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Accelerated Electrical Rule Checking Will Change the Semiconductor Industry

Accelerated Electrical Rule Checking

Accelerated Electrical Rule Checking Will Change the Semiconductor Industry

Accelerated electrical rule checking is a formal verification method that, if adopted by the Semiconductor industry, would change it structurally. Although the initial costs of replacing the computing infrastructure could be considered high, accelerated electrical rule checking would rapidly reach the break-even point and offer the adopting companies significant competitive advantages.


The current state of the industry

The market for these kinds of products is quite specific since it addresses global customers from the Semiconductors Industry, a well-defined niche. The sales in this field involve long-term relationships between the companies that provide the EDA tools (simulators and ERC products), on one hand, and the electronic circuit developers, on the other hand. These relations are deepened by the fact that these products can’t be used per se but need specific rules and procedures for each factory were the chips are integrated on silicon. Basically for design houses and factories to use these products implies the use of dedicated engineers and will, for sure, take years.

In the industry of circuit design, the importance of verifying the electrical designs before the chip is integrated on silicon is crucial, given that the costs of this process rise to $Millions. Taking into account only the re-spin costs (repeated if failed) and the needed amount of time (expensive engineer hours) one can easily understand why the AMSIMCEL product will change the industry.

To explain why we, at AMSIMCEL, consider that accelerated electrical rule checking will change the paradigm of the industry we should analyze the situation on the market. When interested in circuit design verification, the companies that are active in the industry have access to two kinds of Electric-Rule Checkers, static ERCs, and dynamic ERCs.  Each of these two alternatives, for circuit design verification, has advantages and drawbacks, both of them do their job and both of them fail to satisfy specific demands.

First, if we look at the static ERC we notice that the existing market solutions do not rely on SPICE simulators and are faster than the dynamic ERC. Unfortunately, for the static ERCs, the increased speed comes with high costs, especially in quality: the results of their analyzes have a high proportion of false positive and false negative results, to the point that they are unusable. It is obvious that the companies that choose to integrate them assign-off tools assume high risks, and probably they do it because of time pressure (to come out on the market with a new product).

Second, the dynamic ERCs are more precise, involve the use of simulators, but unfortunately, require extensive periods of analysis that, depending on the size of the circuit design, can take from days to weeks.  

AMSIMCEL works on developing an accelerated electrical rule checking product

The AMSIMCEL product is an Accelerated Electric-Rule Checker that speeds up through high parallelization the process of circuit design verification. The product is GPU-based with all the production tests done with extremely promising results. The partnerships between the ERC and simulator vendors with the factories are long-term ones, meaning that a new company will have difficulties to introduce and establish its product as a widely accepted solution.

So, to be an efficient provider of EDA solutions in this field, a company should have a permanent relationship with its customers and the factories. This relation is necessary because the product should be adjusted and developed in accordance with the specifications of each product developer.

Our technology changes the current paradigm in the industry. The massive parallelization using GPU’s allows us to have an analysis that realizes the tasks faster and with a higher precision than any of our competitors.

How could accelerated electrical rule checking be used on the market

When looking at the perspectives of AMSIMCEL’s product we should take into consideration that the industry can use it together with the SPICE simulators on the market. For example, the accelerated ERC could be used together with any fast SPICE simulator from the key players of the EDA industry. The high speed of the simulators together with the one of the ERC could provide any circuit design developer the most important advantages, compared with its competitors, time and quality.

Many of the ERC products, present on the market, are slow, based on old technologies, or generating results with too many errors, meaning that the product developed by AMSIMCEL will be extremely interesting for the industry. This happens because the slow processing capacity of these technologies determines a significant increase in the processing time for any standardized test made on the design of any company from the Semiconductor industry.

Conclusions

Although in the industry, there is a high reluctance regarding the change of the paradigm, it is clear that the future belongs to fast EDA solutions, including accelerated electrical rule checking. The companies that will ignore this path of development will become less competitive than their rivals.

  1. Accelerated electrical rule checking is fast and precise. All the tests made by AMSIMCEL with the prototype version of the product have generated results with a high degree of accuracy, well above the level of existing products on the market, and at an unprecedented speed.
  2. The industry is expecting a game-changing solution. When speaking about electronics we see companies that launch new products all year long and we are tented to believe that they’re based on vertical innovation. The reality is that due to the high degree of complexity in circuit design the industry avoided changing the design infrastructure. Their preference for time-tested solutions are somehow logical, but on the medium and long-term adoption of the new technologies is crucial.
  3. The present solutions are outdated. If there is something that is generally accepted in this particular industry it is that the existing solutions are outdated, being to slow or generating an unacceptable number of errors. Everybody expects a new solution but it seems that most of the companies are reluctant in making the decisive step towards it.

For more on this subject feel free to contact:

Catalin Tugui                                                          Gabriel Donici

catalin.tugui(q)amsimcel.com                            gabriel.donici(q)amsimcel.com