Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2020-02
End: 2022-10
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Standard Cell Library

Open Standard Cell Library with automated dimensioning of transistors

Without having an open standard cell library, any open hardware project depends on unknown components. This significantly hampers innovation, and is on the critical path of delivering truly open hardware chips. LibreSilicon's approach to this problem is generative, working from a (potentially verifiable) algorithm for automated sizing of transistors. All commercial available Standard Cell Libraries contain a small subset of all useful cells only, limited by the manpower of the vendor. They are hand-crafted and error-prone, and typically require Non-disclosure agreement (NDAs) while heavily depending on the underlaying PDKs - meaning that the outcome is hard to verify and trust. Goal it so produce a production quality free and open source Standard Cell Library.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Behind the screens of every mobile phone, laptop or tablet you will find essentially the same components that are produced by a small number of companies. Using patents and closed-off work methods these monopolists hold a firm grip on how essential technical building blocks of consumer electronics are actually made. Not only does this prevent innovation in the market, it also makes the devices that users, companies and governments across the world rely on for vital services and infrastructures essentially untrustworthy. If you cannot verify that the parts that make your device work are secure, can you really trust the device at all?

One of the ways to break through this standstill, is to construct computer parts from the ground up and make your designs open for everyone to check and verify. Combine this open hardware with open source software and you have a device that, with the right knowledge and skills, is completely transparent and customizable. This project aims to develop an open source production process for custom computer chips, making manufacturing of these chips quick, easy, inexpensive and auditable. NGI Zero funds various parts of this project, like this effort to create open and transparent design plans for computer chips. NGI Zero funds various parts of this project, like this effort to create a free and open source standard cell library, which contais the most fundamental building blocks used to design computer chips.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 PET Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825310.