SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY - For immediate release

7 October 2019

A*STAR's Novel AI Chip Design platform to give the semiconductor industry a boost in productivity and quality

SINGAPORE – A*STAR researchers have developed an AI chip design platform that has the potential to transform the multibillion-dollar global integrated circuit (IC) design industry by accelerating design optimisation, reducing IC design turnaround time, and improving productivity significantly by twofold.

The traditional way of designing integrated circuits is a complicated process that requires experienced engineers with domain knowledge. It is a manual, laborious process where designers rely on trial-and-error to achieve their design goals, slowing down productivity in the process.

As technology advances, the complexity of chip design is ever increasing.

To combat these challenges, A*STAR’s Smart IC Design with Learning Enablement (SMILE) is an AI platform that uses machine learning to automate these complex processes. The SMILE platform is able to augment the circuit design process to improve productivity and quality, perform design space exploration, and enable rapid IP development. It can enable accelerated and automated design closure even in the absence of an experienced designer.

To demonstrate its effectiveness, the platform has been deployed internally within A*STAR’s laboratories, and researchers were able to show two times silicon-proven performance boost compared to the best human optimised design – all within the span of a day. This is a breakthrough in terms of productivity in IC design.

The developed capability is in the intersection of deep learning and circuit design. It combines integrated circuit design and electronic design and automation (EDA) expertise from the Institute of Microelectronics (IME), and AI algorithms from the Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R).

By employing state-of-the-art AI semi-supervised learning, and an algorithm unique to A*STAR, the system is able to improve its learning accuracy with a significantly less amount of training data. In conjunction with EDA to capture prior knowledge of the circuits and suggest an optimised solution, SMILE is a smart system which balances the trade-offs in speed, area, power, and overall performance. An image of the integrated circuit designed by SMILE can be found in Annex A.

This development will benefit semiconductor design industries, ranging from IP development and fabless IC design companies, as it will greatly improve the productivity of the research and development of integrated circuits, and reduce the time to push the product to the market.

“With this novel technology, we can advance science in the wider ecosystem and give the semiconductor industry a boost in productivity. Companies can leverage A*STAR’s technologies to scale up and remain competitive.” said Prof Dim-Lee Kwong, Executive Director of IME.


For media queries and clarifications, please contact:

Ms Lydia Sum
Assistant Head, Corporate Communications
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
Tel: +65 64196509
Mobile: +65 98253600



Annex A – Integrated Circuit designed by SMILE

A three-stage operational amplifier (OPA) designed by the AI platform

Fig 1. A three-stage operational amplifier (OPA) designed by the AI platform.



About A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME)

The Institute of Microelectronics (IME) is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Positioned to bridge the R&D between academia and industry, IME's mission is to add value to Singapore's semiconductor industry by developing strategic competencies, innovative technologies and intellectual property; enabling enterprises to be technologically competitive; and cultivating a technology talent pool to inject new knowledge to the industry. Its key research areas are in integrated circuits design, advanced packaging, bioelectronics and medical devices, MEMS, nanoelectronics, and photonics.

For more information on IME, please visit

About A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomms Research (I2R)

The Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R pronounced as i-squared-r) is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) family and is Singapore’s largest ICT research institute. Established in 2002, our vision is to power a vibrant and strong infocomm ecosystem in Singapore. We seek to foster world-class infocomm and media research and develop a deep talent pool of infocomm professionals to power a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. At I²R, our key research areas are in Artificial Intelligence, Audio; Language & Speech, Data Analytics, Communications & Networks, Cybersecurity, Heterogeneous Analytics, Healthcare, Robotics & AV, Satellite, Smart Energy & Environment and Video & Image Analytics.

For more information about I²R, visit  

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research and development. As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society. A*STAR’s R&D activities span biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering, with research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis. A*STAR also plays a pivotal role in nurturing scientific talent and leaders for the wider research community and industry.

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