New Horizons for Chip Design


Synopsys Makes Headlines with PrimeSim Continuum, an Innovative Circuit Simulation Solution

Integrated circuit design engineering

By Editorial Team

The increasing systemic complexity of today’s hyper-convergent integrated circuits (IC) has forced a constant rethinking of verification strategies; the need for teams to meet signoff requirements with performance has never been greater. New tools, new methodologies, and enhanced ways to collaborate are all required to address these unprecedented challenges.

Synopsys has always been a leader in responding to the most pressing requirements, with verification being an important focus. At our recent SNUG® World international user conference, we unveiled a leading unified workflow for circuit simulation technologies, PrimeSim™ Continuum, to address these challenges and accelerate the design and signoff of hyper-converged designs.

The intricacy and scale of today’s heterogenous IC designs heavily impact the overall simulation cost, quality, and time-to-results. In a nutshell, that means that throwing more “fuel” at the problem is no longer sufficient and presents a greater need for a unified flow to extend — or go beyond — Moore’s Law, especially for artificial intelligence (AI), automotive, memory, and 5G applications.

“What we see now is that there is really a need for convergence around a common circuit simulator and common verification, so companies don’t need to build their own ad hoc flows as the problem is too complex for ad hoc flows,” Hany Elhak, group director of product management at Synopsys, told eeNews Europe. “That’s what we are looking to solve with PrimeSim Continuum.”

The innovation driving this next-generation, all-in-one solution also includes enhanced simulation engines with the new PrimeSim SPICE and FastSPICE architectures that leverage GPU-based scaling performance. This provides teams with the ability to test semiconductor designs up to 10x faster than previous tools and shorten signoff time from days to hours.

PrimeSim Continuum was one of the most talked about topics at SNUG World, with recurring mentions in several customer presentations and co-CEO Dr. Aart de Geus’ keynote address (Watch a clip from his keynote above).

Additionally, EE Times, Electronic Design,, and Semiconductor Engineering were among the many tech publications that recognized this important industry breakthrough.

What Is PrimeSim Continuum?

Unlike the previous generation’s mostly digital SoCs, modern hyper-convergent systems on chip (SoCs) consist of a diverse set of integrated analog components, larger and faster embedded memory, as well as complex IOs with 100+ GB data rates. This means that in a single package, there can be a variety of components, each responsible for different functions, which creates even more system complexity and simulations with longer runtimes.

In short, a nightmare for design teams.

“To address this, you need solutions that solve both systemic complexity and scale complexity. What you also need are faster and higher capacity simulation platforms that work across the entire spectrum of customer needs, be it for different types of circuits, simulation, or reliability,’’ Aveek Sarkar, vice president of engineering at Synopsys, told Semiconductor Engineering.

PrimeSim Continuum redefines circuit simulation and allows customers to mix and match different simulation engines to simulate different parts of the SoC for use in memory, AI, automotive, and 5G applications. PrimeSim Continuum combines the strengths of PrimeSim SPICE, PrimeSim Pro, PrimeSim HSPICE, and PrimeSim XA – all supported by some of the world’s leading foundries.

‘’As the semiconductor industry crams more and more transistors on tiny squares of silicon, Synopsys is trying to keep up with the needs of chip vendors with faster and more accurate simulation software,’’ according to Electronic Design.

From executives of memory and HPC semiconductor companies to custom digital and IO designers, our customers across every design segment can now benefit from years of R&D investment, innovation, and customer collaboration with next-generation technologies that complement our modern Custom Design Platform and Verification Continuum®.

Synopsys Makes GPU Technology for Circuit Simulation a Reality

As IC design complexity grows exponentially, GPU performance has continued to scale with it. By virtue of the greatly enhanced computing performance and memory bandwidth in GPUs, it becomes possible to achieve a much more efficient matrix solution.

However, in the past, using GPU technology for circuit simulation has only been theorized. But today, we at Synopsys have made that a reality.

Using next-generation architectures and heterogenous computing, our solution uniquely optimizes the use of CPU and GPU resources and improves time-to-results and cost of results. Benchmark models that run on DGX systems with CUDA GPUs show speedups ranging from 4-12x over multi-core CPUs. While performance gains are across the board on various circuit types, the best improvements are seen when running large post-layout simulations.

What makes PrimeSim Continuum achieve its most impressive performance gains is leveraging the massive parallelism of the CUDA GPUs.

We envision the HPC industry moving towards a heterogeneous computing model, where GPUs and CPUs work together to perform general-purpose computing tasks. That said, we are committed to enabling our customers with the latest next-generation technologies so that they can focus on design complexity — and leave analysis complexity to us.

Synopsys and NVIDIA engineers have been working together to leverage GPUs to accelerate circuit simulation technology and deliver the significant performance improvements needed to perform comprehensive analog and RF design analysis. All this while meeting signoff accuracy requirements.

“As modern compute workloads evolve, the size and complexity of analog designs have moved beyond the capacity of traditional circuit simulators,” said Edward Lee, vice president of Mixed Signal Design at NVIDIA, in a news release. “Using NVIDIA GPUs enables PrimeSim SPICE to accelerate circuit simulation, notably minimizing signoff time of analog blocks from days to hours.”

The solution’s unrivalled value is evident in the rapid adoption by leading companies involved in hyper-convergent IC design, including Kioxia, Samsung Memory, and Samsung Foundry.

Enabling the Future of Technology Innovation

As we move to the era of hyper-convergent ICs, it is time for EDA tool providers to close the gaps that arise with disparate tools.

“EDA is the unknown soldier of the semiconductor design process. But as chips have become vastly more complicated in recent years, circuit simulation software has become an indispensable part of every engineer’s toolbox,’’ Elhak expressed to Electronic Design.

With our unique insights and proven technology, we believe that PrimeSim Continuum brings us a step closer to our vision and reflects our commitment to existing customers in the Memory and HPC verticals. Quite simply put, we see it as the brains and brawn to power demanding applications such as high-bandwidth memory (HBM), AI, 5G, and automotive.

We are excited for what the future holds and will continue enabling the future of technology innovation by pushing the performance boundaries of analog, mixed-signal, memory, and digital design automation ―all working together, smartly and securely.

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