One startup I did run across that looks interesting is Polyteda. Let me first point out that this is all based simply on talking to them and I’ve not run their tools or done any other diligence.

They have a next generation DRC facing off against Calibre (also they have LVS). They are based out of the Ukraine. When I had a development group in Moscow when I was at Compass one of the things I noticed was that Russians thought differently (and yes, I know Ukrainians are not Russians). They had grown up in an era where the best computer you could expect was an old 286-based PC, you weren’t getting a state-of-the-art Sun workstation. Also, they grew up in an era where the Rouble wasn’t just not externally convertible, it wasn’t really internally convertible: you couldn’t buy stuff with it since it just wasn’t available. So they had a pride in doing a lot with a little, especially clever mathematics that just required a pen and paper, or processing large chips on inadequately powered computers. In addition, the Soviet universities were not seeded with American-educated professors, as was largely the case in India and China, so they were even educated differently from the rest of the world.

Polyteda is now qualified with UMC at 65nm, apparently the only DRC except Calibre since the others haven’t passed yet. While some are moving faster than others, it is safe to assume all of the foundries and many of the IDMs are at least investigating their technology if not actively working with Polyteda.

Polyteda takes a different approach to DRC, instead of being layer based, largely processing one layer at a time, it divides the chip up into areas and processes all rules on each area, fitting the whole thing in memory. They don’t overlap the areas (since that means double checking some things) so obviously this scales nicely to huge numbers of processors.

They have a much more programmatic way of expressing the design rules, including procedure calls, making for very compact rule-decks. Of course they can also read a Calibre deck but that is not a very efficient way of using the tools. Their language is more powerful, meaning they can check complex rules that other DRCs cannot, or can only do incredibly inefficiently: antenna rules, bizarre reflection rules, some stress rules and so on.

All other DRCs largely use scan-line algorithms, processing trapezoids as a line runs across the layers being analyzed. My guess is that they do not, that they instead do something closer to an approach I was shown back in those Compass Moscow days, following a polygon around from edge to edge and handling all the interactions. But that is pure speculation.

In this market, as Calibre showed at 0.35um, change can come fast. And since it is about a $400M market there is a lot of money up for grabs.

This entry was posted in eda industry, methodology. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.