The Business of DFM

David Thon, Cadence Design Systems -- Cadence supplies a broad range of advanced physical verification, extraction, analysis, and RET solutions serving the DFM market segment. These solutions include Assura, Diva, Dracula, Cadence Physical Verification System, Cadence QRC Extraction, VoltageStorm, the Virtuoso RET Suite, Cadence Chip Optimizer and others.

Dwayne Burek, Magma Design Automation - Magma provides a complete RTL-to-GDSII implementation system. This is complemented with a model-characterization environment and physical-verification system. Magma can really provide a full solution from characterization to physical verification sign-off.

DFM is definitely an essential component to the complete solution. As Such, some DFM-related technology is bundled within our implementation solution while some of the advanced DFM capabilities are sold separately. Magma has two products on the implementation side that address DFM: Blast Yield, a generic DFM solution, and Blast Yield TX, a TSMC 65-nanometer specific DFM solution.

The pull from customers really depends somewhat on their process node plans. Those at 90 nanometers with plans to transition shortly to 65 nanometers, are more focused on qualifying the 65-nanometer solution and are comfortable with their current 90-nanometer solution. Those that plan to continue to use 90-nanometers for some time, are more interested in having a solution for that node. Thus, the urgency for solutions is really split, since at 65-nanometers, DFM will be a requirement -- at 90 nanometers, it is somewhat a nice-to-have unless all your high-volume business is centered there and any yield improvements translate directly to the bottom-line.

Joe Sawicki, Mentor Graphics -- We have tools in all of the major categories: DRC, parasitic extraction, physical analysis, including MDP, DFT, OPC, verification, yield analysis, lithography analysis, and chip polishing.

Mike Gianfagna, Aprio Technologies -- Aprio sells both design and manufacturing tools. We believe you need core competency in both markets to make a real contribution to DFM. On the manufacturing side, we sell litho-repair tools and OPC tools. On the design side, we sell a tool that quickly and accurately predicts what a layout will look like when printed in silicon. We only provide the data here -- we work with existing tool providers to integrate this data to provide the end-user benefit.

Naeem Zafar, Pyxis Technology -- We are not making money yet, but we intend to later this year.

Nitin Deo, Ponte Solutions -- Ponte has been selling Yield Analyzer for analysis of libraries, memories, and full-chip designs at 130 nanometers, 90 nanometers and 65 nanometers. This model-based analysis includes defect-limited-yield issues that are highly design dependent and cannot be detected by traditional DRC tools or any rule-based tools like P&R. With 4 out of the 5 largest foundries endorsing Ponte's accuracy, designers are beginning to use our tools for analysis as well as verification. Now is prime time for yield!

Riko Radojcic, Qualcomm -- We are an end user of DFM technologies, and surely expect to make money from it -- through faster ramps and better yields. In the short term, we expect to use shape simulators (for litho/etch effects), critical area simulators (for defectivity analyses), thickness simulators (for CMP effects), and tools that help optimize leakages through design-driven OPC.

Srinivas Raghvendra, Synopsys -- We think of DFM tools as those that are involved in tapeout and post-tapeout activities. Tools such as Proteus OPC, CATS MDP, SiVL LRC, Test chips and Odyssey Yield Management Software are part of our DFM portfolio.

Thomas Blaesi, SIGMA-C -- We sell lithography simulation and our customers are semiconductor companies, fabless and IDMs, and foundries. Our product is used primarily for process development and, more and more, lithography simulation also is required in the post-OPC signoff flow to verify the OPC patterns and to make sure designs are litho-friendly and yield well.

Won-Young Jung, Nanno SOLUTIONS -- Our product is a process-aware statistical worst-case modeler for interconnects.

Yervant Zorian, Virage Logic -- Yes, we do make money out of DFM, but not by selling a stand-alone DFM offering, rather by integrating DFM solutions into our products. Virage Logic as an IP provider that not only uses DFM tools and methodology while designing its physical IP, but also builds into the same IP the necessary manufacturability for the IP to repair itself upon manufacturing and result in optimal yield -- this is know in the industry as "silicon-aware" IP. The price of our Silicon-aware IP includes the capability of our products to test and repair themselves.

2) Has the skepticism over DFM subsided a bit over the last 18 months as far as being a revenue-generating business opportunity -- in other words, are DFM vendors silencing their critics by actually making some money?

Jacob Jacobsson, Blaze DFM -- Companies that are targeting yesterday's hot technologies, such as OPC/RET, have an uphill climb due to the dominance of the two market leaders in those technologies. Those of us that have been able to identify different needs that are growing in importance, but that are still woefully under-served, such as the rising importance of leakage power and variability below 100 nanometers, will continue to do very well.

Atul Sharan, Clear Shape -- My personal bet is that DFM, though a newer technology area, will easily surpass ESL in revenue by end of 2007 - if not before - and remember RET/OPC is NOT DFM revenue. As for a preview of which EDA vendors will make money … the designers and the foundries have already started speaking out as to which companies are actually solving their DFM problems in a useful manner.

Chenmin Hu, Anchor Semiconductor -- Anchor has paying customers including design companies, foundries and IDMs, with multiple over-million-dollar accounts. The difficulties in revenue generation have been mainly due to the lack of process data availability to both the design community and DFM venders. Anchor is the only DFM start-up providing solutions to both IC manufacturers and designers. It has enabled Anchor so far to generate more revenue from foundries and IDMs than fabless companies. TSMC starts to make its process data available for its customers in DFM applications. Significant DFM revenue generation from design companies is expected starting from Q4 this year.

Dale Pollek, ChipMD -- In our specific niche, there has not been as much a problem with skepticism but it has mostly been the very poor situation of lack of budgets for ANY EDA tools for the last three to four years as the EDAC and Dataquest numbers confirm. BUT, 2006 definitely is showing good growth opportunities and optimism of many more companies engaging with us.

To your last point, yes, deals are happening and improving more recently, but it seems this is mostly due to the entire market recovering and starting to really do new designs. There is a small portion of the cause being helping educate the user base to get past the really bad experiences they had from the first two generations of attempting to provide circuit optimization and analog automation tools. Maybe the most important reason is that more companies are now experiencing the problems of nanometer processes and venturing into the next smaller level of IC Process that they now know they must find a solution like ours.

It is nice to note here that at ISSCC earlier this year, an IBM technical expert commented that the old methods will not work and that only the worst-case approach can address this (DesignMD is the only commercial implementation of WC technology). So, as the word is getting out, more are becoming informed, and this is getting them excited/concerned and therefore engaging with us.

David Thon, Cadence Design Systems -- We don't believe there's that much skepticism about the business opportunity for DFM. Major EDA vendors have been successful for years in this market segment.

Dwayne Burek, Magma Design Automation - No. Most revenue today is being made by vendors selling tools like OPC to the fabs. Otherwise, customers tend to view DFM as a necessary feature in existing tools (e.g., P&R and DRC) to support 65 nanometers. This is why Magma has tried to separate out the advanced DFM features from those that are the necessary features in any P&R and DRC tool.

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Ronald'
    I've been following Peggy's article for more than three years. It is always fresh and informative. This article gives you a quick history (see NTI section) and future vision (see OPC/RET section).

      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Ronald'
    I've been following Peggy's article for more than three years. It is always fresh and informative. This article gives you a quick history (see NTI section) and future vision (see OPC/RET section).

      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

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