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Syncron: Web-based environment in PCB design

Posted: 04 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? memories? eda&t 2002? spicecut? memchar?

You-Pang Wei is President and CEO of Legend Design Technology Inc.
In the last 10 years, Taiwan has enjoyed steady growth in the semiconductor industry. Even with the current economic downturn, Taiwan continues to see the emergence of numerous (and diverse) fab-less semiconductor design companies. The IC designs coming from these businesses are taking advantage of the landmark achievements in semiconductor fabrication technology.

Advancements in technology, coupled with shrinking time to market windows, have forced companies to look closely at the EDA tools in their design flow. For highly integrated SOC designs slated for fabrication in a deep submicron process (.13?m and below), the associated cost facing the fabless designer is staggering (.1?m; approximately 2 million dollars). This puts enormous responsibility on the thoroughness of the simulation effort. An oversight at the simulation stage can result in a failed silicon spin (low silicon yield) and missed market opportunity. Businesses today can not tolerate a failed tape-out.

Over 70 percent of the area in today's SOC designs is occupied by embedded memory, and this percentage is steadily increasing. Memory is therefore an extremely important aspect of the design and requires accurate modeling for system simulation. Memory characterization is a very time consuming and error prone manual process whose complexity grows with silicon technology. A task which was once easily approached from the schematic phase of a design is now, for accuracy and realism, forcing engineers to work with an extracted layout.

For designers using compiler generated memory in high performance designs there is a desire to remove the conservatism associated with the resulting models ("black box" to "white box"). On the other hand, designers of custom memory or memory compilers are faced with the tedious time consuming task of manually building critical path circuits and setting up the parameters for the characterization. Another reality of today is fabless companies often use multiple foundries to meet customer demands. Since each foundry has a unique process model, characterization must be done accordingly.

For high performance SOC designers who are dissatisfied with the manual, time consuming and error-prone task of memory characterization and/or the greater than 20 percent margin associated with memory compiler generated timing/power models, Legend Design Technology has the industry's first automatic and universal layout-based memory characterization EDA tool set. Our unique flow generates optimized timing and power models of embedded memory instances enabling designers to run the most accurate system simulations pre tape-out.

Unlike designing with "black box" memory models derived from compilers or company specific (internal) non layout based programs, Legend's SpiceCut, MemChar, and MSIM, combine to generate memory models that reflect the reality of the silicon ("white box"). SpiceCut treats the extracted memory instance as an entity form layout accounting for all the coupling, parasitics, and distributed effects when automatically building optimized critical path circuits. MemChar takes in the critical path circuits, memory datasheet (spec file), and SPICE model to automatically generate all the stimulus, controls, and measurement statements needed for simulation. MemChar sets up patented "bisection" simulations that effectively remove the glitches and racing conditions within the latches by zeroing in on the optimum set-up and hold times. The simulation manager within MemChar pushes the simulations out to MSIM (or any circuit simulator). MemChar then organizes the results in tabular format as well as automatically populating a .LIB or .TLF file.

MSIM is an attractively priced high accuracy characterization oriented circuit simulator. Quarterly changes in process models create the need to re-characterize design libraries (standard cell/memory). Those who diligently maintain their libraries benefit by increased efficiency, effectiveness and overall performance. MSIM can dramatically speed up the task by using proprietary RC reduction algorithms, concurrent (parallel) simulation, and flexible use model licensing.

Legend's tools are supported on the UNIX and LINUX platforms.

- Dr. You-Pang Wei

President and CEO

Legend Design Technology Inc.

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