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IC Layout with Interactive or Batch DRC and LVS Results

IC Layout with Interactive or Batch DRC and LVS Results
by Daniel Payne on 03-07-2014 at 6:27 pm

IC designers have a long tradition of mixing and matching EDA tools from multiple vendors, mostly because they enjoy best-in-class tools, or they just purchased each EDA tool at a different time and asked for them to work together. Such is this case with IC layout tools from Silvacoand DRC/LVS tools from Mentor Graphics. Pawan Fangaria blogged about the Results Viewing Environment (RVE) of Calibre back in October 2013. Today I learned that the IC layout tool from Silvaco is called Expert, and that it has an integration with Calibre RVE.


Expert – An IC Layout tool for Linux and Windows

The Expert tool is used by IC designers doing analog, RF, microwave and digital designs in a variety of processes:

  • CMOS
  • Bipolar
  • BiCMOS
  • SiGe
  • GaAs
  • InP
  • and other processes

You could stay within the Expert tool and run DRC/LVS from Silvaco, called Guardian, or for sign-off verification you can run the Calibre tool. Let’s take a look at the Calibre RVE integration, which runs only on the Linux platform not on Windows. You’ve got two choices when launching Calibre from within Expert:

[LIST=1]

  • Batch mode
  • Calibre Interactive

    Invoking Calibre Interactive DRC from Expert

    Selecting the drop-down menu choice brings up the Calibre options dialog:


    Calibre Interactive nmDRC

    From here you can select a specific cell, a rules file, choose a mode (Flat or Hierarchical), and start the job. When the results are ready then you can see all of the error and warning messages within Expert:


    Highlighting DRC Results on Expert from RVE

    Layout Versus Schematic (LVS) jobs for Calibre can also be launched from within Expert by selecting a drop-down menu. When the LVS results are ready, you can use RVE to view, cross-probe and debug any errors or warnings. The engineers at Silvaco have done all of the integration work for you, so it’s a real time savings for you to not cobble together your own mixed-vendor tool flow. Here’s a diagram of how the Expert and Calibre tools work together:


    Expert and Calibre interface flow

    We live in a world of multiple EDA vendors, and you aren’t stuck with just one vendor, instead you can continue to use tools from the major companies and use their integrations to make your IC tool flow work. Talking about interoperability, the Expert layout tool also plays well with the following formats:

    • Dracula and Diva DRV/LVS/LPE rule decks
    • Import the technology file from Virtuoso for layers, colors, stipples, hotkeys, macros and toolbars
    • Read GDS II and CIF files
    • LEF/DEF and OASIS formats

    Other ways to automate what happens in Expert is to use a scripting language called Lisa, or a compiled language like C or C++ using an API if you are CAD savvy and need to do something special.
    Further Reading

    For more details on this specific integration between Expert and Calibre, read the Application Note. There’s an overviewon the Expert layout editor here. Mentor’s RVE tool is summarized on this page.

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