ChipBuilder™ Platform empowers individuals to design custom chips in hours and receive samples in weeks.
A key challenge faced by product developers in 2019 is taking new ideas to market as soon as possible. This is the core mission of zGlue, a Silicon Valley company offering custom chips on demand. With an end-to-end methodology for accelerated chip building, zGlue’s process is projected to disrupt the semiconductor industry and make previously complex systems much easier to develop. The process starts with zGlue’s chip design software, ChipBuilder™, enabling users to go from a drawing on a napkin to a routed system in the same business day. Until now, this software has been reserved as an internal tool for zGlue engineers. At CES 2019 zGlue is releasing ChipBuilder to the public as a beta program.
zGlue’s process is built from the ground up to make chip building simple and streamlined. Users can design their own chips by selecting industry standard components from the ChipBuilder library and placing them on a canvas representing zGlue’s Smart Fabric, an active interposer that handles the communication between components in zGlue chips. By simply dragging and dropping components onto the Smart Fabric, users can immediately see a virtual representation of their chip design including a 3D chip model rendered in real time. Today the ChipBuilder library contains a range of 20 different processor, communication, sensor, memory, and battery management products from many top industry vendors including Nordic Semiconductor. An additional 100 are in the qualification pipeline. Once components are selected, users can customize their schematic to produce a design rule correct system which ChipBuilder will automatically route.
Chips designed in ChipBuilder beta will be quickly manufactured through the zGlue shuttle program and be immediately ready for high volume manufacturing at ASE when the customer has qualified their prototypes. Traditional methods for custom chip production can take over a year and cost millions of dollars to get from a specification to packaged chips. Compare this to ChipBuilder designs, which will be manufactured within 1 month at a cost of only thousands of dollars as part of zGlue’s new shuttle program.
The delivered chips will be based on zGlue’s second generation Smart Fabric™, manufactured by partner TSMC. This substrate includes power management, system management, clocking, and self-test capabilities in addition to providing the “glue” that holds and connects the components taken from the ChipBuilder library together. Compared to its predecessor the second generation Smart Fabric supports 60% lower leakage power, a 4x larger (and growing) range of ChipBuilder library components, and 20% better routing density. According to IEEE Spectrum “zGlue’s secret sauce is its use of a silicon substrate, with a grid of fine wires for reprogrammable connections between the chips, and some resistors, capacitors, and gates for built-in power management, system management, and memory.”
Along with samples of their custom chips, customers will receive a software development kit. This kit includes the firmware and software development environment needed to personalize the newly delivered chips and bring the customer’s product to life.