Cloud Based Chip Design Software Reduces Development Time from Years to Weeks

zGlue Inc, a custom-chips-on-demand company, has released a cloud-based, chip design software called ChipBuilder. They also announced the launch of the industry's first multi-project 3D-IC prototyping service in partnership with TSMC and ASE, enabling product developers to go from a paper drawing to a manufacturable system in the same business day. zGlue's end-to-end methodology for accelerated chip building can reduce the total development time from years to weeks, as compared to building traditional System-on-Chips (SoCs).

ChipBuilder simplifies and streamlines the design process by allowing easy selection and placement of building blocks, called chiplets, on a virtual canvas representing zGlue's second-generation Smart Fabric. The building blocks are industry standard components, such as processors, communication chips, sensors, memory, and battery management chiplets from the world's leading semiconductor companies. Designers can drag and drop different components onto the canvas and immediately see a simulated representation of their chip design, including a 3D model, rendered in real time. Users can customize their schematic to produce a design rule correct system which ChipBuilder automatically routes and optimizes based on zGlue proprietary algorithms guided by hundreds of system-level design and manufacturing rules.

ChipBuilder goes beyond traditional CAD tools by providing an end-to-end solution from design to manufacturing. Aimed at addressing the needs of product developers without connections to large chip design teams, ChipBuilder enables building hardware to be more like writing software and makes chip-building more accessible. According to Nordic, zGlue's integration platform allows users to combine industry leading nRF52832 SoC with other essential building blocks, like sensors and power management, to create tailored integrated solutions (ZiPs) for many market segments within IoT at close to zero development cost.

Smart Fabric, the active interposer that manages communication between the selected components, is manufactured by zGlue partner TSMC. The interposer includes power management, system management, clocking, and self-test capabilities in addition to providing the "glue" that holds and connects together the components taken from the ChipBuilder library. Compared to its predecessor, the second-generation Smart Fabric supports 60% lower leakage power, a 4x larger (and growing) range of ChipBuilder library components, and 20% better routing density.

Chips designed in ChipBuilder will be quickly manufactured through the zGlue shuttle program, a multi-project prototyping service, which is now available for the first time to customers, and will be ready for high volume manufacturing at ASE when the customer has qualified their prototypes. As part of the shuttle program, ChipBuilder designs can be manufactured within one month and at the cost of thousands of dollars. This compares to traditional methods for custom System-on-Chip production which can take over a year and cost millions of dollars.

Along with 10 samples of their custom chips, customers will receive a development kit. This kit includes a development board, as well as the firmware and software development environment needed to bring the customers' products to life. According to Ming Zhang, CEO of zGlue, ChipBuilder closed alpha earlier last year with overwhelmingly positive responses.

Chip developers are invited to join zGlue and the 'Chip Design Revolution' and participate in the ChipBuilder beta program. The program debuts at CES 2019 being held from January 08-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.