On Thursday, July 31[SUP]st[/SUP] at 8 AM Pacific Daylight Time I’ll be moderating a webinar that will demo eSilicon’s new GDSII quoting portal. You can find more details about the webinar here, and you can register here.
I’ve worked with a lot of companies that do advanced custom IC designs. Getting a quote that covers all the NRE requirements for tapeout and a unit price for the projected volume production can take weeks to sort out. eSilicon is claiming to handle all that with a comprehensive series of online menus in 10 minutes. The claim is seven steps to a complete quote that the company will stand behind.
There is a wide range of options available for various packages, testers and processes. The site is done in conjunction with TSMC, so all process options are supplied by them, from 28nm to 350nm. I’ve used the Internet to buy all kinds of things. My beautiful wife uses it even more. I know people who have bought cars and even homes through the Internet. The NRE alone for an advanced custom IC can be over $1M, so eSilicon seems to be setting a new benchmark for online transaction size with this tool.
It is interesting to note that this kind of technology is opening up what appears to be a new business model for semiconductor design and manufacturing. Up to now, Internet-based transactions have been somewhat rare in the semi industry when compared with other business, such as enterprise software-as-a-service. Since the Internet was literally made possible by the semi industry, this fact is even more unusual.
To make their point about flexibility, eSilicon has recruited Bob Dunnigan, vice president of operations at Ikanos to drive the quote generation process. Bob will be specifying his tapeout requirements as eSilicon fills in the forms and generates the quote.
It occurs to me that a tool like this is useful well beyond standard quoting. It’s also a great “what if” tool to explore design, process, package and test options. By iteratively using a tool like this, you can answer questions such as: “What is the impact to the lifetime profit of my product if I use 7 vs. 6 metal layers?” Alternatively, “What happens to the total cost of this project if I reduce test time by one second, or if I use dual vs. single site testing?”
These questions are difficult to answer when it takes a month or more to assemble a quote. It’s a different story when it only takes 10 minutes. I hope Bob Dunnigan will try some “what if” options during the demo this Thursday. It will be interesting to watch. I hope you can join me.