While synthesis and abstraction have steadily improved the productivity of the digital designer, enabling them to develop hundreds of times more gates today than they did when they – well designed gates, the life of the analog engineer has remained pretty much the same over that period of time. The tools and techniques look frighteningly similar even though they are perhaps a little faster than used to be because improvements of the platforms they run on, plus some improvements in algorithms. But those gains have only allowed for small increases in the complexity of the analog systems that can be designed.
One problem has always been with analog placement and routing. When a digital gate is placed, it will essentially operate the same no matter where on the chip it is placed, or who its neighbors are. That is not the case with analog. With smaller geometries and declining voltages, the sensitivity of analog parts to process variations, noise, imbalances and layout dependent effects are making it more difficult than ever to get analog operating reliably.
One way to deal with some of these issues has been with constraints placed on the schematic. These create violations in the physical layout. But it is getting more complex to create these constraints. SpringSoft to the rescue.
Today SpringSoft is announcing Laker 3, a rebuild of the tool from the ground up. Based on Open Access, a new GUI and a new DRC engine (as well as supporting Calibre for sign-off checking), optimized I/O and a new drawing engine – it should provide all users with a significant upgrade to the capabilities they have been using. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the release is what they call Analog Prototyping. What this does is to automatically create constraints based on the tool’s ability to recognize various analog and digital sub-circuits and from doing current analysis that can help identify symmetric devices.
It is very typical for a company to reuse components in multiple designs and the Analog Prototyping will also enable the user to extend the pattern library to include these custom elements. Over time, an increasing percentage of the company’s knowledge will be captured in this manner and automatically applied when necessary.
More information is available here
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