UniCloud™

Overview

A vibrant semiconductor design ecosystem enables [the country] to continue to attract, retain and grow top talent in universities and research institutions, and encourages more students to choose semiconductor design as their field of study. However, there are obstacles and challenges. The complexity of establishing semiconductor design work flows and localized solutions create inefficient and duplicate work and hinder local and global collaboration among universities and research institutions. Security and data protection are other major factors that limit universities and students access to advanced process technologies.

 

Silicon Cloud is proposing to build a cloud center in [the country] with a turn-key semiconductor design infrastructure. This includes software tools (EDA tools), manufacturing data (PDK), and integrated workflows. This cloud center, and the associated support and services, will provide a platform for seamless local and global collaboration among universities and their partner universities around the world.

 

Silicon Cloud has installed cloud centers in the US and Singapore. A cloud center in Algeria is expected to start up in January, 2016, followed in March, 2016 by a cloud center in Canada.

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Internet of Things & Cloud Computing New areas of opportunity for the country

There are significant opportunities to improve the semiconductor design infrastructure through application of cloud computing technologies. Semiconductor design workflow and infrastructure have not changed much over the past two decades, and by and large have not benefited from technology advances in cloud computing, hardware virtualization, execution behavioral tracking, workflow management, and many other technologies commonly used by social networking and eCommerce applications.

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IoT is the next wave in the evolution of the Internet. With 50 billion IoT devices predicted by 2020 and over $15 trillion in generated profit over the next 10 years, IoT will have a profound and dominating impact on the high tech industry in general, and the semiconductor industry in particular. IoT devices have a very large spread of applications ranging from home automation, to smart power, to fleet management, and to environmental control. Attributes of IoT devices are:

 

  • Very wide spread applications, hence wide diversity of semiconductor device
  • Significant local (specific to one country) applications
  • Still in early stages, signaling significant growth ahead
  • Extensive use of Analog/Mixed Signal designs and MEMS, TCAD, and Multi-Physics tools

 

The semiconductor device simplicity, lower development cost, and wide range of applications foster innovation, creativity, and novel technology applications. IoT creates an unprecedented era of IC design opportunities for developing countries and for small to medium size companies, worldwide.Realizing the potential future opportunities, many countries are focusing on semiconductor design for Iot devices. However, there are significant semiconductor design challenges for universities, research institutions, and small companies. These include:

 

  • Cost and complexity of setting up and maintaining a semiconductor design infrastructure
  • Need for semiconductor design training
  • Need for a seamless global collaboration infrastructure

 

A fully integrated cloud based semiconductor design infrastructure and framework will effectively and cost-efficiently address the above challenges. This project will provide new capabilities, new technologies, and a new business solution to lower the design barriers for semiconductor designs for the IoT era.

 

Engagement Summary

The definition and execution of this project will be coordinated with a local organization or university designated by the funding agency. The focus of the initial phase will be to provide a cloud based turn-key and secure semiconductor design workflow and infrastructure for teaching and research. In the next phase, similar capabilities will be provided to small local semiconductor design companies.Silicon Cloud’s cloud center (UniCloud™) in [the country] will include:

 

  • Cloud hardware established and hosted in the country
  • Hardware management and workflow software layers
  • Semiconductor and IoT design flows, design tools, and manufacturing data (PDK)
  • A local team in the country responsible for technology customization for local users, and user support

 

The funding for the project will be based on reimbursement of actual expenses and will be governed by annual and quarterly definition and monitoring of the agreed deliverables. UniCloud™ is designed to be a three year program.

Benefits and motivation for this engagement

Universities and research institutions have challenges in semiconductor design resulting from todays localized and complex design workflows and computing infrastructure:

 

  • Cost and complexity of setting up and maintaining a semiconductor design infrastructure. The complexity and cost of setting up a design infrastructure has significantly escalated with advanced semiconductor technologies. Further, this task is replicated in all universities resulting in duplicate effort, unnecessary cost, and inconsistencies in the design environment.
  • Lack of a common and consistent collaboration platform. Each university or research institution has developed its own customized semiconductor design infrastructure. Inconsistent design infrastructure is a hindrance for collaboration among universities. Local computers and custom design frameworks make global and interactive collaboration among universities a major challenge.
  • Limited access to leading edge silicon process technologies. Silicon foundries (e.g. GlobalFoundries) are concerned about the security of their Process Design Kits (PDKs) in the university environment. In the current environment any user can download a PDK to a personal storage device and potentially send it to competitors. As a result, only a handful of universities across the world have been able to persuade foundries to give them access to the PDKs for advanced technologies. In other cases, the foundries have established stringent and non-convenient setups for professors to access their PDKs.
  • Lack of scalable computing and IC design software resources. Local and fixed computing resources and locally installed software tools are unable to address research tasks requiring significant computing resources and software tools when needed.
  • Practical and Interactive semiconductor design training. Lack of interactive, hands on, and practical IC design training has been a bottleneck for some universities to more aggressively adopt semiconductor design into their curriculums.

 

Silicon Cloud’s proposal addresses the above challenges by establishing a cloud center in [the country] with a fully integrated semiconductor design framework. The cloud center (UniCloud™) will include state-of-the-art cloud technologies, virtualized computing resources, and a novel client technology for security and data protection. UniCloud™ will unburden users from the cost and complexity of developing and maintaining computing infrastructure and workflows, foster global collaboration, encourage industry-academia engagements, and provide an efficient and cost effective solution for SEA.

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