Pulsic has developed an automated mixed-signal layout tool that uses multiple generated variants to let designers pick the best implementation for a given use. The tool, called Animate, delivers multiple layouts from a schematic using automatic constraint extraction based on the input netlist topology.
The company claims designers can explore complete layout options, which are checked against design rules, in a fraction of the time needed to produce just a single layout option by hand. In principle, designs produced by Animate can be made available early in the design process so that parasitics and layout-dependent effects can be simulated, making it easier to tweak the circuit to take account of nanometer process issues.
According to Pulsic, Animate places and routes simultaneously, so that each process is informed by the other. This should help with 20nm, 16nm, 14nm processes where routing is complicated by the strict design rules imposed by double patterning, and which often make classic manual layout techniques that worked on older processes illegal.
“As geometries shrink, and as leading-edge processes such as FinFETS reach the market, manual analog design is no longer sufficient,” said Mark Williams, co-founder and CEO of Pulsic. “To get routable placement, you need to know what the routing will look like, but if you place and then route, you can’t know this.
“With Animate…a much bigger problem space can be explored, with better results,” said Williams.
Pulsic calls its technique PolyMorphic Layout. It generates all possible layout solutions before pruning those that do not fit designers’ criteria, and then present multiple valid solutions. The result is a set of best layouts ranked by criteria, such as area, along with the next 10 per cent best solutions.
Although constraints are derived automatically, they can be edited by the user.