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Frequently Asked Questions

Efabless corporation is an open innovation, hardware creation platform for “smart” products. Our community delivers the customized integrated electronics required for semiconductor and hardware system innovators to turn their product visions into a marketable reality.

Today, Efabless focuses on on-demand and custom IP. Efabless gives chip companies two ways to obtain analog & mixed-signal IP: you can search for existing IP in our growing library of verified designs, but more importantly you can also request the Efabless community to design new IP and derivatives.

We are opening new markets. Our initial application for the service is to fill the need by foundries, design service firms and IC providers for on-demand and custom IP. For example, foundries post design requests or search our marketplace to fill gaps in IP for process nodes. Design firms and IC companies, large and small, access Efabless and its community to source custom analog and digital IP for new designs. We will soon provide full chip assembly and our community will serve hardware innovators requiring customized electronics solutions.

To register for an Efabless account, you must sign in using an existing account from a third-party social login provider or using a Corporate Account. The third party social options are LinkedIn®, Google or Github.

Each time you log in, it is best to choose the service you selected when you registered. If you select a different service provider, you may end up with a new account if the primary email for that service does not match the service you chose for initial registration.

Registration via a LinkedIn® account is the preferred method and has benefits. If you (eventually) do request verification of your account, the primary path is through a LinkedIn® account anyway. If you registered via LinkedIn®, the verification process is typically simpler, has less steps and communications, and is completed sooner with less effort on your part.

Typical Efabless users are required to login with a third-party social login provider like LinkedIn®, Google or Github. An alternative authentication method is the corporate user login setup for specific corporate partners working with Efabless. The method allows employees of these partners to login using credentials based on their company email address. This method is currently only available to select partners or customers and is by invitation only. If you have further questions, please contact us. The biggest advantage of a corporate login is that no additional verification is needed.
Efabless focuses on Ad (Big A-little d) IP at this time. “Big A” means primarily analog circuits. “Little d” means digital circuits as necessary to build powerful mixed signal IP and ICs.
Community members retain the rights to IP created on the system under the Technology Licensing Agreement. However, the IP is maintained on our system and is not available for downloading from the system. This is necessary to enable the ability to design with foundry PDK’s without requiring NDA’s.
This is one of the most unique and valuable aspects of the Efabless system. We segment and protect your IP so that each individual involved with your design sees only those specifications and design files necessary to complete his job. The rest of the design is a “black box” represented by simulation models and vectors.
All IP files are abstracted and hidden from everyone except for the designer. If the IP is offered in the Efabless marketplace, customers can only access the datasheets and abstracted views for simulation and integration - no schematics or gds data is exposed.
At Efabless, the customer can search and purchase or license IP modules and more importantly the customer can also request derivatives and new IP directly in the Efabless marketplace, including IP to be designed by the Efabless community. Our “try before buying” solution allows a customer to integrate IP in a design and simulate it before user & licensing. This ensures first-time success and dramatically reduces the upfront cost and risk of design.
Efabless developed a complete set of design software including system design, schematic entry, spice simulation, layout editing, DRC, LVS and parasitic extraction. Also a complete RTL-to-GDS digital design flow that includes synthesis, STA, placement and routing. We also offer a unique, community-oriented verification tool called Automatic Characterization Engine, or ACE. ACE is simulator agnostic and provides automatic verification of a design with reference to control specifications. All new designs must pass ACE certification before entering our Efabless marketplace and customers and community can use the ACE tool to ensure a trusted conclusion to a design engagement.

At Efabless we provide a full path from open IP to silicon products. Lowering the barrier for designer community to reach prototypes that can enable effective showcasing of the design work to the customers. The platform has three main pillars:

  • A github-like openness for the design IP – as a “IP/IC Design Hub” with specific focus on Analog/Mixed-signal IP
  • A complete foundry-supported design toolset to enable designers to adapt, implement and prototype their work based on the customer requirements.
  • A customer focused marketplace for community-developed finished hard IP that originated from the design-hub.

