HUB > Companies > sureCore Ltd
Published on 01-Sep-2016.
Founded in 2011 sureCore Ltd develops semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) technology for low power embedded ‘SRAM’ (static random access memory). Its technology addresses the need for increasingly complex electronics containing more and more circuitry and memory for sophisticated functionality, yet needing to consume less power to maintain or even enhance battery life – such as required by next generation consumer electronics devices like mobile wearable technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as high-speed networking and video processing.
Headquartered in Sheffield (UK) and with a design centre in Leuven (Belgium), sureCore’s semiconductor IP helps system-on-chip (SoC) developers meet miniaturisation and complexity trends, which challenges both power budgets and manufacturability constraints posed by advanced sub-28nm semiconductor process technologies. The trends are driven by:
- Need to reduce power consumption for ‘always-on’ or ‘keep-alive’ circuitry
- Growing use of on-chip software content, requiring significantly more memory, in turn demanding more battery power
- Years of battery life and distributed processing needs of IoT sensors deployed in remote and networked environments
- Extended recharge cycles for mobile, medical and wearable technologies
- Power reduction for networking chips where power and cooling costs have risen dramatically
sureCore says it addresses the challenge of atomistic variability
as smaller semiconductor process technologies cram more and more transistors closer together. The current transistor structure has enabled over 5 million transistors per square mm
to be fabricated, which enables the multi-million gate system-on-chip (SoC) solutions powering the electronics we take for granted. But as transistor density increases, and moving below the current 28nm semiconductor process technology, they start exhibiting a degree of operational variability
that makes design increasingly challenging using existing manufacturing methodology (called bulk CMOS). Hence two new transistor structures have been successfully introduced by the industry to address this: i) FinFET
, adopted by Intel
and Global Foundries
; and ii) Fully Depleted Silicon on Insulator (FD-SOI)
, championed by ST
and now offered in volume production by Samsung
and in early 2017 by Global Foundries
. Some in the industry argue FD-SOI is better suited to the demands of low power devices.
According to sureCore, memory design has not evolved to address these challenges, so it returned to first principles to create novel circuit designs that reduce operating power, improve variability tolerance and exploit these new structures. Its patent-protected low power embedded SRAM IP designs are silicon process independent and are built from standard foundry bit cells (the basic storage element provided by the silicon manufacturer, the foundry). sureCore currently offers two products, its low power SRAM offering >50% dynamic power savings and 20% static power savings over competing industry solutions; and its ultra-low voltage SRAM which offers users a range of intelligent power management modes and includes a ‘SMART-Assist’ technique to enable extremely low voltage operation down to 0.6V in TSMC’s 40nm technology (most standard SRAM devices work effectively only down to 0.9V). The company’s technology is silicon proven, with working samples received for both its SRAM products in 40nm bulk CMOS and 28nm FDSOI , and early simulation results and benchmarks indicating 70% power savings in read/write accesses, and 30% reduction in leakage for its ultra-low power embedded SRAM. It has also proven its power saving techniques in the latest FinFET technology with a tier 1 communications company.
sureCore operates using an industry standard IP licensing and royalty business model, similar to ARM Holdings and other companies in this sector. The market for low power static random access memory (SRAM) for system-on-chip developers is worth $400mn and growing at 19% CAGR (Semico Research).
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