Simulation Tool Facilitates Analog & High Voltage Design Implementation

May 10, 2019 by Scott McMahan

X-FAB Silicon Foundries SE announced the introduction of SubstrateXtractor simulation tool. Unwanted substrate couplings can impact modern IC developments, causing parasitic effects that can damage overall performance.

Engineers often have to deal with this with a laborious ‘trial and error' approach. This requires hours of engineering time while numerous different design iterations are fabricated. Then the engineers have to experiment with them.

The objective of SubstrateXtractor is to change that time-consuming process. Created in partnership with Swiss EDA software vendor PN Solutions, and based on its innovative PNAware product, X-Fab claims that this is the first commercially available tool devoted to addressing the simulation of large signal substrate parasitic effects. (See image above of a complex, simulated circuit).

Working in conjunction with X-FAB's established simulation libraries, it allows the investigation of where potential substrate coupling issues could occur. Engineers can then make the changes needed to eliminate such issues (via better floorplanning, guard rings, etc.) before the initial tape-out has even commenced.

With the simulation tool, engineers will gain full visibility of all the active and passive elements within the substrate and be able to experiment with different simulations to find a design concept that provides maximum substrate coupling immunity within the project's parametric constraints.

Furthermore, with aid of the simulation, engineers can determine the minimum number of substrate contacts and guard rings needed for a project, no matter how complex and sophisticated it is, thereby resulting in more effective utilization of the available area.

"By employing the SubstrateXtractor tool, layout engineers will be able to uncover any adverse substrate effects early on in the development cycle and subsequently mitigate them," explains Joerg Doblaski, Director of Design Support at X-FAB. "This will make IC implementation procedures far more streamlined and quicker to complete, avoiding the need to rework designs to increase levels of optimization, and resulting in significant cost savings."

X-Fab says SubstrateXtractor can dramatically reduce the number of design iterations required, resulting in much lower engineering overheads. The reduced number of design iterations translates to a faster time to market, making a first-time-right analog design possible.

From now onwards this functionality will be integrated into X-FAB's process design kit (PDK) and will be available for use with the company's popular XH018 high voltage 0.18µm mixed-signal CMOS offering.

A version for the power management process XP018 will soon follow.