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  • efabless: Think GitHub for ICs and IP

    Article: Custom IC and AMS Tool Flow with Synopsys-github-social-coding.jpgFor those of you who don’t know, GitHub is the crowdsourcing version of the defacto industry standard GIT source code management software. Currently, more than 14 million people have deposited more than 35 million software projects (mostly open-source) on GitHub making it the largest host of source code in the world.

    Now think semiconductors. Imagine what could be done with an open crowdsourcing platform that dramatically reduces the cost and administrative barriers of semiconductor design and manufacturing. Sounds disruptive, right? Given the flat nature of the semiconductor industry I think disruption is a very good thing.

    Do you remember how the fabless semiconductor transformation started 30 years ago? A pure-play foundry (TSMC) dramatically reduced the cost and administrative barriers of semiconductor manufacturing. Disruption is what made semiconductors the foundation of modern day life and disruption is what we need to maintain the cycle of semiconductor innovation that got us to where we are today, absolutely.

    efabless corporation is the world’s first crowdsourcing platform for semiconductors. We harness the creativity of the community and dramatically reduce the cost and administrative barriers that have inhibited semiconductor innovation. In so doing, we create significant new markets for semiconductors and enable system companies to build better products and create new applications.

    Another intriguing part of efabless is the people behind the company. The first name that stands out is Lucio Lanza. Lucio is the 2014 Phil Kaufman Award winner (recognizing excellence and vision in EDA) after spending his entire career in electronics. He started with Olivetti and Intel (with Phil Kaufman), then moved to EDA with Daisy Systems and Cadence, then IP with Artisan Components (ARM). Paul McLellan did a nice interview with Lucio HERE which is a must read for semiconductor professionals old and new.

    The second intriguing name is Michael Wishart, efabless Chairman and CEO. Michael retired from Goldman Sachs after thirty years covering the technology industry as an investment banker. Michael is currently on the board of Cypress Semiconductor and before that he was on the Spansion board. The first question I asked Mike was why he is coming out of retirement. I already knew the answer but I wanted to hear it in his words. The answer of course is “disruption” and his rational matched up perfectly with mine.

    The second question I asked was how are they going to monetize efabless. I was happy to hear it is a success based revenue sharing business model similar to how Artisan Components disrupted the semiconductor IP industry with their “Free IP Business Model” in 1998. As a competitor to Artisan at the time I can tell you this was a VERY disruptive move that transformed the fabless semiconductor ecosystem into what it is today, a force of nature.

    Bottom line:
    efabless provides community members with a robust design flow that they access without cost or NDA. efabless obfuscates from designers the underlying technology of foundries and thereby facilitates community access to foundry process technologies, again without the requirements of NDAs. The marketplace and community is inherently collaborative with proprietary and open IP and ICs that can be forked, customized, or improved by other community members to solve interesting problems and open new opportunities. Again, think GIT Hub for ICs and IP. You can join the efabless community HERE.

    Article: Custom IC and AMS Tool Flow with Synopsys-efabless-banner.jpg