Google Moves Ahead With Providing No-Cost Open-Source Silicon Manufacturing From GlobalFoundries
As part of Google's effort to allow open-source projects easier access to silicon design and chip fabrication, they had opened up resources and covered costs for open-source projects to fabricate their early chips on a SkyWater 130nm process followed by an upgrade to SkyWater's 90nm process. Back in August it was announced Google and GlobalFoundries created an open-source Process Design Kit (PDK) to target GloFo's 180nm "180MCU" technology platform.
During the original announcement it was implied that Google would continue to offer its "no-cost silicon realization program" for covering initial batches of chip fabrication for those completing a successful, open-source chip design. With the SkyWater program, Google covered costs for six shuttle runs that allowed 350 unique silicon designs to be realized and around 240 of them were successfully manufactured.
Google now formally announced their funding for open-source silicon manufacturing using that GlobalFoundries 180nm PDK. There will be a series of no-cost shuttle runs using the GF180MCU over the coming months. As with prior runs, the silicon designs must be fully open-source, must be reproducible from source designs, must be submitted within the given timelines, and must pass pre-manufacturing checks. While 180nm isn't interesting for leading-edge PC components, 180nm still has plenty of real-world applications out there and is used in a wide variety of areas like IoT, automotive, and other more basic electronics.
180nm manufacturing for CPUs was used back during the days of some Intel Celeron CPUs for Socket 478 (pictured) as well as AMD Athlon Thunderbird and Duron processors, among others. GlobalFoundries' 180nm manufacturing is still useful for other ASICs -- especially for start-up open-source projects where the costs are covered by Google.
The first test shuttle is running now through 5 December for submissions. Those wishing to learn more can see this Google blog post from their Open-Source Blog with this shuttle sponsorship having been announced on 31 October but only appearing on their RSS feed this weekend.