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.

20 May, 2015

Silicon Photonics devicesSilicon Photonics technology brings the promise of high performance, low power devices while extending the use of more mature process nodes, helping to reduce overall costs. Of course, nothing comes completely free. While it may be possible to utilize the same fabs and manufacturing techniques, the design and testing of photonic devices is quite different than that of the traditional IC. Learning how to design silicon photonic circuits takes some effort, and doing it on your own is a tough task.

Fortunately, there is now an online course, Silicon Photonics Design, Fabrication and Data Analysis, that can give you hands-on practice in the design of photonic circuits! Not only does this course provide you with instruction from Professor Lukas Chrostowski, a leader in the field, but you will actually step through the entire process of design creation, simulation, and verification of a silicon photonic circuit. For this course, Mentor Graphics is providing students with access to the Pyxis IC layout tool, and the Calibre physical verification tools required to create and verify photonic circuit designs, using a secure remote cloud infrastructure.

This course allows you to create, edit, and upload real design data. The upload calls Mentor Graphics’ Calibre tools to perform error checking (for compliance to manufacturing constraints and design testability requirements), and performs mask aggregation and generation of automated test vectors. It also enables students to perform peer design reviews and provide feedback on each other’s designs.

When completed, the student designs will be collected and actually manufactured! The manufactured circuits will then be tested using a novel photonic test bench approach. While students won’t have access to the final manufactured chip, they will receive the results of the post-manufacture test results for analysis and validation of their design approach.

Through this course offering, students can gain insight into the mechanics of silicon photonic structures, and get hands-on experience designing these structures using Mentor Graphics and partner software tools. Ultimately, this training could help you dramatically cut your learning curve and shorten the leap to the rewards of silicon photonics design.

Interested? Get more information and register for Silicon Photonics Design, Fabrication and Data Analysis today!

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10 April, 2015

The development of new manufacturing nodes is always full of adventure and discovery. While we usually see the challenges of a new node looming on the horizon like a storm at sea, it is not until active development is well underway that we get a good look at the waters. Right now for 10nm lithography – we are still looking into the storm, although it’s getting closer. The good news is that we are discovering ways that will help us chart a safe passage. As you might expect, 14nm is the pathfinder, but we are developing strategies for the process beyond in its own right. Get a preview here.

10 April, 2015

A major concern in 3D IC designs is ensuring reliability and quality. Specifically, there is a growing need to analyze designs for mechanical stresses caused by through silicon vias (TSVs) and chip-package interaction (CPI). This type of analysis is crucial to getting an acceptable level of functional and parametric yield and reliability. EDA companies, design houses, and fabs are busily developing design-for-manufacturability (DFM) and design-for-reliability (DFR) methodologies to address stress issues. In fact, Veriy Sukharev will be talking about just this topic at the Symposium on 3D Integration – Technology, Materials and Reliability on April 16. Dresden is lovely this time of year. Hope to see you there!

10 April, 2015

It’s taken a lot of innovation to keep the cost of testing large SoC designs from blowing up. Pattern compression has been the most effective technique to reduce test time and cost. Now, there is a new approach that allows IC manufacturers to efficiently test multiple faults per test pattern. By adding carefully-selected test points to the design, the technique provides an average of 2 to 4 times reduction in test-pattern size beyond what is possible with compression alone. Find out more about it here.

21 March, 2015

Balancing on wobbly tightropes is something that chip designers get pretty good at. For instance, there is a fine balance between optimizing performance and minimizing leakage in a design layout. Dealing with the new requirements that multi-patterning (MP) introduces into a design flow creates many new tightropes to walk. Let’s take a deep breath and step right out to the middle of one of these ropes–I hope my observations here will provide at least a small net to catch you! Click here to read article.

21 March, 2015

Almost anyone who is active in IC design will be “in touch” with Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) at some time (pun intended). Preventing ESD-related IC failures remains something like black magic—at least it’s easy to get that feeling when you are trying to debug ESD failures. I/O and ESD layouts that resulted in excellent robustness in one IC product might suddenly create havoc in a slight product variation.

If you feel like you need to learn more about the mysteries of ESD, you might want to consider traveling to beautiful Lake Tahoe this May where the world’s leading ESD experts gather in a highly interactive conference called the International ESD Workshop (IEW). This year it’s at the majestic Granlibakken Conference Center and Lodge from May 3 – 7, 2015. This setting provides the perfect opportunity for participants to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and engage in discussions about the latest research and issues of interest within the ESD community. Learn more about it by clicking here.

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21 March, 2015

Embedded test compression was commercially introduced over a decade ago and has successfully reduced the size of IC test patterns and test time by well over 100X. However, growing gate counts at the latest technology nodes, as well as new fault models targeting defects within standard cells, are driving the need for even greater test pattern compression. A new approach employing internal test points is now available to further reduce pattern volume. Results gathered across numerous customer designs show that the EDT Test Points methodology can significantly reduce pattern counts while maintaining or improving test coverage. Learn more about the new technology in the “EDT Test Points” white paper.

