StarChip® Development Flow

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The role of the StarChip® is to co-define, design, qualify to mass production, and ensure engineering maintenance services for the product throughout its entire lifespan:

Co-Define

StarChip® works hand-in-hand with customers to quickly determine the configuration that delivers the required functionality and scalability, optimized to deliver the maximum ROI. To determine the best silicon solution for the product, we also consider key cost drivers, such as:

  • Silicon Factors
    – Silicon technology such as process geometry, wafer size, and embedded flash vs ROM directly impact silicon cost
    – Die-size can be optimized through careful IP selection and design integration
    – Wafer price will depend on foundry selection
  • Assembly and Test
    – Most adapted package, with corresponding testing cost
  • Business Model
    – A Product Provider Model, purchasing products qualified for mass production directly from foundries, will dramatically reduce costs

At the conclusion of the Product Cost Analysis, StarChip® assembles a detailed Product Development Partnership proposal. This plan clearly outlines key development stages and milestones, estimated time frames and costs for each stage, and development costs to be shared between StarChip® and the customer.

Design Process


Design Flow Specification Review with customer (end of specification phase)

  • Review block diagram
  • Validate design specification / datasheet
  • Validate software development specification / datasheet
  • Validate packaging requirements
  • Validate test requirements
  • Review schedule / resources
  • Confirm target die size
  • Confirm fabrication process

Chip Design

  • Kick off
  • Cells designs (analog, memories)
  • IP design
  • IP procurement
  • Top level design
  • Design for test (DFT)
  • Prototyping (testchips, FPGA)
  • Place & route (PnR)
  • Simulate over temperature and voltage
  • Complete design rule checks (DRC’s)
  • Complete layout vs. schematic (LVS)
  • Prepare validation plans & test plans (Characterization & Production & Qualification)

Prototype Introduction Review (internal)

  • Final design review (synthesis logs, simulations logs,
    internal prototype results, …)
  • Review test plans
  • Review physical layout and verification results
  • Review customer prototype validation (if applicable)
  • Risk assessment
  • Decision to proceed for fabrication

Prototype Fabrication

  • Mask fabrication
  • Silicon fabrication

Test Material Development

  • Prototype test programs
  • Develop engineering tools (probe cards, load board, qualification boards)
  • Release preliminary production test program

Prototype Evaluation & Qualification

  • Prototype testing at wafer probe
  • Prototype testing in package
  • Prototype evaluation by Customer
  • Correction & re-spin (if needed)

Prototype Acceptance Review with customer

  • Performance versus specification
  • Qualification & reliability testing review
  • Yield analysis review
  • Decision to proceed to production

Production Follow-up

  • Yield follow up
  • Adjust production test program for yield improvement
  • Install Customer software & data in production process (Code Submission)

Prototyping Process

Product Release Flow

Strategic planning is essential to successfully prototyping a product and qualifying a design for production. Without careful planning, the product will yield low or fail to enter production—eliminating any potential cost savings or performance and quality improvements.

Top issues to consider when productizing a chip include:

  • Prototyping Flow CMOS process technology experience in fabs
  • Embedded flash technology experience
  • Debug capability
  • Failure analysis
  • Product qualification
  • Back-end cost
  • Lead time control
  • Yield tracking
  • Quality follow up
  • Field return

To address these issues, StarChip® offers in-depth technical expertise in a variety of areas, including:

  • Fab qualification
  • Cost engineering
  • Assembly and test engineering
  • Product engineering
  • Quality engineering

Prototyping is the first step toward verifying a design in actual silicon. The prototyping flow can be illustrated as follows:

Test program development is a key requirement during the prototyping process. This phase, which requires an in-depth knowledge of Automatic Test Equipment (ATE), plays an important role in determining the most appropriate testing facility for production. Test program development is also essential for efficient prototype electrical characterization. StarChip® performs its test program development through a local in-house test facility that supports 200mm wafer test capability. Our staff of qualified professionals manages every step of the process to ensure the highest possible quality.
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Qualification Process

Product Release

After the prototype phase is complete, a product release phase follows. This phase is the final step to qualify the product for production with a target quality and yield.

After it is validated, a prototype must be characterized using specific “corner” lots in the target foundry to test extreme variations of wafer processing conditions. This process experiment assesses possible drops in the product test yield.

Electrical data from the testers is processed offline with specific data analysis software. All parameter distributions are analyzed in order to assess the product’s robustness in production. CPks which measure process variations are calculated and analyzed as well. Qualification at StarChip® is based on JEDEC JESD47 recommendations. These standards-based protocols test product lifespan, early failure rate calculation, endurance cycling and retention for the embedded flash memories, ESD, latch-up and package-related issues. StarChip® works closely with qualified laboratories to do these tests.

Once the product release phase is complete, the product is ready for volume production.

Maintenance

Maintenance is essential to successful product development and complete customer satisfaction. StarChip® backs its products with a full range of support services throughout the entire production phase, including:

  • Yield Tracking
    – Collection of data (such as wafer maps)
  • Quality/Product Engineering
    – Yield improvement
    – Corrective actions
    – Technology, design, or specification changes
    – Failure analysis on returned parts
    – Corrective actions
    – Technology, design, or application notes
    – Subcontractor consulting
  • Cost Reduction
    – Shrink
    – Test time reduction
  • Audits
    – Subcontractors
  • Certifications
    – Security certification

The expertise of StarChip® design and production team is also available as a separate service for our customers. Contact StarChip® Sales to learn more about how you can take advantage of our deep industry knowledge for your technology initiative.