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High Frequency Analysis of IC Layouts

High Frequency Analysis of IC Layouts
by Daniel Payne on 10-03-2012 at 12:26 pm

IC designers of passive devices often use empirical approaches to perform High Frequency Analysis (HFA), however there is at least one new approach being offered by Mentor Graphics using a tool flow of:

A recent White Paper was written by Georgios Manetas, Ph.D, Developer and Christen Decoin, Program Manager. I’ll give you an overview from what I read.

Empirical Approach
You could first design multiple silicon test structures for HF devices, create a compact model with TCAD tools and then calibrate the models. Some reasons that make the empirical approach less appealing:

  • Long development time for TCAD models
  • Measurement-based design takes too much time
  • Small changes to the passive device design require new models
  • Parasitic and neighboring device interactions are not accounted for
  • It’s difficult to perform design explorations

Mentor’s Approach
In the opening paragraph I listed all of the Mentor tools used to perform HFA of passives, and here are how the tools would be used:

  • Inductor devices are automatically recognized in the IC layout with either Calibre nmLVS-H or Calibre xRC.
  • Electro-Magnetic (EM) simulation with Calibre xACT-3D, producing S-parameters which are frequency dependent.

Accuracy versus Reference
New approaches must be compared against a reference, so the inductor layout from Figure 1 was used and the two approaches compared. The Mentor S-parameters are within 5% of the reference (TCAD-based) L values, and within 10% of Q values:

Benefits of New Approach
So the accuracy of the new approach looks acceptable, other benefits include:

  • Scalable tool flow, about 10X capacity and performance improvement over TCAD tools
  • Enables device exploration, quickly
  • Tools integrated with full-custom layout editors
  • Analyze with black-boxing to exclude areas
  • Extract and analyze in hours, not days
  • Characterize both HF components and the IC interconnect
  • At validation stage use highest accuracy with good turn around time
  • For design exploration use good accuracy and fast turn around time

Summary
HF designers now have another choice besides a traditional TCAD approach by using Mentor tools. The complete white paper can be found here.

Further Reading

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