Researchers from North Carolina State University and Synopsys are introducing a new computer chip design kit to facilitate the development of new chips. They are making it freely available to encourage growth and innovation in the field.
“The geometry of transistors has changed dramatically over the past seven years,” says Rhett Davis, a professor of computer engineering at NC State who led the project. “Many people say transistors are now only 3 nanometers (nm) long – which isn’t actually true. But what is true is that transistors are substantially taller now than they were even seven years ago, and are stacked on each other, creating a complex array of three-dimensional circuit architectures.”
“Because chip architecture is so complex, you need specialized tools that enable that level of chip design. Our kit, called FreePDK3, makes that kind of chip design possible,” Davis says.
FreePDK3 is a set of libraries and scripts developed to work with the Synopsys Fusion Design Platform and Synopsys Custom Design Platform to help people design state-of-the-art chips needed to move the field of chip design forward.
“FreePDK3 allows chip designers to explore new ideas, while keeping them within the bounds of what is physically possible,” Davis says. “And it is free – no strings attached.”
“Our collaboration with academic institutions like North Carolina State University helps nurture the next generation of semiconductor and electronic design engineers—filling a critical demand for new talent in an ever-changing industry,” says Patrick Haspel, global program director, Academic Partnerships and University Programs at Synopsys. “NC State’s novel, open-source process design kit represents a compelling example of how our work together provides students with practical experience on advanced technologies that will be beneficial to the industry.”