Tool focuses on substrate coupling analysis

To facilitate right-first-time analogue and high voltage design implementation, X-Fab offers a substrate coupling analysis tool to address unwanted parasitic effects.

The SubstrateXtractor tackles the unwanted substrate couplings which can impact modern IC developments, causing parasitic effects that are damaging to overall performance. Engineers have to deal with this by taking a slow and laborious trial- and-error approach, taking up hours making different design iterations which are then experimented with.   

The SubstrateXtractor was created in partnership with Swiss EDA software vendor PN Solutions, and based on its PNAware product. This is believed to be the semiconductor industry’s first commercially available tool dedicated to addressing the simulation of large signal substrate parasitic effects. Working in conjunction with X-FAB’s established simulation libraries, it allows engineers to investigate where potential substrate coupling issues could occur and make the changes necessary to eliminate them (via better floorplanning, guard rings for example) before the initial tape-out has even begun.

Engineers gain full visibility of all the active and passive elements within the substrate and be able to experiment with different simulations in order to find a design concept that delivers maximum substrate coupling immunity within the project’s particular parametric constraints. They are also able to determine the minimum number of substrate contacts and guard rings needed for a project, no matter how complex and sophisticated it is, for more effective utilisation of the available area.   

As layout engineers uncover any adverse substrate effects early on in the development cycle, the IC implementation procedures are more streamlined and quicker to complete, avoiding the need to rework designs to increase levels of optimisation, says the company.   

SubstrateXtractor reduces the number of design iterations required – leading to much lower engineering overheads.

This functionality will be integrated into X-Fab’s process design kit (PDK) and available for use with the company’s popular XH018 high voltage 0.18 micron mixed-signal CMOS offering. A version for the power management process XP018 will follow.

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