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Big speedup promised in library characterization

Posted: 01 Jun 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:library? characterization? standard cell? complex cell? zchar?

Library characterization has long been an arcane art, but startup Z Circuit Automation Inc. aims to change that with a tool that promises fast, automated, easy-to-use characterization of digital standard-cell libraries. ZChar produces performance models for standard cells, I/Os, memories and complex cells, the company said. It can characterize for timing, power and signal integrity.

By selling to circuit designers and library production engineers, ZChar can help forge a considerably larger market for characterization tools, said Edmond Macaluso, co-founder and president of Z Circuit Automation. "There are certainly people who have their own process and need to build libraries for that," he said. "But many companies will recharacterize commercial libraries to make sure that characterization is what they want."

Macaluso believes ZChar is distinctive because of its fast throughput. Its "parallel burst mode" can be used to optimize components like complex flip-flops. "Those can often take five or six hours to characterize, but by running in parallel, we can get it down to 30mins," he said. And its "single-step mode" can provide simulations of a specific characteristic of a circuit within minutes. It then provides waveforms and measurements to speed the analysis.

ZChar works with Synopsys' HSpice and Cadence Design Systems' Spectre simulators. It can also support "fast SPICE" simulators, Macaluso said.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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