Fabless/Foundry Ecosystem Solutions

You’re creating chips with high functionality, multiple operating modes, low power consumption, and extreme reliability—pushing the manufacturing process to the limit. But your advanced ICs are increasingly sensitive to the smallest manufacturing variations, and that affects both performance and yield. Mentor's Foundry Solutions can help you solve your design challenges.

15 November, 2014

test-picAre you a calm person? Or are you easily irritated? We all have our limits and pressure points—just like a design layout. Certain geometries may have a high failure rate in production. Circuitry may fail when confronted with an ESD event. When your design passes verification, does that mean it’s all good? In theory, yes. In reality, everyone knows that the real world is a tough place for electronics. Environmental stresses may reveal previously unknown fault points in a design. Some defects may not show up until the chip has been in operation for a long period of time.

That’s where test comes in. By adding test structures to a layout and running designs through strenuous and exhaustive tests, a test engineer can pinpoint those areas of a design likely to fail in real world operation. Reporting this information back to the design side lets test and design engineers  work together to eliminate potential design failure points and implement design layouts that will operate as intended for the planned life of the chip.

But if you don’t know much about IC test, you’re not alone. Which is why Bruce Swanson, Ron Press, and Martin Keim created the Design for Test Bootcamp series in the EDN Test & Measurement Design Center. In this series of blogs, they’ll introduce the basics of DFT and explain some of those unfamiliar terms and processes, like scan test, fault models, test compression, and much, much more. The first two blogs are already up, so take advantage of their expertise and learn how to avoid a market disaster for your products.

As for your own meltdowns? Maybe this will help…

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31 October, 2014

vending-3I recently returned from my first-ever trip to Japan. While I was enthralled by its beauty and history, entertained by both traditional and avant-garde theatre, and enticed by new food opportunities, it was five minutes of television that caught my attention one day. Although I didn’t understand a word of the report, the problem was obvious—all over the region, vending machines were spontaneously bursting into flames.

Vending machines seem to be everywhere in Japan. Not only are rows of them lined up where you expect them to be, in subway and train stations, close to shopping areas, and near tourist attractions, but individual machines also show up in suburban neighborhoods, tucked up next to houses and schools and small businesses. Not knowing when or why one of these machines might erupt in smoke and flames is understandably unnerving.


The report didn’t seem to identify a cause for these events, so of course, it could be faulty wiring, poor construction, or, just maybe, a bad IC chip. It’s not a stretch to assume a chip failure might be behind these spontaneous combustions.

So, how can you avoid becoming the lead story on the morning news? Reliability is a major challenge for today’s complex circuitry, and designers use a myriad of techniques to try and ensure design layouts will not only perform as intended, but will continue to perform as intended throughout their planned lifetime. Mentor provides designers with a variety of tools and strategies that can help identify and remove or modify design constructions that may cause or contribute to reliability failures. Here are just a few references to help you learn more:

Whether you’re a layout designer or a test engineer, reliability design and analysis is a crucial element of product (and by extension, market) success. With automation being incorporated into a wider variety of products than ever before, ensuring your chips will function properly, safely, and consistently is vital if you don’t want to see your reputation (and profits) going up in smoke.

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7 September, 2014

The 9th annual International Electrostatic Discharge Workshop (IEW) is being held May 4-7, 2015, at the Granlibakken Resort in LakeGranlibakken_Dusk Tahoe, CA. The Call for Papers promises glimpses of “friendly but shy” bears and other wildlife at the conference site, located at 6,350 feet up in a mountain valley. Frankly, I prefer my bears to be decidedly shy, if that means they’ll be close enough for pictures, but far enough away that I can outrun them to the nearest shelter!

But you shouldn’t be shy when it comes to putting this conference in your travel plans. If your work encompasses the design or testing of ESD protection for ICs, SoCs, or SiPs, these four days will be filled with the opportunity to learn about and share best practices, talk to others engaged in the same work, and explore a wide range of topics addressing the ESD/EOS challenges facing designers today.

Even better, speak up! Many people will often pass up the opportunity to submit an abstract for consideration because they think “My work isn’t new or groundbreaking,” or “I’m not an expert in this field.” Truth is, no one knows everything about a topic, and what you consider a routine process may be be an eye-opener to other people. And submission to IEW couldn’t be easier – it’s not a paper, but a PowerPoint presentation. I bet you’ve got one of those already in your files.

But don’t delay—the submission date is November 21st. If you want the full details, including a description of suggested topic areas, check out the full IEW Call for Papers.

Maybe that’s still too much pressure for you. If so, the IEW has a nifty “Open Poster” session, which is exactly what it sounds like – no deadlines, no reviews. Just show up with your poster and you’re in!

Whether you take a chance and submit a proposal, bring a poster to the free-for-all session, or just want to be among like-minded folks for a few days, the IEW is a great opportunity to share, discuss, and learn about ESD/EOS issues and solutions, particular for those in the fabless community.

