Efabless Welcomes Weebit Nano’s ReRAM to Its Custom Chip Design Platform

June 05, 2024 by Arjun Nijhawan

Weebit Nano and Efabless are teaming up to make it easier for chip designers to prototype intelligent devices using Weebit's advanced memory technology.

Weebit Nano and Efabless have announced a partnership to integrate Weebit Nano’s advanced non-volatile memory (NVM) technology into Efabless' SoC design tools through its ChipIgnite platform.


Weebit Nano’s RRAM solution

Weebit Nano’s RRAM solution is highly scalable. Image used courtesy of Weebit Nano


ChipIgnite is an open-source chip design platform that aims to “democratize” chip design with accessible tools and resources for designers to create custom chips for various applications, including IoT and artificial intelligence. Weebit Nano will make its Resistive RAM (ReRAM) memory technology IP available through the ChipIgnite platform. 


Lower Barrier to Entry for Chip Development

Efabless describes its ChipIgnite platform as a “rapid and affordable” way to prototype and make low-volume SoCs. ChipIgnite offers an open-source SoC template called Caravel, available via Github. It is divided into the management SoC wrapper and the user project wrapper. 


Caravel SoC architecture

Caravel SoC architecture. Image used courtesy of Efabless

The management SoC wrapper consists of predefined modules, such as UART and SPI, and the SoC core with a CPU and memory. It can be used to run firmware and interfaces directly with the user project wrapper. 

The management SoC wrapper enables GPIO functionality for the user design. GPIO is often used to output status signals for debugging and taking inputs from connected devices on a PCB. Designers place their custom designs into this wrapper. Efabless provides its own tools to help with various stages of the design process, such as layout and routing.

Efabless' KLayout Mask Layout Editor is a free, open-source tool for generating layouts from scratch using Ruby or Python. Through ChipIgnite, Efabless provides the designer with a fully assembled evaluation board for post-silicon validation and testing. 


Weebit Nano’s Novel ReRam Technology

As part of this collaboration, designers will have access to Weebit Nano’s Resistive RAM (ReRam) IP through the platform. Weebit says its ReRAM technology is more energy efficient, reliable, inexpensive, and secure than Flash-based, non-volatile memories. Resistive RAM works by using a thin film of a material sandwiched between two electrodes. ReRAM can exhibit two or more stable resistance states, each representing different levels of conductivity or resistance. Writing data involves applying a specific voltage across the electrodes to alter the material's resistance to the desired state. Reading data entails applying a smaller voltage and measuring the resulting current to determine the material's resistance state.


Diagram of how Weebit's ReRAM works

Diagram of how Weebit's ReRAM works. Image used courtesy of Weebit Nano

While Weebit Nano is not the only company that makes ReRAM, Weebit says its solution, which is qualified at 85ºC and 125ºC, is highly scalable and useful for advanced process nodes of 130 nanometers and below. Weebit’s 130-nanometer solution has already been ported to a commercial foundry, SkyWater. Weebit Nano’s ReRAM bit-cell enables the company to make ReRAM cost-effective and easily integrated into CMOS manufacturing flows. CEA Leti is helping the partners optimize the resistive material in the ReRAM without requiring any rare-earth materials.


Weebit's ReRAM Available in ChipIgnite

Through the collaboration with Efabless,  Weebit Nano is aiming to deploy its ReRAM solution to more chips, particularly low-volume production chips and prototypes that ChipIgnite is suited for. Weebit Nano is not without competitors. While eMemory Technology Inc. also offers a low-cost, energy-efficient ReRAM IP, Weebit's is the only ReRAM available through the ChipIgnite platform.