Solido Design Automation has introduced Variation Designer, a statistical tool used in analog/mixed signal, custom digital and memory IC design that helps overcome design challenges created by process variation.
“As customers move to advanced process nodes, they typically experience design loss. Either this is through over design, such as excess guard banding to keep yields high in the fab, or if designers want to be aggressive with power, they risk under design, in which case there is yield loss,” says Martin Harding, VP sales and marketing. He adds: “Whilst process variation data is already available in models from the foundry, this data is typically not utilised fully. The question is how to gather and use this data, which is where Solido comes in.”
Variation Designer automates the process of analysing and identifying process variation-related failure mechanisms, but 'cedes control to designers to use the information to fix those problems in an interactive manner.' The tool analyses the PDK data, identifying in the schematic the devices that are sensitive to process change and ranking them in order of sensitivity.
“Typically, yield problems are created by a relatively small number of devices, but it is it this handful that is a challenge for engineers to identify to get the design right,” adds Ian Yates, ceo of Sipeda Ltd, Solido's distributor in Europe.
Effectively an extension of its previous core product, SolidoSTAT, Variation Designer consists of a platform, with various plug-ins to suit specific statistical variation applications. There are seven of these so far, including Latin hypercube sampling and run-time feedback, corner discovery, statistical sweep/sensitivity analysis and high-sigma verification. Solido sees it as a 'buy what you need' approach, and says that more applications for statistical variation effects and well proximity effects will be made available in the future.
According to Harding: “Variation Designer is tightly integrated with simulation clusters such as Synopsys' HSPICE, foundry PDKs, and to Cadence's Analog Design Environment and Spectre. This means that the plug-in applications are available from within the Cadence design environment – customers won't need to re-integrate the additional variation tools.” It will also support other design flows in the near future, including custom flows.