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  • The efabless $15,000 Design Challenge!

    FlashLVL wiki-efabless-design-challenge.jpgefabless is one of the more interesting companies we have worked with over the last six years. Interesting because it is disruptive and because it is all about enabling design starts, the life blood of the semiconductor industry.

    As you may already know, efabless has created an open crowdsourcing platform that dramatically reduces the cost and administrative barriers of semiconductor design and manufacturing (think GitHub for semiconductors). Taking that concept to the next level, efabless has partnered with X-Fab Silicon Foundries and launched a Design Challenge for the crowd.

    The challenge is to design and deliver an ultra low power bandgap voltage reference in X-FAB’s XH035 process technology. Everything you need (PDK, design software, documentation, etc…) is available through the efabless crowdsourcing platform. The deliverables are a schematic, behavorial, layout, physical design views, and full customer documentation.

    All participants in the design challenge will retain IP ownership. First place gets $7,000, second, $5,000, and third $3,000. The top three IP blocks will then be made available to the X-FAB customer base through the company’s IP Portal as well as via efabless’ try-before-buy online marketplace. Additionally, all submissions that complete verification may be offered on the efabless IP marketplace for additional financial gain.

    General Outline
    • Register online at efabless.com
    • Review challenge overview and target design specifications
    • Should then you choose to enter the challenge, sign the challenge-specific agreement and start!
    • Submit a completed schematic to the automated IP parametric comparison vs. targets
    • Top 3 target spec-compliant submissions will compete through the finished layout delivery
    • Final deliverables will be signed-off through XFAB's tape-out design checks

    Key Milestones
    • Challenge Launch — November 29
    • Schematic Submission — January 16, 2017
    • Schematic Finalists Announced — January 20, 2017
    • Final IP Deliverables — February 20, 2017
    • Final IP Sign-Off — February 24, 2017
    • Winner Announcement — February 27, 2017

    And here are related quotes from X-FAB and efabless:

    “X-FAB continues to seek novel and imaginative ways by which to strengthen the IP offering available to our customers,” states Ulrich Bretthauer, Manager of Industrial & Medical Solutions at X-FAB. "efabless’ unique crowdsourcing approach to semiconductor development, and the highly-engaged engineering community it has built up around this, clearly complement our existing portfolio of valued IP partners. This means that customers have access to on-demand IP that is fully optimized to meet their particular needs. The cooperation of our two companies on this design challenge will be an effective means by which to highlight the pioneering foundry and design services we respectively specialize in."


    “The semiconductor industry continues to evolve, with new sectors like IoT, eHealth, home automation and wearable technology all showing huge potential. The growing diversity of development projects means that there will be many places where IP on demand is destined to be a critical factor,” adds Mohamed Kassem, co-founder and CTO of efabless. “The efabless concept is to bring the dynamics of crowdsourcing to the design and delivery of semiconductor IP. We have created a platform upon which members of our community can sell or license the IP they’ve created to customers worldwide, resulting in a vibrant, highly responsive marketplace. We are excited by the prospect of working together with X-FAB. The jointly announced design challenge enables further refinement to our business model as well as highlighting its inherent benefits,” he continues. “It is open to all engineers - from students right through to seasoned industry veterans - thus staying true to efabless’ philosophy of democratizing the design process.”

    Again, this is an excellent opportunity to be disruptive for the greater good of the fabless semiconductor ecosystem so I encourage all qualified people to participate. In fact, SemiWiki will gift an additional $500 to the first, second, AND third place prize money if the winners are registered SemiWiki.com members. The only caveat is that you must be a registered SemiWiki.com member BEFORE January 1st, 2017.

    Also read: CEO Interview: Mike Wishart of efabless