Silvaco Leverages Deep SOI Roots
Posted date : Apr 17, 2020

As a leading TCAD provider, Silvaco has very deep SOI roots, reaching back over 20 years. When Oki* pioneered the first FD-SOI chips in 2000 (really? yes!), whose tools did they use? Silvaco’s. And those early FD-SOI chips went into Casio’s most advanced G-Shock watches in 2005. (Yes, ASN has been covering FD-SOI for a long time!) But note that while those earliest chips used fully depleted architectures, they were on regular – not ultra-thin – SOI wafers, as they are today.

Deep Roots: When Oki pioneered the 1st FD-SOI chips in 2000 (really? yes! for #CasioGShock) look whose tools they used: @SilvacoSoftware #FDSOI #lowpower #chipdesign #semiconductor #semiEDA Click To Tweet

When we look at the IEEE Spectrum Digital Library, it’s clear that Silvaco is continuing to be very active in the SOI space. There are 72 conference and journal publications citing Silvaco for their SOI research simulations since the year 2000 and 27 in the last five years. They’ve supported all the SOI evolutions – including partially-depleted SOI up through and including today’s FD-SOI on ultra-thin SOI wafers. There are two Silvaco presentations that were given in Japan last fall – they’re now on the SOI Consortium website.

A Bit More About Silvaco

Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA and founded in 1984, privately-held Silvaco is a leading provider of TCAD tools. TCAD (short for Technology-Computer Aided Design) is the use of computer modeling and simulation in developing semiconductor devices and processes. As such, TCAD tools reduce the development cost and shorten the development time.

Silvaco also provides a full suite of analog and custom design tools spanning schematic, layout, signoff and variation analysis. The portfolio also includes tools for power integrity sign off, reduction of extracted netlist, and production-proven IP cores for automotive, consumer, and industrial applications.

Silvaco provides a full TCAD to custom circuit design flow for vertical markets including: displays, power electronics, optical devices, radiation & soft error reliability, analog circuits, library and memory design, advanced CMOS process, and IP development. They have 500+ customers in worldwide, and market leadership in TCAD design solutions for flat panel displays and power devices.

Recent SOI Presentations

Here’s a quick recap of the two Silvaco presentations from the Japan SOI Symposium, October 2019, which you’ll find on the SOI Consortium website. (To view the full presentations, however, your company needs to be a member of the Consortium.)

Silvaco RF-SOI TCAD Solution was given by Sun Tao, Applications Engineering Manager, Silvaco.

Silvaco positions itself as a “cost-effective partner to the FD-SOI community.” And as the presentation title indicates, it’s a review of the tools Silvaco offers that support SOI – especially for RF applications. The presentation began with a review of recent updates to their TCAD simulation framework, including the TCAD design flow, Victory Process for speeding up 2D/3D process simulations, and Victory Device for device simulation. Under Silvaco’s DTCO – Design Technology Co-Optimization – flow, semiconductor physics are connected to circuit design, recognizing that each technology has specific requirements that need to be taken into account at every stage of the flow.

An example of how Silvaco Victory Tools Support Detailed Simulations of RF Devices on SOI (Courtesy: Silvaco and the SOI Consortium)

Tao then continued by showing useful TCAD simulations and analysis of SOI for RF applications. In trap-rich substrate simulations, for example, the Silvaco tools can predict the distortion from the active device, device biasing, and substrate, all of which can be co-optimized using Victory Process and Victory Device.

In conclusion, he notes that Silvaco is offering TCAD to custom EDA solutions for predictive and comprehensive FD-SOI design work that can save money before committing to silicon.

Platform Infrastructure for SOI-IP Ecosystem was given by Thomas Blaesi, VP of Global Marketing, Silvaco.

“The massive use of IP is both an advantage and a challenge,” began Blaesi. There are solutions out there, but they are disconnected. Typically SoC/IP designers, IP librarians, and support folks use various systems, while procurement, finance, and legal use others. This is a problem for both the providers and the consumers of IP. Silvaco has a system called Xena that centrally organizes all IP data: it’s an IP repository for tracking accounts, products, contracts, devices, support, compliance, and reporting. One of the first beneficiaries of Xena will be the SOI ecosystem, as providers of SOI IP are already signing on.

One of the first beneficiaries of the Xena IP repository from @SilvacoSoftware will be the SOI ecosystem, as providers of SOI IP are already signing on. #FDSOI #RFSOI #semiconductorIP Click To Tweet

Beyond the organizational advantages, Xena has patented “finger printing” and “DNA analysis”, so there is a digital representation of each IP on an SoC that cannot be reverse engineered. Each fingerprint contains list of unique signatures of each file in an IP or SoC. A file’s unique signature is created from the entire file content, and that signature is guaranteed to be unique to that content.

Silvaco’s Xena Supports Audits of IP Usage in SoC Projects (Courtesy: Silvaco and the SOI Consortium)

It enhances support for all versions of common design files: hard IP, soft IP, and embedded software. Because it’s enterprise based, it will be particularly useful for large organizations. Fingerprinting and DNA analysis are vendor agnostic, universal, and easy-to-use tools and methodologies for IP lifecycle management, he concluded.

*Oki’s now part of Lapis Semi, btw, which is still active in FD-SOI

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