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Graham Etchells, Director of Product Marketing at Synopsys
Graham Etchells, Director of Product Marketing at Synopsys
Graham Etchells started in EDA before it was termed EDA. He has held marketing and sales positions at several companies and has been chasing the holy grail of analog/custom layout automation ever since he was a marketing director at Cadence in the mid-1990s. He says past experience indicates we may … More »

Custom Compiler Layout Assistants (Part 1)

June 1st, 2016 by Graham Etchells, Director of Product Marketing at Synopsys

As mentioned previously, on March 30th Silicon Valley was buzzing with excitement. Synopsys revealed Custom Compiler, a fresh approach to custom design that employs visually-assisted automation technologies to speed up common design tasks, reduce iterations and enable reuse at the SNUG Silicon Valley event. During this event, the R&D folks did a walkthrough of the technology ‘under-the-hood’ and showed the audience some cool layout assistants that leverage the graphical use model familiar to layout designers while eliminating the need to write complicated code and constraints. [Click here to view the videolog of the SNUG event.]

One of the layout assistants that was shown was the symbolic editor. This really is a must-have assistant when it comes to placing devices that need to be in a specific interdigitated pattern, like a differential pair. In the schematic, it is two symbols, but in the layout it could be hundreds of devices. The symbolic editor allows device placement to be edited in an easy and graphical manner and comes with a rich collection of predefined placement patterns. If you find a placement pattern you like, you can simply use it as-is and the symbolic editor will generate a correct-by-construction placement that you can instantiate in your layout. If you don’t find an exact match, you can easily use a pattern that is similar to what you need and rearrange the placement pattern graphically. No constraints to enter, no code to write and layout is done in minutes vs. hours.


Example of patterns for a differential pair

Using the symbolic editor, a layout engineer can make simple graphical choices of how the layout needs to look and then have the placement taken care of by the placement engine. You can easily add or remove placement rows and columns, as well as insert dummy devices. The symbolic editor also supports device merging and splitting and is the fastest way to achieve correct layout. The symbolic editor is particularly well-suited for FinFET-based designs, but is equally as good on planar CMOS nodes. Generating the devices and placing them such that they meet all the design rules and will produce a robust working design is about 30% of the layout time. Using a layout assistant like the symbolic editor really speeds this task up and allows the layout engineer to gain back some of the productivity that gets lost due to the complexity of the FinFET process.

Check out Synopsys’ new Custom Compiler webisode 1 to see the symbolic editor in action. Or register to view the webinar describing the benefits of Custom Compiler Visually-assisted Automation. And, of course, if you’ll be in Austin for DAC, don’t miss the Custom Compiler lunch event on Tuesday, June 7.

I’ll be highlighting more features of the Custom Compiler layout assistants in future posts.

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