An Analog Gate Array is a metal configurable ASIC array that contains both analog and digital resources. An Analog Gate Array sounds like an oxymoron. Historically, the term “gate array” has been used to refer to a type of ASIC that utilizes an uncommitted logic array (ULA) that is pre-determined and later configured with metal-only changes. A gate array contains an array of logic functions such as NAND-gates, various other combinatorial logic functions and flip/flops. Designs or circuits are created on these gate array master slices by changing only the metal interconnect through a simplified manufacturing process. An analog gate array contains traditional digital gate array elements and adds analog resources such as band-gaps, op-amps and arrays of resistors, capacitors, transistors and switches. An analog gate array master slice can be configured with a given circuit by making “metal-only” changes. Gate arrays containing both analog and digital resources can save significant development time and cost because changing only metal layers is fast and inexpensive compared to do a complete or “all layers” design.
At Triad, analog gate array is another way to refer to Triad’s Agile ASIC™ or via configurable array (VCA) technology. Triad’s master slices contain analog, digital and memory resources that can be interconnected and reconfigured by making “via-only” changes to the design mask set. The underlying resources and even the metal layers are pre-defined and optimized for low noise, high performance and low parasitics. Triad’s place & route tool, ViaPath™, configures a circuit onto a VCA turning it into an Agile ASIC™ by placing vias and only vias. Only a single mask layer (the via) layer is unique to the VCA. The processing cost and processing time of via-only changes are a fraction of the cost and time of traditional standard cell and full custom design flows.