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How to Enable High-Performance VLSI Engineering Environments

How to Enable High-Performance VLSI Engineering Environments
by Kalar Rajendiran on 04-25-2023 at 10:00 am

Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) engineering organizations are known for their intricate workflows that require high-performance simulation software and an abundance of simulation licenses to create cutting-edge chips. These workflows involve complex dependency trees, where one task depends on the completion of another task and collaboration among team members is vital for successful project completion. The design processes involve different stages such as architectural design, exploration, implementation, and verification. Each stage requires specialized tools and licenses, making license management and resource planning a critical factor for successful VLSI projects.

To optimize design processes for maximum performance and efficiency, engineering teams must adopt a carefully curated tool chain that addresses critical success factors. These factors include collaboration, efficient sharing of compute and license resources, clear visibility of progress and project status, and reproducibility of results.

Altair recently hosted a webinar in which Stuart Taylor, Senior Director, Product Management presented an approach on how engineering teams can achieve the above. Stuart highlights various tools from Altair such as Altair® Monitor™ and Altair® FlowTracer™ that could be used to implement the methodology he presents. The webinar titled “How to Enable High-Performance VLSI Engineering Environments” includes a demo of some of these tools and is available for viewing on-demand. The following are excerpts from the webinar.

License Resource Planning

License resource planning involves both qualitative and quantitative usage analysis of licenses. Qualitative analysis involves understanding which licenses are being used for what purpose, while quantitative analysis involves analyzing license utilization. Engineering teams must understand which licenses are being used, how much, and for what purpose. This understanding will help teams plan for future license requirements and optimize license usage.

A license management details report can provide a graphical dashboard displaying license capacity, utilization, and denials. The report can also include a forecast of future license requirements based on current usage trends. This report will help engineering teams plan for future license requirements and avoid license denials.

License Operations

Each stage of the VLSI design process requires different licenses and tools and as such license management is critical for engineering organizations. License management includes tracking the current usage of licenses, expiration dates, and license availability. For example, a license may expire during a critical phase of the design process, causing delays and impacting project timelines. Therefore, keeping track of license expiration dates and renewing licenses in advance is critical.

License Operations Figure

Operational Efficiency

One of the critical factors for operational efficiency is collaboration across different disciplines, geographies, and time zones. Collaboration tools that enable easy sharing of designs, code, and simulations are critical for efficient collaboration. Simple visual communication is also essential for complex workflows. Altair FlowTracer is an example of a tool that quickly communicates workflow status in a visual manner. This tool can provide a simple graphical representation of the VLSI design process, enabling team members to understand the current status of the workflow at a glance.


Collaboration is a key factor in VLSI engineering workflows since multiple engineers work on the same project simultaneously. Communication between team members is vital to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal. It’s important to choose a tool chain that allows for easy communication and collaboration.

Efficient Sharing of Compute and License Resources

One of the major constraints for VLSI engineering teams is the availability of simulation licenses and compute resources. At the same time, an unlimited supply of all needed licenses is not economically sensible or even feasible. A well-curated tool chain can help optimize resource usage and reduce license costs. One solution is to use a cloud-based simulation platform that allows for the efficient sharing of compute resources and licenses. Cloud-based simulation platforms can be used to run simulations on a large scale without the need for expensive hardware, and can also provide access to the latest software versions.

Clear Visibility of Progress and Project Status

VLSI engineering projects involve many tasks that are interdependent and must be completed in a specific order. A well-curated tool chain can help provide clear visibility of project status and progress, allowing team members to see where they stand and what tasks need to be completed. A clear real-time view of the project progress and status is essential for project management and planning.

Workflow Status Visually

Reproducibility of Results and Concepts

Reproducibility is a crucial factor in VLSI engineering workflows since design concepts and simulation results need to be reproducible. Using a common framework for design methodologies, libraries and standards along with a carefully curated tool chain can help with reproducibility of results, ensuring that designs are manufacturable and meet requirements.


Altair provides a suite of tools that increase engineering productivity, optimize costs and accelerate chip development timeframes to achieve quick time to market. The tools optimize EDA environments and improve design-to-manufacturing process by reducing iteration cycles. The entire webinar is available for viewing on-demand.

Altair semiconductor design solutions are built to optimize EDA environments and to improve the design-to-manufacturing process, eliminate design iterations, and reduce time-to-market.

To learn more about Altair’s tools offering, visit here.

Also Read:

Optimizing Return on Investment (ROI) of Emulator Resources

Measuring Success in Semiconductor Design Optimization: What Metrics Matter?

Load-Managing Verification Hardware Acceleration in the Cloud

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