Chipshub: An online platform for everything semiconductors

Purdue University is teaming with the state of Indiana, the U.S. Department of Defense and Belgian not-for-profit imec to launch Chipshub, an online platform for semiconductor simulations, software, collaboration and workforce development.
Stock photo with chip

Purdue University is leveraging its expertise in scientific simulation tools to help the nation take the lead as the hub for semiconductors and chips research, development and manufacturing. The university is teaming with the state of Indiana, the U.S. Department of Defense and the international not-for-profit R&D center imec to unveil Chipshub, an online platform for semiconductor simulations, software, collaboration and workforce development.

Chipshub is an offshoot of Purdue’s nanoHUB, one of the first web portals to provide cloud access to scientific simulation tools serving more than 20,000 simulation users annually. The online platform was announced Friday (Nov. 3) in Washington, D.C., during a workshop hosted by Purdue and imec. The event featured leaders from academia, industry and government exploring ways to enhance U.S. competitiveness in the semiconductor sector.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and operated by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, nanoHUB enables online simulation and data for the nanotechnology and nanoscience community through an end-to-end cloud computing environment that hosts resources for research, collaboration, teaching, learning and publishing. It has more than one million visitors across 172 countries who access the hub annually.

Gerhard Klimeck, Chipshub co-director

Chipshub provisions an expanding list of chip design tools; immersive learning apps for coursework in subjects like semiconductor device fundamentals, technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulation and quantum mechanics for engineers; hands-on learning and a virtual reality fab; open courseware and free textbooks on topics like nanotransistors, current flow and nano-thermal flow theory. Chipshub is expected to impact more than 200,000 U.S. engineering students and about 50,000 designers in the next five years.

“Chipshub extends nanoHUB’s success to deliver both open-source and commercial software that supports a semiconductor community through workforce development at scale,” said Gerhard Klimeck, chipshub co-director, Elmore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Riley Director of the Center for Predictive Devices and Materials and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

NanoHUB already hosts commercial tools from Silvaco (TCAD and Electronic Design Automation software), Thermo-Calc (computational thermodynamics for materials), Schrodinger’s AutoQSAR (machine learning) and the MATLAB programming language and numeric computing environment. Chipshub will offer these as well as commercial EDA tools from Cadence, Synopsys and Siemens. These commercial packages are hard to license, install, operate and maintain for most universities; Chipshub opens access to the tools for the entire U.S. university community.  

“Chipshub removes the barriers associated with installing and maintaining complex software and workflows required to model, simulate and design the next generation of semiconductor technology,” said Alejandro (Ale) Strachan, Chipshub co-director and Reilly Professor of Materials Engineering. “These online industry-standard tools let students and instructors work with advanced functionality through a web browser. Easy-to-use apps will simplify commonly used workflows, and enable students and researchers to easily assess how changing design variables affect performance.”

This collaborative platform capitalizes on the university’s considerable investments in microelectronics research and semiconductor workforce development and builds upon Purdue University’s leading programs to train the next generation of the semiconductor workforce.

Alejandro Strachan, Chipshub co-director

Purdue offers a comprehensive set of interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics to students across the country. Chipshub draws additional synergies from Purdue’s research and innovation in support of onshoring semiconductor fabrication and packaging and its industry partnerships with more than 20 private-sector leaders in the semiconductor space.

"The partnership between Purdue, with its innovative semiconductor research programs, and imec, an industry-relevant R&D center with cutting-edge capabilities, provides the perfect access to researchers to help fill the gap between lab and fab," said Raj Jammy, imec's president of U.S. Operations.

Chipshub is another piece in the critical mass being assembled at Purdue for semiconductor innovation. MediaTek, a leading global fabless chipmaker, opened the company’s first semiconductor chip design center in the Midwest, housed on the Purdue campus. SkyWater Technology is making plans for a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the Discovery Park District at Purdue. The university has also announced a major update of its Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, an on-campus hub in the Birck Nanotechnology Center for microelectronics research and global partnerships and one of the finest semiconductor cleanrooms in academia.

The hub approach, with spokes that connect a central repository to outlying points at scale, overcomes the latency and inefficiencies of point-to-point networks. Just as hubs revolutionized transportation, Purdue is adopting the strategy to transform content delivery and workforce development in semiconductors and other cutting-edge technology arenas.

In addition to design tools, the Chipshub infrastructure will foster actual chip manufacture, through partnerships with private-sector fabs. This “lab to fab” capability will enable students to architect, design, optimize and test chips in a single platform.

“The goal is to widely disseminate vital knowledge and tools that further American technology and workforce education in the decisive semiconductor sector, which underpins advances like AI that will power national competitiveness in the global economy,” Klimeck said.