Design house speeds Chinese start-up's implementation of mixed signal chip

January 14, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Sondrel, system-to-silicon IC design consultancy, has worked with QST Corporation, a start-up semiconductor company in China focusing on MEMS and other sensor products. Founded in early 2012, QST engaged Sondrel in October of the same year to help develop a mixed signal sensor chip for use in smart phones and tablets.

In mid-2013, fully functional samples of the chip – used as a navigational compass – were with a leading mobile device customer for evaluation. For this project, Sondrel used Olympus-SoC, the physical implementation platform from Mentor Graphics, which, due to its ability to handle large designs, enabled the IC design house to progress a flat design, thereby reducing complexity, cost and time.

QST’s founder and CEO Dr Joseph Xie comments, “In this application we are dealing with very weak signals, in the region of 1 µV, which we have to capture and process. Our expertise lies in the analogue field but we needed Sondrel’s digital design experience and resource to develop the digital side.”

In order to meet QST’s development schedule – tight by Xie’s own admission – Sondrel handled all digital stages of the design process from verification through to place-&-route. Comments Graham Curren, Sondrel’s CEO: “The only way you can meet such tight deadlines is by developing a close partnership so that communication with the customer is clear and unambiguous. Our excellent relationship with Mentor Graphics also helped and we were, in fact, the first company to use their Olympus-SoC tool for a full chip implementation in China.”