Google's Open Silicon Efforts Grow with a New Open Source 180nm PDK From GlobalFoundries

Following the earlier 130nm and new 90nm nodes at SkyWater, open silicon enthusiasts can now use GlobalFoundries' GF180MCU process node.

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoHW101

Google has announced another extension to its open silicon efforts, launching a partnership with GlobalFoundries to release an open source production development kit (PDK) for the company's 180nm process node — and, once again, funding production of open source designs in partnership with Efabless.

"We cannot understate the milestone that this new partnership represents in the foundry ecosystem market," claim Google's Johan Euphrosine and Ethan Mahintorabi of the launch. "The collaboration between GlobalFoundries and Google will help drive innovation for the application and silicon engineers designing in these high growth areas, and is an unambiguous affirmation of the viability of the open source model for the foundry ecosystem."

Google, SkyWater, and Efabless partnered on the first OpenMPW program two years ago, launching an open source production development kit for SkyWater's 130nm process node and allowing open-hardware silicon projects to submit chip designs via Efabless' platform for manufacturing into physical chips at Google's expense. Late last month the companies announced an extension to the program, offering a newer 90nm process node alongside the existing 130nm node.

While GlobalFoundries' own open source PDK is larger, at 180nm, that doesn't mean it's of no use: while sub-10nm process nodes are the focus of headlines thanks to the race to keep Moore's Law, the observation by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors on a leading-edge part trends towards a doubling every 18 months, on-track, a high number of chips like microcontrollers and other parts where performance is less critical are produced on 130nm or larger nodes.

The GlobalFoundries 180MCU PDK includes libraries for 7- and 9-track digital standard cells, low, 3.3V, 5V, 6V, and 10V devices, static RAM (SRAM) macros, input/output (IO) capabilities, libraries for primitives including resistors, capacitors, transistors, and electronic fuses.

"We cannot build this on our own," Euphrosine and Mahintorabi explain, "we need you: software developers and hardware engineers, researchers and undergrad students, hobbyists and industry veterans, new startups and industry players alike, to bring your fresh ideas and your proven experiences to help us grow the open source silicon ecosystem."

The GF180MCU PDF is now available on GitHub, under the permissive Apache 2.0 license; Google's open silicon landing page offers more information on the OpenMPW program, along with links for submitting a design for manufacture.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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