IHP Offers Open Source Chip Designs a Shot at a Free 130nm BiCMOS Production Run

Following on from the Google-funded OpenMPW program, IHP lets you live out your chip design dreams — free of charge.

Gareth Halfacree
11 days agoHW101

IHP, the Leibniz Institute for High Performance Microelectronics, has opened its doors to those looking to create unique open source chip designs, offering pre-paid spots on a multi-project wafer (MPW) to be manufactured using a 130nm bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) process node.

"Project funds can be used exclusively to produce chip designs for non-commercial activities, such as university education, research projects, and others," the documentation for IHP's production offering explains. "The mandatory criteria is to provide design data together with open source license. [The] design should use tools supported by [the] IHP open PDK [Process Design Kit]."

IHP's offering mimics that of Matt Venn's Tiny Tapeout, a program that allows chip designers new and old to submit open source projects taking up one or more "tiles" of a multi-project chip layout — and then see them manufactured in-silicon, receiving a physical chip installed in a test board for their trouble. Like Tiny Tapeout, the IHP program relies on an open process design kit (PDK) — a database of everything you need to design a chip for a given manufacturing process, traditionally locked behind high licensing fees and a non-disclosure agreement.

The IHP open PDK is for the company's 130nm bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) process, which adds the ability to use bipolar junction transistors to traditional CMOS designs — making it ideal for mixed-signal designs, combining digital logic with analog elements. As with the Google-funded multi-project wafer (MPW) production program that inspired Tiny Tapeout, IHP's program also offers free spots for eligible open source designs — which should be under a 2mm² footprint, the company warns, ideally from a first-time submitter, and offer features "not yet seen" in prior submissions.

Designs already submitted for production include a delta-sigma modulator put together as part of Boris Murmann's electronic engineering course at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, a 24GHz low-noise amplifier (LNA) from Martin Sander at Ulm University, a different LNA targeting cellular devices from a team at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), and a simple RISC-V CPU designed by Daniel Schultz and Steffen Reith.

More information on the program is available in the IHP documentation, while the IHP open source PDK is published to GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license; makers wishing to submit a design for production are invited to fork the IHP-Open-DesignLib repository and send their design as a GitHub pull request for consideration.

Main article image courtesy of Martin Sander.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles