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Integrated DFM solutions still lacking

Posted: 05 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design? DFM? design for manufacturing? integrated DFM? tool flow?

EDA has done a great job of raising awareness of design-for-manufacturing (DFM) issues, but integrated DFM solutions remain scarce, according to Walter Ng, senior director of platform alliances at Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing.

In a presentation at the SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference last week, Ng spelled out to the vendors that the so-called Common Platform Alliance, started by Chartered and Samsung, is using for DFM and cited an oft-repeated complaint: EDA vendors have yet to fully integrate DFM into the flow.

"There are some good point tools out there," Ng said. "But those point tools have limited value unless we can integrate them into the flow."

Ng said the Common Platform Alliancewhich now includes Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Infineon Technologies AG and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in addition to IBM and Charteredhas been working with the Cadence Design Systems Inc., Synopsys Inc. and Magma Design Automation Inc. to incorporate DFM functionality in place-and-route tools. To date, this work has resulted in "small changes" to routers, Ng said, adding that he believes the three vendors are on the verge of taking some big steps and "really adding some smarts into routing."

Ng said the alliance is pushing the vendors to include chemical mechanical polishing (CMP)-, lithography- and critical area analysis (CAA) into tool flows. "But we are probably a year or more away from attaining an integrated flow that includes these capabilities," he acknowledged.

Ng noted that there remains no consensus on the definition of DFM, saying that the differences in designer approaches to the problem are often dramatically different. "There is a lot of discussion in the industry about the definition of DFM," Ng said. "Different customers have a different understanding and want to have a different takeaway from it."

While the conventional wisdom suggests that DFM means taking a more conservative approach to design to improve yield, some designers see it as an opportunity to do more aggressive design, Ng said.

In addition, Ng called for standardization effort around DFM, saying such effort would reduce cost of DFM implementation and "keep EDA vendors focused on the tools rather than fighting over interfaces and model formats."

Asked what the next area of process variability that would become a focus after CMP and CAA, Ng declined to answer, saying there are too many possibilities to list. It remains to be seen, he added, how significant any of these possibilities might be.

"If it isn't clear what overall impact these effects could have, it's not going to be something that designers care about," Ng said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times




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