MONTEREY -- Hoping to lower the soaring costs of photomasks in chip production, a group of EDA, IC and chip-equipment vendors today unveiled a new data interchange format that replaces the venerable GDS-II standard.
The group of companies--called the SEMI Integrated Circuit (IC) Design/Photomask Data Path Task Force--rolled out version 1.0 of the new, so-called "Oasis" data base interchange format.
The group plans to offer the "Oasis" format for all mask production functions as a replacement to the current standard format--GDSII. For more than 25 years, the GDS-II has been the industry standard in the semiconductor industry. GDS-II is a geometric data representation of device design data.
The new "Oasis" format was developed over the past year by a consortium of 21 leading companies involved in IC design, design automation, photomask patterning and photomask inspection.
The format is said to handle 64-bit design data and data compaction 10 to 50 times greater than GDS-II. It is designed for extensibility and efficiency of data transfer throughout the design, data processing, mask patterning and inspection processes.
"We believe that the data volume explosion taking place through the 0.18- and 0.13-micron process generations is only going to get worse as the industry moves to smaller process nodes," said Tom Grebinski, the Data Path Task Force chairman, in a statement. "Our current results show that the new stream format presents an effective approach to mitigating this problem, if it is adopted uniformly across the design and mask manufacturing supply chain," he said.
"GDSII is not broken, but has some obvious outdated data representation inefficiencies that need to be changed and that will help mitigate this dramatic and sudden increase in design and manufacturing data volume," Grebinski said. "The data volume of design and manufacturing will continue to increase."
"The new format maintains the important capabilities of GDSII Stream, but has been fully extended to handle 64-bit design data, and has been made much more bit-efficient, for both hierarchical and flat layout data," said Kurt Wampler, chairman of the SEMI Data Path Task Force's New Stream Format Working Group, and Distinguished Engineer, ASML MaskTools, in a statement.
The new data format being introduced today is subject to the approval as a standard by the SEMI Worldwide Microlithography Committee. Sixty percent of all companies on the Committee need to submit a vote and all negative votes need to be resolved as having no merit or the negative vote withdrawn. Each company represents one vote.
The Data Path Task Force consists of more than70 individuals, representing nearly 30 companies and consortia from the integrated circuit design, design automation, photomask manufacturing, photomask pattern generation, and photomask inspection industries.