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14th OpenAccess Conference

Joe Davis

Joe Davis

Posted Oct 26, 2009

Recently, I attended the latest OpenAccess (OA) conference put on by Si2. Attendance this year seemed to be up from last year. Whether the increased attendance was due to the increased adoption that we’ve seen in the industry or the fact that the conference was free this year is unclear. However, it is crystal clear that OA is no longer just a promise, and that adoption has moved from the true early adopters into the mainstream market. Adoption is still in its early stages when you view the industry as a whole, but both our own experiences and the presentations at the conference show that customers want to use OA “out of the box” for their design flows. Perhaps the strongest statement came from Mark Magnum of MicroMagic, who said that OA support was a customer requirement for at least 10 of the evaluations for their 3D layout tool.

Much of the activity revolves around the battle for a piece of the custom design market. Cadence has been aggressively deploying their OA-based version of Virtuoso for several years now and all of the other players either have OA products on the market or in development. Eric Leavitt of Synopsys introduced their new OA-based custom design tool, cleverly named Galaxy Custom Designer. Eric gets the award for the best quote of the day — “GUI — such a small word, such a lot of code.” Can’t agree more, Eric.

Of course, tool developers are finding out that just being on OA doesn’t automatically mean that your tool can completely reproduce everything that is in Virtuoso. There are some very key bits of the database that Cadence was smart enough to keep to themselves. You can be sure that the developers at Cadence will be amusing themselves for years with a lively game of “keep away” with those key pieces, to ensure that Virtuoso compatibility is an ongoing challenge for their competitors.

Another interesting talk was from Michaela Guiney, Change Team Co-Architect from Cadence. While she covered all of the expected topics such as bugs fixed, new enhancements, and so forth, the part that I found most interesting was about constraints for 32nm. Cadence is currently working with customers to define and implement new constraint types for 32nm processes and expects to contribute them in mid-2010. According to Michaela, the focus is on representing those constraints relevant to routers, ala LEF/DEF rules. When asked whether the constraints would also cover the DFM constraints that Jake Burma talked about, she answered (paraphrased) “Yes, we should cover the DFM rules and more for the routers.” The constraints sound like an elegant solution, although it seems that they will always be behind the technology curve, since it requires new code for each new constraint type — which has to go through development, testing, donation, deployment, etc. I am interested to see how this evolves.

Finally, my favorite talk of the day was from Luigi Capodieci now at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. Even though his talk wasn’t really about OpenAccess, his presentation was my favorite for two reasons. First, he talked in depth about how DFM-related issues can affect yield and performance variability in real life and he set a vision for the foundry to provide “IDM-like” DFM collaboration to foundry customers. This is a tall order, but Luigi and his team have a lot of experience with providing infrastructure to get bleeding edge designs to yield well. The second reason is that Luigi showed screenshots of Calibre RVE and Calibre LFD in his examples of how GLOBALFOUNDRIES has implemented their DFM flows. We in the Calibre team have been collaborating closely with AMD, the progenitor of GLOBALFOUNDRIES , for many years (see refs: 2006, 2009_a, 2009_b, Gabe on EDA) and look forward to continuing that work as they move into the foundry business as GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

Calibre, Constraints, Adoption, OpenAccess, Interfaces, Interoperability

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About Joe Davis

Joe DavisJoe Davis' career in the IC industry spans over 20 years at high-profile companies such as Analog Devices, Texas Instruments and PDF Solutions. He has worked on both sides of the EDA relationship, both designing ICs, and developing tools for IC designers and manufacturers. He is now Mentor's Product Manager for Calibre interactive and integration products where he applies his expertise in data visualization and engineering workflow. Prior to joining Mentor Joe was the senior product manager for yield simulation products at PDF Solutions where he managed semiconductor process-design technologies and services, including yield simulation and analysis tools. Joe enjoys sailing, gardening, hiking and living and working in new places and cultures, having built teams on three different continents. Joe earned his BSEE, MSEE and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. Visit Joe Davis' Blog

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Comments 2

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Joe, thanks for the update. I know that you're on the Calibre product, but when will IC Station support OA?

Daniel Payne
11:49 PM Oct 26, 2009

Joe, Good stuff. I missed the conference because of business travel, so I appreciate your insight. A couple of comments: 1. Attendance was also up because Si2 only did one conference this year instead of two. But we do see interest increasing. 2. A key thing about OpenAccess is that the only reason for a customer to care about it is interoperability. From a vendor standpoint, running on OA is pretty straightforward, but being really interoperable is a lot of work. OA can enable interoperability, but it doesn't come free out of the box except for read-write. I think you will see some really cool interoperability features in the near future as companies figure out how to use it to best effect. 3. Organizations like the IPL and TSMC's iPDK efforts are going to make a big difference in leveling the playing field.

4:49 PM Oct 27, 2009

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