First point, the shuttles: Efabless offers community members and customers access to shuttles. Shuttles can be accessed on demand for premium pricing or on a Leave-When-Full basis that is very affordable. In the latter case, the shuttle cost per mm2 is within the low to high $100’s depending on the process technology. Keep in mind we focus on technologies like 180/130nm BCD and more mature 250/350nm with higher voltage support.

Second, characterization & testing: We designed an open source HW platform board, including a reference ASIC designed to enable characterization of community IP. The design has been silicon-proven on our platform and will be announced to the world in early 2017. The designers will then be able to fork the reference ASIC and replace the template design with their own IP. After fabrication, the designer will utilize the platform board and wakeup SW to validate their specific design. In the future, we intend to forge partnerships with companies offering labs and test facilities that support low volume production in different geographical regions. Through such partnerships, the Efabless design community will access the capabilities as a part of an Efabless ecosystem. Stay tuned as we publish our progress on this front.

You must have submitted a request through the Efabless platform, completed all requirements listed for submission including successfully passing a precheck on the platform. You must also have confirmed your submission in the ‘Define’ step of the request process prior to 11:59pm PST June 18, 2021.
Each project will receive 50 packaged parts and 5 evaluation boards assemblies based on prefixed package and board designs.
Each shuttle will support up to 40 projects. If qualified project submissions exceed that number, they will be selected randomly for inclusion on the shuttle.
All projects must use the Caravel test harness padframe. Customization of the pads on the padframe is not supported at this time.
In a browser, navigate to http://join.skywater.tools and provide your email address. You will receive an invitation to join the community Slack channel.
The precheck provides simplified checks for FOM density for the user project. Users should correct their implementation to address any issues identified related to FOM density. Efabless will run fill generation as part of the tapeout process to the foundry.

The project must be licensed under open-source license and contain a LICENSE file with the license agreement language.

All third_party material should be under a third_party directory and have a license identifier.

All text files should have a copyright header and appropriate SPDX identifier.

Repository should have a README file

All documentation should use inclusive language

Projects must have a complete info.yaml containing project meta-data per the example in the Caravel User Project repo. The metadata will be used by the Efabless platform for creating entries into a public project showcase page for the shuttle program.

You can navigate to your project submission request from the Open MPW Shuttle Program landing page.

The precheck tool performs a series of checks to confirm the project meets the requirements for participating in the Open MPW Shuttle Program. The precheck tool addresses the following items:

  • Ensures the project has an approved LICENSE and all third-party IP is organized correctly with its own LICENSE file.
  • The project contains documentation including a populated info.yaml file. The tool checks for a minimal set of words that should not be used to comply with Google’s inclusive language policy.
  • The presence of a Makefile with the following targets: compress, uncompress, clean, verify.
  • The presence of netlists and GDSII files. The presence of Caravel modules within these and design complies with rules for Caravel in terms of pins and power routing.
  • The DRC check using Magic with OpenLane

The tool runs as a Linux container. It can be cloned and run offline prior to uploading the project to the Efabless platform. Further details can be found on the README file located in the git repository for the tool ( https://github.com/efabless/mpw_precheck )

Efabless will confirm the deliverables provided by the submitter using both automated tools and manual review. This includes the following items:

  • User profile
  • Service agreement is accepted
  • Project repo is public and accessible
  • Licensing for the project and any third party components. Acceptable header files on all text and source files.
  • The project contains:
    • Source files to recreate the GDSII
    • Verification tests
    • Documentation
  • Expected netlist and GDSII files exist including expected module and instance name based on Caravel.
  • LVS and DRC checks.
  • Metal density check and fill to meet the density specification for the shuttle.

The git repo for the project should include the following items.

  • The project should include the Caravel test harness with the users design occupying the user space for the layout.
  • The GDSII in a compressed format.
  • A makefile with targets to compress, uncompress and clean the project.
  • All source required to generate the GDSII including any third-party components.
  • The makefile should also include verify target to execute a test verification suite for the design.
  • Documentation including a README file as well as a info.yaml file containing metadata for the project
  • LICENSE files for the top-level project as well as each of the third-party components used

The Open MPW Shuttle Program is sponsored by Google. All costs associated with fabrication, packaging, assembly into evaluation boards as well as shipping to world-wide locations are covered and the user bears no cost for these items.

