The Rewards of Productive Partnering...
When set development goals are reached within a fixed budget, when delivery times are kept to, and when quality and reliability prove themselves in series, an ASIC partnership realises its full promise.
Application-specific integration is not merely processed as a standard order; its high degree of uniqueness and complexity requires a form of cooperation which goes beyond departmental and company boundaries. Trust and partnership are vital when the user contributes his product knowledge to the venture, enabling the user and the ASIC manufacturer's semiconductor experts to implement projects which are both economically viable and have a view to the future.
Since 1984 iC-Haus has specialized in producing customized, project-orientated integrated circuits. The company offers the entire spectrum of semiconductor services, from design to the fully tested, mass-produced product. Application-specific, customized ICs drive the iC-Haus capability, as well as the structure and services of its technical and production units.
Flexible product design and project implementation carried out by motivated and qualified engineers are the major factors which determine a project's success. Access to industrial process lines for the basic material, silicon, guarantees the necessary continuity, delivery assurance and quality, and also a share in technological progress. iC-Haus assembly, functions testing and quality assurance services conclude the production process of an innovative series product - the customized IC.
Realising a circuit - or even an entire system - on a chip is the highest level of integration in microelectronics. Monolithic integration represents miniaturization and reliability and gives an innovative push to a new generation of devices.
System integration starting at the cell and element level offers unlimited access to the technical possibilities of silicon planar technology.
The combination of analog and digital circuitry components - with additional sensors and drivers for actuators, if required - has proved itself in various systems and devices, such as those for signal processing or in automotive, control and automation engineering.
With pre-integrated cells for recurring basic functions, microsystem designs are also economical in mid-sized batches through their calculable development time. iC-Haus has prepared these cells in high voltage bipolar, in CMOS (capable of analog applications) and in the power BCD process. They can be used as chips for breadboards and as modules for network simulation and layout. Bipolar circuits center on precise, flexible analog technology with a high driving capability and breakdown voltage. CMOS designs create low dissipation, complex digital functions, supplemented by analog function blocks also for higher voltages. Power BCD technology traverses existing technological boundaries.
Additional process options allow iC-Haus to develop monolithic microsystems with freely-definable optical sensors.
Developing a customized IC involves deploying system knowledge to implement a circuit for the production process.
In the defining phase of a project, the performance specifications and customer discussions establish the features of the product and the milestones in its development. These preliminary tasks embody both parties' responsibility to find a solution which optimises all appropriate technological possibilities.
The engineer's initial ideas on how to realise the circuit are schematically entered into the computer, then verified in a network evaluation process and tested on a breadboard. The latter two processes complement each other; breadboards can be tested in the system environment, and logic and analog simulation confirms design results with regard to possible parameter spreads in the intended temperature range. Test vectors and stimuli generated in simulation control later serial testing and the dynamic burn-in in the qualification process.
Preparing the layout of the integrated circuit is often seen as equivalent to designing the chip itself, but is really closer in nature to the simulation and test processes. The chip's geometry is established interactively on the screen, requiring exceptional process- and semiconductor-specific knowledge of its designer. The prepared cells are inserted into a stylized diagram of the layout which can be broken down for project-specific modifications.
iC-Haus designs are based on manufacturer-independent cell libraries which range from basic elements to entire circuit blocks. These include operational amplifiers, regulators, references, switching regulators, counters and registers, arithmetic and logical units and A-D and D-A converters.
iC-Haus has also developed and patended special circuit technologies for sensors, driver devices and protective circuits against damage and parasitic interferences.
Even the most careful design must prove itself in the final product, the integrated circuit. To this end, the finished layout for the pilot run is transferred to the mask technology and wafer production processes as a multi-project. Multi-project wafers contain various chips, the costs for sample masks and wafers are split. In the best instance, i.e. if the chips are released immediately, the amount from the first batch is usually sufficient to allow statistical deductions and extensive field tests to be made.
If the chip has to be redesigned, the costs remain fixed.Within a few days of assembly at iC-Haus, the ICs, in protective ceramic packages or as Chip-On-Board units, can be demonstrated to the user.
Work and investment at iC-Haus focus on mass production, enabling the company to meet the user's terms of acceptance with continuous high quality and delivery assurance. Each incoming batch of wafers is checked and parametrically qualified, and an automated functions test is carried out by wafer probers for each chip.
The test program is drawn up in accordance with the specifications for the chip and marks a decisive step in its development. In order to cover all eventualities where the chip could fail, all function blocks are tested under normal and extreme operating conditions. Modern analog/digital test systems also check DC, AC and transient functions in real-time processing. A parent database enables the results of serial testing and qualification to be compared with the values stipulated by the specifications and simulation.
