Posted by fred sendig on July 16, 2010
Getting to the end-game faster in a chip design project is one of the driving forces for EDA. As EDA tools have matured over the years parts of the design flow have emerged as a major block of time. In custom design, the layout phase of blocks has become one area that needed serious attention. This phase often occupies as much 60 percent of the overall time for a given block and is an obvious target for productivity enhancers in a custom design tool.
Rather than trying to completely automate away the layout phase (as some have tried) we chose a different path. In analog designs the layout designer must have complete manual control of the layout so how do you automate that?
We chose a new path… we decided not to enforce our automation on designers but rather give them a toolbox of powerful new features that simplify their jobs and help get it done quicker. This is the first in a series of blog entries that will feature some of the ideas our team came up with after talking to many, many layout engineers.
Today’s topic is zooming and it’s evil twin counting grids. Layout designers often spend a great deal of time zooming into a region to start a wire, then zooming out to route it followed by a zoom back in to finish aligning the end of the wire. That’s a lot of clicks and often the designer has to go back across the wire counting grids and moving segments to make sure that he hasn’t violated the rules.
What if you could wire at high-altitude and eliminate the zooms? What if you could click near a terminal or a gate and have the new wire adopt the width, snapped to and pre-aligned with the terminal and just start wiring immediately?
We call it “SmartConnect” and it does just that. Another cool feature is SmartConnect’s “Alignment Markers” that make it obvious when you are aligned with the left, center or middle of another object.
Sounds simple but these features enable very rapid wiring without forcing the layout engineer to accept somebody else’s idea of what makes a good layout.
‘Til next time, keep wiring away and stay tuned. We’ve got a lot more stuff in the pipe for our next release that I think you will really like…