Retro-µC 2021 Test Tape-out

Posted on zo 28 november 2021 in Retro-uC

I found some time to work on the Retro micro-controller again and perform a test tape-out in TSMC 0.35um technology. I was also contacted by Matt Venn for an interview. We agreed to also discuss this tape-out during the interview. This relieved me from the (in my eyes) boring …


Continue reading

NLnet018TV Measurement Report

Posted on wo 19 mei 2021 in NLnet

Almost a year ago I reported on the NLnet018TV test chip design for my NLnet project. I did have verification measurements of the chip available now for several weeks but because of the Libre-SOC prototype tape-out taking all of my time I did not find time and motivation to summarize …


Continue reading

PDKMaster v0.1 release and FreePDK45 example

Posted on ma 15 maart 2021 in NLnet

After a lot of blood, sweat and tears I have now reached a new milestone for my NGI0 NLnet project. I released v0.1 of the PDKMaster python framework together with a standard cell library generator and an example PDK implementation for the FreePDK45 technology. It consist of the following …


Continue reading

Poor Men's SMU, part 4: Calibration

Posted on do 11 februari 2021 in NLnet • Tagged with PM-SMU

As reported in my previous blog on using the AD5522 SMU development board it was mentioned calibration would be needed to get more accurate low-voltage and low-current measurements.

Procedure

An important aspect of doing calibration is the order in which the parameters are calibrated and what references are used during …


Continue reading

Poor Men's SMU, part 3: Diodes are Forever

Posted on zo 17 januari 2021 in NLnet • Tagged with PM-SMU

This is third part on my adventures with the AD5522 SMU development board. For history you can look at part 1 and part 2.

After getting the SMU working and being able to operate it from Jupyter notebooks on a raspberry Pi I now decided to use the device to …


Continue reading

Poor Men's SMU, part 2

Posted on za 09 januari 2021 in NLnet • Tagged with PM-SMU

This is a continuation of my adventure with the AD5522 development board (see part 1 ). I did make progress on setting it up but as always it has taken much more time than wanted to debug the setup.

Schrödinger's cat

One problem I had to solve was that the setup …


Continue reading

Poor Men's Source Measurement Unit (SMU)

Posted on zo 03 januari 2021 in NLnet • Tagged with PM-SMU

SMU ?

In my previous professional life doing semiconductor process development I used so called source measure units (SMUs) for measuring out transistors. Although I don't remember the exact type number, I guess I had access to a HP 4145A semiconductor parametric analyzer.

Nice thing about these units is that these …


Continue reading

Fixing the ESD generator

Posted on zo 01 november 2020 in NLnet

This is a continuation on my previous blog on first tests on the ESD generator.

Problems

After some more debugging the voltage multiplier of the ESD Generator has been made to work. Detailed simulation results of the problems can be found in this Jupyter notebook in the created sim folder …


Continue reading

First testing of and changes to ESD generator

Posted on zo 04 oktober 2020 in NLnet

As reported in a previous blog post I am working on a small circuit to generate high voltages for some ESD testing. I now received the PCBs and the components for on the PCB and even did find some time to do the first testing of the design. As a …


Continue reading

ESD Generator: high voltage generator for ESD testing

Posted on zo 12 juli 2020 in NLnet

After tape-out of NLNet018TV I am now working on implementing the test procedures and gathering the equipment needed for executing the tests.

For ESD testing high voltages with limited charges need to be generated. This high voltage charge is then applied over two pins on the test chip to see …


Continue reading

NLNet018TV: a fully automated test chip design

Posted on za 13 juni 2020 in NLnet

I am working on a NGI0 NLnet funded project and I now did reach a first milestone in the project. I did tape-out a test chip which kept me busy for the last two months and is also the reason I neglected this blog the last months. The milestone is …


Continue reading

Open source mixed RTL synthesis

Posted on ma 06 januari 2020 in Retro-uC

Test designs

It has been some time that I posted here and it's one of my New Year Resolutions to be more active here. As reported in a presentation @ ORConf 2019 development of the Chips4Makers low volume ASIC manufacturing process is going on. Plan for this year is to do …


Continue reading

The Retro-uC is death - long live the Retro-uC !

