SAN FRANCISCO Top-tier EDA vendor Synopsys Inc. has completed the acquisition of German lithography simulation vendor Sigma-C Software AG in a cash transaction worth $20.5 million, the company said Wednesday (Aug. 16).
first came to light during the Design Automation Conference last month.
Under the structure of the acquisition, Sigma-C will remain a stand-alone entity, wholly owned by Synopsys, according to Wolfgang Fichtner, Synopsys' general manager for TCAD and vice president of engineering for the company's silicon engineering group. The company will retain its brand, its employees, it's Munich, Germany, headquarters, and its product line, which Fichtner termed "very complementary" to Synopsys' existing TCAD and DFM products. "There is essentially no overlap," he said.
Calling it an "acquisition with foresight," Fichtner noted that there are a number of vendors now providing lithography simulation technology in various rule- and model-based forms, and that every chip maker working at 130-nanometer and below is utilizing lithography simulation in some form. Sigma-C's technology, which incorporates three-dimension capabilities and highly accurate physical models, appealed to Synopsys as the "golden standard in that field," Fichtner said.
"The further technology progresses, the more physics that you need," Fichtner said. "Rule- and model-based things are no longer sufficient."
Sigma-C (Munich, Germany) founded in 1987 by a group that included Christian Kalus, now the company's president and chief technology officer, for years marketed to lithography engineers a software package, Solid E, for simulating and modeling optical lithography. Looking to cash in on the DFM craze, the company last May broadedend its focus to target designers and optical proximity correction implementation specialists with a new product, Solid+, said to act as a virtual exposure tool to simulate microlithography and identify potential problem areas during the design process.
According to Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.), the acquisition will enable tighter integration between design and manufacturing tools, enabling the company's customers to perform more accurate design layout analysis with three-dimensional lithography simulation. The technology will also provide customers with a broader understanding of yield issues for effective design-for-manufacturability (DFM) implementation, Synopsys said.
"The acquisition of SIGMA-C reinforces Synopsys' commitment to improving customers' yield by providing yet another critical link in the design-to-manufacturing process," said Raul Camposano, Synopsys senior vice president and chief technology officer. "For customers, the benefits are more accurate, predictive modeling capabilities, leading to lower development costs and increased yield."
Solid+ and Solid E complement Synopsys' existing DFM and TCAD product lines, according to the company. Used in combination with a lithography compliance checker such as that included in Synopsys' recently rolled out Prime Yield design-for-yield analysis suite, Solid+ can provide a means to study the impact of lithography variability by determining the process window that conforms to a given set of design rules, Synopsys said.
"At 65 nanometers and below, lithography is a key process step to define critical patterns and control yield variations," Kalus said. "Combining Sigma-C's lithography modeling expertise with Synopsys' best-of-breed EDA, TCAD and DFM solutions is a logical next step in addressing the challenges at advanced technology nodes."