The only item that a user may be responsible for is any import duty or taxes for shipping parts and boards to a location outside of the United States. The shipping cost will be included, but any additional costs for duty or tax are the responsibility of the recipient.

The Open MPW Shuttle Program supports a global community and will ship parts and boards to project owners worldwide.

The shipping cost will be included, but any additional costs for duty or tax are the responsibility of the recipient.

There are several options to get support.

  1. After you have created a request, you can submit questions directly to Efabless through the Activity tab when viewing / managing your request.
  2. You can post a question to the Open PDK community on slack. See the response to ‘How do I connect with the Open PDK community’ above.
  3. You submit a help desk ticket using the pull-out menu on the lower right side of any web page on the Efabless site.

The list of steps is provided on the 'Instructions' tab when viewing your request. They include:

  • confirm the project is a public git repo with Apache v2.0 licensing
  • project successfully passes the Precheck tool executed on the Efabless platform
  • your profile includes your full name, email and physical address
  • shipping address provided above in the request is correct
  • review and accept the terms agreement from the landing page

Once you have completed these steps, please select ‘change’ next to the ‘Submitted’ status indicator to update your request status to ‘CONFIRMED’.

Efabless will then review each of your deliverables and send any questions back to you using the message thread located on the Activity tab for the request.

Once everything has been confirmed, Efabless will update the status for ‘Provider’ to ‘CONFIRMED’.

Efabless will update the status of your request for ‘Provider’ to ‘CONFIRMED’ to indicate you have met all of the requirements for your project to be included on the shuttle.

If more than 40 projects are submitted, projects will be selected randomly to be included on the current shuttle. Project owners will be notified either way on the status of their project.

The program has been extended to include a range of permissible open source licenses. The precheck tool recognizes a subset of these, but may flag a warning for other permitted licenses it does not recognize. Recognized licenses include the following list:

['0BSD', 'Apache-2.0', 'BSD-2-Clause', 'BSD-3-Clause', 'CC-BY-1.0', 'CC-BY-2.0', 'CC-BY-2.5', 'CC-BY-3.0', 'CC-BY-4.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-1.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-2.5', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0', 'CC-BY-SA-4.0', 'CC0-1.0', 'GPL-2.0', 'GPL-3.0', 'ISC', 'LGPL-2.1', 'LGPL-3.0', 'MIT', 'Unlicense']

Licenses that are recognized by the precheck tool and explicitly prohibited include:

['AGPL-1.0', 'AGPL-3.0', 'CC-BY-NC-1.0', 'CC-BY-NC-2.0', 'CC-BY-NC-2.5', 'CC-BY-NC-3.0', 'CC-BY-NC-4.0', 'CC-BY-NC-ND-1.0', 'CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0', 'CC-BY-NC-ND-2.5', 'CC-BY-NC-ND-3.0', 'CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-1.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-2.5', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0', 'CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0', 'CC-BY-ND-1.0', 'CC-BY-ND-2.0', 'CC-BY-ND-2.5', 'CC-BY-ND-3.0', 'CC-BY-ND-4.0', 'CPAL-1.0', 'CPOL-1.02', 'EUPL-1.0', 'EUPL-1.1', 'EUPL-1.2', 'SISSL-1.2', 'SISSL', 'SSPL-1.0', 'Watcom-1.0', 'WTFPL']

Bare dies are not provided to users as part of this program.
Caravel includes an electronic ID implemented in the metal layer for each project slot. You will be assigned an ID upon your project being accepted for the shuttle. You will be able to electronically read this ID through a register as part of the management function for Caravel. Please see the README for more detail.
When you create a shuttle project, you will be asked to complete the 'shipping address' section of the project. If your shipping address is in one of the countries listed in the "Countries/Territories Supporting Address Validation" section of FedEx's website, the address you entered will go through a validation API to verify the address entered.

