Almost 10 years ago, as the industry was starting to adopt model-based OPC and other resolution enhancing techniques on a large scale, the ITRS got out its looking glass and saw an “explosion” in the size of the files used to describe chip layouts. As a result, a group of industry companies collaborated to create a SEMI spec for the OASIS format for layout data. The format was officially approved by SEMI in late 2005.
In 2006, Peggy Aycinena did a nice interview/article called “Midnight at the Oasis” on EDA Cafe (link to article). She interviewed a number of experts from industry, including Tom Grebinski and Mentor’s own Steffen Schulze, Dir. of Marketing for Calibre’s Mask Data Prep solutions. One of the interesting questions in that interview was about the shelf life of OASIS — how long would it last? Interestingly, the panel guessed “Yes, 10 years … until 2011, at least”. Now that it is 2011, it is even more interesting to see that OASIS has really been adopted as a standard only in the last few years and is still gaining speed. Definitely, we’ve moved from “midnight” to “dawn”, and we can expect to see OASIS start pushing back from the manufacturing areas where it has become dominant into the design areas where data size is swiftly becoming a problem.
There are many reasons why it has taken as long to really start adopting OASIS as the original panelists thought the format would last. As pointed out in James A. Rodger’s paper on diffusion of software innovation (see link), how innovations fit into organizational structures and processes can be as important or more important to adoption than the direct benefits of the innovation. My colleagues and I took a look at the actual adoption curve of OASIS in the industry and the forces affecting its adoption. The original paper was presented at the 2010 European Mask Conference in Grenoble, available online from the SPIE, and a general audience article was published on the DAC Knowledge Center. If you are interested in how OASIS has been adopted in the industry or in the diffusion of innovations in general, I encourage you to take a look.
The bottom line is that OASIS has become the de facto standard for post-TO layout files in the most advanced nodes and is rapidly moving back up the design flow. When your full chip GDSII is 30+Gb and the OASIS is 1Gb, you save a huge amount of time by not having to move those extra 29Gb in and out of your tools every day. Today, the leading edge chips are much bigger than 30Gb GDSII and OASIS really saves the day. Eventually, design flows will have to deal with OASIS even earlier in the design flow.