A Plymouth company has developed components that fit into the very latest silicon chips to monitor performance.

The embedded monitoring system developed by Moortec Semiconductor works on the latest 7nm FinFET (FF) process at chip maker TSMC in Taiwan. Only the very latest cutting edge processors from Intel and AMD and custom ASIC chips are being designed on 7nm.

“Our technology gives the tools needed to view conditions in-chip”


In-chip monitoring has become a vital factor in the design and performance optimisation of small-geometry designs. Since 2010 Moortec has developed a complex embedded Process, Voltage and Temperature (PVT) sensing fabric for use in-chip from 40nm down to 7nm.

“A key aspect to addressing giga-scale issues today is that optimisation can be applied to each and every device, either during production or when devices are out in the field. We believe that the strategies adopted by IC designers moving forward will be heavily influenced by the analysis of data harvested from in-chip monitors during the life time of every device,” said Stephen Crosher, CEO of Moortec (above).

“The industry is required to face challenges posed by Moore’s Law,” he said. This is the demand for improvements in silicon chip making and design to double the performance every 18 months to two years. The challenge to get this extra performance gets tougher with the current 10nm and 7nm processes.

“Our technology gives confidence to the IC design community and the tools needed to view conditions in-chip, not just generally but per device and within regions of a device to optimise for power, speed or reliability, dependant on the customer application,” he added. “We plan to be at the forefront of this emerging and exciting sector of the semiconductor industry which is evolving at a rapid pace.”

7nm Temperature Sensor

Within the subsystem the new 7nm Temperature Sensor is a high precision low-power junction temperature sensor that has been developed to be embedded into ASIC designs. It can be used for a number of different applications including Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS), device lifetime enhancement, device characterisation and thermal profiling.

A process monitor block allows chip developers to detect the process variation of 7nm devices. This provides continuous DVFS optimisation so that chip designers can monitor the manufacturing variability across a chip, measure the gate delay, tackle critical path analysis, critical voltage analysis and also monitor silicon ‘ageing’. All this improves the manufacturing process, improving the yield and reducing the cost of the latest chips.

The subsystem also includes the sophisticated Process, Voltage and Temperature (PVT) Controller with an interface to the AMBA APB bus from ARM. This supports multiple monitors and gathers statistics as well as providing a production test access port.

The company started in 2005 with engineers from Plessey Semiconductor’s chip making plant in Plymouth. That plant is now making LED chips for lighting systems.

There’s more details at www.moortec.com.