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Startup Wants to be the ARM of Analog

Founded last summer after two years of preliminary research and with several patents pending, Californian startup Circuit Seed embarks father and daughter co-founders Bob and Susan Schober onto a licensing quest for their sub-micron CMOS-based analog circuits.

The two founders describe their inventions, Complementary Current Field-Effect Transistors (CiFET) as a charge-mode analog CMOS circuit design relying on a slightly different read-out strategy, with a focus on looking at what the charges are doing in the device. An approach involving what they call an additional current port input (iPort) for each MOSFET gate. This charge controlled port provides a bidirectional current sink/source without analog extensions.

The new technology, they claim, could scale down alongside digital circuits process nodes, potentially replacing most add-on analog circuits and fulfilling the Holy Grail of full mixed signal SoC integration at any node.

The two co-founders documented a 3‐Stage CiFET feed‐forward amplifier, yielding a 20-bit accuracy in linearity and gain and say they have proven their design methodology with several analog blocks within a 40nm die, including amplifiers, ADCs and phase lock loops, with scope for operation under 0.1V. Running at logic speed, the circuits are self-biasing, and are not subject to parametric changes, according to the authors, while amplifiers could be boasting gradual gains up to 10,000 and a dynamic range up to 1010 .

“The smaller we go, the better the results are”, emphasized Susan Schober, insisting that in principle, CiFETs are scalable down to any digital node.

Umbrella company InventionShare is now looking for licensing partners to license Circuit Seed circuit designs as an alternative to traditional low power analogue devices.

In principle, as they sit on top of 100% digital parts and because they are only subject to the limitations of digital design rules, the analog blocks proposed would be easier to automate through EDA tools, pending analog circuit libraries are offered pre-configured and parameterized for a given process. They would also be highly portable, from one node to the next.

With the right licensing deals for what they call a revolutionary technology, CircuitSeed's founders hope to become the ARM of analogue design, no less, moving analog components from PCBs to SoCs.

—Julien Happich is editor in chief of for EE Times Europe.

Article originally posted on EE Times Europe.

2 comments on “Startup Wants to be the ARM of Analog

  1. eafpres
    November 25, 2015

    Hi Julien —thanks for your article.  I did a little bit of digging around the internet, and found this company is part of a portfolio of investments in a company called Invention Share.  It is interesting; Circuit Seed seems to be the most mainstream company with which Invention Share in involved.  According to their website, Invention Share “de-risks” startups by brokering involvement with Fortune 500 companies.  They have a WiFi company, a transformer company, and Circuit Seed; the remainder of the portfolio is a bit more speculalltive, including a company that claims it “restructures water molecules, which cannot be reversed even after boiling the water” in order to provide ultra-pure water, a spark plug compnay that claims it works in any vehicle and improves performance, lower emissions, and some other benefits.  The transformer company, PowerWindings, claims it's designs increase output 35% or can deliver the same performance with 35% less material.

  2. StephanWeber
    November 26, 2015

    Problem too big market too small, as it seems. All approaches like this have been failed so far, but it is not impossible. to capture all designers know-how in a clever computer program. 

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