The Importance of SWaP in Aerospace and Defense: An Interview with Marc Swinnen and Kenneth Larsen

Ian Land

Oct 25, 2022 / 5 min read

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An Interview with Marc Swinnen and Kenneth Larsen

We sat down with Marc Swinnen, product marketing director at Ansys and Kenneth Larsen, 3DIC solution director at Synopsys, to learn the importance of SWaP (Size, weight, and power ) and the benefits of using best-in-class solutions from Ansys and Synopsys for aerospace and defense systems.

Q1. What is SWaP? Why is reducing SWaP becoming more urgent in new solutions for Aerospace and Defense?

Marc Swinnen:

Size, weight, and power – SwaP – have been an important consideration in aerospace and defense systems for decades. With each successive semiconductor node and generation, the complexity of chips increases substantially, and, often, the space in which it can process decreases, especially in challenging environments like those on the sea, in the desert, or up in space.

This increasing integration density has been a great benefit for realizing more capable and more portable systems but has also raised some serious Multiphysics challenges. The famous Moore’s Law is key to increasing the density of digital logic on silicon, but a complete system involves many more interactions along many different physical mechanisms.

Q2. Why is 3D Heterogeneous Integration so important to SWaP and, hence to the aerospace and defense markets?

Kenneth Larsen:

With 3D Heterogeneous Integration, it is possible to take an entire high-performance computing rack and shrink all computation, interconnect, and memory into a small package fitting in a backpack, or nose cone of a fighter, perhaps implanted one day. 

It has been more than 55 years since Moore's law came into being. We know that the geometric size of components on a chip cannot be reduced without a limit, meaning that one day, the number of transistors that can be integrated on a chip will reach the limit. We are not at the limit, but each technology shrink takes longer, at an enormous cost.

From a cost perspective splitting up a large chip into smaller chiplets, optimizing each chiplet in their most suitable technology and material, and combining them in a small semiconductor package is advantageous.  Smaller chips tend to yield better, chiplets can be reused in different applications, and with 3D Heterogeneous Integration, the various chiplets can be stacked, creating new possibilities in A&D designs.

CS909359344-A&D Newsletter Issue 7

Figure 1: Synopsys 3DIC Solution

Q3. What are the key challenges that the new 3DIC solutions must address?

Kenneth Larsen:

There are multiple concerns that 3DHI solutions need to address. In summary, they need to address (1) the computing performance and heat dissipation per unit volume, (2) the latency/bandwidth of the interconnect, (3) the environmental concerns, including power dissipation in extreme environments, and (4) application-specific capabilities like security and safety.

Regarding compute/volume, 3D packages have a significant advantage over traditional 2.5D and 2D designs due to die stacking using direct bonding and through-silicon vias bonding approaches, high-bandwidth, ultra-short latency, and incredibly power efficient bit transfers due to the proximity of the chiplets. Synopsys tools are unique (see Figure 1) because they can do multi-chip and package design together, along with system and chiplet signoff analysis. This is unlike legacy EDA solutions that start from the PCB realm.

Marc Swinnen:

Environmental concerns are a key challenge for our A&D customers who have high-performance semiconductors in very compact form-factors or that need to dissipate heat in challenging environments like space. The joint Synopsys-Ansys solutions address thermal management from chip through package to full system simulation. 

This also includes access to Multiphysics solvers like fluid dynamics simulation to establish the impact of fans and heatsinks, or mechanical solvers to predict thermo-mechanical stress and warpage of the multi-die package.

And with the ultra-high-speed signals in these advanced platforms, other physical design considerations like electromagnetic interference and coupling are absolute must-do analyses. With these joint solutions, customers get the state-of-the-art in 2.5D or 3DIC design and Multiphysics co-simulation of chip and package.

Figure 2: Thermal Package Evaluation Using Redhawk-SC

Q4. Why have Ansys and Synopsys Teamed for 3D Heterogeneous Integration design? Why not keep these efforts separate?

Kenneth Larsen:

Synopsys offers a complete chip design and 3D Heterogeneous Integration platform with a state-of-the-art 3DIC Compiler, 2.5D/3D die-to-die interface, and chiplet IP, integrated with Synopsys tools for design synthesis, verification, and silicon photonics. Synopsys teamed with Ansys which has a strong presence in Aerospace and Defense for state-of-the-art environmental and multi-physics simulation. Ansys adds environmental simulation for a broader envelope in several domains as well as quick optimization and retargeting for derivative products.

Q5. Any final comments?

Marc Swinnen:

To tackle the complex design challenges facing the aerospace and defense community requires a combination of a very broad array of tools and capabilities all working through proven data exchange platforms. Synopsys has done an excellent job of developing such an integrated platform for advanced semiconductor design technologies that allows us to create a joint solution with golden accuracy solvers at every stage for the best SwaP, robustness, and reliability.

Kenneth Larsen:

We are excited and proud to work with the best-in-class environmental and multi-physics simulation provider, Ansys. Our joint 3D Heterogeneous Integration platform will usher in a new era in Aerospace and Defense semiconductors and systems mechanisms.

Synopsys and Aerospace and Defense

A&D companies build and deploy advanced systems that exceed mission requirements and challenging application demands, including security, safety, longevity and reliability in harsh environments from sea to space. Synopsys provides comprehensive solutions across the development lifecycle, including design and verification tools, software integrity solutions, IP, and services. Synopsys solutions enable our customers to automate siliconoptics, and software development, optimize design for silicon manufacturing, and digitally validate a design, prior to the creation of costly physical prototypes.

Synopsys’ US-based services are ITAR capable for radiation-hardened space designs. Our collaborations with Defense Prime Contractors, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and other agencies has enabled unique innovations in areas like security, AMS emulation and superconducting electronics.

Aerospace & Government Solutions

Synopsys helps Aerospace and Defense firms build advanced, reliable systems meeting strict mission and SWaP requirements.

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