Midnight at the OASIS

Peggy - Are the Synopsys surveys available publicly, or are they proprietary?

Tracy - These are internal surveys of our customers.

Peggy - Can you name the customers?

Tracy - Not at this time, but they include all of the major IDMs, plus foundries and fabless companies.

Peggy - Tracy, I forgot to ask you to fully introduce yourself.

Tracy - My name is Tracy Weed and I spent a number of years with IBM before joining Numeritech, which focuses on the RET space. We were bought by Synopsys in 2003, and I was part of the transition of CATS into Synopsys. I'm responsible for the product, as well as the manufacturing tools that Synopsys is providing to the industry.

And, yes - I would say that 10 percent of the companies [now working with OASIS] is highly representative of what's going on in the industry.

Tom - I would agree. Oh, and another company I missed … TSMC is also using OASIS.

Peggy - Are these companies using OASIS exclusively, or in addition to GDSII?

Tracy - In addition to … for selected products, they're using OASIS, but they're not removing GDSII from their flow. I don't think anybody is migrating 100 percent over to the OASIS flow at this time.

Tom - There are a number of customers we're dealing with now, who state they're [using OASIS] on their existing designs. But some of the more key players say they will not move GDSII designs over to OASIS just because of the complexity of making the conversion, [and concerns] about whether the conversion is correct. They want to stay with GDSII as long as products are being made [that support it]. They'll work [later with OASIS] on more critical designs that require file-size reduction.

As Tracy said, the real transition point is at the 65-nanometer node. Companies working in that space are definitely looking at OASIS.

Peggy - Can you give me a ball park figure for the costs of the conversion?

[Long silence…]

Peggy - Tom? Tracy?

Tracy - Do you mean in terms of resources?

Peggy - Yes.

Tracy - Probably it's a 3-to-6 month period of time, depending on the design, the layout, how many layers, what system they're using. There are some internal, proprietary systems that drive some additional complexity … unique problems specific to some of those customers. But [in general], I think it's 3 to 6 months. For Synopsys, all of our tools applicable to this space are fully implemented now with production versions of OASIS.

Tom - My feelings on this are a little bit different than Tracy's. I would say it's more like a year to 18 months [for a customer] to get their OASIS implementation qualified in the terms that Tracy and I are thinking of. Our focus [at OASIS Tooling] is on verification and acceptance of various tools, external tools, and CAD tools. From our perspective, it's taking a little bit longer to fully qualify an OASIS flow.

Tracy - It may also depend on how much of the flow you're looking at, plus the aggressiveness of particular customers. Some customers have longer-range plans.

Tom - Exactly. Some IDMs and foundries have been working on OASIS for a couple of years, but it takes time. It [requires] an investment in resources, and it's not an insignificant investment.

Tracy - As both Tom and I have mentioned, there were starry-eyed panacea visions of OASIS [that it would help with reducing] file sizes and deal with the 32-bit restrictions. But some of the delay, and the fact that the number [of companies making the transition] is no higher than 10 percent, is related to the complexity of these flows.

Once you get in and look at the legacy tools, some folks across different sites don't even know what they have installed now in those various places. Translators are required, but also customers' internal tools have to be updated and implemented in OASIS. All of this adds to the varying degrees of time that might be required to implement such a vast change.

Peggy - Remind me again. Why do we have to go there?

Tracy - Because of the file sizes. We typically are seeing 50 gig OASIS files, [and those are] translations down from GDSII files of between 500 and 600 gig. The file sizes are incredible. We've even heard of one prediction from a customer of a terabyte [sized file] by later this year. [Clearly], most people will be going to OASIS … it's just a matter of time.

While file size is important, OASIS by itself isn't the total answer. There are [actually] a lot of issues we end up with once the file gets too big. If you're designing with a 1-terabyte GDSII file, that's a 200 gig OASIS file, and then we're right back in the [problem] realm. It's just huge!

Really, what takes a lot of time here, once you get those files, is the read/write [part of the process]. I've seen estimates that 80 percent of your time is taken up with reading and writing those files. How do you accomplish all that you need [to do with those files], when the read/write takes so long?

Peggy - So, are there other strategies that are better than OASIS?

Tracy - One thing we've looked at with more and more OPC, is [taking structures] from hierarchical to flat. If you try to do read/write in an hierarchical environment, it takes considerably longer than looking at a flat field. By addressing each of these cells, rather than going back and forth, we're seeing significant improvement … 10x improvement in read/write times.

Tom - What Tracy mentioned makes a lot of sense, but it's a step back from OASIS. [The discussion about OASIS is about] its progress in terms of its maturity.

One thing we all agreed on at our early [SEMI OASIS standard] working group sessions, is that it will take 5 years [for the industry] to take full advantage of what exists inside of the OASIS format. A number of OASIS vendors are not implementing everything [yet] … there's just too much there. But over time, OASIS and its capabilities will improve within these companies. There will be additional work and upgrades to implement OASIS as users understand what can be done [using the standard].

Also, there are database-level limitations. Databases were getting large even before OPC … there was a choking of the databases. OASIS has the ability, based on what you can and cannot do, to increase the compaction of a database and drop the file size. With that, comes acceleration of the database because the translation of the database is relatively simple when you're outputing the OASIS file. You speed things up as an OASIS database. The exchange from a GDS database to OASIS can improve compaction and performance.

Tracy - I think we're certainly aware of the additional capabilities [that will come with] the maturity of the OASIS standard, and a number of additional things which need to be addressed. Tom's products, the OASIS tools he offers, have been helpful in moving the industry in a much quicker fashion than we would have been able to do without them.

We're continuing to work on it - compression and compaction of a CBlock within the OASIS file that is associated with the compression. There are public algorithms available for that. We're working extensively on that, and on our algorithms that we're using in conjunction with what's being offered. Tom's right - there's lots to be gained from OASIS, [particularly] the handling of the turnaround time as we go from 65 nanometers to 45 and 32.

There are a lot of things, in addition to OAIS, that the industry is going to have to address. Still there's a lot of benefit in the technology.

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