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Silicon Lifecycle Management (SLM)

Product Lifecycle Management offerings have helped companies manage their product lifecycles for decades, reducing costs, improving quality, and making customers happy. Silicon Lifecycle Management (SLM) is applying such processes in the semiconductor industry for the manufacture of silicon chips.


Semiconductor development is currently in one of its periodic crises, with many factors combining to require dramatically new technologies and methodologies. Chips continue to grow ever larger and more complex, with 3D IC devices adding another layer of challenges. Huge data centers, autonomous vehicles, and algorithms using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) drive a relentless demand for maximum performance. Silicon cost and longevity are important considerations for the Internet of Things (IoT), where devices may remain in place for many years. Many applications also have high requirements for reliability, functional safety, and security, adding to the difficulty of the development process.


Silicon lifecycle management (SLM) has emerged as a holistic approach to address these challenges.  Silicon Lifecycle Management (SLM) is a relatively new process associated with the monitoring, analysis, and optimization of semiconductor devices as they are designed, manufactured, tested and deployed in end-user systems.


It deploys sensors, monitors and structures embedded within silicon designs to gain insight into how devices are made and how they perform in the field. Detailed measurements from the chip on all aspects of its operation are needed to obtain the knowledge required for effective analysis and decision-making during the silicon lifecycle process. Sources of this data include process/voltage/temperature (PVT) sensors, design for test (DFT) and built-in self-test (BIST) resources, structural and functional monitors, embedded on-chip analysis and data transport to get the information from the chip to the location where further analysis, control and optimization occurs.


It aims at gathering and analyzing data at every opportunity throughout the lifecycle of silicon devices to enable in-design, in-production, and in-field device optimization and improvement. Increasing chip and system complexities, coupled with growing performance and reliability requirements drive the need for ongoing maintenance and optimization of semiconductor devices throughout their life.


The SLM process begins with the placement of data collectors and traditional Process-Voltage-Temperature (PVT) sensors on a chip. Analysis of this data can improve yields, quality and enable preventive maintenance in the field.


Such a cross-lifecycle solution could provide access to device health data, addressing quality and security challenges through hardware-based electronic maintenance.  Autonomous Vehicles are the poster child for the need to adopt Silicon Lifecycle Management (SLM). Cloud infrastructure could also greatly benefit from such a platform to improve service quality and reduce costs.


EDA vendors are finally building the hardware and software needed to support an end-to-end, data-centric Silicon Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution. The system on a chip (SoC) designer is critical to successful implementations as engineers must embed sensors and monitors into a chip. An SLM platform feeds this data to test systems, engineering teams and customers, building an SLM database. Analytics pulling information from this database can help calibrate the design, identify yield limiters, evaluate and improve product quality and provide predictive maintenance in the field.


When fully deployed, SLM improves chip design, manufacturing yield, system performance, reliability, safety, security and more.  Analytics can improve design calibration, accelerate yield improvements, reduce testing time and time to market and, perhaps most importantly, predict failures or quality deterioration in the field. Effects of device aging and new security threats are identified at the hardware level and resolved in the field without replacing the silicon device.


Synopsys has introduced a platform for SLM, including technology from recently acquired Moortec (no relation) to speed time to market. This foundation provides the sensors and monitors that feed the database and analytics platforms. Synopsys SLM provides the silicon IP, a lifecycle database and a suite of analytic tools that semiconductor vendors and customers can deploy now to begin the process.


One example is ProteanTecs, which focuses on design optimization. Additionally, Mentor/Siemens recently acquired UltraSoC to add embedded monitoring and analysis to its Tessent product suite.



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