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Sequence Design introduces 'formal' power grid verification

Posted: 28 Sep 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ic power management? sequence design Inc.? ic power grid integrity? coolcheck?

Looking to build on its reputation as an established provider of IC power management technology, Sequence Design Inc. rolled out a new product focused on another thermal issue!IC power grid integrity.

The product, known as CoolCheck, is said be the first tool to provide "formal" power grid verification. According to Sequence, CoolCheck can run faster and earlier in the design cycle than traditional approaches to power grid verification, which Jerry Frenkil, Sequence's chief technology officer and vice president of advanced development, believes are no longer adequate for advanced designs.

"If you have fundamental problems in the power grid, it's best to find them early, before using more sophisticated technologies and methods," Frenkil said.

According to Sequence, CoolCheck is also able to detect errors that elude static and dynamic voltage-drop analysis. The tool checks the connectivity of every cell to the power grid, using a patent-pending technique to calculate the strength of each connection and highlighting weak connections.

Because CoolCheck is vectorless, it catches errors that vector-dependent static and dynamic analysis techniques may fail to catch, according to Sequence. Static and dynamic analysis tools can detect physical connectivity errors, but, Sequence said, not all electrical connectivity errors, which are dependent on vectors that may not exercise all parts of the design.

"The current approach is just taking a snapshot and assessing, on a static or average approach, how well the grid is performing," Frenkil said. "CoolCheck not only checks to see if the grid is connected properly, it provides the information needed to make it perform better."

CoolCheck uses standard industry inputs, such as physical databases, Verilog netlists, and Synopsys .lib files. The tool offers multiple outputs!ASCII format, a thermal map pinpointing problem areas or an interactive display highlighting current paths.

CoolCheck is designed to be used immediately after the placement/power grid routing step in the power grid flow. In addition to formal grid verification, the tool is used in static IR drop analysis, dynamic voltage drop analysis and optimization and, later in the flow, power grid signoff.

Errors detected by CoolCheck include circuitous connections to the grid, power-grid disconnects and, most commonly according to Frenkil, missing vias.

Concerns about heat dissipation and battery life have pushed power to the top of most design team's list of concerns. A number of startups promising power solutions have sprouted up over the past couple of years to address the problem. With a decade of experience under its belt, privately-held Sequence believes it has the maturity and wisdom to continue as a leader the space. CoolCheck, in fact, is based on internal technology that has existed within Sequence for several years.

"They have really been taking a leadership position in power," Gary Smith, lead EDA analyst at Gartner Dataquest, said of Sequence. "The power grid issue is becoming a new way of designing. CoolCheck looks like a pretty good tool."

According to Frenkil, between the new product and Sequence's established CoolTime static/dynamic power grid analysis product line!which is fully compatible with CoolCheck!the company has two major segments of IC power covered.

"We've got the experience, seen the problems, and have the complete vision of power issues," Frenkil said. "We have a lot of technology that we've built up over the years."

CoolCheck is available now, with North American pricing beginning at $80,000 for a one-year license.

- Dylan McGrath

EE Times

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