SSCS "PICO" Open-Source Design Contest


The IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society is pleased to announce its first open-source integrated circuit design contest under the umbrella of its PICO Program (Platform for IC Design Outreach). While this contest is open to any individual or team in its first year (IEEE SSCS membership is not required, but recommended), we especially encourage the participation of pre-college students, undergraduates, underrepresented minorities, and geographical regions that are underrepresented in the IC design community. The final designs resulting from this contest will be submitted for 130 nm CMOS chip fabrication via Efabless’ chipIgnite program.

Interested designers should submit a short proposal containing: A block diagram, schematics of the critical circuit core, target performance summary table, a short description of the circuit and your specific design goals, applicable references (e.g., a paper that inspired your design, any open-source blocks that you will reuse, etc.) and a list of the involved team members (if any, in addition to the lead designer submitting the proposal).



  • July 6, 20021: Announcement date.

  • July 30, 2021: Deadline to submit proposals through the contest’s Efabless Portal

  • August 5, 2021: Announcement of ~15-20 selected round 1 design teams.

  • August 5 - October 15: Weekly online meet-ups with all design teams and volunteers/mentors. Q&A, networking, and discussion of potential design mergers.

  • September 24: Selection of round 2 participants for tapeout. The goal is to fill 6 shuttle run seats with the most compelling individual and merged designs. Round 1 participants who are not selected for tape-out are free to participate in a later Open-MPW run.

  • October 15: Final project submission deadline for tapeout.

  • January 31, 2022: Delivery of packaged silicon and evaluation boards (see the chipIgnite website for details).

  • February 7 - March 7, 2022: Online meet-ups for test debug discussions and result sharing.


Contest Guidelines

  • There are no constraints on the type of design (analog, mixed-signal, RF, or digital)

  • Participants are encouraged (but not required) to base their proposal on a circuit published at an SSCS venue (e.g., JSSC, ISSCC, etc.).

  • Participants may reuse circuits that are available within the open-source design community (proper credits and references must be provided).

  • Participants need to register for an account on the Efabless site.  Once registered, participants should create a project to submit their proposal. Proposal content should be provided in the ‘Description’ field on the ‘Detail’ tab of the project submission form.  Submitted proposals will remain private and will not be publicly visible until after the submission deadline. See the following link for more information on how to submit your proposal.

  • The selected round 1 design teams are encouraged to combine their circuits for tape-out. For example, a voltage reference or amplifier can be combined with an A/D converter. These opportunities will be explored during the weekly meet-ups.

  • The project must be posted on a git-compatible repo and be publicly accessible.

  • The top-level of the project must include a license file for an approved open-source license agreement. Third-party source code must be identified and source code must contain proper headers. Refer to Open MPW Shuttle Program FAQ for further details.


Design Environment

The selected design teams have two options for their design tool setup:

  1. Install the SkyWater Open Source PDK and all open-source design tools on your local Linux computer. There are various resources for tool installation, see e.g. here for analog design tool installation on Ubuntu systems.

  2. Use a design flow provided by Efabless via web browser access. The selected teams will receive instructions on how to activate this option.


All participants should join the skywater-pdk Slack Space to interact with the broader open-source IC design community and to receive contest-specific support (via the “ieee-sscs-dc-21Q3” channel).