All iC-Haus components are thoroughly tested several times, both as a chip on a wafer and as a packaged IC in a handler at high and low temperatures according to requirements. Microsystems with optical sensors as Chip-On-Board units are tested using special automatic handling equipment.
Only after they have successfully passed the final test are chips released for delivery, marked with the letters "iC" for quality.
Quality assurance is an integral part of all phases of every project, from the initial design of the chip to its release for mass production. QA monitors the manufacturing process from the incoming delivery of the raw materials to the outgoing delivery to the customer. Chips and ICs are optically checked several times during production. Components also undergo electrical and mechanical stress treatment, are aged in a static or dynamic burn-in process, are subjected to temperature shocks and must withstand various environmental conditions.
Work processes are organized in accordance with ISO 9001 guidelines; iC-Haus technology and assembly are certified with regular audits for quality assurance.
iC-Haus targets applications in industrial technology, among others, with its ASICs and standard products (ASSPs). The following analog/digital IC and microsystems features illustrate the technical scope of customized integration.
Short circuit-proof drivers in the mid current and voltage range are required for data transfer with 24V signals in robust industrial equipment. The push-pull output stages in the iC-WE and iC-VX multiport driver chips are limited to 300mA current and are short circuit-proof in that they are switched off with excessive temperatures. Chip iC-WE also has an integrated, temperature-controlled line-impedance adapter. In these 20-pole SO power packages, even quick pulse trains can be transferred over long distances without relevant distortion.
Integrated circuits should protect themselves and external system components against damage through overloading, overheating or electrical interference. Examples of integrated protective circuits are clipping diodes, current limiters, the shutdown of functions with excessive temperatures, protection against ESD and EMI, latch-up immunity features and tolerance of branch-specific noise spikes.
Step-down regulator iC-WD integrates protective circuits as system functions. Two 5V back-end series regulators decouple the voltage supply of sensitive analog circuits or sensors from the supply to logic and driver devices. The two-level principle of switching regulators plus series regulator guarantees low residual ripple with a minimum of small, external components. An error message is generated with excessive temperature or low voltage at a current-limited open-collector output; additionally, the switching regulators are switched off with excessive temperature.
Chip iC-WJ is a driver IC for laser diodes in continuous or pulsed operation. It ensures the safe operation of the sensitive semiconductor lasers with its integrated protective circuits. These include regulation to the mean value of the optical laser power, protection against excessive temperature and low voltage, and a start-up circuit to protect the laser diode when the power is switched on. A watchdog unit monitors the input to prepare the regulator circuit for a restart after pulse pauses.
The combination of analog and digital circuit units is carried out in all three basic technologies: in bipolar, I2L and TTL gates complement the domain of linear and high-voltage technology. The eight output stages of the servomotor driver iC-XU for example, are given a ÁP interface with controller logic and a status memory in I2L logic.
CMOS technology permits complex digital signal processing - complemented by linear functions and drivers in the mid current and voltage range.
The iC-VR/iC-JRX bidirectional 24V interface couples microprocessors and 24V peripherals in industrial applications. It has an 8-fold low-side respectively high-side driver, an integrated control logic and programmable digital filters for input signals. The drivers can cope with loads of up to 500mA and up to 48V breakdown voltage with the protective functions mentioned above. The ÁP interface is designed for an 8-bit/12 MHz data bus and features interrupt and reset functions and a memory for the operational settings.
Sine-digital angular encoder iC-NG is a complex chip which determines the absolute and incremental angle resolution of sinusoidal input signals. It features amplifiers which prepare the sensor signals, a sine/digital converter and a programmable signal corrector as the analog section; the digital section is for normed industrial interfaces and for the control unit with its registers, which are used for programming resolution and hysteresis, for example.
BCD technology offers a monolithic combination of power and logic; it pushes the limits of driver data into the ampere and 60V range, has all the advantages of bipolar linear technology for regulating functions and follows the progress of CMOS technology for complex digital control units.
OPTO-ASICs offer microsystem technology on a single chip and combine optical sensors with analog and digital signal processing. Here, the shape, position and number of sensors can be designated as required, and assembly is also project-specific.
Examples of OPTO-ASICs are sensors for constant and alternating light with integrated amplifiers and thresholding circuits and with high- and low-pass filters for the suppression of constant light and interferences.
Multichannel OPTO-ASICs are used for position decoding in absolute and incremental linear or angular measuring systems, for example. Chip iC-OG is a 8-bit encoder with integrated photodiodes, amplifiers and comparators, built-in LED power control, push-pull output drivers and the monitor circuits mentioned above.
The technical advantages of monolithic design are its high noise immunity and its achieved synchronism which makes complex compensation unnecessary.
Like iC-OG, the 14-track absolute encoder iC-WG works according to the principle of differential scanning to eliminate dark currents. Its additional analog outputs for back-end interpolation allow further increases in resolution.
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