Overcoming ASIC Obsolescence

by Business Unit Director Matt Shreve

In the rapidly evolving semiconductor industry, where the march toward ever-smaller nodes continues unabated, there remains a significant segment of technology developers and product manufacturers who have built their success on older process nodes such as 180 nm, 350 nm, or larger. These technologies, which have powered countless devices and systems across various industries, are now facing a critical juncture. As foundries streamline their offerings to focus on more advanced processes, the availability and support for these older nodes is diminishing. This scenario poses a considerable challenge for companies relying on such technologies, potentially leading to disruptions in their production and product development cycles.

However, this challenge also presents an opportunity to make a strategic transition that ensures product continuity and reliability while gaining access to enhanced manufacturing capabilities. SkyWater Technology’s 130 nm process, known as S130, is a compelling option for companies at this crossroads. With a roadmap for the S130 process that extends 10-15 years, SkyWater offers a path forward for legacy semiconductor technologies.

This blog post explores the benefits of moving to the 130 nm process and how it can serve as a strategic advantage for companies navigating the end-of-life phase with their current foundry.

S130 Offers a Solution to ASIC Obsolescence

In the face of ASIC obsolescence, SkyWater’s S130 process emerges not just as a workaround but as a robust solution, bringing new life to legacy systems while offering a platform for innovation. The S130 technology is built on a foundation that’s essential for modern ASIC design, encompassing a comprehensive array of standard cells, IO options, and critical devices for analog integration. This feature set enables the S130 process to meet a broad spectrum of design requirements effectively.

For analog design, the S130 offers a toolkit that supports a range of functionalities, allowing designers to address various analog integration challenges with precision and efficiency. Whether your project demands intricate analog circuits or robust mixed-signal designs, the S130 process is equipped to handle these needs with its advanced feature set.

On the digital front, the S130 process offers libraries, which are engineered to optimize the three critical aspects of digital design: power, performance, and area. These libraries allow designers to achieve an optimal balance, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of digital ASIC designs.

An exciting aspect of transitioning to the S130 process is the opportunity to not only recreate your existing, obsolete parts but also to enhance them. The S130 process allows for the integration of new Intellectual Property that is compatible with the 130 nm node. This means you can maintain the core functionality of your existing components while adding new features or improving performance, reliability, or efficiency.

Finally, if your design requires a 5-volt operation, the S130 process can accommodate this need. By offering support for 5-volt operations, the S130 process ensures a broader compatibility range, facilitating a smoother integration with various system requirements.

The Convenience of a Drop-In Replacement

When you’re looking at the prospect of re-sourcing an ASIC due to obsolescence, we understand that redesigning your board isn’t generally a viable option. You need a pin-for-pin, drop-in replacement — a form-fit-function equivalent — that matches your existing part in every dimension. This precision is essential to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of requalifying your entire board. With SkyWater and our Design Partner Network, this isn’t just a possibility; it’s a deliverable.

Design Partner Network: From Design to Qualification

Our Design Partner Network can be engaged to address your unique needs, whether you have the capabilities in-house or require a full turnkey solution.
SkyWater can supply your silicon needs, but if you need more than silicon, we can introduce you to our design partners who can translate your design from the original design files into a format compatible with SkyWater’s process. And if you need a partner to sort, assemble, test, or qualify, they can do that too.

This flexible model means you can engage with us at any point, from finding a foundry supplier to obtaining a complete end-to-end service. Our approach is centered on ensuring that the new part fits into your current system without a hitch, preserving the integrity and continuity of your product, so the transition appears seamless to your end customers.

Commitment to Domestic Manufacturing

In an era where domestic manufacturing is increasingly valued for its security and reliability, SkyWater’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility stands ready to support your legacy CMOS technology needs. This commitment to domestic production underscores the importance of a secure and reliable supply chain for critical semiconductor components.

By opting for SkyWater’s 130 nm process, companies benefit from a strengthened supply chain that is less susceptible to the unpredictable nature of international logistics, including unexpected delays, costly tariffs, and geopolitical uncertainties. The strategic decision to use a domestically centered manufacturing approach with S130 supports a robust, dependable supply chain, ensuring continuity and security in semiconductor production, which is paramount in today’s global technology landscape. This approach not only fosters a competitive advantage but also resonates with the growing demand for reliability and security in the semiconductor supply chain.

A Path Forward

For companies facing end-of-life with their current foundry on older semiconductor nodes, SkyWater’s 130 nm process presents an opportunity to secure your future. The transition to the S130 is not just a technical decision, it’s a strategic move to ensure the longevity of your products.

SkyWater’s commitment to the S130 process reflects an understanding of the needs of companies relying on older semiconductor technologies, offering them a viable path to maintain and even expand their market presence.

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