The Silicon Integration Initiative Looks to Standardize a SiC SPICE Model

June 04, 2021 by Darshil Patel

The Si2 Compact Model Coalition (CMC) has announced it will fund and help institute the standardization of a SPICE model for silicon carbide MOSFETs.

Silicon (Si) MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors) are used in almost every analog and digital circuit for switching or amplifying signals. In addition, silicon has been the standard semiconductor material of choice for many years. 

Image courtesy of Si2
Image courtesy of Si2

However, the world’s electronic needs are changing every day. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, drivers will need EV batteries that can charge faster and faster. Because silicon MOSFET technologies have lower switching frequencies, wide-bandgap technologies are stepping into the spotlight. SiC MOSFETs can operate at a higher voltage range and are more thermally stable than traditional Si technologies. 

As the Si Compact Model Coalition puts it, “Featuring high efficiency and fast operation with low switching losses, silicon carbide-based metal-on-silicon-field effect transistors are popular in high-growth semiconductor applications such as photovoltaic inverters and converters, industrial motor drives, electric vehicle powertrain and EV charging, and power supply and distribution.”

Because of this popularity, a standardized SPICE model for SiC MOSFETs that can capture effects such as EMI, parasitic inductances and capacitances, self-heating, and many others is necessary. This new model could potentially aid in the optimization of circuits early in the process and avoid costly prototype reworking.


An Overview of the Si2 CMC SiC MOSFET Standard Model

The Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) Compact Model Coalition (CMC) provides semiconductor manufacturers, designers, and simulation groups a standardized model of a new or enhanced chip. CMC directs and funds leading universities for the development and refinement of the equations involved in the standard device model. In addition, it ensures that simulations are accurate and uniform across different vendors. 

The Si2 CMC has announced plans to fund and develop a new standardized SPICE model for Silicon Carbide MOSFETs due to their heightened use in modern high power semiconductor applications such as solar converters, EVs, powertrain, and many other industrial applications. 

Using this new standardized SPICE model, power electronics designers will be able to better optimize their designs accordingly with new generations of technology.

According to CMC Chair, Peter Lee, participating companies include Analog Devices, Cadence Design Systems, Infineon, Qualcomm, Siemens EDA, Silvaco, and Synopsys. 

Peter Lee. Image courtesy of Si2 
Peter Lee. Image courtesy of Si2 


“I’d encourage companies with a stake in SiC devices to join this effort and help guide selection of the model which best represents their intended use,” Lee said. 

He further added that the companies which join this effort can benefit from both cost reduction that comes from shared model support and a standardized model that has ongoing bug fixes and requested feature enhancements from many like-minded companies.


Advancing SiC MOSFET Devices

As SiC MOSFETs are being utilized for their high-power applications like renewable energy power converters, EV chargers, powertrain, industrial motor drives, and smart grids, the new model could allow designers to simulate and validate the power converter designs for improvement. 


Colin Shaw. Image courtesy of Si2
Colin Shaw. Image courtesy of Si2


“Next Generation SiC MOSFETS has many features that make them suitable, and even superior to legacy silicon solutions, for several high voltage applications. While the devices can handle high-temperature and voltage, its minimal ON-resistance allows smaller packages and better energy savings than comparable silicon devices,” said Silvaco’s Colin Shaw.


The Silicon Integration Initiative

Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) is a non-profit R&D consortium of industry-leading semiconductor systems, EDA, and manufacturing companies that aim to provide tool interoperability with standard APIs. Si2’s OpenAccess is the world's most widely used reference database for semiconductor design. 

The joint venture also identifies and enables best practices in AI and ML for electronic design automation. Further, Si2 Unified Power Models (UPM) provides powerful and flexible modeling from system design to gate-level implementation. In addition to this, it also aims to develop standardized compact models of new or enhanced chips. Si2 represents over 70 companies involved in all parts of the silicon supply chain throughout the world.