Wanted: Standard Design Constraints

As the effort to create an interoperable description of intent for analog and custom design ramps up, stakeholders in this arena are asked to chime in to help determine potential next steps for action in 2014.

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Lately, there has been increasing discussion in the industry about the need for a set of standards that specifically support an interoperable description of intent for analog and custom design, a.k.a. “analog design intent” standards. The driving need for such standardization is to enable far greater exchange of analog intent, with greater formalism and clarity, to greatly improve time-to-market, quality and efficiency for the semiconductor industry.

It is a big, complex and intriguing topic, with multiple points of view representing different aspects of the supply chain. Most chip makers advocate a set of specifications clarifying semantics and data exchanges, some being extensions of existing standards, supplemented by several new ones.

With the analog and custom IC landscape increasing across a large consumer / mobile market, and the potential for increased tool automation also of growing interest by EDA vendors, it is hardly surprising that the topic has transitioned to more tangible calls for action in the standardization space. Proponents calling for design constraint standardization point to the rising content of non-digital design and manual layout tasks, made worse by technology changes due to advanced process nodes and an increase in reuse of IP content from multiple sources. It is no secret that the analog community still relies on exchange of datasheets, manual topology selection and sizing, and less automated place and route and verification. Some will reason that the relative gap in automaton is largely due to the lack of formalism in description of intent and the lack of commonality preventing the various “views” to be exchanged between tools across a design flow. Those who are less eager for such standardization argue that some of that information is really the result of proprietary IP investments made over many years, and the resulting methodology used with those tools reflects as much the internal product-level details as it does more generic description of intent.

Si2, playing such a prominent role in related standards such as OpenAccess, OpenPDK, and OpenDFM, is clearly a logical place for this conversation, as noted by our members. At this time, Si2 is seeking serious, qualified input from those who are stakeholders in this arena. As with our past efforts, Si2’s response will be rooted in careful analysis of the breadth of industry need, the potential for widespread benefit and ROI to outweigh likely cost / effort, ability to leverage existing standards and technologies, legal constraints, and the expectation of active participation and contributions to help the adoption of the investment succeed.

So, please share your thoughts with us on this topic as comments to this blog (or individually back to Si2). We are eager to hear from the engineering community to assist in guiding any potential next steps for action in 2014.



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