Imec, KU Leuven and PragmatIC present a fast flexible 8-bit microprocessor

At the 2022 International Semiconductor Circuit Conference (2022 ISSCC), imecKU Leuven and PragmatIC Semiconductor present the 8- bit microprocessor in flexible metal oxide technology of 0.8 µm able to execute complex assemblies in real time coded .

The microprocessor has been implemented with a unique digital design flow that enabled the creation of a new library of standard cells for metal oxide thin film technologies – relevant to the design of a wide interval of loT applications. The thin-film technology offered by PragmatIC Semiconductor, imec’s founding partner, has been key to integrate the approximately 16,000 metal oxide thin film transistors on a flexible 24.9 mm2 chip.

Flexible thin-film electronics transistor technology is preferred over Si CMOS electronics for applications requiring inexpensive, thin, flexible and/or conformable devices. Technology has already made inroads in health patch sensors and RFID labels and as a driver for flat screens. The missing piece is a flexible microprocessor to perform more complex signal processing calculations, adding computational functionality to a wide range of IoT applications.

Imec has designed a flexible 8-bit microprocessor in 0.8 µm Indium-Gallium-Zinc Oxide (IGZO) transistor technology capable of performing such complex calculations.

“Our flexible microprocessor has excellent characteristics for IoT applications, including high speed (maximum operating speed of 71.4 kHz), low power consumption (11.6 mW when operating at 10 kHz, 134.9 mW at maximum operating speed) and high transistor integration density (~16,000 transistors with 0.8 µm gate length in a 24.9 mm2 chip),” said Kris Myny , senior scientist at imec.

With the new microprocessor, imec has overcome major challenges in the design of unipolar systems.

To manufacture the flexible microprocessor, imec partnered with foundry partner PragmatIC, whose FlexIC Foundry offers rapid prototyping and high-yield mass production of flexible integrated circuits.

“Until recently, no mature and robust technology was available to integrate such a large number of thin-film transistors with sufficient efficiency. Our pioneering FlexLogIC factory now enables the rapid realization of these complex new designs at ultra-low cost, delivering integrated circuits on thin, flexible wafers,” said Brian Cobb, Vice President of Product Development at PragmatIC.

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