10.Guess who's coming to dinner? Son of GDSII
GDSII, invented 27 years ago, is the interchange data format between chip design and mask data preparation. It has been used on the majority of integrated circuits built since the format's introduction and its arguable that a great deal of the modern chip business depends upon it, including foundry manufacturing and fabless chip companies.
However, as chips have increased in complexity the need has grown to try and produce a more compact and efficient means of describing a chip.
Hence the roll out on September 30, 2002, of the Open Artwork System Interchange Standard (Oasis) format by the industry organization Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) (see September 30 story)
With Oasis SEMI claims its Data Path Task Force has been able to achieve a format 10 to 50 times better data compaction, while substantially improving the extensibility, bit-efficiency and portability of this hierarchical geometric data interchange format.
The Oasis 1.0 proposal still needs to go through balloting and proceed to the SEMI Worldwide Microlithography Committee for a vote. But it could be available for public use as early as March 2003, and the three largest EDA vendors - Cadence Design Systems Inc., Synopsys Inc. and Mentor Graphics Corp. - have all pledged rapid support.
"A year ago we set out to take on a billion dollar challenge," said Tom Grebinski, chairman of SEMI's IC design/photomask data path task force, told EE Times in September. "Bit inefficiency costs $4-to-$6 billion per year, and we've done something about it."
The format also potentially has the ability to solve a major problem: lower the soaring cost of photomasks. Oasis will not solve all of the major problems in mask costs--the industry still needs some major breakthroughs in resists, electron-beam tools, and pattern generators. But Oasis is a good and strong starting point in solving the photomask cost puzzle.
(Return to 2002 Top 10 list or go to No. 1).