More than Silicon blog post

The More Than Silicon approach opens the door to higher performance and improved analog functionality while reducing development time and risk

In the world of digital semiconductors, the biggest foundries provide a simple but valuable service: to fabricate a customer’s chip design in a standard silicon CMOS process. But for manufacturers of advanced analog semiconductors, these foundries’ standard CMOS processes severely limit their scope to innovate in functionality, performance, size and cost.

Here at the ams OSRAM foundry, we support customers’ innovation by providing a range of specialist and custom production processes. And by providing silicon-proven building block IP, we help them to focus on the most highly differentiated elements of their design – their ‘secret sauce’.

These special processes and dedicated analog IP provide a service which goes far beyond the standard silicon CMOS offering of digital semiconductor foundries. It’s a service which we call More Than Silicon, and it is helping customers in the industrial, automotive and medical sectors to bring profitable technologies to market more quickly and at less risk.
 

Custom process capabilities

The challenge which many analog semiconductor manufacturers face is to integrate a heterogeneous set of functions in a single chip while maintaining high signal integrity and minimizing noise.

Specialist fabrication processes supported by the ams OSRAM foundry help to solve this problem. Through-silicon vias (TSVs) allow for vertical routing of interconnects, substantially shortening signal paths, and so reducing noise and saving die area. TSVs can also be used to expose an area of the die to light, humidity or other real-world phenomena, giving manufacturers new options for floorplanning sensor designs.

A different way in which the foundry enables customers to integrate heterogeneous circuit elements in a single package is by die stitching – bonding two dies which are fabricated on different wafers inside a single package. This again has the effect of shortening trace lengths and lowering noise. It also substantially reduces board footprint compared to a system based on two discrete ICs.

The ams OSRAM foundry can also implement specialized on-wafer optical filtering technologies. Coatings applied to the wafer can be precisely configured to filter specific wavelengths. Interferometric filtering technologies applied on-wafer underlie the operation of ams OSRAM multi-channel spectral sensors. Customers developing innovative optoelectronics devices can take advantage of these on-wafer filtering technologies to build sophisticated light, color or spectral sensing devices.

 

Proven IP: a head-start in the chip development process

As well as providing advanced analog fabrication processes, More Than Silicon also helps customers to focus the efforts of their development teams on innovation by relieving them of the need to develop circuit designs to implement basic building block functions. That’s because the More Than Silicon service gives customers access to a library of analog and mixed-signal IP which is already silicon-proven in the ams OSRAM processes at 180µm and 350µm.

Ready-made building blocks available include basic analog functions such as op amps, comparators, power-on-resets, and oscillators. IP for standard interfaces includes SPI, I2C, LIN and CAN blocks. And ams OSRAM IP also includes signal processing functions such as ADCs operating at up to 20-bit resolution.

Use of this IP dramatically reduces the customer’s development effort and risk, and helps them to get to tape-out faster, with greater confidence of a right-first-time result.
 

Unique analog-specialist capabilities

Together, the combination of custom fabrication processes and off-the-shelf analog IP help foundry customers to develop higher-performance products which give dramatic space savings, provide for far greater integration, and shorten development time.

In the analog semiconductor world, silicon is important, but for many customers, success is about More Than Silicon.  

 

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