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21 March, 2015

The road to low power IC design starts very early in engineering process, ideally at the specification and architectural design stages. It is here that major tradeoffs can be made and operational modes defined that will have huge impacts on the overall power consumption of a device. However, to make sure those design intents are carried through to the working silicon, and that you don’t leave power savings “on the table” due to a poor implementation, you still need to pay close attention to detail at the physical design stage. Especially if you are moving to advanced nodes with finFET transistors, your IC design tool needs to be finFET-aware to ensure you realize the lowest power possible from the actual physical layout. Place and route capabilities such as power-aware RTL synthesis, activity-driven placement and optimization, CTS (clock tree synthesis) power reduction, and concurrent optimization for dynamic power and leakage can help make sure you get the most from the move to finFETs. Learn more about physical design optimizations for power in this article “FinFET Impact on Dynamic Power” by Mentor’s Arvind Narayanan.

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3 February, 2015

The 40th SPIE Advanced Lithography conference will be held at the San Jose Convention Center, February 22-26. dsaibmOver the past few years, this conference has grown in scope to include emerging patterning technologies like directed self-assembly (DSA) and design-process-technology co-optimization. Underlying all the presentations, posters, panels, and hallway chatter are the common goals and challenges: keep the fabs working and yields high, while controlling cost and turnaround time, all as the laws of physics work against you.

One key component of managing modern manufacturing is computational lithography, which includes:

  • Optical proximity correction (OPC) and resolution enhancement technology (RET) software and methodologies that achieve the maximum possible lithography entitlement
  • Software, applications, and methodologies that allow foundries to increase their productivity, which reduces development cycle times and associated costs
  • Management of the post-tapeout flow

You’ll see plenty of this type of technology at the conference. There are papers on incorporating DSA in multi-patterning, analyzing lithography hotspots with pattern matching software, enhancing local printability in sub-14nm nodes, model-based mask preparation, new modeling of 3D effects, and managing OPC jobs for better productivity and use of resources. These technologies all help maintain reasonable turnaround times for the entire post-tapeout flow and manage foundry production costs.

The importance of modeling

We talked to John Sturtevant, our director of modeling and verification solutions at Mentor Graphics, about some of the hot topics in computational lithography. He said that there are significant modeling challenges associated with the 14 and 10 nm manufacturing process nodes, particularly the need for accurate and fast simulation of three-dimensional phenomena associated with the mask, wafer, and resist.

“3D EMF effects associated with mask topography have been effectively modeled for many years,” Sturtevant said, “and to support 14 nm, we added refinement of edge-to-edge crosstalk signals in DDM.” This enhancement leads to significantly better matching to rigorous simulation, with very little runtime impact. Using the crosstalk DDM library results in better wafer fitness, especially when the mask absorber sidewall is optimized in conjunction with mask bias, he said.

Sturtevant pointed out that formerly “non-critical” implant layers now pose a significant OPC challenge. Underlayer topography models, which capture the complex array of wafer topography effects, have been deployed for 14 nm. These models are being expanded to better represent the impact of active finFETs, and the results for pre- and post-poly layer implant models have been excellent.

There is also new focus on the photoresist model. The 14 and 10 nm nodes feature extensive use of negative-tone develop (NTD) resist processes for the patterning of metal and via layers, due to the intrinsic aerial image advantage of a bright field mask. These NTD resist processes have unique shrinkage and develop rate properties compared to the traditional positive-tone processes. Sturtevant says Mentor has modified the CM1 model to support new NTD-specific modelforms, with a 40-55% improved accuracy in predicting wafer results. They have also rolled out improvements in the prediction of resist toploss and scumming, as well as SRAF printing for both PTD and NTD cases.

DSA is now on the near horizon, and compact models predicting the assembly of vias inside of guiding patterns are already available to assist in development efforts. An important consideration for these models is to ensure the proper 3D formation of the vias. You can expect to hear a lot about DSA, and computational platforms for DSA, at SPIE Advanced Lithography this year.

So, if you’re involved in design for manufacturing or post-tapeout engineering, you should be SPIE-ing on these new technologies and techniques. Hear the presentations, talk to the authors, and learn how you can meet your goals and master your challenges.

February 22-26, 2015 at the San Jose Convention Center!

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28 January, 2015

Every time I see “3D IC’ somewhere, I’m reminded of that silly kid’s chant we used to yell at each other in the playground, “R U A B? I C A B! O, O, O!! A B I C!!” Apparently that was much more amusing at the age of eight, but it has stuck in my head all these years. Go figure…

Which has nothing, really, to do with what I want to talk about, which is 3D IC design and ESD protection. Designers have long known how to protect their single die designs against electrostatic discharge, to the point where ESD protection is pretty much built into the design and test flow. When it comes to 3D designs, however, things are suddenly less clear, and less well-defined. How do you know a 3rd-party die is properly protected? What about protection between the die? What about TSVs?

Enter the Global Semiconductor Alliance and the ESD Association. Together they have authored a detailed papGSA_3DIC_ESDer that addresses the issues of ESD in 2.5/3D packages, and presents countermeasures that design teams may wish to consider in the design, development, fabrication, and assembly/test of such devices. It contains lots of acronyms, including my new favorite (KOZ!), as well as practical, easy-to-read explanations and advice. And pictures! Did I mention the pictures?

How do I know this paper is worth reading? Well, two of the contributors just happen to be colleagues of mine—Matthew Hogan and Roman Gafiteanu. These two are sticklers for detail, and passionate about sharing their knowledge with others. The small amount of time they’ve spent explaining these topics to me is nothing compared to the effort they, and the other contributors, put in to ensure this paper contained all the information and detail designers would need to understand and apply the strategies and techniques they describe.

Have I intrigued you? Want to see a copy of this most excellent paper for yourself? Should I keep you waiting any longer?

Okay, here you go: Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) in 3D-IC Packages

I C U smiling!

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