Innovations in physical verification and cloud computing keep the IC industry moving forward

By John Ferguson – Mentor, A Siemens Business

Faced with growing technological complexity, EDA companies do what they’ve always done—innovate and improve—with smarter, more accurate, faster, and more efficient tools and processes. John Ferguson explains.

At the recent SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, I was invited to present a paper discussing the advances in physical verification and cloud computing, and how they have helped the IC industry continue moving forward despite the mounting challenges to Moore’s Law. Some of these innovations have produced challenges of their own, such as the use of finFET and gate-all-around finFET transistors, which present questions of performance, scalability, and variation resilience. Others, such as multi-patterning, were introduced several nodes ago as temporary stop-gaps, but now show no signs of going away, despite the introduction of the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology that was supposed to herald their demise. Some, like fill, evolved from a simple DFM process to a critical success factor, with nearly infinite variations requiring complex analysis to determine optimal shapes and configurations.

And how did the EDA industry respond? Not surprisingly, much as it always has. EDA companies have always had to evaluate and experiment with leading-edge design and manufacturing information to assess the impact of changing technology, and to develop and implement new functionality and new tools that reduce or eliminate verification time and resource impacts while ensuring accuracy and full coverage. Constantly replacing inefficient, less precise verification processes and tools with smarter, more accurate, faster, more efficient, and more automated functionality helps the IC industry maintain, and even grow, both the bottom line and product quality in the face of increasing technological complexity.

Beyond this improvement of the IC verification process itself, the introduction of cloud computing provides a new and unique opportunity to accelerate the time to market for designs, particularly when you consider the growth in computing requirements at advanced nodes. By removing cost and latency barriers to resource usage, cloud computing allows companies to obtain instant access to the CPU resources needed to achieve their physical verification turnaround time goals (e.g., overnight runtimes), even in the face of the exponential compute growth at the newest technology nodes. Having access to EDA technology in the cloud can also provide a fast, cost-effective means of dealing with emergent situations in which all internal resources are committed, but a critical issue requiring immediate resolution arises.

To learn more about how Mentor, a Siemens Business, has responded to all of these challenges, download a copy of our white paper: New approaches to physical verification and cloud computing

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