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IPL/iPDK – What it is and why we feel it's important

What it is:

The IPL (Interoperable PDK Libraries) Alliance is an industry standard organization established to develop an interoperable eco-system for custom design. The current focus is to create and promote standards for interoperable PDK and analog constraints. For additional information, please visit IPL's website.

Why we feel it's important:

The basic design components for custom-IC design are delivered in the form of process design kits (PDK).

Key components of the PDK are the fundamental building blocks for designing custom circuitry: transistors, resistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors, etc and PDKs have various models to represent these devices. Models for use in simulation, symbols for use in schematics and parameterized cells (PCells) for use in layout.

Most formats for representing PCells are, for historical reasons, proprietary to the EDA tools from specific vendors. iPDK and IPL begin to bring industry standards for representing PCells in the OpenAccess database that are interoperable across all EDA tools. The promise: Write and qualify the PCell library once and deploy it everywhere. This has the potential to become a productivity breakthrough allowing foundries and design houses to achieve levels of efficiency.

TSMC was the first foundry to adopt this model with the iPDK offering based on the IPL standard. Since then, many companies have joined the effort. Today iPDK style kits are in development and deployment at many of the IPL partner companies.

Mentor Graphics supports the iPDK / IPL effort in two ways. First, existing custom IC tools are enhanced to support iPDK as a second source of PDK technology alongside the existing proprietary mechanisms. Secondly, all future tools supporting the OpenAccess data model will utlilize iPDK style device libraries as the primary mechanism for implementing interoperable PCells.

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