Technology: Southeast News

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Posted September 02 , 2021


Researchers from NC State University and Synopsys are unveiling a new computer chip design kit to facilitate the development of new chips – and are making it freely available in order to encourage growth and innovation in the field.

“The geometry of transistors has changed dramatically over the past seven years,” says Rhett Davis, a professor of computer engineering at NC State who led the project. “Many people say transistors are now only 3 nanometers (nm) long – which isn’t actually true. But what is true is that transistors are substantially taller now than they were even seven years ago, and are stacked on each other, creating a complex array of three-dimensional circuit architectures.

“Because chip architecture is so complex, you need specialized tools that enable that level of chip design. Our kit, called FreePDK3, makes that kind of chip design possible,” Davis says.

Specifically, FreePDK3 is a set of libraries and scripts that were developed to work with the Synopsys Fusion Design Platform™ and Synopsys Custom Design Platform to help people design state-of-the-art chips needed to move the field of chip design forward.

“FreePDK3 allows chip designers to explore new ideas, while keeping them within the bounds of what is physically possible,” Davis says. “And it is free – no strings attached.”


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