The much-anticipated World Semiconductor Conference 2023 was held at Nanjing International Expo Center from July 19 to 21. Serving as a world-class seminar, the event explored the innovation and development of the global and Chinese semiconductor industry. Calterah, during the conference, was honored as “Leading Enterprise in mmWave Radar Chips in China 2022-2023” and received the awards of “Best mmWave Radar Chip Product in China 2022-2023” and “Best mmWave Radar Chip Solution in China 2022-2023” for its innovative technologies, products, and solutions in the field of mmWave Radar SoCs.
Dr. Chen Jiashu, Calterah’s CEO, was invited to the conference to talk on challenges for developing auto-grade high-performance wireless SoCs and share Calterah’s practices and attained technological advances as a global leader in designing and developing CMOS mmWave radar chips.
Higher Requirements and Standards for Auto-Grade Chips
Automotive-grade chips, unlike consumer-grade or industrial-grade ones, are required to meet far more stringent safety and reliability standards. Moving towards connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) mobility, the auto industry has been formulating increasingly stringent and comprehensive system requirements and standards for car makers and upstream suppliers, such as Zero Defects management, functional safety, vehicle software development, cybersecurity, etc., covering not only the process from design, development to manufacturing, but also the hardware and software layers of vehicles. To establish and improve each and every standard-compliant system, semiconductor enterprises are facing formidable challenges in their manpower, resources, time, and management.
Adhering to the goal of Zero Defects in management, Calterah has employed various managing and controlling measures, including DFMEA (Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis), DFM (Design for Manufacturing), reliability management, and Safe Launch, in the full process of manufacturing design, verification, production control, and launch of mass production.
Functional safety and ISO 26262 standards have now been universally acknowledged by the global auto industry and the highly-integrated mmWave radar SoC plays a major role in achieving module-level functional safety. Automotive functional safety standards are aimed at minimizing the risks induced by systematic failures and random failures in automotive electrical or electronic systems through comprehensive management over the full safety lifecycle of a product. Calterah has developed mature functional safety management processes compliant with ISO 26262 standards. Its second-gen product, the Alps family of CMOS SoC chips is China’s first to have obtained the ISO 26262 full compliance certification, meeting the ASIL-B requirements.
In software development, reliability and compliance are also required by OEMs. The software delivered by suppliers must be developed with a low-cost and high-quality model and adhere to the goal of Zero Defects. To this end, the auto industry has formulated the Automotive Software Process Improvement and Capacity dEtermination (ASPICE) framework, to evaluate the R&D competence of a software development team. Calterah has introduced ASPICE management into its R&D processes and has been certified by professional certification organizations and internationally renowned Tier-1s.
Along with constant advances, the industry of intelligent connected vehicles is also witnessing increasing cyber interferences, cyber attacks, and risks of relevant damage. ISO/SAE 21434 provides a standardized framework, in which cybersecurity is established as an indispensable engineering element throughout the vehicle lifecycle. Calterah is a pioneer amongst China’s fabless enterprises to have achieved the ISO/SAE 21434 automotive cybersecurity certification, which manifests its cybersecurity development and management capabilities.
More Challenges Induced by High-Performance Wireless SoCs
Apart from the grave challenges of meeting auto-grade requirements, extra difficulties are introduced by high-performance wireless SoCs. Firstly, as complex chips, wireless SoCs are the full integration of analog, digital, and RF circuitry, which means higher requirements for both the IC development processes and project management. Secondly, in terms of the design and verification of high-frequency digital-analog SoCs, there are various obstacles to tackle.
In the high-frequency band, analog and RF parts are susceptible to a variety of interferences, especially those from the integrated digital circuitry. To substantially reduce the noise and interference caused by the crosstalk between different parts, Calterah has applied various technical means in chip design, including special frequency planning and layout design, sensitive signal treatment, and power domain division.
A complex SoC system usually consumes more power. To ensure low chip power consumption, Calterah has overcome numerous technical difficulties in RF transceiver architecture, LO distribution network design, and the application of specialized radar signal processors in digital circuits, besides optimizing the layouts of power supply networks.
Testing solutions for high-frequency SoCs are not available in the market and thus have to be developed from scratch. Calterah has not only developed its own reliable high-frequency testing solutions, but also embedded BIST circuits in chip design to work with these solutions.
Reliability and chip yield are also essential to the mass production of chips. To guarantee chip yield, Calterah has embedded in its SoC chips the auxiliary circuits for compensation and calibration and ESD protection circuits and implemented the reliability testing model. Up to now, Calterah’s mmWave radar SoCs have been adopted by major car OEMs in China.
Calterah, Global Leader in Designing and Developing CMOS mmWave Radar Chips
As a global leader in designing and developing CMOS mmWave radar chips, Calterah has mass-produced the world’s first CMOS 77 GHz / 60 GHz single-chip radar transceiver and the world’s first CMOS 77 GHz / 60 GHz radar AiP (Antenna-in-Package) SoC. For now, Calterah is the only Chinese enterprise that has mass-produced auto-grade 77 GHz mmWave radar chips. Boasting the core competitiveness of advanced CMOS mmWave technology, unique AiP technology, highly-integrated SoCs, and shortened time to market, Calterah has shipped over 5 million units of radar ICs accumulatively. And these SoCs have been employed by more than 150 passenger vehicle models. Calterah will continue its unfaltering efforts to make further technological innovations and breakthroughs and to provide global users with higher-performance, easier-to-use, and more power-efficient mmWave technology, contributing to a safer and smarter environment for society, and living its mission to “Make Millimeter-Wave Serve Everyone”.