ARM Architecture

Imec, KU Leuven and PragmatIC Semiconductor display quickest 8-bit versatile microprocessor for low-power purposes

Imec, KU Leuven, and PragmatIC Semiconductor current the quickest 8-bit microprocessor in 0.8µm metal-oxide versatile expertise able to operating real-time complicated meeting code on the 2022 Worldwide Stable-State Circuits Convention.

LEUVEN, Belgium — February 22, 2022— This week, on the 2022 Worldwide Stable-State Circuits Convention (2022 ISSCC), imec, a world-leading analysis and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital applied sciences, KU Leuven, and PragmatIC Semiconductor, a world chief in versatile electronics, current the quickest 8-bit microprocessor in 0.8µm metal-oxide versatile expertise able to operating real-time complicated meeting code. The microprocessor was applied with a singular digital design circulate that allowed the creation of a brand new normal cell library for metal-oxide thin-film applied sciences – related for designing a broad vary of loT purposes. The sturdy thin-film expertise provided by imec’s foundry associate PragmatIC Semiconductor was key to combine the roughly ~16,000 metal-oxide thin-film transistors on a 24.9mm2 versatile chip.

Versatile electronics primarily based on thin-film transistor expertise is most popular over Si CMOS-based electronics for purposes requiring low-cost, skinny, versatile and/or conformable units. The expertise already made inroads in, e.g., health-patch sensors and RFID labels, and as a driver for flat panel shows. The lacking piece is a versatile microprocessor to carry out extra complicated sign processing calculations – as such including compute performance to a broad vary of IoT purposes.

Imec has designed a versatile 8-bit microprocessor in 0.8µm indium-gallium-zinc-oxide (IGZO)-transistor expertise, capable of carry out such complicated computations. Kris Myny, Principal Scientist at imec: “Our versatile microprocessor reveals wonderful traits for IoT purposes, together with excessive velocity (71.4kHz max working velocity), low energy consumption (11.6mW when operating at 10kHz, 134.9mW at max working velocity), and excessive transistor integration density (~16,000 transistors with 0,8µm gate size in a 24.9mm2 chip). Furthermore, at ISSCC 2022, we’ll showcase real-time appropriate operation of our circuit by operating the complicated meeting code of the favored Snake sport.”

With the brand new microprocessor, imec addressed main challenges associated to the design of unipolar programs. Kris Myny: “Metallic-oxide thin-film transistors primarily based on IGZO are inherently n-type. This leads to circuits with a better (static) energy consumption in comparison with complementary applied sciences. To handle this, we created our personal design circulate ranging from the open-source file of the MOS6502 microprocessor – one of the crucial influential microprocessors ever designed. We engineered the variety of cells and logic gates to acquire essentially the most optimum design for our flexible6502 microprocessor by way of space, energy, and velocity – utilizing pseudo-CMOS as our logic household. This distinctive design circulate allowed us to create a brand new normal cell library for metal-oxide thin-film expertise that can be utilized to innovate purposes primarily based on metal-oxide thin-film expertise. As such, this work properly wraps up my ERC Beginning Grant which aimed toward opening up new horizons within the discipline of thin-film transistor expertise.”

To manufacture the versatile microprocessor, imec teamed up with foundry associate PragmatIC, whose distinctive FlexIC Foundry® provides fast prototyping and high-yield quantity manufacturing of versatile built-in circuits. Brian Cobb, VP Product Improvement at PragmatIC: “Till not too long ago, there was no mature and sturdy expertise obtainable for integrating such numerous thin-film transistors with enough yield. Our pioneering FlexLogIC® fab now permits the fast turnaround of such complicated new designs at an ultra-low value, delivering ICs on skinny and versatile wafers. Our FlexIC Foundry service continues to be instrumental in enabling design groups just like the one at imec to increase the vary of design and use circumstances for versatile electronics.”

This analysis was carried out within the framework of the ERC beginning grant FLICs beneath grant settlement No 716426 beneath the European Union’s Horizon 2020 analysis and innovation programme.

About imec

Imec is a world-leading analysis and innovation heart in nanoelectronics and digital applied sciences. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its group of greater than 5,000 workers and prime researchers, for R&D in superior semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, synthetic intelligence, past 5G communications and sensing applied sciences, and in utility domains reminiscent of well being and life sciences, mobility, {industry} 4.0, agrofood, good cities, sustainable power, schooling, … Imec unites world-industry leaders throughout the semiconductor worth chain, Flanders-based and worldwide tech, pharma, medical and ICT firms, start-ups, and academia and information facilities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has analysis websites throughout Belgium, within the Netherlands and the USA, and places of work in China, India, Taiwan and Japan. In 2020, imec’s income (P&L) totaled 680 million euro.

Additional data on imec might be discovered at

About PragmatIC Semiconductor

PragmatIC Semiconductor is a world chief in ultra-low-cost versatile electronics. The distinctive expertise platform permits innovators to create novel options to on a regular basis issues which can be past the scope of standard electronics. The proprietary versatile built-in circuits (FlexICs) are thinner than a human hair and prolong confirmed purposes reminiscent of RFID and NFC into mass market use circumstances, enabling the potential for trillions of good objects that may interact with shoppers and their environments. PragmatIC is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, with manufacturing operations within the North East. Shareholders embrace Cambridge Innovation Capital, Arm, Avery Dennison, Amcor and a choose group of particular person traders with important expertise within the semiconductor {industry}.

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