Showing posts with label Physical Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Physical Design. Show all posts

Clock network design

Clock network is usually formed by top-level mesh/network and bottom-level Steiner minimum trees. The objective of clock network design is 1.) minimum or bounded skew, 2.) minimum delay, 3.) bounded process variation. Can we compare different clock topologies, or, how can we evaluate the effectiveness of clock boosters and feedback loops?

IR drop driven placement

The objective here is to explore placement techniques which can lead to reduction in IR drop. One way to do this is to place high current cells towards the periphery in a peripheral i/o design. Simple way to implement this is to have a fixed dummy block at the center of the chip and attach fake nets from it to cell instances in a DEF file. A commercial placer can then be used to place this netlist. After placement, fake blocks and nets can be deleted. This can lead to IR drop reduction.

Impact of dummy fill on timing

How can you quantify the impact of dummy fill on post-layout timing?  Dummy fill can be inserted into a layout using SOC Encounter or post-tape-out tools like Calibre/Assura. You should then extract dummy fill using Fire-n-Ice extractor and compare pre-fill and post-fill timing. Can you compare the impact of filling approaches (grounded vs. floating)?

The effect of whitespace and aspect ratio on wirelength and timing

Whitespaces (empty space) are inserted in layouts in order to increase the routing resources of the chip. Have you ever studied the impact of whitespace (and aspect ratio) on timing and wirelength, by say increasing the whitespace from 0% to 100% and evaluate the impact on both wirelength and timing. Can you predict how this will look like? For a 300 mm wafer, can you parameterize the relationship between the number of dies produced, timing, die aspect ratio, wirelength and whitespace?

Investigation on timing analysis inaccuracies

Timing analysis inaccuracies due to crosstalk, multiple gate input switching, supply voltage variation, temperature, manufacturing variation, etc. are very common. How do you tackle them in real life designs? How do you do it using Prime Time (PT)?

Distributions in statistical timing

How do you observe and highlight the impact of assumptions on gate-length variability distributions (if any) on final design timing distributions. How do you implement a simple statistical timer by (say) 500 Monte Carlo runs of STA (e.g. Primetime). Assume independent gate delays. Assume gate-delay distributions and generate circuit delay distributions. Delays can be changed in the SDF file. Interconnect may be ignored. Can we try tem for a few probability distributions (e.g. Gaussian, asymmetric Gamma, Triangular, etc).

Effect of WLM and target frequency on performance

How do you quantify the effect of WireLength Models (WLM) and target frequency on the post-routing timing results?

Randomized algorithm/approximation scheme for statistical timing analysis

Statistical timing analysis gives a distribution for signal delay at each node in a netlist. A Monte Carlo simulation can give discrete distribution functions. Can there be a randomized algorithm or approximation scheme for statistical timing analysis with guaranteed error bound?

Clock driver input alignment

Modern clock networks include several drivers in which delays are affected by the timing of their input signal transitions. How do you find out the input alignment of clock network drivers which leads to worst case driver gate delays?

Re-timing tackles long combinational logic paths

Re-timing reduces longest combinational logic paths by relocating some of the flip-flops, both logically and physically. How do you evaluate the effectiveness of re-timing, with existing tools and/or some of your own scripts? Comparing with useful clock skew is a plus.

Transistor level technology remapping

This is a process of combining several cells to form new library cells, and to optimize a transistor level netlist. This can be done algorithmically (e.g. pattern matching) or in an ad-hoc fashion. You can verify your area saving, timing improvement and power consumption reduction after this step.

Transistor sizing / multi-Vt design

This task usually starts with a placed and routed design, then generating a transistor level netlist for it and further optimizing it. Optimization can be for example adjusting transistor widths, or assigning different transistor threshold voltages in a dual threshold voltage design. This can be done algorithmically (e.g. TILOS) or in an ad-hoc fashion. See how much timing improvement you get vs. just gate-level optimization. Also notice any "error" in STA methodology and highlight it further.  Following timing optimization, further optimize the design to reduce power  consumption without losing any timing.

Backend physical design Interview Questions

I have listed below a set of common interview questions asked mainly in interviews related to physical design or backend activities in ASIC or VLSI chip design process. Typically these interviews start with questions on physical design(PD) flow and goes on to deeper details.
* What is signal integrity? How it affects Timing?
* What is IR drop? How to avoid .how it affects timing?
* What is EM and it effects?
* What is floor plan and power plan?
* What are types of routing?
* What is a grid .why we need and different types of grids?
* What is core and how u will decide w/h ratio for core?

