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Expanding the DFM market

Posted: 02 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DFM market? EDA industry? IC layout?

Moretti: The electrical and mechanical characteristics of the package are an integral part of the PCB design, so the oft-lamented absence of tools and papers dedicated to PCB issues is likely to be a thing of the past.

The acquisition by Apache Design Solutions Inc. of Optimal Corp. is a clear signal that the EDA industry is adapting to provide designers with tools that allow them to work on the entire system, not just parts that have different physical characteristics.

The design of PCBs was the first application developed by the companies pioneering the EDA industry. Schematics design capture was the first application sold with the proprietary workstations, following the blueprint Calma and Computervision developed for IC layout applications.

PCB layout followed and another major step forward was taken when schematics and layout applications began to share the same design database. Analysis tools followed, aimed mostly at signal integrity and EMI applications. Manufacturing improvements allowed miniaturization of PCBs and increasing operating speeds, and power considerations made the connections between the PCB and packages more critical.

Today's applications are very power-sensitive, because all applications are sensitive to thermal conditions and portable applications must conserve power as much as possible. The I/O functions are critical in this context, because they generally require the highest power value available in the IC and because they connect the die, whose environment is controllable by IC designers, with the outside portion of the system, which has been normally fixed.

Consider package
This fact is proving unworkable and a few EDA vendors have started to offer tools that allow the concurrent design of the die and the package as one integrated system. Therefore, the package characteristics can now be taken into consideration while planning the IC power budget and while performing the place and route of the IC.

Reintroduction vehicle
The electrical and mechanical characteristics of a package are an integral part of a PCB design, so the oft-lamented absence of tools and papers dedicated to PCB issues at the Design Automation Conference (DAC) is likely to be a thing of the past. I find it interesting that the design-for-manufacturing sector is the vehicle for this reintroduction, since many questions were askedeven during the last DACabout the viability of some of the startup companies addressing the market segment.

- Gabe Moretti
Editor, Gabe on EDA

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