If you are 100% sure you have entered the correct shipping address, then please just ignore any error messages (address validation is not required in order to be approved for a shuttle). If you are unsure, please try and correct the shipping address based on the feedback from the error message. If you are still having trouble validating, please try searching for the address in your web browser

For any shipping form validation issues, please take the following steps:

  1. Try and correct the shipping address based on the feedback from the error message.
  2. Search for your address at Google.com, and see if the Google-maps result has a different spelling for the street address. If nothing comes up for Google-maps, then it is not likely to pass validation. Please check that you have the correct address numbers and names correctly spelled.
  3. Try entering apartment numbers or building names/numbers in “Street Address 2” field.

** NOTES: If you followed the steps above, and you are 100% sure it is the correct address, please just ignore the validation messages. Again, address validation is not required to continue along the request step process (submission, tapeout, fabrication, etc).
In your jobs list (or in your “Manage My Submissions” tab of your shuttle page), you will see a green “Logs” button next to your job. This will give you a basic summary of your submitted job. If you need more information about that job, click the purple “Request Job Data” button and your full job logs will be emailed to you in about 15 minutes.
Efabless Repositories is a Git-backed code hosting system for your Efabless projects. Your Efabless projects will now be hosted directly on our platform, instead of relying on other remote code hosting systems, like Github. Your Efabless project can either be public or private, and you can easily collaborate with others on your projects.
Click here to add an SSH key (instructions are provided in the link).
  1. Create and Save your project on Efabless Repositories
  2. Have your collaborators register on Efabless Repositories
  3. Navigate to your project’s page in Efabless Repositories
  4. Click “Settings”
  5. Click “Users & Groups”
  6. Click “Add User”
  7. Search for your collaborator’s username
  8. Select their role
  9. Click “Add”
Yes. All projects that are initially created in Efabless Repositories are not on a shuttle. However, if you initially created the project through any of the “Start Project” links on your platform dashboard (platform.efabless.com), it will automatically be added to a shuttle.
  1. Navigate to the platform dashboard
  2. Scroll to the “Active Shuttles” section
  3. Click “Details” of the shuttle you would like to join
  4. Click “Manage My Submissions”
  5. Under “Add a project to Shuttle” section select your project from the drop down
  6. Click “Add this project to Shuttle”
Unmigrated projects are projects that were created on the Efabless platform before Efabless Repositories was launched. These will be found in the “Unmigrated Projects” section of your “My Projects” list of Efabless Repositories. Once you click on your project link, it will be migrated to Efabless Repositories.

Please note: if you never created any projects before Efabless Repositories was launched, then you will not have any unmigrated projects.
Public projects will be viewable and searchable by our clients in our project lists. Private projects will not be searchable by our clients. Your private projects can be accessed only by you and your chosen collaborators in the “My Projects” link.
Your “My Workspaces” list only supports Open Galaxy (Analog) workspaces. Cloud-V workspaces have been sunsetted. Library, Snapshots and Collaboration workspaces have all been replaced with functionality in Efabless Repositories.
Depending on the shuttle and packaging option, bare dies can be made available for either no charge or an incremental cost.
We provide you with a fully assembled evaluation board along with your packaged parts. In addition, we provide a Git repo with test software, flash programming, diagnostics and sample firmware that you can use to jumpstart your testing.
We have options to help you with your project implementation. Contact us at shuttle@efabless.com to learn more.
You can purchase more than one slot on the shuttle to get more parts. We will also be offering higher part count shuttles supporting 10k and 100K parts using the same layout. Please reach out to us at shuttle@efabless.com to learn more.
Create a project for the shuttle you are targeting using the 'START' button. For private projects, you can upload a tar archive with your design files. Then contact us at shuttle@efabless.com to make a reservation.
There are several options. One is through the help button after you log in on our site. The other is connecting to our extensive design community on Slack. To do so, navigate to http://join.skywater.tools in a browser and provide your email address. You will receive an invitation to join the community Slack channel.
Each shuttle specifies an expected delivery date. This is usually 4 to 5 months from the project submission deadline.
Both Open MPW and chipIgnite (private) shuttles are currently running once per quarter. New shuttles will be posted to the Efabless website and announced through our email distribution list.
The Open MPW shuttles are sponsored by Google and require that projects are completely open-source. Availability of space on a shuttle is not guaranteed as it depends on how many projects are submitted.
chipIgnite is a commercial version of the same solution that support private (non-open-source) projects and guaranteed reservations on a shuttle.