Posted on zo 25 november 2018 in Retro-uC

Retro-uC's death ?

Last month the Retro-uC crowdfunding campaign ended without reaching it's funding goal. I do regret that it did not reach it's goal but I did learn some things:

  • The typical retro-computing guy is not very interested in Arduino type maker stuff. He wants to assemble and program a …

Continue reading

Retro-uC first time right - yes, we can

Posted on za 15 september 2018 in Retro-uC

This post is again about comments posted after launch of the Retro-uC campaign claiming it defies 'common wisdom' and thus is unrealistic. This time about the fact the project assumes the chip will work the first time; in the industry also as first-time-right. In order to explain what are possible …


Continue reading

Startup costs and low-volume manufacturing

Posted on zo 02 september 2018 in Retro-uC

After my Retro-uC crowdfunding campaign was announced comments were made on social media that this project defied 'common wisdom' and therefor is not realistic. One of the comments was on the funding goal that was too low to make a custom ASIC. In this blog I want to go deeper …


Continue reading

Retro-uC crowdfunding campaign launched on crowdsupply

Posted on zo 26 augustus 2018 in Retro-uC

I am delighted to announce that the Retro-uC crowdsupply campaign has now been launched. It has taken a little longer to straighten out the last hurdles in production and delivery but now the campaign is waiting for you. Together with the crowdsupply staff, the delay has also been used to …


Continue reading

Motorola 68000 support complete in Retro-uC

Posted on zo 17 juni 2018 in Retro-uC

I'm happy to announce that now support for the Motorola 68000 in the Retro-uC is complete. It uses the ao68000 core to implement the Motorola 68000 instruction set.

As usual, it has taken more effort than originally planned. As the ao68000 already had a Wishbone interface used as the internal …


Continue reading

Retro-uC for XLR8 Release 20180617

Posted on zo 17 juni 2018 in Releases

A release has been done of the Retro-uC on the XLR8 implementing Motorola 68000 support for Retro-uC. Please find the release notes and the file to download on the gitlab page.


Blink Demo

Posted on zo 29 april 2018 in Retro-uC

Intro

In order to show the progress I made on the Retro-uC a short video is presented with a demo with the Retro-uC running on an FPGA.

For the demo an Alorium XLR8, a Velleman VMA201 proto shield and a Dangerous Prototypes BusPirate V3.6 were used. On the proto …


Continue reading

Chips4Makers @ FOSDEM 2018

Posted on vr 02 februari 2018 in Retro-uC

When writing this I am putting the last efforts in my presentations for FOSDEM 2018. I will have two presentations there:


Continue reading

Retro-uC Campaign Product Options

Posted on wo 31 januari 2018 in Retro-uC

Finally I see a light at the end of the tunnel and is the launch of the Retro-uC campaign getting closer. In this post the different options for the campaign will be presented in their current state. Changes are still possible until the launch of the campaign. All feedback is …


Continue reading

The Buzzword Article Part 3: Makers

Posted on zo 31 december 2017 in Retro-uC

In the third blog post in the discussion on buzzwords related to the Chips4Makers projects I will be talking about one that part of the name of the project.

The Hype

The two biggest movements that can be seen as the forefront of the maker movement are the Arduino and …


Continue reading

The Buzzword Article Part 2: Crowdfunding

Posted on zo 26 november 2017 in Retro-uC

In this second part of the article covering buzzwords I will be discussing crowdfunding which is also hot at the moment. The phenomenon is likely already over the 'Peak of Inflated Expectation' in the Hype Cycle and on the way to maturity. For the Chips4Makers project and open source silicon …


Continue reading

The Buzzword Article Part 1: Open Source

Posted on zo 12 november 2017 in Retro-uC

We live in a world with mass production and consumption of goods. In order to stand out from the pack and to sell a lot of things the marketing of the goods is an important part of doing business in this setting. For this marketing often buzzwords are used to …


Continue reading

Start of a new blog

Posted on zo 22 oktober 2017 in General

Inspired by the LibreCores talk of Philipp Wagner at ORConf 2017 I now decided to start a blog for the Chips4Makers project. Overall the ORConf 2017 conference was inspiring and it was nice to meet real hackers, makers and open source EDA enthousiasts.

When I was heading to the conference …


Continue reading