And if you get a picture of one of those bears, I want to see it!

28 August, 2014

I have one opinion about electricity…if it’s invisible and it can kill you, it’s probably a good idea to avoid it. Now, some of my attitude is lightning_02 shaped by spending most of my childhood along the US Gulf Coast, where massive thunderstorms are an almost-daily occurrence during summer, and every little kid is taught to run for cover at the first rumble or flash. But that healthy fear means I still can’t (won’t) wire my own appliances, and I always struggle to remember the difference between voltage and amperage.

Fortunately for me, other people out there were not dissuaded from learning the minutiae of electrical circuits. Circuit verification and parasitic extraction at advanced nodes are facing a host of new challenges—finFET transistors, 3D chip assemblies, multi-patterning impacts, rising interconnect resistance, multiple power domains—and designers must ensure that their designs will not only function as intended, but will meet the exacting reliability and performance goals that today’s electronics require.

If you’re responsible for circuit verification or parasitic extraction, and you’d prefer to avoid major shocks during your design and verification flow, here are some good sources of information for you to peruse:

  • Are Multi-Patterning Corners Really Needed for 16/14 nm?
    Understanding the implications of multi-patterning and its effects on parasitic extraction will help designers determine the best extraction approach for their designs. Employing parasitic extraction tools that incorporate automated multi-patterning corner processing can help design teams reduce the runtime impact when multi-patterning corners are required.
    (EE Times SoC DesignLine)
  • Full 3D-IC parasitic extraction
    Learn how you can use Calibre 3DSTACK to enhance an ‘ideal’ parasitic extraction strategy to create a full 3D assembly-level, device-level parasitic netlist suitable for simulation and circuit analysis.
    (Tech Design Forum)
  • Designing And Testing FinFET-based IC Designs
    The introduction of FinFETs means that CMOS transistors must be modeled as three-dimensional (3D) devices during the IC design process, with all the complexity and uncertainty this entails. In addition, test and failure analysis is taking on new importance, because the critical dimensions of finFETs are smaller than the underlying node size
    (Semiconductor Engineering)
  • SoC Reliability Verification Doesn’t Just Happen, You Know
    Accurate and repeatable reliability verification is now a critical capability for both established and advanced nodes. Calibre PERC can help designers validate power intent at the transistor level, both in standalone IP and as part of a full SoC, in the same flow.
    (Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design)
  • Fast and Accurate Full-Chip Extraction and Optimization of TSV-to-Wire Coupling
    This DAC paper discusses the modeling and extraction of parasitic capacitance between TSVs and their surrounding wires in 3D ICs. It proposes a pattern-matching-based algorithm that considers the physical dimensions of TSVs and neighboring wires, and captures their field interactions to provide a fast and accurate full-chip extraction.
    (Design Automation Conference)

Now, it’s the red wire I need to watch out for, right? Or is it the black??…

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25 August, 2014

Sukharev_Valeriy_2013_02Are you stressed out over the effects of stress in your IC designs? Relaaaax…help is here!

A new publication on mechanical stress in ICs, co-edited by Valeriy Sukharev, Principal Engineer for Calibre R&D, has just been released by AIP Publishing. Stress-Induced Phenomena and Reliability in 3D Microelectronics includes papers from international workshops held in the U.S., Germany, and Japan. Management of mechanical stress is one of the key enablers for the successful implementation of 3D-ICs using through-silicon vias (TSVs). The potential stress-related impact of the 3D integration process on product reliability must be understood, and designers need solutions for identifying and managing stress effects.

The papers focus on Design-for-Reliability (DFR), and propose a stress management simulation flow that enables designers to model stress implications on their designs quantitatively. The papers also discuss multi-scale modelling and simulation, multi-scale materials parameters, and multi-scale analysis. Development of 3D-IC integration strategies provides a potential solution for overcoming the wiring limit imposed on interconnect density, performance, and power consumption of integrated circuits.

To order your copy of this AIP publication, click here. And chillax…stress is bad for people, too!

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18 August, 2014

Sawicki_Joseph_2014In a SPIE.TV interview, Joseph Sawicki, Vice-President and General Manager of the Design to Silicon division of Mentor Graphics, explains the challenges of moving from design abstraction to physical implementation to a successful yield.

“Design to silicon” is a complex process that continuously blends evolutionary trends, such as enhancements to 3D mask design and yield learning, with more revolutionary changes such as limiting the geometries and pattern options available to designers. How do we know what works? Design for test strategies insert circuitry into a design to enable us to determine if a device works properly after manufacturing. DFT helps fabless companies turn production designs into virtual test chips to help identify those “intersections” between the design and process that cause systematic issues. Armed with that knowledge, companies can then modify that issue out of the process and/or design flow.

