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Sequence Design offers tool for timing closure

Posted: 16 May 2001 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:timing closure? eda? design automation? post-route optimization? signal integrity?

Sequence Design has combined its previous technology with tools acquired along with Sapphire Design Automation in a "design closure" product whose claimed edge is the ability to optimize timing and signal integrity concurrently before and after routing. Physical Studio represents the combination of Sapphire's FormIt, NoiseIt and PowerIt products with Sequence's Copernicus post-route optimizer.

Physical Studio replaces the former Sapphire offerings and Copernicus, although users will be able to purchase post-route optimization separately as a Physical Studio option. Physical Studio also brings in some technology from Sequence's Columbus 3D resistance-capacitance (RC) extraction product.

Sequence said Physical Studio lets designers close timing at 15 percent to 20 percent higher clock speeds than otherwise possible, while simultaneously compensating for such signal-integrity effects as crosstalk-induced hold violations and glitch problems. The tool promises timing estimation during placement that is within 5 percent of final signoff timing, and power reductions of 5 percent to 10 percent on large designs.

Combined schemes

Physical Studio captures the "best parts" of FormIt and Copernicus, said Kevin Walsh, vice president of product management at Sequence. "We have come up with an exceptional class of optimization transforms that can apply both during placement and after routing," he said.

The original Sapphire offering focused on optimization during placement, while Copernicus offered post-route optimization. "With the Copernicus technology, we do not lose physical context," said Walsh, who previously headed up marketing for Sapphire. "We know exactly where we are going to optimize along the route. The intrusiveness is almost zero."

Thus, said Walsh, Physical Studio can traverse the route, insert a buffer and do a small routing adjustment at that point. The tool knows where to place a buffer in order to minimize glitch propagation to a flip-flop. That would not be possible with a typical 3D extraction tool, Walsh said, because the physical routing information isn't saved.

Walsh said the new product operates off a single database and electrical model. "We have not linked two products; we architected a new product," he said. "There is no translation at all."

Physical Studio's timing engine is a combination of intellectual property from both Sapphire and Sequence. It is compatible with Synopsys' Primetime, a widely used signoff tool, Walsh said.

Physical Studio first reads in a synthesized netlist, together with timing constraints and an initial placement. It partially optimizes the netlist and placement for timing, signal integrity and power, and it estimates the chip's final timing.

The customer's preferred router is then invoked. Currently, data is passed through LEF and DEF file formats. Sequence hopes to develop a closer link to Cadence Design Systems' Genesis unified physical design database, Walsh said.

After routing, Physical Studio repairs any remaining timing or signal-integrity violations. That process includes a 3D RC extraction. Sequence claims its interconnect-driven optimization avoids the need for design iterations. Physical Studio is available now and starts at $175,000 for a one-year license.

? Richard Goering

EE Times

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