SAN JOSE -- Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Numerical Technologies Inc. announced today that they have expanded their technology licensing relationship in order to develop a comprehensive IC design flow that will support sub-wavelength semiconductor manufacturing processes.
Under a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement, Cadence will embed Numerical's patented phase-shifting technology into its sub-wavelength design solutions for custom and cell-based flows. Cadence has already integrated Numerical's silicon-versus-layout and optical proximity correction (OPC) technology into the Cadence design flow.
"The relationship between Cadence and Numerical offers a powerful combination of synergistic capabilities," stated Jake Buurma, senior vice president of research and development at Cadence. "Cadence is committed to integrating the process knowledge and technology from Numerical into our design tools and flows to make sub-wavelength design and manufacturing a practical reality for our customers."
Subwavelength technologies, such as phase-shifting and OPC, are being adopted quickly as manufacturers move to the 0.18-micron process node and below. By incorporating sub-wavelength technologies, IC manufacturers can produce silicon features that are substantially smaller than the wavelength of their 248-nm optical lithography equipment, and thus extend the life of their existing litho investments. VLSI Technologies, UMC, TSMC, Texas Instruments, Lucent's Bell Labs, and Motorola have all used Numerical's subwavelength solutions.
But these technologies poses a challenge to the design flow. A design layout, the photomask, and the resulting silicon appear substantially different. To adequately compensate for the effects of sub-wavelength lithography and process distortions, information about the end silicon must be incorporated early in the IC design process.
By embedding phase shifting and OPC into the design flow, Cadence and Numerical expect to bridge the gap between the design process and the fabrication process, offering designers a reliable, transparent flow to access sub-wavelength technology nodes.
"Numerical has focused on developing the right partnerships and products to solve the subwavelength challenge since we were first incorporated," stated Y.C. (Buno) Pati, CEO of Numerical. "By linking our technology with the leader in physical design, we hope to offer design teams transparent access to subwavelength manufacturing processes."