Want to learn more about Mentor’s support for test and diagnosis? Click on the links below for more information…

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14 August, 2014

Design-style-based (systematic) defects are the major challenge to yield ramp at advanced process nodes, adding to the complexity of the basic process ramp. Because of its involvement in the design, manufacturing, and test, EDA is in a unique position to contribute toward the control, if not the solution, of this problem, through the use of automated pattern detection and analysis. Patterns can be useful throughout the entire flow, from design to verification to manufacturing to test. The goal is a pattern-aware EDA flow that minimizes risk, enhances manufacturing, and quickly finds issues when they occur.

In this pSawicki_Joseph_2014lenary presentation from the 2014 SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, Joseph Sawicki, Vice-President and General Manager of the Design to Silicon Division of Mentor Graphics, explores the many facets of pattern usage within the D2S process, and how pattern awareness can help resolve many of the challenges facing designers today.

For more information about Calibre pattern matching solutions, take a look at these additional resources:

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7 August, 2014

Failure analysis is a critical process in successful IC production. No matter how comprehensive the design rules are, no matter how thorough the verification strategies are, there will be chip failures in production. Understanding the cause of these failures is crucial to being able to implement design strategies and corrective technology to ensure the failures are eliminated in future designs. At its best, failure analysis enables design companies to adhere to the time-tested adage of inventors and designers everywhere—”Never make the same mistake twice.”

However, failure analysis has many layers. Layout-aware scan diagnosis can reduce the suspect area by up to 85% (compared to logic-only diagnosis), allowing engineers to focus on only those portions of a design most likely to contain the defect. With sets of diagnosis data, you can perform yield analysis to identify the most likely causes of yield failure, making volume diagnosis results actionable and drastically speeding up the analysis process.

Now there’s root cause deconvolution (RCD), a statistical technology that analyzes multiple layout-aware diagnosis reports to identify the underlying defect distribution (root cause distribution) that is most likely to explain a set of diagnosis results. RCD also enables “virtual failure analysis,” or the ability to determine defect distribution for a population of failing devices before any failure analysis is performed. With the ability to identify root cause of yield loss from fail data alone, RCD is a very cost-effective way of establishing a clear picture of the defect distribution before any failure analysis (FA) is done. This is something that has been virtually impossible for fabless companies, with little access to manufacturing data, to do in the past.

RCD-2By improving the failure analysis relevance and success rate, RCD can dramatically reduce the failure analysis cycle time from months to days. Failure is a necessary part of success, but the faster you can learn from your mistakes, correct them, and move on, the faster (and more profitably) you will reach your ultimate goal.

Want to learn more? Get all the details on this new technology in our white paper, Root Cause Deconvolution—The Next Step in Diagnosis Resolution Improvement, now available for download.

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22 July, 2014

uneven-heat-distributionIf you’re designing large die such as a system-on-chip (SoC) with high power demands, you’d better be thinking about how to get the heat out. Poor heat dissipation can lead to a sub-optimal packaging solution from cost, size, weight and performance perspectives.

Historically, designers assumed the die temperature was uniform. Not any more. Heating due to current leakage makes power dissipation less uniform, and thinner dies reduce the heat spreading capability of the die, creating greater on-die temperature variation.

Chip-package thermal co-design is particularly important when designing stacked three-dimensional integrated circuits (3DICs). The dies cannot be designed independently due to their electrical and thermal interaction.

If you need to understand the why, when, and how of thermal co-design, you need to read our new white paper, “7 Key Considerations for Effective Chip-Package Thermal Co-Design…A High-Level ‘How to’ Guide.” With detailed explanations of each step, it provides a clear roadmap through the process, and helps you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls along the way.

Don’t let global warming destroy your next SoC design!

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21 July, 2014

HELP-3No, that’s not really a cry for help, at least not from me. But I can imagine a lot of designers saying just that as they try to understand and implement multi-patterning requirements. LELE? LELELE? LELELELE? SADP? SADP SIT? Whhaaaatttt???!!!

And help we have. In spades. Our resident multi-patterning expert, David Abercrombie, not only writes extensively about multi-patterning issues, but he is a frequently sought-after guest for interviews, roundtables, and panels. But rather than making you search hither and yon for David’s insights and guidance, we’ve gathered it up for you in one convenient location.

Multi-Patterning Unmasked is your quick guide to a wide variety of multi-patterning topics. Need to start with the basics? We’ve got you covered! Struggling with debugging pesky MP errors that seem to multiply by the minute? David explains why that can happen, and how you can avoid it. Going cross-eyed trying to understand self-aligned double patterning? Multiple diagrams with detailed explanations clarify just how the process works.

Not only do you get quick access to all of David’s articles, but we also provide links to white papers, videos, and training classes. And we’ll keep updating the list as more information becomes available.

If you haven’t already, check it out! And keep it bookmarked for future updates…amaze and astonish your friends and colleagues with your insider knowledge and familiarity with the latest MP tips and tricks!

Of course, if you really want to help me, you can let me know what other IC design and manufacturing topics you’d like more information and guidance for. You can comment here, or send me a private email.

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