Striking gold by helping chip designers

Gold Standard Simulations Ltd (GSS) was formed to commercialise the advanced simulation tools developed in the School of Engineering’s Device Modelling Group. This spin out company is developing world-leading technology that could save the semiconductor industry billions of pounds by predicting how performance will be affected in future generations of miniature transistors.

A typical silicon chip contains one billion transistors – electrical switches at the heart of microchip complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) circuits - that have led to an explosion in the capability of devices such as iPods, mobile phones, computers and games. However, as the demands of the global semiconductor industry have pushed the continual scaling of transistors to truly nano-scale dimensions, their performance started to vary due to atomic imperfections in their structure – a phenomenon known as ‘statistical variability’.

GSS supplies simulation software and services to some of the largest semiconductor companies in the world.

This has led to decreasing yield, increasing manufacturing cost and increasing rates of chip failure. It currently takes companies 18 months, on average, to bring a new product to market and delays caused by chip failures close to product release can lead to businesses losing millions of dollars and significant market share.

Gold Standard Simulations Ltd (GSS) is leading the world in predicting the impact of ‘statistical variability’ on microchip performance. GSS uses these tools to predict variations in the performance of next generation transistors up to two years before they come to market, allowing the semiconductor manufacturers to optimise their designs in order to improve performance and yield.

Prof Asenov (head of the Device Modelling Group and CEO of GSS) believes that these techniques could save the semiconductor industry up to $2 billion a year, rising to $4 billion in the next five years, and Gold Standard Simulations is aiming to be the first to market with these tools. 

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