You are here

RF and Analog Moving to Center Stage

The RFCMOS, BiCMOS, BCD and analog market is an area of the semiconductor industry that has never been viewed as mainstream.  These markets have traditionally depended on proprietary products and technologies which demand a significant investment of time and brain power.  Many companies shied away from this segment because it just wasn’t sexy enough, or they just didn’t have the requisite expertise to function in these markets.

At the 2009 TSMC Technology Forum in San Jose, the company announced a focused effort on the ‘more than Moore’ technologies such as RFCMOS, high voltage, BCD etc.  The company is going to focus a portion of their R&D budget on developing processes and support services on analog mixed signal products.  TSMC has traditionally focused on digital CMOS processes which serve a very broad market. 

Cadence Design Systems has been a major player in this market for some time and continues to place more emphasis on aiding mixed signal ASIC designers with better tools, IP and design services. 

A new crop of services-related companies focused on analog and RF are sprouting.  Sentinel IC Technologies is one of the companies that is targeting the mixed signal space. Their approach provides ASIC designers with solutions aimed at enabling access to optimized model libraries to help predict design sensitivities to process variation. This in turn allows the designer to accurately capture global process and local mismatch variation and provides simulation-to-measurement accuracy. The Sentinel IC Technologies Statistical and Corner Model Simulation Design Suite provides IC designers with direct access to process parameters that can be varied through bundled algorithms that consistently capture process variation.

This can be a big aid to designers wanting to decrease design cycle times and improve yield by accurately plotting where corner lots will fall on the yield distribution curve.

Sentinel is not alone in targeting the mixed signal space. Why is so much attention being focused here?

The answer lies in the fact that SoC and ASSP designers are incorporating more and more mixed signal functionality as part of their silicon solutions. This is in response to the market demands such as ‘always connected’ applications where the interface between the digital computing part of the application and the outside world is provided by mixed signal functionality. This is a long term trend for these markets and will become more important as feature sets become more tightly integrated over time. 

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.