The eFabless and Silego “Go Configure Design Challenge Series” is the first of its kind to allow a global community of designers to implement widely used functions using GreenPAK™ Configurable Mixed-signal ICs (“CMICs”) and its intuitive drag-and-drop software GUI. The efabless platform will serve as the crowd source design platform on which the CMIC hardware designs will be submitted. This design challenge is intended to be the first step in establishing a future marketplace for innovators and their designs.
For more information here is a CEO interview with John Teegen of Silego Technology and Mike Wishart of efabless. John and Mike discuss community design of Silego Configurable ICs and the Go-Configure Design Challenge.
Hi John and Mike. John, tell our readers a bit about Silego.
JT: Dan, we may be one of the more impactful under-the radar companies that you will ever see. In fact, Semico called Silego the “best kept secret in Silicon Valley”. We pioneered and are the market leader in Configurable Mixed-signal ICs, or CMICs, and we have shipped over 3 billion devices since their introduction. You can think of CMICs as bringing the convenience of FPGA’s to mixed-signal. Each device contains analog components, discrete digital logic, and power components that can be integrated through software into highly configurable, small, easy to use, low cost ICs. Customers get faster time to market, reduced system parts count, lower power consumption, less board space and reduced BOM costs.
Six generations of CMICs have been introduced, with increasing functionality and design tool enhancements. The design process of a CMIC is now extremely intuitive and very comparable to designing circuits on PCBs. With minimal training, a wide variety of designers can now design their own CMIC with no NRE or production commitment.
That is why we are excited about the Go Configure Design Challenge Series and partnership with efabless. This was the brainchild of Mike Noonen, Silego’s Vice President of Sales and Business Development, in collaboration with Mike Wishart and Mohamed Kassem, co-founder of efabless. The objective is to educate and enable an engaged community on the efabless platform that can respond to design requests from customers of all sizes and open the IoT market to the power of Silego mixed-signal-on-demand. We see it as a key step in growing our business and introducing a better way to design to thousands of designers worldwide.
Mike, bring us current on efabless.
MW: As you recall, efabless.com is the world’s first community engineering platform for electronics solutions. We connect a global community of mixed-signal designers with customers and enable them with processes and a unique community-centric marketplace to develop, share and commercialize products. We introduced our solution for community created IP with a design challenge for X-FAB, our foundry partner, last November. We released our community created IC platform in June. With Silego we now offer community development of programs, we call “soft designs”, for configurable IC parts. The Challenge Series is the first step in our support of Silego and configurable ICs. We will also provide the marketplace to connect designers with opportunities and to showcase their designs.
How doesthe Silego partnership fit into your model?
MW: We are very excited about our relationship with Silego. This is a strong validation of the principle of community design and the Go Configure Design Challenge is a first of its kind for the sector. Remember, we founded efabless on the principle that a connected and a collaborative community of highly skilled innovators is a catalyst for IoT and smart hardware to reach its fullest potential. IoT and smart hardware products are often created by companies that do not have the internal core expertise in electronics development or expertise in a very specific area of hardware design. An example would be a shoe company making a Bluetooth connected running sneaker. This new class of innovators needs a broad community with the time and resources to turn an idea into a product. And, in particular, they need analog and mixed-signal to connect the digital “smarts” of their products with the physical world. That’s where Silego-on-efabless comes in.
JT: The Silego GreenPAKs are a terrific solution for community design. They are easy to learn and easy to use. With our devices, the efabless community can offer Configurable Mixed-signal IC solutions with incredibly fast time to market for a wide range of applications.
MW: Silego also greatly expands the community of designers beyond the universe of analog and mixed-signal IC designers to PCB and other system level engineers.
Tell us about the Go Configure Design Challenge
JT: The Go Configure Challenge is obviously a play on words – effectively who would have thought that designers from around the world could learn our platform, create designs and get global recognition for doing so. Oh, yes, and win prizes. In the Challenge Series, we will be tasking the community with designing various industry standard functions and the designs will be judged by Silego on the quality of the design and the documentation. We have chosen 10 separate industry standard functions at three levels of complexity: easy, moderate and difficult.
We will present the Go Configure Design Challenge Series on efabless in five pairs of two challenges each, beginning on October 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] and continuing until mid-December. Each Challenge will be open for two weeks. We will offer prizes like smartwatches and Bluetooth speakers for the highest quality designs for each separate challenge. Each separate challenge will also pay out Time-To-Market cash awards for the first three entries that meet a high, commercially acceptable, standard of quality – we recognize that successful community design requires both speed and quality. Finally, we will keep a running tabulation of scores across all challenges and present a grand prize to the overall challenge winner.
How do people register and compete?
MW: It all works very easily. Designers come to efabless and check out the “Go Configure Design Challenge Series” page. This will provide access to all the details on the Challenge Series as well as links to information on each separate challenge in the series. To participate, the designer registers on efabless and then reviews and selects a challenge or challenges. We also provide access to training videos authored by Silego engineers. We think participants will be pleased to see how easy it is to learn the GreenPAK development environment and become effective.
What happens after the Challenge? How can this new-found design talent be utilized?
MW: We are very excited about making Silego GreenPAKs available to our community as a key capability on the efabless platform. Community members will be able to create personal profiles that include their GreenPAK accomplishments and are searchable by customers and other community members. Potential customers will be able to search for GreenPAK talent or request designs. Community members will also be able to create their own unique designs and present them in a very protected way, with application notes and data sheets, in our marketplace.
We look forward to seeing community innovation on Silego GreenPAKs and encourage your readers to sign up and get started with the Go Configure Challenge.