January 09, 2012
Blurring the line between EDA & Test
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Russ Henke - Contributing Editor

by Russ Henke - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Figure 5. NVM in Smart Phones

Figure 5 shows typical functions contained in a smart phone.  All can achieves higher integration by using embedded nonvolatile memory (NVM) instead of serial flash memory or EEPROM on separate die.  Kilopass estimates that 30 percent of the $5 billion spent each year on serial flash memory and EEPROM was for applications requiring 4Mb of memory or less.  Kilopass states that teardowns of Apple’s iPhone 3GS found about 10 serial flash memories and EEPROMs, most die-bonded within packages of larger chips thus invisible in system-level teardowns.  As smart phones continue to offer more features, embedded NVM memory will become more valuable to reduce chip count and to add security.    

Figure 6. NVM in Home Electronics

In home consumer electronics non-volatile memory has typically been used for conditional access, the encryption key loaded into the set-top box that enables the consumer to receive content from the service provider. However, as shown in Figure 6 with the advent of over-the-top media, content is circumventing the cable and satellite gateways via the Internet and the wired and wireless home networks that connect consumer electronics with PCs and digital devices.

Over-the-top media has spawned the proliferation of digital rights management codes that accompany the digital multimedia over the Internet and throughout the home network.  For example DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) keys can be found on interface such as IEEE 1394, USB, MOST, Bluetooth, and TCP/IP or HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) keys can be found on interfaces such as HDMI, DVI, Display Port, GVIF and UDI.

NVM in Automotive Applications

For today’s premium cars, "the cost of software and electronics can reach 35 to 40 percent of the cost of a car," said Manfred Broy, a professor of informatics at Technical University, Munich quoted in a story in IEEE Spectrum published in February 2009. The article asserted that these cars contain 70 to 100 microcontroller-based electronic control units (ECUs) networked throughout the body of your car as illustrated in Figure 7. Even low-end cars now have 30 to 50 ECUs embedded in the body, doors, dash, roof, trunk, seats, and elsewhere.

Figure 7. NVM in the Automobile

Microcontrollers (MCUs) provide the intelligence directing this electronics.  With the growing awareness for the need for security, automobile manufacturers are looking for new alternative to flash and EEPROM for secure, low-cost, more temperature tolerant and often field-programmable non-volatile memory (NVM) for microcontrollers in automotive electronic systems. One-time programmable anti-fuse NVM with over-provisioned memory capacity is finding applications where storage contents changes infrequently over the life of the automobile:  boot code for microcontrollers—eliminating external serial EEPROM, ROM patches to fix bugs in the field, data logging of infrequently changing events—odometer reaching service milestones, etc.

Analog mixed-signal circuits, including digital to analog converters, analog to digital converters, pulse width modulators, etc., are proliferating in new chips populated by sensors, accelerometers, and radio frequency circuits.  According to a TechNavio market research report published May 2011, the global analog and mixed signal device market will reach $49.45 billion in 2014. One of the key factors contributing to this market's growth is the explosion in intelligent handheld mobile device that are incorporating applications (apps) that enable the device to sense the environment, location, speed, direction as well as interact with the user through voice recognition and text to speech synthesis.

Chips containing these analog mixed signal elements will soon include even more sensors than the ubiquitous accelerometer and GPS. According to the article "Which sensors are coming to your next smartphone?" in the May 23, 2011 issue of web magazine Mobihealthnews.com, the following are in the offing: altimeters, heart-rate monitors as well as sensors to detect perspiration and microphones, temperature and humidity sensors for more environmental data.  Each will bring their share of analog mixed-signal circuits.

The problem with analog mixed-signal circuits is they are subject to variations during manufacture and their characteristics change over time. To ensure they behave consistently, the circuits’ characteristics are trimmed during manufacture using digital parameters stored in NVM.  As the analog mixed-signal circuits’ characteristics drift over time, they are trimmed by changing the parameters in NVM to compensate for the drift. Storing these parameters presents a large market opportunity for NVM IP.


Kilopass Technology Inc. is an intellectual property company that has both significant market forces and compelling technology trends driving its success.  Propelling its business success is the proliferation of multimedia content in handheld devices, all requiring secure DRM key storage. Couple this with the increasing number of computing devices that all need NVM storage being incorporated into the smart devices to handle the expanding amount of functionality. And finally add in the expanding number of sensors migrating on board portable smart devices all needing NVM storage for mixed signal trimming data. The compelling technical trend driving the company forward is the relentless progression of Moore’s Law producing the next generation CMOS process technology every 18 months. With each new generation, the storage capacity of Kilopass IP grows, its reliability improves, the amount of power it consumes decreases, and its ability to thwart tampering even with the most invasive technique improves. Kilopass is well positioned for continued growth and success. End of article.

Ms. Linh Hong is VP of marketing at Kilopass responsible for marketing Kilopass’ solutions globally. With 13 years of  semiconductor industry experience – primarily focused on logic NVM IP, high-speed SERDES IP and broadband communication ASICs – Linh served for three years in various director and management positions in field applications engineering and applications marketing at Kilopass before assuming her current role in April 2009. Prior to joining Kilopass, she was a design consultant and design manager at LSI Logic, where she also served in various design and marketing engineering functions. She began her career as a component engineer at Sun Microsystems. Linh holds a BS degree with honors in physics, and an MSEE degree in electrical engineering, both from University of California, Davis.

Kilopass Self Description

Kilopass Technology is expanding the horizons of embedded non-volatile memory to create new cost savings and design opportunities for today’s semiconductor industry.

The leader in embedded NVM intellectual property, Kilopass removes long-standing challenges to NVM integration across a wide range of markets, applications and SOC designs.  Its patented technologies and expanding set of one-time programmable (OTP) and multi-time programmable NVM solutions have boundless capacity to scale to advanced CMOS process geometries, are portable to every major foundry and integrated device manufacturer (IDM), and meet market demands for increased integration, higher densities, lower cost, better reliability and improved security.

Trusted by today’s most trusted brands, Kilopass technology has been integrated by over 100 customers, with more than 2 billion units shipped in over 300 industrial, automotive, consumer electronics, mobile and analog & mixed signal chip designs.  The company’s solutions are currently integrated into 20 million set-top boxes, 50 million DVD chip sets, 100 million Wi-Fi modules, and 500 million FM tuners.

The EDA WEEKLY writer also thanks Ms. Nanette Collins and Mr. Jonah McLeod for their assistance.



Companies wishing to submit previously unpublished articles of possible interest to EDA WEEKLY readers are invited to send them to Dr. Henke at http://www.henkeassociates.net, along with the author’s name, company, and all contact information. No guarantee can be made that contributed articles will be published or when publishing might occur. If the contributed article is accepted for publication, no guarantee on timing can be given.

About the writer of the EDA WEEKLY:

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-- Russ Henke, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.

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