub with no NDA necessary.
Semiconductor design and manufacturing courses are becoming increasingly important as more countries focus on building a domestic semiconductor workforce by investing in manufacturing facilities, partnering with industry, educators, and training providers, supporting semiconductor education and training, and fuelling research and development.
The SKY130 open-source offering has implications for accelerating and multiplying collaboration in semiconductor chip design. Verification results can be easily and cost-effectively replicated by other designers and idea generation can be amplified to feed product development that is ongoing in IoT, automotive, industrial, medical and defence applications.
“We are extremely pleased that Cadence chose to create a PDK based on SKY130. It will soon be available to all Cadence licensees, which extends our reach to thousands of designers. It’s a vast expansion for SkyWater’s serviceable available market for SKY130 and speaks to the power of the open-source model,” said SkyWater CTO Steve Kosier. “Access for students to the open-source PDK will support curricula in semiconductor degree programs, helping to build the workforce critically needed for reshoring the semiconductor ecosystem.”
Commenting David Junkin, academic network programme director, Cadence said, “An open-source commercial-quality PDK removes one more barrier that limits the ability for students to realise and test their ideas in silicon. With the SKY130 library that will soon be integrated with Cadence Education Kits, students will be empowered with more flow-based training material to develop the skills required by the semiconductor industry.”
The Cadence VLSI Fundamentals Education Kit is a CMOS VLSI Design course structured to enhance academic curriculum, which contains several lecture presentations to teach the fundamental theoretical knowledge of VLSI design. It also contains four labs that explain the design of a mixed-signal IC using Cadence’s latest tools: Virtuoso Studio, Genus Synthesis Solution, Innovus Implementation System, Xcelium Logic Simulator, Pegasus Verification System, and Spectre Simulation Platform.
The design is based on a simple Arm-based microprocessor and is being migrated to the SKY130 PDK.