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Full-wave analysis tools target 2GHz+

Posted: 01 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analysis tool? signal integrity? simulation? power analysis? ic tool?

EDA signal integrity startup Optimal Corp. has released a series of tools for 3D full-wave signal integrity simulation, analysis and verification for high-speed IC, package and PC-board designs.

The O-Wave line is targeted at designers working with on-chip and I/O speeds exceeding 2GHz, said

An-Yu Kuo, chief technology officer at Optimal. As designs become denser and faster, quasi-static tools are no longer accurate enough to perform signal integrity and power analysis, he said.

"When two lines switching are far apart, quasi-static signal integrity tools work fine," said Kuo. "But when frequencies increase and the space between two nets decreases, you need to use a full-wave solution."

Ching-Chao Huang, SVP at Optimal, said ground bounce also becomes a bigger issue as process geometries shrink and speeds rise.

"When circuits switch, they draw current from the power supply, but there is a finite inductance that occurs in the power and ground return path," said Huang. "When the current speeds increase, the ground bounce effect also increases."

Huang said that while the ground bounce effect is not new, it has become more of a mainstream problem today as clock speeds increase.

These effects occur not only in IC designs but also in packages and PCBs. Thus, the O-Wave line consists of the O-Wave PKG, O-Wave PCB and O-Wave IC tools. All use the same underlying algorithms but accept formats specific to their use. The O-Wave PKG and PCB products work with Gerber files and PCB vendor layout files, such as Cadence Allegro. O-Wave IC works with GDSII files.

Semi-automatic 3D

After inputting file formats into the O-Wave tool, users fill out a series of questions in a spreadsheet format. "Based on those answers, we build a 3D model semi-automatically for users and then solve the electromagnetic field and come up with a solution the user wants," said Kuo.

Kuo said that where other full-wave tools are limited in capacity and simulation performance, O-Wave is a multigrid finite-element tool that uses a Krylov order-reduction algorithm to home in on problem components and nets, and then analyze them in detail.

Kuo said the tool targets critical components, such as spiral inductors in a RF IC or a few high-speed I/O nets in a mixed-signal design, which require very accurate 3D full-wave simulations.

Instead of solving the Maxwell's equations directly with the finest meshes--a slow and tedious process used by other full-wave tools--O-Wave's multigrid technique uses the electric-field solution with coarse meshes as an initial guess, and quickly finds a convergent, more accurate solution with finer meshes, said Kuo.

The Krylov order-reduction technique further improves CPU time by arriving at S-parameters for all frequencies based on solutions at only a few expansion points, said Kuo. This, he said, allows it to run 10 times faster than 3D full-wave products on the market.

The company says the O-Wave tools consume only one-third of the memory currently required by competing products.

O-Wave PKG, O-Wave PCB and O-Wave IC, running on Windows OS, start at $60,000.

- Michael Santarini

EE Times





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