SAN FRANCISCO Design-for-manufacturing (DFM) startup Aprio Technologies has given a ringing endorsement to Oasis, the compact file format that is slowly emerging as the successor to the GDSII layout format.
Fellow startup Oasis Tooling, which provides technology for Oasis implementation, is expected to announce next week during the Bacus Photomask Technology Conference that Aprio (Santa Clara, Calif.) is the first commercial licensee of Oasis test cases and tools to assist in the development and optimization of Oasis database technology for photomask layout exchange and interchange. Financial terms of the license agreement are not being disclosed.
“The Oasis format resolves many issues hampering the success of complex ICs, not the least being protection of process technology information for the fabs," said Mike Gianfagna, Aprio president and CEO, in a statement. "Companies that don’t start implementing the format now could be out of business in five years."
It's been slow going for the implementation of Oasis, or Open Artwork System Interchange Standard, since it was introduced by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) as a replacement for the GDSII file format at Bacus in 2002. Oasis, which was approved as a standard by SEMI in 2003, promises a tenfold reduction in design data compared to GDSII, but is still years away from becoming the dominant file format.
"It's being adopted quickly, but it's not really commercially ready yet," said Tom Grebinski, who was chairman of the SEMI data path task force that defined the Oasis standard and is now president and CEO of Oasis Tooling (Alamo, Calif.). "It's a major undertaking to retool to Oasis. It's likely the largest change taking place in microelectronics, just because GDSII is everywhere."
Integrated device manufacturers and foundries are largely driving Oasis implementation, Grebinski said, while EDA companies have been moving on Oasis less quickly, primarily because of the enormous amount of work involved. Grebinski estimated that it will be another five years before Oasis is universally optimized and accepted.
"People thought that just because Mentor has a tool out there that outputs to Oasis, that we were done," Grebinski said. "But that's not true."
The Calibre DRC/LVS tool from Mentor Graphics Corp. (Wilsonville, Ore.) accepts Oasis files and provides a GDS-to-Oasis translator. But, Grebinski said, the Mentor tool is only one step in a long road Oasis must travel. The next step, he said, will be tapeout of a chip in native Oasis, rather than one that has been converted from GDSII. Hard intellectual property (IP), he said, must also be transitioned from GDSII to Oasis. And Oasis integration of photomask preparation tools with photomask pattern generators is also needed, he said.
Oasis Tooling has been offering test cases that verify Oasis variable shape beam (VSB), a dialect of Oasis, under an unusual "no-charge" license arrangement since last October. Aprio is the first company to publicly announce a commercial licensing arrangement for the company's technology.
Oasis Tooling claims to provide the means to build an optimized Oasis implementation compatible with all Oasis implementations worldwide. The company develops Oasis verification and acceptance technology for CAD, EDA, database, 2-D/3-D rendering and simulation, mask pattern generation and defect detection systems.