Introducing ASICs – Specialized Integrated Circuits for Your Specific Applications

To guide you through the intricacies of Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), we’ve broken down the entire process into clear, easily digestible sections. We’re covering an in-depth overview of ASIC design, its developmental stages, and key conclusions.

What Are ASICs?

ASICs, or Application Specific Integrated Circuits, are tailor-made to fulfil specific purposes. Given the high cost associated with their manufacture, it is vital to follow a systematic, well-managed design and development process. Every phase must be meticulously supervised to ensure that each ASIC design aligns with client requirements and product operational standards.

Blueprint for ASIC Design and Development

The ASIC design process involves various critical stages, each requiring strict adherence to design protocols. Any misstep in the later stages can exponentially escalate the cost of rectification. Here are the ten steps in ASIC design and development:

  1. Requirement Gathering: To execute the design correctly, it’s crucial to gather all ASIC requirements. Any subsequent alteration can significantly inflate costs.
  2. ASIC Modeling: This involves creating a software model of the ASIC design’s high-level functionality, generally using programming languages like C. This helps confirm the correctness of the approach and enables potential adjustments.
  3. ASIC Package Selection: This process is influenced by the number of connections the ASIC type requires, its projected heat dissipation, and the manufacturing process for the target circuit. All these factors should be carefully considered.
  4. Design Capture: This is accomplished either by obtaining the ASIC design from a schematic or by using design tools that translate the necessary mathematical operations into circuitry representations. VHDL and Verilog tools are commonly used for capturing designs.
  5. ASIC Layout: An essential step in ASIC development, it entails determining the arrangement of circuit sections, transit times, and necessary interconnections. For fully customized designs, the layout must be flexible.
  6. ASIC Simulation & Modeling Comparison: Post design capture, it’s crucial to verify that the design meets all manufacturing prerequisites and functions as intended. This involves checking timings, especially for full custom ASIC designs.
  7. ASIC Formal Verification: With ASIC designs growing increasingly complex, formal verification has become critical. It ensures all variables within the software model are correctly defined and checks for potential issues like clock skew and metastability.
  8. Testing ASICs: Post-manufacture, it’s essential to test the ASIC device. Techniques include boundary scan, scan chains, and Built-In Self Test (BIST).
  9. Physical Testing of Prototype ASICs: Upon receiving the physical prototype, it should be thoroughly tested, including in the target circuit. Checking the process spread gives an indication of the likely production yield.
  10. Lifecycle Reviews & Handover to Manufacture: Good communication channels between the development team and silicon vendor are crucial. The exchange of information with the ASIC design service is formalized, and silicon vendors often require verification results for the ASIC design.


A meticulously undertaken ASIC design process can lead to reduced unit costs, enhanced performance, compact size, and better knowledge protection. However, constant errors can inflate ASIC development costs due to recurring design and development needs. Hence, it’s critical to maintain precision throughout the process.

At Alpha Europe, we guarantee this level of precision, backed by design teams skilled in all stages of ASIC development, including Digital, Analogue, Mixed-signal, Power, and RF. We’re adept in all ASIC technologies, from low voltage, low power sub-micron to high voltage, high power (up to 700V) technologies, including SOI. Our work spans the automotive, medical, home appliance, and consumer industries, reflecting our global expertise and customer satisfaction.