July 25, 2005
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!


On July 12, 2005 Synopsys announced that its Galaxy Design Platform and Design For Manufacturing tool suite support the entire Open Artwork System Interchange Standard (OASIS) file transfer format with all current production releases. All relevant Synopsys software now support the OASIS format for design and production, including; Astro, IC Compiler, CATS, Hercules, Proteus, SiVL and Star-RCXT software products. These products provide the full benefit of OASIS' file compression capability and support the entire specification including the ability to process CBLOCK records which embed compressed data for additional compactness. Synopsys was an early participant in the Semiconductor
Equipment and Materials International Data Path Task Force Working Group (SEMI DPTF-WG) that defined the new format.

This follows the announcement last September by Mentor Graphics that its
Calibre product line is accepting OASIS files and supporting OASIS output in the upcoming 2004.3 production release scheduled for September 2004. It includes the GDS-to-OASIS translator, which in June 2004 was made publicly and freely available for validation and verification of the new format via a download from the corporate website.

In November 2004 SoftJin, an Indian EDA company, released a free suite of IC design layout data exchange libraries and tools for use by IC designers and EDA product companies. This included GDSII and OASIS readers, writers and GDSII-to-OASIS translator, in source code form. The software suite was named Anuvad which means translation in the Sanskrit language.

At that time Mr Nachiket Urdhwareshe, CEO of Softjin, said "SoftJin has been providing customized EDA tool development services to semiconductor and EDA companies across the design flow, including post layout Mask data preparation tools. The Anuvad suite's release shall complement SoftJin's customized EDA software development service offerings in the physical design automation, post-layout data processing and mask data preparation domain. Specifically, our aim is to be the leading player in providing customized post-layout tools as well as point tools based on OASIS. We have the capability to develop the tools that use the native features of OASIS format, thus extracting the maximum data
size reduction, efficient data handling and other benefits enabled by the OASIS format."

SoftJin is an EDA software development services company founded in 2000 and headquartered in Bangalore that develops EDA tools for the specific requirements of semiconductor and EDA companies.

In January 2005 MicroEDA announced the launching of GDS Tools to offer IC viewers, tools and translators for the EDA industry. All products are purchased over the Internet via the GDSTools.com website. CoolView is a viewing and navigation system for GDS-II, LEZF, DEF, OpenAccess, Oasis and other formats priced at $295. QuickTrans is a GDS II, OPenAccess, Oasis, DXF and Gerber Multidirectional translator. Each translator is priced at $195 or all can be purchased for $495.

What is Oasis (Open Artwork System Interchange Standard)?

The situation in 2001 as described by SEMI was that “GDS II, the predecessor to Oasis, had been the de facto standard for layout interchange for more than two decades. The old format, limited by 16-bit and 32-bit internal integer fields, by its inefficient representation of cell-native geometric figures, and by high structural overhead, was becoming difficult to use for leading-edge designs, and file sizes were becoming unwieldy, in some cases growing to many tens of gigabytes.”

The goals set out for the Oasis were to:
- Achieve at least an order-of-magnitude file size improvement compared to GDSII Stream.

- Remove all 16-bit and 32-bit integer width restrictions; make the new format fully 64-bit capable.

- Efficiently represent cells with large payloads of flat native geometric figures.

- Provide a richer information palette to facilitate interchange of layout-related information between design and manufacturing.
In a paper entitled “OASIS - based data preparation flows: Progress report on containing data size explosion” by Steffen Schultz and Pat Lacour, both from Mentor Graphics, the authors published the results of 11 tests cases in GDS II and Oasis formats. According to the paper “Experimental data gathered based on an implementation of OASIS v. 1.0 shows that the target of a 10x average file size reduction for design data has been achieved and is exceeded in many cases for both design data and data post the application of the optical proximity correction.”

Oasis 1.0 was approved by SEMI in July 2003. The specification was made available via download in September 2003.

The driving force behind Oasis was Tom Grebinski. He was an unlikely candidate for this role in that his background was chemistry not electronics. He talked with various semiconductor industry executives about whether GDS II would limit their capabilities to move forward. The answer was a resounding yes. He decided to do something about the situation. He brought together some industry luminaries like Roger Sturgeon, the creator of GDS II, to support him in leading an effort to change GDS II to a new more efficient and richer format. With their help he got a number of technical people involved, put out a press releases announcing the effort and set out to sell the idea of changing form
GDS II to Oasis. He became the chairman of the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International Data Path Task Force Working Group (SEMI DPTF WG).

At time he began this effort Grebinski was in charge of strategic partnerships and alliances for Micronic Laser Systems, a Swedish firm. They funded his effort and along with SEMI the meetings themselves. Participants in the group had to be involved not just show up at meetings. Intel and others formally assigned people to the project and funded their effort and travel. Micronic owned 95% of the mask pattern generation market for flat panel displays. Their internal formats were very close to the GDS II format. Micronic had decided to move into the semiconductor market. They wanted GDS II to be more of a de facto standard in the mask shop than Mebus or VSB11 format because when they
received data in other formats they had to reverse engineer it, back it out and bring it into their GDS II-like format. This was problematic and costly. So they saw Oasis as a possible solution to that problem.

This turned out to be a two year effort. IBM, AMD and others developed their own translators and ran the test suites to measure how efficient the specification was at a given point in time.

Grebinski says that the consensus is that Oasis has so many capabilities it will take another five years to exploit them all. He thinks that 99% of current implementation have yet to exploit most of the features. Other capabilities within Oasis for the expression of data will give efficiencies in terms of optimality. Consequently, one can expect even greater bit efficiencies over time until one reaches the point of diminishing return. According to Tom Oasis was difficult to do, so he doesn't envision anyone trying something else for some time.

An example of an advanced capability is partial and selective encryption. This allows the user to encrypt all but the cells and layers they want a third party to access. Such an encrypted file remains compliant and thus can be read by any OASIS reader. Furthermore, such an encrypted file can maintain an ability to be modeled relative to the rest of the encrypted design.

In August 2004 Grebinski formed his own company Oasis Tooling. Oasis Tooling has built a set of verification and acceptance tools and utilities for OASIS. These tools are extensible and portable enough that they can be used by any company who has their own internal databases and CAD tools. They can be used by the same companies to verify quality and optimality of an OASIS implementation offered by a commercial EDA company or one offered by makers of OASIS ready mask pattern generators.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.

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