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  • eSilicon Truly Puts the 'e' in Silicon

    Article: Solido Design Automation Update 2012-img_2368.jpgeSilicon have a new website. Companies update their websites regularly, so why is this news? Well, eSilicon increasingly does their business on the web. They are not like Facebook, say, where their business is entirely web-based, there is a physical business behind them. So they are more like Lyft for chips. Obviously Lyft requires drivers and their cars to deliver their services, and in just the same way, eSilicon relies on the foundries and other companies (test, packaging etc) to deliver theirs. Just no pink mustaches. But in just the same way as using Lyft or Uber doesn't require you to talk to a person, using eSilicon can largely be accomplished entirely through their website.

    See also eSilicon Lyfts Its Game

    The one paragraph summary is that the new website makes it even easier to:
    • Tracker: track projects through manufacture, test and assembly
    • MPW Explorer: get a quote for an MPW shuttle. Shuttles are available from TSMC, GF, UMC, SMIC, Altis, CSMC and TSI
    • GDS II Explorer: get a production quote. Currently just supports SMIC and TSMC, you will need to call eSilicon and talk to a, gasp, real person for other foundries
    • Navigator: try eSilicon IP (primarily memories) before you buy
    • Optimizer: submit a design for eSilicon's experts to achieve what seemed impossible using their big-data design virtualization technology and their experience of running huge numbers of designs through a wide variety of different processes

    You have always been able to get to eSilicon's website through your phone but the new website scales automatically to whatever device you are on, from a big screen laptop, through an iPad (presumably including the new iPad professional) to a smartphone. Up and to the right is a screenshot that I took off my phone this morning. Below is a screenshot off my computer.

    Article: Solido Design Automation Update 2012-es0.jpg
    Article: Solido Design Automation Update 2012-gds2.jpgIf you want to try any of this out, then click on that big orange "Explore eSilicon STAR" button. It is all free and doing something like getting a quote for an MPW shuttle doesn't commit you to following through and actually using it. However, it does commit eSilicon: if you sign the quote, eSilicon will honor it as a legally binding document. It is a quote, not an estimate.

    The interface for getting a quote is very straightforward, requiring the obvious stuff like the process technology. It also needs a little data that can feed into yield such as the area of repairable memory and the area of analog.

    Article: Solido Design Automation Update 2012-es2.jpgOne thing that I noticed that was new when I got myself a quote was that the key pricing information, the NRE (one-time cost to bring into production) and the unit cost (per good die) is continuously displayed as you make changes. You don't need to get a full quote generated just to see the effect of, say, using fewer metal layers or increasing the size of your cache memory. My chip will cost nearly $1.5M up front and then just over $3 per unit (see to the left). But Visa just told me that I don't have a seven figure credit limit so my sure-fire IoT product will have to wait a bit longer.

    eSilicon doesn't just allow you to book a slot on a foundry shuttle run. Since many chips are smaller than the minimum foundry area, even further savings are possible by sharing a shuttle with other eSilicon customers using the same technology (it has to be an exact match: foundry, process technology, levels of metal). Here are the upcoming ones:
    Article: Solido Design Automation Update 2012-table.jpg

    eSilicon's new website, where you can find full details of all of this, is here.