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Imec Enters into Agreement with Altos Design Automation

Imec and Altos Design Automation, Inc. today announce that they have entered into an agreement to set up a library re-characterization service based on Altos ultra-fast characterization tools. With this collaboration, imec will extend its ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) prototyping and volume fabrication service with library re-characterization which is essential when designing in 65nm and 40nm nodes.

Imec and Altos will collaborate to offer re-characterization of standard foundry or library vendor libraries including core and IO cells at different process, temperatures and/or voltages. The library re-characterization is based on Altos’ Liberatetm cell characterization product. Validation of the re-characterization will be performed using Altos’ Liberate LV library validation system.

When designing in 65nm and 40nm nodes, re-characterization of standard cell libraries is becoming increasingly necessary in order to get the delay, timing constraints, switching power, leakage and noise for all the corners needed for accurate design signoff. Standard design libraries offered by foundries or library vendors are characterized for certain conditions but the de-rating factors do not apply to all temperatures and voltages. To guarantee first time right designs, library re-characterization becomes essential for 65nm and 40nm technologies.

“The demands of advanced process nodes are driving the requirement to have cells characterized at more temperatures and voltage levels than ever before;” said Jim McCanny, CEO at Altos. “This is because accurate modeling of instance specific voltage and temperature variations cannot be achieved with only one temperature and voltage choice per process corner. In addition the prevalent use of low power design methods means that designers can no longer afford to over-design to extreme corner conditions but need to target library corners that are more relevant to their design application”

Imec has offered an ASIC prototyping, fabrication, testing and packaging service for more than 20 years. The imec ASIC service provides on the one hand European fables companies access to TSMC technologies through imec’s emerging business program. On the other hand, European universities and R&D centers can prototype or fabricate their ASICs at reduced cost via the Europractice IC service supported by the European Commission. “As many of our customers are moving to 65nm and 40nm, there is a strong need for a library characterization service;” said Carl Das, Director imec ASIC services. “This collaboration with Altos will enable us to use Liberate and Liberate LV to rapidly qualify library views for electrical signoff of timing, noise and power which is an important asset for our customers.”


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