SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Sapphire Design Automation Inc. here today introduced a post-placement,post-routing analysis and optimization solution for resolving the timing and noise convergence issues for users of Cadence or Avant! place and route flows.
It also introduced the latest version of its "electrically correct" tool suite that includes several new features in the FormIT standard-cell physical design tool.
Sapphire -- a two-year-old startup founded by executives from Avant!, Cadence Design Systems, and Digital Equipment Corp. -- has added timing-driven block placement, ECO placement, automatic timing violation repair, and electromigration analysis features to FormIT's integrated analysis, placement, and optimization solution.
In addition, Sapphire now offers ClockIT, an optional clock tree synthesis engine that leverages FormIT's electrical event-based analysis and persistent timing view. ClockIT produces results in a fraction of the time required by similar capabilities in Cadence and Avant! tool sets, the company said.
"Our enhancements to FormIT are driven by successful experiences with more than a dozen customers over the past year," said Kevin Walsh, vice president of marketing at Sapphire. "These customer engagements have also validated our technical approach that moves electrical information up front in the design process where it can serve simultaneous analysis and optimization to rapidly reach convergence of timing, noise, and power constraints in fewer iterations."
Sapphire claimed it is the first to introduce a complete design convergence solution for timing, noise at post-placement/routing level. The FormIT solution fits seamlessly in the flows of Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Avant! Corp. with the same input, output formats, the company said. It takes the placement and route parasitics as inputs, performs all the optimizations for timing and noise, and generates a final placement along with the necessary ECO directives. Sapphire said this solution has consistently given better results over the traditional flow in a much shorter time.
The ClockIT option performs complete clock tree synthesis based on insertion delay and skew. FormIT integrates clock tree generation and timing optimization into a seamless operation for superior results. From an initial legal placement and user-defined insertion delay and skew
constraints, ClockIT automatically determines clock tree depth with support for multiple clocks and performs propagated clock based optimizations throughout the design. The tool outputs directives to place-and-route tools for clock routing.
Benchmarks on customer designs have shown better convergence with equal and often better delay and skew results compared to current tools, according to Sapphire. For example, ClockIT completed clock tree synthesis in a design with 10,000 sequential elements in four minutes versus three hours for the competitive solution -- a 10-fold runtime improvement with better post-route skew results. Using ClockIT, post-route skew was 238 picoseconds compared to post-route skew of 264 ps using the customer's existing tool.
Silicon Value, a San Jose-based supplier of content-addressable memories for networking applications, is relying on Sapphire to help it deliver full-custom chip densities for high-performance, multi-million-gate designs within a very short period, said Nagendra Srinivas, director of Silicon Value's U.S. design center.
"Sapphire tools play a key role in achieving that goal," he said. "Sapphire's software analyzes timing on our existing placement files and optimizes the physical design to meet the timing constraints. After routing, we do a final set of corrective optimizations and produce a design that meets timing at the required performance. Sapphire's combination of analysis, optimization and placement introduces predictability in the design flow that helps in achieving true design closure."
FormIT version 1.2 with integrated analysis, placement and optimization capabilities for rapid design convergence is available immediately running on Sun Microsystems Inc. workstations priced at $72,000 per year for a three-year time-based license. FormIT for post-place/route timing optimization is available now at $48,000 per year. The ClockIT clock tree synthesis option to FormIT is available now priced at $40,000 per year.