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Data Management Challenges in Physical Design

Data Management Challenges in Physical Design
by Alex Tan on 02-08-2019 at 7:00 am

22970-caption-sos7-data-management-solution-pd.jpgIC physical design (PD) teams face several challenges while dealing with tapeout schedules. With shrinking process nodes and stringent PPA targets, the complexity of physical design flows and EDA design tools has increased multifold. In addition the amount of design data that needs to be managed has also increased exponentially. Managing the design data gains even more importance when the design teams are collaborating across multiple design sites.

Some of the challenges faced by physical design teams are:
• High network disk space explosion
• Multi-sites collaboration
• IP reuse & tracking etc.
• Direct exposure to foundry technology changes
• A clean front-end and back-end handoffs

The SOS7[SUP]TM[/SUP] design-management platform from ClioSoft[SUP]®[/SUP] empowers single or multi-site design teams to collaborate efficiently on complex analog, digital, RF and mixed-signal designs from concept to GDSII within a secure design environment. Tight integration with EDA tools, and an emphasis on performance for data transfer, security and disk space optimization provides a cohesive environment that enables design teams to streamline the development of SoCs.

In terms of data management from a physical design perspective, let us take a look at the following three primary issues and how they are addressed using SOS7:
• Handling network disk space explosion
• Treating design data as a composite design object rather than just files
• Reusing and tracking IPs

Handling Disk space explosion
As the technology nodes shrinks, the design databases produced by physical design tools have exponentially increased in size. The design-databases are often tagged for consumption by the functional and geographically dispersed design teams.

The SOS7 design management platform provides a unique feature – the Cache server – which helps manage the network disk space. SOS7 creates shared smart cache areas where all design files, not being modified, are hosted. User access to these design files is provided by tool-managed Linux symbolic links in the user’s working directory. This is one key feature that helps reduce up to 90% of a design team’s storage requirements, as most designers working on a design project tend to download all the project data into their workspace.

From a design collaboration perspective, the cache server also functions as an agent, prefetching the files for remote users in case of geographically dispersed multi-site scenarios. This ensures that the remote teams are not waiting on the design data to be available at their site, thereby not wasting precious time when a tapeout deadline looms large.

Managing design data as composite design objects
A typical physical design database is essentially a collection of files, which are auto generated by the physical design tools. When a physical design engineer kicks off a run, depending on the operation (for example, floorplanning, placement, routing) and the optimization option and/or goal set for the run (search and repair, SI, post route optimization), the PD tool may change large number of files in the database or only a few files. From a design data management perspective, any change, small or large (number of files) is treated as a new revision of the design data.

SOS7 incorporates the UDMA technology, which allows the CAD teams to define a composite object as a collection of files (the physical design database). Using this technology, SOS7 automatically tracks changes to individual files in a composite object and translates it as changes to the design object. The physical design team, therefore tracks changes to the design object rather than the files individually changed during design cycle. This often proves to be a very useful feature for design teams when dealing with large quantity of data. This enables the PD engineer to easily track down any changes in any specific run.

Tracking IPs used in your design
With the sole objective of shrinking the product development cycles, many design companies have leveraged IP reuse either internal or 3rd party IPs. In the case of IP reuse, physical design teams face two main challenges namely
1. The top level integrator has to be absolutely certain that the product tapeout includes the appropriate releases of IP blocks from downstream sources.
2. IP developers need to keep track of the different releases of the IPs being used in upstream SoC products.

The SOS7 design platform provides an IP referencing feature that allows product teams to choose a specific release of the IP they are going to incorporate in their top level. Whenever a newer version of the IP becomes available, SOS7 notifies the users /engineering leads that a newer release of an IP available for use. The design lead can then review the issues fixed in the newer release or review the release notes before deciding to upgrade to a newer version of the IP. In the event, the designer decides to upgrade to the newer version he has an option to try out the new release of the IP before upgrading the entire design team to the newer version of the IP.

SOS7 also provides a live report for the producers & maintainers of IPs and their releases used in upstream products. This helps the IP producer to plan their next release and also indicate the consumers of their IPs if any serious issue in the IP arises.
To conclude, SOS7 design management platform provides a solution to data management challenges for physical design teams and flows.

For more information on SOS7, click HERE.