Mixed Signal/Analog

Duo confirm successful tape-outs of first analogue IP projects

2nd August 2018
Lanna Cooper


Thalia Design Automation and Catena have announced successful completion of their first jointly delivered analogue IP reuse projects. The two companies have worked together to migrate Catena’s WiFi and variants of Bluetooth IP including a low power version, between multiple sub-40nm process nodes and foundry providers.

Analogue IP providers increasingly need to respond to customer demands for absolute flexibility in their choice of foundry provider and process technology: but retargeting analogue IPs has until now been an entirely manual process, requiring substantial re-design - sometimes ‘from the ground up’.

Thalia’s combination of targeted proprietary design automation technology and experienced analogue design expertise dramatically reduces the burden of such migrations, shortening project timescales and costs by up to 50%.

The three projects announced include migration of a WiFi RF solution to Global Foundries’ 28nm process; migration of Bluetooth IP between TSMC and Global Foundries processes; and a second low power Bluetooth IP migration between 28nm and 40nm nodes. For Catena’s customers, the rapid delivery of such IP variants effectively ‘on-demand’ translates into increased agility and ability to address market opportunities.

For example, the move from 28-40nm technology allows customers to balance cost, performance and power consumption to produce a range of products that hits multiple market ‘sweet spots’.

“These first three tape-outs provide strong validation of Catena’s new, more agile approach to analogue IP creation and reuse,” said Kave Kianush, Catena Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

“Thalia’s design automation technology and expertise has been instrumental in delivering these projects on-time, to-budget and, just as importantly, to-specification. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership and delivering against our customers’ demands for highly optimised, targeted RF and analogue IP solutions.”

Sowmyan Rajagopalan, Thalia Founder and CTO, commented: “Catena is taking a leading position in rethinking the way analogue and RF IP is created and delivered. I believe we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the market landscape, with customers looking for IP providers that can deliver ‘IP on demand’. We’re now seeing the positive results of IP vendors rising to this challenge and using more structured methodologies to give customers ultimate flexibility and choice.”

Rodger Sykes, Thalia CEO and Chairman, added: “Successful conclusions of these initial projects for Catena show that Thalia is combining significant customer traction with excellence in execution. We’re looking forward to continuing and extending our relationship with Catena, part of our wider mission to help the analogue design community become more productive and more profitable.”

The three projects announced today include complex analogue and RF blocks covering multiple integer and fractional Phase-Locked Loops (PLLs); Analogue-to-Digital Converters (ADCs); Low Noise and Power Amplifiers (LNAs and PAs); mixers; bandgaps; multiple Low Drop-Out regulators (LDOs); and timing and temperature sensing blocks.

Just as important as the range of functionality covered, each IP project was verified and optimised for specification performance in the target process. Thalia was able to fine-tune the performance and power requirements of the entire receiver/transmitter chain, against tight schedules ranging from four to six months.

Publicly announced in December 2017, the on-going co-operation between Thalia and Catena aims to streamline Catena’s analogue design flow and create an analogue IP reuse methodology that delivers products tailored exactly to its customers’ requirements.

The ability to performance-optimise, create product variants and target any process technology contrasts with the industry’s traditional model of hand-crafting every new design 'from the ground up' - a costly and time-consuming process that also diverts resources from innovation and the development of new products.

The partnership has allowed Catena to open up new market opportunities by making its IP available in alternative foundry processes in a fraction of the time, cost and resources that would be required using conventional design approaches. Catena has estimated schedule, cost and resource savings of between 40-50% for the recently completed projects.

Catena has a 30-year track record of partnering with global IC makers to design analogue electronic systems, with particular strengths in RF and signal processing implementations. Its silicon-proven Connectivity RF portfolio includes optimised, very low power IP blocks such as Bluetooth Smart radio, Bluetooth Smart Ready radio, most WiFi variants (including MIMO), and combined Bluetooth / WiFi offerings.

Thalia provides a range of solutions for RF, analogue and mixed-signal technology transfer and design optimisation, derivative generation and IP creation, based on a unique combination of proprietary design automation technology, methodology and design know-how.

Its customers include Integrated Circuit (IC) manufacturers and IP houses looking to quickly and cost effectively diversify their product range, and leverage the most appropriate semiconductor manufacturing technologies.

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