SkyWater Technology, a trusted technology realization partner, announced it is receiving $15 million in funding from the Department of Defense (DOD) to facilitate open source design for its 90 nm process offering, part of the previously announced $27 million investment. To enable this initiative, SkyWater has partnered with Google, through Google Public Sector and company-wide engineering teams, to build on its commitment to open source silicon. SkyWater previously announced a partnership with Google to enable open source design of custom application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) on its 130 nm mixed-signal CMOS process through the open source SKY130 PDK.
SkyWater’s new commercial SKY90-FD open source offering is based on MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s 90 nm fully depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) CMOS process technology. Through this latest government-funded program at SkyWater, an innovation that is enabled by open source design is focused on the commercial use of this technology.
According to Dr. Matthew Kay, the DOD program manager for this project, “Investments in commercial endeavors such as the partnership between SkyWater and Google is another example of how the Department of Defense can leverage technology advancements within the open source community to effectively and efficiently improve our defensive posture for the future.”
The DOD is using many OSS (Open Source Software) programs that play a growing role in mission-critical systems and defense applications that must perform repeatedly and reliably. Open source accelerates innovation through cumulative efforts and fosters trust due to its transparency, which enables the identification of design flaws and malicious code, something that is not always possible with proprietary software. This use of open source has greatly improved technology and furthered the state of the art in the defense of the United States.
Google has a long-standing history of supporting open source silicon as both a founding member of the RISC-V Foundation and the Linux Foundation’s CHIPS Alliance project, along with an active role in the Open Compute Foundation. The open-source model taps into a talent pool of software engineers to design chips in code and run design simulations that test, optimize, and validate specific chip designs. As a result, chip designers can iterate and innovate faster, and they have more frequent tape-outs than previously realized through more traditional models. Google became involved in open silicon to drive down the cost over time and reduce barriers to entry for hardware startups and small businesses.
“Through this important investment from the DOD and collaboration with Google, we will enable open source design for our commercial SKY90-FD process technology, creating an IP pipeline and pathway to commercial volume manufacturing,” said SkyWater President and CEO, Thomas Sonderman. “This will expand our 90 nm foundry offering as a platform for innovation and productization here in the U.S.”
“Our public-private partnership with the DOD and SkyWater enables a new era in accessible, collaborative chip design that will be driven by an open source ecosystem,” said Will Grannis, CEO of Google Public Sector. “Our collaboration will help address the historical limitations of chip design and production for national defense by improving accessibility for researchers and developers to innovate faster and at lower costs. Google provides the compute, engineering know-how, and platform that accelerates chip design; SkyWater provides the next-gen chip design system and fabrication in a secure commercial environment; and the DOD investment makes this all scalable and accessible.”