Minimum fabrication costs have been reduced by a factor of up to 10 by a program launched under the Europractice IC Service. mini@sic will enable universities and research laboratories worldwide to fabricate very small designs at a cost of a few hundred euro.
IMEC, based in Lueven, Belgium, provides access to ASIC technologies through the Europractice IC Service. As well as low-cost entry to technologies and support, the IC Service provides cell library distribution, backend design support, prototyping and volume production including Multi-Project Wafers (MPW), and volume production runs in different technologies at AMI Semiconductor BVBA Belgium (AMIS).
The MPW principle typically reduces the ASIC prototyping cost by a factor of 10. MPW prototyping cost is proportional to the chip area. However, a minimum charge applies to small designs, typically equivalent to 5 to 10 mm2 or around 1,500 to 10,000 euro depending on the technology.
To overcome this financial barrier and to allow universities and research laboratories to prototype small designs, Europractice is launching the mini@sic program in collaboration with AMIS. Under this program, the minimum chargeable chip area is reduced to only 1mm2. As a result, universities and research laboratories can now prototype small designs in AMIS technologies, typically for a fee 300 to 1,000 euro