Synopsys Acquires Moortec to Expand Silicon Lifecycle Management Platform

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Synopsys acquisition of Moortec addresses silicon lifecycle management trend...

Synopsys has announced it has acquired UK-based in-chip monitoring technology company Moortec. Moortec’s technology form a part of the silicon lifecycle management (SLM) platform that the EDA company announced last month.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, as Synopsys said it is not material to its financials. Stephen Pateras, senior director of test marketing at Synopsys told EE Times that the companies have been talking for about a year, and that the 60 or so staff at the Moortec would remain in the UK and other locations.

As systems on chip (SoCs) get more and more complex, understanding their real-world behavior is increasingly challenging, so this acquisition by Synopsys is going to be critical for the tools and software companies’ chip monitoring and complete lifecycle management propositions.

The purchase of Moortec follows Synopsys’ acquisition of Qualtera earlier this year. Pateras said that Synopsys wants to leverage the silicon data provided by Moortec’s technology to improve the design process.

Synopsys is trading blows with arch-rival Siemens Mentor, which acquired UltraSoC in June to beef up its silicon lifecycle solution, called Tessent.

Pateras said that the difference between the Synopsys lifecycle management solution with Moortec compared to Tessent is the advanced analytics.

Sassine Ghazi, chief operating officer of Synopsys, said of the Moortec acquisition, “We continue to deliver on our roadmap of innovation to provide silicon lifecycle optimization solutions that address the evolving needs of the dynamic semiconductor industry. This acquisition accelerates the expansion of our SLM platform by providing our customers with a comprehensive data-analytics-driven solution for devices at the most advanced process nodes.”

In-chip monitoring is now a necessity at advanced process nodes as it enables management of increasingly variable physical and functional conditions in real-time, thereby increasing performance and reliability. With Moortec, Synopsys adds in-chip process, voltage and temperature (PVT) sensors and control subsystems.

Moortec’s technology has been adopted by many of the world’s largest fabless and integrated device manufacturer (IDM) companies — including AMD, ams, Broadcom, Ericsson, Intel and Nvidia — and has been used on hundreds of chip designs on process nodes down to 5nm.

Moortec, co-founded in 2005 by Stephen Crosher, Fraser Phillips and a team of ex-Zarlink Semiconductor engineers, provides in-chip monitoring technology using PVT sensors. Data from these environmental sensors is critical to properly understanding chip performance and will enable the Synopsys SLM platform’s analytics engines to drive detailed and precise optimizations at each stage of the semiconductor lifecycle, starting with design, and progressing through manufacturing, production test, bring-up and culminating with in-field operation.

Data from Moortec’s sensors will feed into the platform’s analytics engines. Combining this information with data from other structural and functional monitors provide the rich data needed to drive optimization throughout the lifecycle.

The Synopsys silicon lifecycle management platform delivers two key capabilities: data collection and detailed analytics (Image: Synopsys)

Among Moortec’s in-chip monitoring solutions is a distributed thermal sensor (DTS) introduced earlier this year on TSMC’s N5 process, which the company said at the time was significantly smaller and more accurate compared to current in-chip thermal sensor solutions.

With silicon geometries scaling to 5nm, thermal activity escalates and monitoring becomes critical to maintaining accuracy and reliability. Thermal activity can be unpredictable and if not monitored carefully can cause over-heating and excessive power consumption which in turn impacts device longevity. The ability of Moortec’s DTS to make precise thermal measurements beside or within CPU cores, high speed interfaces or highly active circuitry addresses requirements for devices used in a range of application areas, including multicore architectures in artificial intelligence (AI), automotive and consumer electronics. The DTS sensing fabric enables distributed, real-time thermal analysis, enabling up to 16 remote probe points in a silicon area that Moortec said is seven times smaller than some standard in-chip thermal sensors.

Synopsys believes that increasing chip and system complexity couple with growing performance and reliability requirements drive the need for data-analytics driven monitoring and optimization across the whole lifecycle of an SoC. It said that there is significant potential for cost savings in applications like data centers where improvements in performance and power consumption can be measured in billions of dollars, according to the company.

This is what its SLM is designed to address with its data collection and data analytics capabilities. Moortec enables the monitoring part. Its non-intrusive monitors and sensors embedded in each chip help gather as much useful data about each chip as possible. This provides visibility into all forms of circuit activity as well as environmental conditions like voltage and temperature.

Moortec PVT
Synopsys is looking to expand the role of Moortec’s sensors beyond in-chip performance optimization (Image: Synopsys)

Synopsys’ Pateras told EE Times that the Moortec PVT sensors is just the first step, and that it wanted to expand the role of these sensors beyond in-chip performance optimization. “We feel there’s a lot more we can do – from design, manufacturing and test optimization to debug and in-system optimization and ultimately global predictive maintenance in the cloud.”

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