Sondrel aids Chinese start-up QST with chip for mobile devices

January 15, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Sondrel, a leading system-to-silicon IC design consultancies, has announced details of a successful partnership with QST Corporation, a start-up semiconductor company in China focusing on innovative 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. This summer, 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 high performance physical implementation platform from Mentor Graphics, which, due to its unique ability to handle large designs, enabled the IC design house to progress a flat design, thereby reducing complexity, cost and time.

Explains QST’s founder and CEO, Dr Joseph Xie: “In this application we are dealing with very weak signals, in the region of 1µV, 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 worked in partnership with QST from the very outset of the project, handling all digital stages of the design process from Verification through to Place & Route. Xie continues: “By February 2013 we had our first chip taped out. We went to full mask in June and got the chip back in August – ahead of schedule, I’m happy to say.”

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.”

Adds Xie: “It was important for us that Sondrel had a significant design resource in China so that development discussions could take place in Chinese and in real time without having to consider multiple time zones.”