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Power-grid analysis tool gets a revamp

Posted: 08 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? mpu? superh? rlcsim?

Donald Bennett, a design engineer in Lochore, Scotland, is taking steps to make himself a one-man commercial EDA vendor.

Bennett formed RLCSim Co. after being laid off in 2002 by SuperH Inc., an MPU core vendor. He received great customer feedbackbut not salesfor his prelayout planning tool, RLCSim. Now Bennett has expanded the scope of the tool, changed its name to Picosim, changed his company's name to Quantum Design Automation Ltd, and is seeking venture backing.

"I have not been able to sell the original version of the tool," said Bennett. "The tool has now been completely rewritten in response to information from individuals and companies who have looked at or evaluated the tool over the last year. I now intend to market the tool to high-speed system builders as well as IC design companies," Bennett added.

Launched last year, the RLCSim tool was a simple electromagnetic field solver for simulating on-chip power noise. Now Bennett has expanded the technology to do analysis across the chip, package and PCB power grid.

The previous version of the tool used ideal voltage sources at the chip boundary, Bennett said. "This meant that energy exchanged between the on-chip power network and the external package and board-level components was not included," he said. "This is a serious limitation."

Customer feedback

After a year of beta testing and customer input, Bennett expanded the tool, providing an ability to connect package and board-level transmission lines and power supplies to the on-chip grid. "This correctly accounts for energy transmission, dissipation and reflection from different parts of the system," said Bennett.

Other features have also been added to the tool. "Any number of ICs with associated on-chip power grids, de-cap and dynamic current sources can be included in the simulation," said Bennett. "This correctly accounts for noise propagation between ICs and between power supplies and each IC."

Picosim can handle lumped capacitors, which are sometimes needed on packages or boards as large charge reservoirs close to an IC, Bennett said. Instead of using a GUI, users can now configure the tool using a transmission line netlist. This allows the tool to interface more easily with other commercial EDA offerings, Bennett said.

The technology, now in beta testing, is scheduled for launch before year's end, the entrepreneur said. An annual license will sell for $150,000.

"The current version is very stable and available to use free of charge over the Web until the end of the year," he said. Interested parties can sign up for trial usage at the Quantum Design site.

In a tutorial article located at EEdesign, Bennett describes a "symmetric" transmission-line design technique and simulation methodology that allows the simultaneous power analysis of chip, package and board-level components.

- Mike Santarini

EE Times

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