EU's top four semiconductor researchers co-ordinate to help design edge AI chips

Date: 10/03/2024
Co-ordinated and led by Europe based semiconductor research and technology organizations (RTOs), CEA-Leti, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, imec, and VTT, an European Union consortium called PREVAIL was created and is now accepting design proposals. PREVAIL to spearhead the development of next-generation edge-AI technologies.


The PREVAIL project aims to establish a networked, multi-hub platform that facilitates the rapid design, evaluation, testing, and fabrication of cutting-edge circuits. Leveraging the state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities and expertise of its founding members, the project will provide prototype chip fabrication capabilities for stakeholders across Europe. These efforts are aligned with the overarching goal of positioning Europe as a leader in advanced manufacturing infrastructure, fostering innovation, and accelerating product commercialization.

With an emphasis on high-performance, low-power edge components, the project not only addresses the burgeoning demand for AI-driven technologies but also contributes to the EU's broader digital transformation goals. Through strategic partnerships with SMEs, industrial collaborators, and academic institutions, the consortium aims to cultivate a collaborative ecosystem that drives technological innovation and advancement. This project endeavors to streamline the development process, minimize duplication of efforts, and elevate the technology readiness levels of cutting-edge tools.

“The PREVAIL project’s ultimate goal is to position Europe with an easy-access, advanced manufacturing infrastructure enabling users to make early research samples of innovative and trustworthy products and accelerate their commercialization,” said Sergio Nicoletti, CEA-Leti business development manager and PREVAIL project manager. “And while bringing their cutting-edge technologies to a higher maturity level and giving users the possibility to fabricate and test AI prototypes based on these technologies, the RTOs are reaping the benefits of technological cross-fertilization.”

“In addition to providing high-performance, low-power edge components and technologies to support the massive data-processing requirements of AI, the project will help energize the EU's digital transformation, a precursor to the goals of the European Chips Act," he said.

Launched at the end of 2022, the project is leveraging the RTOs' advanced 300 mm fabrication, design and test facilities and related expertise to create the Testing and Experimentation Facility for Edge-AI Hardware (TEF Edge AI HW). This network will validate new high-performance, low-power, edge-AI components and support an infrastructure capable of fabricating early research prototype samples for testing in innovative edge-AI applications.

Nicoletti said the consortium is working with selected SMEs, the RTOs' industrial partners and academic labs to prepare early designs that will be used to test fabrication equipment in the RTOs' facilities. The project plans to open access widely for EU designers by May 2026.?

While 80 percent of the project's budget targets equipment suited for design, testing and fabrication of edge-AI devices, the project also will reinforce the readiness of the RTOs to equip their new pilot lines for developing 3D integration technologies, which also are envisioned in the chips act.

Key Project Components :

In addition to fabricating advanced edge-AI applications and creating the platform's TEF Edge AI HW, the consortium will provide process design kits (PDKs) compatible with standard commercial CAD tools and all the elements necessary for full chip design. A user-interface team will manage relationships among the developers of next-generation, edge-AI solutions and the consortium.

PREVAIL is the EU's first step to link the RTO's different infrastructures and synchronize and coordinate their investments to minimize duplication, and to jointly increase the technology readiness levels (TRLs) of tools in development. The nearly €156 million ($169.3 million) cost of the 42-month project will be shared by the RTOs' countries and the European Commission. Approximately 80 percent of this funding is CAPEX invested in new tools suited for edge-AI devices.

PREVAIL is offering: Non-Volatile Embedded Memories, 3D Integration and Photonics and Connectivity.

They have listed the demonstration of "Combination of an AI-accelerator and a MRAM memory" in PREVAIL website.


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