In this blog, I'd like to update the industry on some exciting progress in the area of silicon photonics (SP), particularly the enabling data infrastructure to support co-design of electronics and micro-photonics devices in the design tool flow. If this sounds like some distant research topic that will never see the light of day (pun intended), then perhaps now is a good time to get caught up. Today, I'll focus on industry collaboration defining photonics extensions to the OpenAccess standard right now in Si2's SP TAB.
Photonics is not new, but reliably miniaturizing the features and implementing them in silicon (or other materials) is still an emerging field. There have been major advances in creating the device features, usually in fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI), as well as in the package and interconnect technology, but the real value is being able to design integrated circuits combining both in the same package (containing one die or a multiple 3D stack). Photonics promises 1000x bandwidth, lower power / heat, and better noise immunity - in other words, it's a game changer.
However, there are no photonics-aware PDK standards, and no standard APIs to link commercial EDA and photonics tools together, which are both essential for broad commercialization of this capability. That's where OpenAccess becomes a critical link for industry-wide adoption of silicon photonics.
Members of Si2's brand new SP TAB, including 15 European partners engaged in the EU-funded project "PLAT4M", plus other interested companies, are making good progress in adding SP extensions to OpenAccess. From Si2's analysis of photonics requirements provided by SP TAB members, we determined that, at least for this phase, we are able to implement the required data objects using only OpenAccess extensibility features. This is good news, since it permits faster development, lower risk and easier EDA tool integration, and backwards compatibility.
SP TAB members are currently working on the definition of the API needed for the photonic software engineers, and are deciding how the pcell integration is going to work. The SP extensions will fully support oaScript, which is an extension of OpenAccess that allows developers to use the current API directly from python, tcl, ruby, or perl. We will be extending oaScript's API in parallel with the work we are doing in the SPTAB to keep them in sync. In addition, Si2 is currently preparing a demo for SP TAB members on how to use oaScript within this environment.
Just a reminder that you can learn more about the SP TAB and all of our projects at the upcoming Design Automation Conference, June 2-6th in Austin, TX.
Steve Schulz is president and CEO of Si2
More Collaborative Advantage blogs are available for your reading pleasure.
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