German technology companies hope that improved production methods will help reduce the size and weight of in-car semiconductors (Photo:XFAB)

Four German semiconductor makers have concluded project "HONEY" and have come up with new methods to make smaller chips.

With roughly 1,000 chips and as many as 80 networked electronic systems in the average vehicle, reducing the size of chips can mean huge weight and space savings for vehicle manufacturers keen to improve the efficiency of their products. And with safety and other technologies in the car set to grow, future systems will have to be even smaller.

HONEY, the German acronym for Highly Optimized Design Methods for Yield and Reliability, was a three-year research project funded by the German government to help make in-car electronics systems more compact.

The four project partners found that state-of-the-art manufacturing technology did not automatically lead to smaller chips. For that reason, they employed newly developed statistical and systematic design methods from the early stages of circuit design for a new chip generation. They then methodically incorporated the process technology.

The partners - the Institute of Microelectronic and Mechatronic Systems of the state Thuringia in eastern Germany, the software tool producer MunEDA, X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG, and semiconductor manufacturer and project leader Infineon Technologies AG - said the new methods are already being integrated into existing design systems and will be available for chip development in about a year.