* What is effective utilization and chip utilization?
* What is latency? Give the types?
* What is LEF?
* What is DEF?
* What are the steps involved in designing an optimal pad ring?
* What are the steps that you have done in the design flow?
* What are the issues in floor plan?
* How can you estimate area of block?
* How much aspect ratio should be kept (or have you kept) and what is the utilization?
* How to calculate core ring and stripe widths?
* What if hot spot found in some area of block? How you tackle this?
* After adding stripes also if you have hot spot what to do?
* What is threshold voltage? How it affect timing?
* What is content of lib, lef, sdc?
* What is meant my 9 track, 12 track standard cells?
* What is scan chain? What if scan chain not detached and reordered? Is it compulsory?
* What is setup and hold? Why there are ? What if setup and hold violates?
* In a circuit, for reg to reg path ...Tclktoq is 50 ps, Tcombo 50ps, Tsetup 50ps, tskew is 100ps. Then what is the maximum operating frequency?
* How R and C values are affecting time?
* How ohm (R), fared (C) is related to second (T)?
* What is transition? What if transition time is more?
* What is difference between normal buffer and clock buffer?
* What is antenna effect? How it is avoided?
* What is ESD?
* What is cross talk? How can you avoid?
* How double spacing will avoid cross talk?
* What is difference between HFN synthesis and CTS?
* What is hold problem? How can you avoid it?
* For an iteration we have 0.5ns of insertion delay and 0.1 skew and for other iteration 0.29ns insertion delay and 0.25 skew for the same circuit then which one you will select? Why?
* What is partial floor plan?
* What parameters (or aspects) differentiate Chip Design & Block level design??
* How do you place macros in a full chip design?
* Differentiate between a Hierarchical Design and flat design?
* Which is more complicated when u have a 48 MHz and 500 MHz clock design?
* Name few tools which you used for physical verification?
* What are the input files will you give for primetime correlation?
* What are the algorithms used while routing? Will it optimize wire length?
* How will you decide the Pin location in block level design?
* If the routing congestion exists between two macros, then what will you do?
* How will you place the macros?
* How will you decide the die size?

* If lengthy metal layer is connected to diffusion and poly, then which one will affect by antenna problem?
* If the full chip design is routed by 7 layer metal, why macros are designed using 5LM instead of using 7LM?
* In your project what is die size, number of metal layers, technology, foundry, number of clocks?
* How many macros in your design?
* What is each macro size and no. of standard cell count?
* How did u handle the Clock in your design?
* What are the Input needs for your design?
* What is SDC constraint file contains?
* How did you do power planning?
* How to find total chip power?
* How to calculate core ring width, macro ring width and strap or trunk width?
* How to find number of power pad and IO power pads?
* What are the problems faced related to timing?
* How did u resolve the setup and hold problem?
* If in your design 10000 and more numbers of problems come, then what you will do?
* In which layer do you prefer for clock routing and why?
* If in your design has reset pin, then it’ll affect input pin or output pin or both?
* During power analysis, if you are facing IR drop problem, then how did u avoid?
* Define antenna problem and how did u resolve these problem?
* How delays vary with different PVT conditions? Show the graph.
* Explain the flow of physical design and inputs and outputs for each step in flow.
* What is cell delay and net delay?
* What are delay models and what is the difference between them?
* What is wire load model?
* What does SDC constraints has?
* Why higher metal layers are preferred for Vdd and Vss?
* What is logic optimization and give some methods of logic optimization.
* What is the significance of negative slack?
* How the width of metal and number of straps calculated for power and ground?
* What is negative slack ? How it affects timing?
* What is track assignment?
* What is grided and gridless routing?
* What is a macro and standard cell?
* What is congestion?
* Whether congestion is related to placement or routing?
* What are clock trees?
* What are clock tree types?
* Which layer is used for clock routing and why?
* What is cloning and buffering?
* What are placement blockages?
* How slow and fast transition at inputs effect timing for gates?
* What is antenna effect?
* What are DFM issues?
* What is .lib, LEF, DEF, .tf?
* What is the difference between synthesis and simulation?
* What is metal density, metal slotting rule?
* What is OPC, PSM?
* Why clock is not synthesized in DC?
* What are high-Vt and low-Vt cells?
* What corner cells contains?
* What is the difference between core filler cells and metal fillers?
* How to decide number of pads in chip level design?
* What is tie-high and tie-low cells and where it is used

Restrictive Design Rules and Their Impact on 22nm Design and Physical Verification

Process variability is posing considerable challenge to the capability of lithography and manufacturing techniques, and thus impacts both performance and yield of advanced node chips. To ensure the manufacturability and performance of chips at 22nm, one approach the industry is considering is restrictive design&mash;limiting the type and placement of features used in designs. Gridding of critical layers significantly reduces the total physical design space available and makes restrictive design possible. This paper examines the basics of gridding, the requirements for restrictive gridded design, and the automated methods for accurate checking of Restrictive Design Rules (RDRs). Resolving the debug challenges associated with the implementation of checking restrictive design and grid rules is also discussed.