Many of the IoT chips can be made in older, depreciated fabrication plants (0.25um, 180nm, 130nm) that were top-notch 20 years ago. One would argue that foundries have covered every aspect of Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), Electrical Overstress (EOS) and Latch-up in these old processes long ago. However, what we have learned by supporting innovative semiconductor startups is that many of the applications in IoT (Internet of Things) require non-standard on-chip ESD protection clamps for a number of reasons.
There are several reasons why IC designers developing IoT products require custom ESD solutions
IoT devices frequently use wireless communication. The antenna pads need ESD protection with low parasitic capacitance
ICs for Internet of Things are used in new, sometimes harsh environments. Higher than usual ESD robustness is welcome
To conserve energy, Edge IoT applications should use low leakage ESD protection concepts
Sensor or wireless interfaces or battery connections add unique I/O requirements
Sofics IP for Internet of Things
Key Focus Areas
Beyond standard voltage levels
Sofics IP was used in Bluetooth, NFC, indoor positioning and sensor networks.The wireless interfaces need low-leakage ESD protection for LNA inputs with high Q factor. They also need ESD clamps with low parasitic capacitance. Sofics clamps provide standard ESD robustness and do not require a resistance in the signal path.
Our IP was used for sensor interfaces, battery connections and more. We have delivered solutions for high voltage tolerance (5V and higher) and also protected interfaces based on thin oxide transistors (1V and lower) thanks to a flexible but deterministic solution set
Battery powered applications
Customers have integrated Sofics ESD in systems running for 10-years on 1 coin battery. The leakage of our ESD cells is 100x lower compared to conventional approach. Huge improvements can be made in stand-by, sleep, operational modes and during power-cycles. Sofics has solutions available for interfaces and rail clamps.
IoT devices are used in new environments, hard-to-reach locations. Sofics IP was used for body-implanted semiconductors. Our ESD clamps are easily scaled to any ESD/EOS protection level. Also Industry 4.0 devices require higher ESD robustness.
Process technology covered
Advanced CMOS (40nm to 22nm)
Mainstream CMOS (130nm to 65nm)
Mature CMOS (0.5um to 180nm)
IC products from our costumers
Our customers have created amazing products in the IoT domain. Examples include indoor positioning with 10-year battery lifetime, low power Bluetooth/NFC devices implanted devices to restore hearing, wearables, smart home and industry 4.0 sensor applications.
Blog article “5 reasons why IoT chips need custom ESD protection”
Blog article “Selecting the right ESD protection for IoT applications”
Press release about our cooperation with DecaWave (now Qorvo)
Press release about Sofics’ clipping circuit for NFC interfaces
More information about the Sofics clipping circuit