Yesterday I attended a very nice talk during the Broadcom internal seminar series. It was a nice talk discussing the semiconductor fabrication. For me, it was truly whale swallowing kind of a talk, since a lot of new things learned. The term “tapeout” is there in the common vocabulary in semiconductor industry and we all use it with such ease that no one really bothered to search the origin of the term itself. I had done it once by doing a wikipedia, but then as usual had forgotten all about it. Anyway, here is the legend behind tapeout. Mike Magee said it all very cleanly, but let me sort of state it again.
Well, tapeout refers to that fancy thing the designers deliver to the (semiconductor fabrication) fab companies in Taiwan (well, I can say so because most of the fab companies are in Taiwan). The fancy algorithm we conceptualized in plain equations, went through the LaTex pages and then C programs finally took shape into RTL and gates and transistors. That then further went through the backend processes to eventually a set of masks. These mask description is what is given to the semiconductor manufacturing companies. These days, it is just a matter of file transfer using ftp or so. Then you can rightfully ask:why there is a term called tape out? Well there is history to it, fair enough I will say!