MOSIS, short for Metal Oxide Semiconductor Implementation Service, is to integrated circuits what BatchPCB is to printed circuit boards. That is, it’s a batch order service that makes getting your own custom ICs fabricated more affordable by allowing lots of designers to contribute their designs and share the costs of a single IC fabrication run.
The difference in this case is that unlike your typical PCB pool, where a single board might cost $20, in IC-land, “affordable” means “tens of thousands of dollars’.” For this reason, MOSIS is usually reserved for use by universities and startup companies, not by individuals.
However, that doesn’t mean that some particularly ambitious people haven’t used MOSIS to make their own chips before.
The photos that follow and the chip layout shown above are one example of an individual, Scot Satre of Satre Electronics, who in 2004 decided to design some of his own application-specific integreated circuits (see ASIC) in his spare-time.
I’m sure there have been others, but this is surely one of only a few examples of an individual having their own custom chips made.
Gold Phoenix makes BatchPCB possible by providing cheap offshore PCB fabrication services. Where is the Gold Phoenix of semiconductor foundries that will make DIY IC design affordable for ordinary people and not just universities, corporations, and VC-funded startups? Where are the free, open source tools that will enable you and I to simulate and layout our own chips?
If you could design your own integrated circuit, what would you make?
Photos: Scott Satre / Satre Electronics