CHIPKIT: An agile, reusable open-source framework for rapid test chip development


Paul Whatmough, Marco Donato, Glenn Ko, David Brooks, and Gu-Wei. 8/1/2020. “CHIPKIT: An agile, reusable open-source framework for rapid test chip development.” IEEE Micro, 40, 4, Pp. 32 - 40. Publisher's Version


The current trend for domain-specific architectures (DSAs) has led to renewed interest in research test chips to demonstrate new specialized hardware. Tape-outs also offer huge pedagogical value garnered from real hands-on exposure to the whole system stack. However, successful tape-outs demand hard-earned experience, and the design process is time consuming and fraught with challenges. Therefore, custom chips have remained the preserve of a small number of research groups, typically focused on circuit design research. This paper describes the CHIPKIT framework. We describe a reusable SoC subsystem which provides basic IO, an on-chip programmable host, memory and peripherals. This subsystem can be readily extended with new IP blocks to generate custom test chips. We also present an agile RTL development flow, including a code generation tool calledVGEN. Finally, we outline best practices for full-chip validation across the entire design cycle.
Last updated on 04/20/2022