Sustainable innovation – the Noblanc Award

Barcelona marked the second Jean-Pierre Noblanc Award for Excellence that honours the most innovative and sustainable project carried out in MEDEA+. Four projects were short listed.

Applications Projects

Two Applications projects were highlighted by the jury:

  • A207 Secure pocket multimedia (Pocket MM) – delivering a European reference platform for nomadic services with very low power requirements. The main goal was to offer an innovative MPEG-4 compliant tool box solution for mobile handheld devices, including user-friendly communications capability, and offering very high audio and video quality. The toolbox can be enhanced by adding new tools for digital rights management or other applications.
  • A508 Specification and algorithm/architecture-co-design for highly complex applications in automotive and communication (SPEAC) – offering revolutionary system level design flow improvements by increasing the level of design abstraction and reducing the number of redesigns in ever more complex circuits. This 4.5 year project involved 19 partners from four countries and focused on increasing design productivity by two to three times, reducing design costs by 50% and cutting time to market by a third to a half. Key developments included integration with SystemC-based design. The project led to some 150 publications and contributions to both the MEDEA+ electronic design automation road map and the ITRS.

Technologies Projects

On the technology side, two projects were selected from the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) cluster. EUV is seen as the future for lithography and this cluster covers all aspects: masks, tools, sources and processes, with close links between the consortia. Good links have also been established with the European Commission IST/FP6 MORE MOORE project. Europe is at the leading edge of EUV technology and the MEDEA+ projects are achieving remarkable results.

The two short listed projects for Technologies were:

  • T403 Extreme UV alpha tools integration consortium (EXTATIC) – that targeted full-field response times for the 80 nm mode. Extensive work on optics by Zeiss and on coating technologies has led to the development of a full-field EUV lithographic research tool essential for further work in this area. Two tools will be delivered to IMEC (EU) and Albany (USA) in the second quarter of 2006.
  • T405 EUV sources development (EUV Sources) – that focused on high power EUV sources and achieved world record outputs, meaning power sources are no longer a blocking issue. Project achievements included a threefold increase in power outputs over three years and the development of tube debris mitigation processes that make it possible to guarantee long lifetimes for the tube optics.

Between software and hardware

The 2005 Noblanc Award winner was A207 Pocket MM. “Compared with what we applied for, nothing happed as it should,” joked project leader Max Tournier, accepting the award on behalf of the consortium. “We set out to develop a generic software platform based on the use of advanced processors. However, we met many obstacles, particularly in terms of funding. We also realised early on that the key was battery life. Philips therefore suggested the need for a hardware solution and was supported in this by the public authorities. The truth lay between software and hardware.
“When we analysed mobile applications, the biggest cost lay in the displays – which mainly come from Japan,” he pointed out. “However, we then found a small display company in England, giving us the unusual distinction of having a UK EUREKA partner!” The display company Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) joined Pocket MM a year into the project and was involved in the development of low-power colour organic LED (OLED) panels.
“We wanted to make business,” emphasises Tournier. “Six years ago, no-one had heard of the idea of putting cameras in mobile phones. Now we are already talking about two cameras in such phones. Overall, the project has been tremendously successful, with spin-offs and products already being manufactured. STMicroelectronics now has a specific line of products and Thomson has also set up a dedicated division in this area.”