The link between technology and the system level: research, services, and develops in the area of digital, analog, and mixed-signal systems, including embedded software

Design for Smart Systems

New types of components from micromechanics, microphotonics, power electronics, and high-frequency technology, as well as modern mixed-signal circuit concepts, are important building blocks when it comes to realizing innovative microelectronic products. The increasing performance of digital circuits also plays an important role. The combination of functional sensor and actuator units with high-performance modules for signal processing and communication allows smart systems to be implemented in a wide spectrum of applications. However, this also leads to particular challenges that must be overcome in the design process. The causes are the functional variety and complexity of the systems and the influence of manufacturing and integration processes on a system’s function.

The strategic core competence “Design for smart systems” therefore comprises research, services, and developments in the area of digital, analog, and mixed-signal systems, including sensors and embedded software.

The design competence of the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics thus forms the link between technology and the system level. Thanks to the varying focuses of the member institutes, the Group is able to cover a very wide spectrum. The close cooperation and interconnectedness of design activities in the Group for Microelectronics allows us to combine know-how from different areas and to input it into tailor-made system solutions for customers.

The expertise of the Group for Microelectronics includes:

System design of smart systems

Component design, particularly in the areas of RF, sensors and sensor interfaces, analog front ends, digital SoCs, power electronics, and optics and opto-electronics

Consideration of special design constraints: Low power, design for reliability, design for functional safety, design for radiation hard devices, and design approaches for harsh environmental conditions

Development of design tools: Algorithms and design environments as well as models and model libraries

One important aspect of the cross-institute design platform is the efficient connectedness of the various design groups within the Group. This design platform is coordinated by the Division Engineering of Adaptive Systems EAS of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. Its shared goals for the immediate benefit of customers and ordering parties are:

The creation of new offers and unique selling points by combining complementary competences;

A higher degree of efficiency through synergies, leading to a reduction in development costs and development risks;

Comprehensive integration into the added-value chains and accumulation of application-specific know-how, particularly for small and medium enterprises with innovative products;

Reduction of development times, allowing faster market entry for customers’ products.

In the long term, these activities are rounded off with:

the establishment of a shared IP offer,

Platform solutions for comprehensive hardware/software co-design and

the development of scalable HW/SW modules for maximum re-use.