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Ciranova solution enables reuse of p-cells

Posted: 16 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronic design automation? Ciranova? IC layout tool? chip layout? OpenAccess?

EDA startup Ciranova Inc. said it will roll out this week a solution for the creation and reuse of parameterized IC layout cells (p-cells). As a result, both new and legacy p-cells can be read by any tool based on the OpenAccess database.

Most analog-IC layouts are done using p-cells, but until now p-cells have been readable only by Cadence Design Systems Inc.'s market-leading Virtuoso layout editor. That's because p-cells have been written in Skill, a language proprietary to Cadence. Ciranova's products let users create p-cells using a Python-based application programming interface. They also let users apply legacy Skill p-cells in any OpenAccess offering.

Although it hasn't made any public product announcements until now, Ciranova has been offering free downloads of its PyCell Studio tool since January. PyCell Studio lets users create p-cells. New this week is PCell Xtreme, a product that lets users migrate legacy p-cells.

"The real news is that we now have a complete solution, when you couple PyCell Studio with PCell Xtreme," said Dave Millman, Ciranova's vice president of marketing. PyCell Studio alone, he noted, assumes that users are developing p-cells from scratch. While some are, nearly every analog IC designer has legacy p-cells, he said.

PyCell Studio includes a Python-based layout API with classes and methods; an interactive layout viewer for OpenAccess cells; a PyCell integrated development environment with debugging capabilities; an OpenAccess library generator; a PyCell developer kit; and PyCell Explorer, which provides immediate visual feedback on new coding ideas.

PCell Xtreme, on the other hand, allows users to migrate legacy Skill p-cells through a caching scheme that pulls them directly into the OpenAccess database. According to Millman, it takes advantage of the fact that p-cells are programs that never have representations on disk. Virtuoso, he said, executes the p-cell code and creates a "submaster" that exists in virtual memory. The p-cell can then be displayed.

As Virtuoso executes p-cell code, Millman said, PCell Xtreme caches the p-cell layout directly to the OpenAccess database. That does two things, Millman said: It allows any OpenAccess-based tool to use the p-cell layout, and "because it's read from a disk, it's blazing fast."

When a company installs PCell Xtreme, Millman said, it will run in the background as engineers create IC layouts with Virtuoso. PCell Xtreme thus requires the use of Virtuoso. But that's not a problem, Millman said, since "there are zero users in the world who have Skill p-cells but do not have Virtuoso."

Millman noted that PCell Xtreme does not translate the Skill code, so "there's never a question about whether the Ciranova interpreter is creating the exact same results as the Cadence interpreter, because there is no Ciranova interpreter."

PCell Xtreme will be available at the end of December, priced at $4,000 per seat. Enterprise licenses are available with 25 seats or more. PyCell Studio will remain a free product, available for download at the company's website.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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