Animate for Power Management IC Layout

April 23, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

In 2013, Ricoh Electronic Devices Co., Ltd. organized their layout project teams to reduce integrated circuit (IC) layout design time, targeting a 50% reduction in the entire analog design flow by 2015. In June 2014, Pulsic Ltd. introduced Pulsic Animate™, the first complete automated layout system built from the ground up for transistor-level analog and custom-digital design. Realizing that power management for IC design has many analog characteristics and involves huge amounts of manual layout time, Ricoh Electronic Devices began taking part in early development of Animate. This year, Ricoh Electronic Devices adopted Animate for layout design of their power management ICs.

“Ricoh Electronic Devices offers analog semiconductor products with a focus on high-value-added Power IC. When performing full custom designs, layout design time has become a big issue,” said Toshiya Murota, senior specialist, design technology department, Ricoh Electronic Devices. “In our evaluation, using a real design, we achieved a 40% reduction of cell block implementation time with quality layout results. Our designers evaluated the Animate tool and it is the only automation tool to satisfy our stringent requirements. We are convinced that we can easily achieve a reduction of more than 50% in the future, working with Pulsic on further refinements going forward. This efficient, practical system also provided our desired layout with minimal set-up, an important factor for adoption.”

Pulsic Animate overcomes traditional approaches to automating analog IC design, which have attempted to improve on portions of the design flow, but have not managed to generate “manual-quality” layout without significant user intervention. Built specifically for analog layout, patent-pending PolyMorphic Layout technology delivers multiple layouts from a schematic using automatic constraint extraction and simultaneous placement and routing. Animate offers designers a simple, easy-to-use layout tool that automatically generates constraints based on netlist topology analysis, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual constraint entry and management. Constraints are derived automatically, but can be edited by the user quickly and easily to explore various configured layouts.

At Ricoh Electronic Devices, there are three phases in layout design flow: 1) top-level floor planning, 2) cell block implementation, and 3) top-level routing. The cell block implementation phase consumes 50-80% of total layout design time and was an obvious place to start looking for greater efficiencies. In this phase, Ricoh Electronic Devices was looking at group placement and matching of analog devices and the pursuit of maximum routing flexibility, and worked closely with Pulsic to achieve this for the cell block implementation using Animate.

Animate’s built-in knowledge of analog device placement is excellent, and the system works by doing placement and routing truly concurrently, carrying out placement with routing considerations always in mind. Ricoh Electronic Devices needed both efficiency and consideration of all layout design characteristics for their analog layouts. When the company’s designers compared Animate’s capabilities to their detailed requirements, Animate was the only automation tool to satisfy their wide ranging requirements.

“Product development is always a pleasure when you are working with customer engineers of Ricoh’s caliber,” said Fumiaki Sato, co-founder and VP Japan, Pulsic. “Animate is a new groundbreaking analog solution that allows the layout person to generate multiple layouts, extract them all, and then choose the optimal one for the desired performance criteria. Working with Ricoh Electronics Devices enabled us to develop a system that allows the user to explore more of the solution space, with better results. We look forward to a continuing relationship.”