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IP Talk: Marcus Movér, CEO, ShortLink

This interview was held with Marcus Movér, CEO, ShortLink AB.

 

Tell me about your company’s IP portfolio?

 

Our IP portfolio is based on our long experience in low-power mixed-signal wireless ASICs. The crown jewel is our range of  Sub-GHz RF Transceivers. We also offer high performance clock sources, such as high performance crystal oscillators and fractional-N PLL designs. Our AD-converters range from simple monitoring ADCs to complex high-performance designs for advanced sensor interfaces. Finally, we have a lot of support blocks such as LDO and bias generators.

 

Tell me a bit about your company background?

 

ShortLink started out around 25 years ago when we developed the first wireless mobile headset for Ericsson. Since then, we have been working with mixed-signal ASIC development focusing on low power wireless applications. We have recently started to license parts of our Silicon IP to external users.

 

What is your most successful IP core?

 

For external licensing, the TSMC 40nm port of our IEEE 802.15.4 compliant Sub-GHz transceiver. For internal re-use, an older 150nm version of that IP is in use in several successful products that are still in production.

 

To expand a bit on TSMC 40nm, the Sub-GHz transceiver is part of a platform which can be licensed as a whole or as separate blocks. It consists of the following separate IPs:

 

  • Sub-GHz Receiver & Transmitter 400 – 930MHz
  • PLL Fractional-N (up to 2.2GHz)
  • Sigma Delta ADC, 10 bit/32MSPS
  • Ultrastable crystal oscillator (8-48MHz)
  • Bandgap reference & bias current generator
  • 1.1V LDO

 

What is the advantage of using your cores (compared to other available IP cores)?

 

When it comes to wireless communication our view is that we primarily compete with 2.4GHz communication, not other Sub-GHz cores. Many products would benefit from using the Sub-GHz band (better range, penetration of walls, lower attenuation..). We recommend anyone developing a product for the 2.4GHz band to read our short primer on Sub-GHz here. and contact us for more information to figure out if Sub-GHz would be a better fit for them.

 

How did you first get started with your IP development?

 

We have been refining our IP reuse for internal development projects for more than 20 years. A few years ago we decided to look at the external licensing business model. We have recently gone public on our offer for external IP licensing.

 

What challenges do you see in the IP market today that need to be fixed? What is your approach to solving that?

 

We are trying to predict how the sub-20nm nodes will impact the types of devices that we typically develop for. Costs for masksets and tools, access to technology combined with the difficulty in scaling down analogue designs are starting to become quite significant. We have a feeling that ~20nm nodes will be applicable for a comparatively long time for the type of devices that we typically develop for. If so, the challenge will be how to maintain product competitiveness without process shrinkage.

 

How has the IP offering of your company changed during the recent years?

 

It has changed a lot. We have traditionally primarily used our developed IP internally as a part of our ASIC design services. Now, we are actively expanding and marketing our IP licensing business for other ASIC designers. Opening up our IPs for licensing will allow more companies to take control of their supply chain and technology stack. It will also enable us to reach new customers and partnerships.

 

How are the open core trends (for example RISC V) affecting your business and customers?

 

RISC V has become a viable option surprisingly quick – it shows the demand for an alternative to the status quo. Many customers are interested in knowing more and are considering it for next generation systems. Our challenge is to be able to navigate all the different offerings to find a suitable cost/risk/reward trade-off for each customer – it is easier to find the correct ARM core than the correct RISC-V solution for a given application.

 

Which foundries do you support? Do you have a primary foundry/ies that you are close to?

 

Nowadays we mainly use TSMC and SMIC for standard projects. For more exotic designs (high voltage, advanced sensors…) we typically use XFAB. We support Global Foundries as well.

 

Do you offer IP customization per customer requirements? Can you give an example?

 

Yes, we are more than happy to customize our IP for specific projects. Customization can range from parameter tweaking or small functional changes to essentially building a new IP based on an existing IP platform. We also port IPs between different process nodes and flavors, sometimes even targeting new foundries.

 

Are you hiring?

 

Yes! Right now we have positions open for senior analogue / mixed signal ASIC designers. We are always looking for talented and driven employees. If you are interested in ShortLink please contact us with your profile, regardless of the open positions we currently list.

 

Where can one find more information about your company?

 

The first step is visiting our website: www.shortlink.se . If you have questions, please send an e-mail to [email protected] or [email protected] – we always enjoy talking with prospective customers. We are also active on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/shortlink-ab/ 

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