Imec news

Archive 2004

Adiabatic Logic and IMEC co-operate to put IOD power saving technology into space


CAMBRIDGE, England, April 5, 2004 – Adiabatic Logic Limited (, a Cambridge-based company focused on creating and licensing intellectual property (IP) in the low power technology arena, has signed a co-operation agreement with IMEC (, Europe’s largest independent microelectronics and nanotechnology research center, which will lead to its patented low power Intelligent Output Driver (IOD) technology being used by IMEC in radiation hardened environments, such as in space applications, where power optimisation is imperative.

Adiabatic Logic’s IOD IP cell is designed to replace the conventional pad drivers in an integrated circuit (IC) and uses a patented energy recycling technique, which delivers 50-75% power savings in chip I/O for portable devices such as laptops, smartphones, handheld computers, digital cameras and MP3 players.

“This is a significant agreement for Adiabatic Logic as IMEC is a world class research organisation which, like Adiabatic Logic, is focused on reducing power in electronics systems,” said Simon Payne, Adiabatic Logic’s chief executive officer. “We are delighted that IMEC has recognised the power saving potential of IOD by incorporating our driver into its library of radiation hardened 180 nm technology.”

IMEC’s design against radiation effects (DARE) library consists of 60 core cells, 32 input/output cells (including low-voltage differential signalling (LVDS)) with enhanced electrostatic-discharge (ESD) performance and a static random access memory (SRAM) compiler as well as a phase-locked loop (PLL). The first ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) designed and manufactured using the library is functional. Radiation test results will become available in the first quarter of 2004. 

Commenting on the agreement, professor Herman E. Maes, IMEC vice-president, said, “Power optimisation is one of the key challenges facing today’s electronics industry and IMEC wants to play a major role in this field. Co-operating with companies with innovative solutions like Adiabatic Logic will ensure that we achieve our objective.”

Adiabatic Logic’s IOD uses the speed of submicron CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) to actively mimic the voltage-current drive characteristics of a classic driver with a source (or series) terminator resistor. It does this in such a way that the bulk of the current is delivered to the load capacitance non-resistively from a reservoir capacitance maintained at a mid rail voltage, assisted by the inherent inductance of the load. The on-chip reservoir capacitance delivers charge on rising edges and recovers charge on falling edges thereby recycling energy, which is conventionally wasted.

“IOD’s substantial power saving capability is clearly what attracted us to this technology,” said Steven Redant, an ASIC design manager at IMEC. “It’s a clever piece of IP which, if it can withstand the effects of radiation, will be an important addition to our DARE library.”

Adiabatic Logic’s IOD solution, offers a multitude of other potential benefits to IC and system developers in addition to power saving. For example, it can reduce the overall component count and bill of material (BOM) cost by minimising battery size, cutting DC-DC converter/thermal management costs and eliminating the requirement for terminating resistors. 

The first silicon implementation of IOD was completed in October 2003 using a 0.6-micron process technology. The results showed power savings of more than 50 per cent compared with traditional I/O schemes.

“The power saving results from our first test chips and now this endorsement from IMEC will provide a major boost to our licensing efforts,” added Geoff Harvey, chief technology officer at Adiabatic Logic. “We hope to see IOD-enabled integrated circuits being used in electronics systems in the very near future.”


About Adiabatic Logic Limited (

Founded in 2002, Adiabatic Logic Limited is part of the Cambridge Technology Group and was set up to exploit a portfolio of secured patents in the low power technology arena. Adiabatic Logic has a patented technique with the potential to significantly reduce the power consumption of digital computer chips, such as those found in today’s laptop computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones. The design team’s focus is on creating and applying intellectual property (IP) to exploit the concept of ‘loss-less’ processes. An adiabatic process is one in which no heat is gained or lost. It is a concept normally associated with the behaviour of gases but can be applied in other physical domains, such as electronics. The company is based at Dry Drayton, on the outskirts of Cambridge, England.

About the Cambridge Technology Group (

Cambridge Technology Group is a holding company with three wholly owned subsidiaries - Adiabatic Logic Limited, Cambridge Technology Consultants Limited and XJTAG Limited. Cambridge Technology Consultants ( offers its clients a broad range of services from high-end applications to innovative product development and technical consultancy skills. For ten years, its multi disciplinary team of hardware and software engineers have provided cost-effective solutions from concept through to pre-production. XJTAG Limited ( is a specialist design and test tool developer. Its JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) development system offers a competitive solution for designers and developers of electronic circuits.

About IMEC (

IMEC is a world leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next-generation of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and a strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide, positions IMEC as a key partner with which to develop and improve technologies for future systems.

IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1300 people includes over 380 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2003, its revenues were EUR 145 million. Further information on IMEC can be found on

Media contact:

Martin Brooke

Martin Brooke Associates

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 264050


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