Monthly Archives: March 2013


Cadence Mergers and Acquisitions History [infographic]

The following infographics shows Cadence’s mergers and acquisitions along the years from its very beginning.

Cadence Design Systems was founded in 1988 by the merger of SDA Systems and ECAD and has been involved with 100 mergers and acquisitions. The very recent and large acquisitions are:

Year 2013

  • Tensilica
  • Cosmic Circuits

Year 2011

  • Azuro
  • Altos Design Automation

Year 2010

  • Denali

Year 2008

  • ChipEstimate



Cadence Acquisitions mergers



corne lot wafer

Understanding Process Corner (Corner Lots)

Process Lots (or corner lots) are special-modified-wafers that help verifying chip design robustness to accommodate process variations that statistically occur in wafer production over the years.

One of the products that semiconductor foundries offer is process lots (also called: corner lots, split lots or skewed lots). Corner lots wafers are a group of wafers which have been skewed by the fab to different corners.

The purpose of process lots is to help you find out whether your design will be immune to process variations in the future. A successful corner lot exercise includes production of process lots in all different corners. Thereafter these wafers need to pass the electrical test (by the ATE) at all corners.

The industry is using two-letter designation to describe the different corners, where the first letter refers to the NMOS device, and the second refers to the PMOS device.  There are 5 classic corners:

  • FF (fast fast)
  • SF (slow fast)
  • SS (slow slow)
  • FS (fast slow)
  • TT (typical typical)

The FF corner, for instance, is obtained by skewing both P and N devices to the fast corner. The TT corner is the center corner where wafers are normally produced (e.g. typical process parameters).

In typically chip project schedule, corner lots should be produced just after tapeout or before releasing to production.

Silicon foundries are also offering skewing of different parameters to see the effect of specific parameters on memory blocks for example. This will require deeper discussions with the process engineers to help identifying parameters in the process that can provide benefits.




Who is Bigger and Stronger than TSMC?

I have the utmost respect for TSMC. For their advanced technology; for the quality of their products; for their ecosystem; and for their contribution to the industry. In fact, TSMC has become so big – that it will take a while until the second ranked foundry can catch up.

The deep sub-micron technology, particularly 28nm and below, has made the foundry business a game of investment, allocation and cash flow. Don’t get me wrong, the semiconductor business is still about technology innovation, but in today’s consumer market a shortage in 28nm wafer supply means less tablets and diminished phone production. Can the economy afford that?

Without a doubt, access to 28nm fabs has become a reason to fight for. 28nm process node introduced many advantages which are helping generate a competitive edge. Therefore, many components used in smartphones and tablets are based on 28nm technology, and tight access to the fab means securing the supply chain.


give me 28nm wafers


There are only a few giants that can build a new fab: Samsung, Intel, TSMC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, ST and perhaps one or two more. So many end products and so few fabs. The fab is becoming extremely critical. But will it become the bottleneck?

In the meanwhile, a large company that changed its name from Apple Computers to just Apple is continuously accumulating capital and searching for a way to achieve a sustainable competitive edge.

Apple has been shopping for chip companies since 2008. They bought a memory company called Anobit in December 2011, acquired Intrinsity in April 2010, and P.A Semi in April 2008. If you wonder why Apple is buying chip companies it because they provide Apple an advantage and at the same time Apple blocks its competitors from accessing these wonderful technologies.

Apple is “eating” more of the supply chain, using its capital to buy chip technology and gain a competitive advantage.  With all the capital that Apple has in the bank, could the next step be the takeover of TSMC?