High-End Services Firm Taps I/O
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Micro Magic Inc. (MMI) has
implemented the final design for a high- performance I/O interface chip
for JAZiO Inc. of San Jose. JAZiO is looking to take on Rambus Inc. and
dozens of other chip-to-chip communication schemes with this
technology, so Micro Magic was happy to get on board.
last high-profile project was on Malleable Technologies' network
processor. The two discussed their collaboration in May and by June
PMC-Sierra Inc. had ponied up $231 million to buy the NPU intellectual
|Mark Santoro, president, Micro Magic Inc.|
MMI implemented the JAZiO 2GHz part using its own custom
design tools: the SUE design manager, MAX layout editor and DPC
Collaborating with JAZiO and using their SPICE
simulations for the I/O, MMI designed and taped-out the technology
demonstration chip in four months. JAZiO has one licensee now and
others in the works, according to Bruce Barbara, president and chief
The JAZiO I/O technology aims to solve system
performance bottlenecks with an approach that employs signal switching
in the time domain rather than in the traditional voltage domain. One
patent has been issued for the technology and five are pending. It
depends on the JAZiO core or chip at both ends of the chip-to-chip
communication, one acting as master and one as a slave to communicate
the data and then compare it at the receiving end, at very high speeds.
design MMI completed was the custom physical layout of just 55
transistors per pin; the tricky part was making that design perform at
the specified 2GHz that would make it a showstopper.
different from anything we've built," said Mark Santoro, president of
MMI. "We looked at their simulations and it looked really good. This
I/O is four or five times what Rambus is running at. It's a different
and unique idea that no one else has."
Jim Slager, chief
evangelist for JAZiO, explained what really brought his company to MMI.
"We needed an effective design that's almost as good as custom, but we
had to do it very quickly. We said, 'We do need a specialized
transistor design,' but we didn't have a lot of time, or a lot of
money," Slager said.
"The time and cost of a near-ASIC was what
we're looking for," he added. "But for this performance requirement,
whenever we talked with any one else (to implement the design) they
shied away. Once we started talking 2GHz they said forget it. MMI said,
'Let's do it.' "
MMI did a full custom layout on the actual
receiver in the I/O to make it as small as possible. JAZiO is licensed
to reuse that layout. JAZiO's licensees can get the design in that
format, or a number of others, depending on their needs and where they
would be manufacturing.
Santoro said that this type of design does not lend itself to traditional EDA tools.
was a design that did not lend itself well to DC (Synopsys' Design
Compiler) and place and route (from Avant! or Cadence). You can use a
router, but DC is for when you are building more of an ASIC," he said.
chip is essentially very high-speed datapaths. The data comes out of
this thing in parallel. In that case, the designer needs a tight layout
running at very high speed. The designer needs a lot of control over
the logic. Our tools give them exacting control over the placement.
It's an automated way of building custom datapaths," Santoro said.
test chip is capable of pattern generation, self-test, internal
serial-to-parallel and parallel-to-serial data conversion, programmable
internal clock generation (up to 2Gbit/sec. pin-data rate), and