SSCS “PICO” Open-Source Chipathon

– Proposal deadline: May 1, 2023 – 

The IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society is pleased to announce its third open-source integrated circuit (IC) design contest under the umbrella of its PICO Program (Platform for IC Design Outreach). While this contest is open to any individual or team, we encourage the participation of pre-college students, undergraduates, and geographical regions that are underrepresented within the IC design community. 


The goal of this chipathon is to bring together IC design newbies, enthusiasts and experienced mentors to benefit from the collaboration opportunities enabled by the rapidly growing open-source IC design movement. In contrast to previous chipathon editions (which were open-ended), this year’s goal is to create a specific set of building blocks that can be re-used to benefit the community as a whole.


The design target (depicted in the graphic below) is a “lab bench on a chip” system that can be used to characterize basic analog circuit blocks through oscilloscope and waveform generator functionality. Participants are requested to submit innovative ideas on how these blocks should be implemented. A jury will select the best proposals (submitted as Jupyter notebooks) to assemble a collection of teams that will work together toward tapeout. We anticipate tapeouts of several candidate designs toward the end of the year, targeting GlobalFoundries’ GF180MCU technology.



How to Participate

  • Visit the SSCS Chipathon GitHub Repository to learn more about design tool setup, as well as the design target and its suggested baseline specifications. 

  • Join the “opensource-silicon” Slack space and subscribe to the “ieee-sscs-dc-23” channel. This is the Chipathon’s main communication channel. Feel free to post any questions here (about tool setup, circuit design, etc.).

  • Optionally, join the Chipathon info session (see schedule below) to ask questions and learn more about the design goals and logistics.

  • Create a Jupyter notebook detailing the main ideas of your design. You can choose to address a single sub-block (e.g., a programmable gain amplifier for the oscilloscope) or a more complete solution (e.g., the complete waveform generator design). For an example on how to describe a design idea using Jupyter, please see this temperature sensor notebook. Note: It is not necessary to create a layout at the proposal stage.

  • Create a pull request for your proposal notebook submission by the deadline stated below. Refer to the “how to submit” instructions in the Chipathon repository for further details.