Design and manufacturing services supplier eSilicon has made freely available a tool it developed to streamline the ordering process for multi-project wafer (MPW) ‘shuttle’ services in a move that founder, president and CEO Jack Harding hopes will be part of a wider movement of using free and open source software to cut the overhead of designing custom ICs.
“This is the beginning of a series of things that we are going to put on the web,” Harding explained at the Future Horizons International Electronics Forum in Dublin, Ireland.
“It takes one to two weeks of engineering time to make the phone calls,” said Harding. “We thought we could take care of that and put it out for free. This is not without controversy in our company but we believe it will pay off. We believe that over time people will buy from us who would not have otherwise.
“We hope other companies will participate in other open-source efforts like this that reduce barriers to the market and collectively drive more profitability in semiconductor industry,” Harding added.
The online quote system lets users evaluate the wafer cost of different options quickly and checks inputs to prevent user errors.
“You answer a bunch of survey questions and complete proposal comes back. And performs checks to help ensure something doesn’t come back DOA,” Harding explained. “You can call up TSMC and set up the MPW run directly, you don’t have to go through us.”
Gino Skulick, eSilicon’s vice president and general manager of IC solutions, said: “Having the ability to efficiently perform ‘what if’ MPW scenarios with different technology possibilities leads to the best cost/performance selection. Then validating designs on an MPW allows our customers to mitigate risk prior to moving to high-quality production silicon.
“A number of customers have been using the online MPW quote system to plan budgets as well as place MPW shuttle orders,” Skulick added.