Friday, February 7, 2014

Standards For FinFETs 

Rich Goldman, VP of corporate marketing and strategic alliances at Synopsys, recently predicted the top five trends that are likely to drive the global semiconductor industry in 2014. Standards will help, or hurt, each of these trends.

The ever-changing semiconductor industry has experienced and will continue to experience megatrends like no other industry. Recently, Rich Goldman, vice president of corporate marketing and strategic alliances at Synopsys, made his predictions about the top five trends that are likely to drive the global semiconductor industry in 2014. Each of these trends can be helped, or hurt, by the domain of standards.

Standards For FinFETs

Karen: You predict that FinFETs will be one of the top five trends in 2014. FinFETs promise lower power consumption and higher performance. Designing and manufacturing FinFETs involve a slew of challenges. How can standards help overcome some of them?

Rich: EDA tools and models are advancing to handle the unique properties and behaviors of FinFETs. For each step in the design cycle, data is transferred from one tool to another. Enabling interoperability and modeling are obvious roles for standards to play and there are already several standards in use today. For example, the Liberty library modeling standard is used to develop FinFET libraries that feed logic synthesis and other advanced tools. Standards for describing low-power design intent are also important. Because low power consumption is a key feature of FinFETs, designers can benefit from using these during the power planning stage. The Unified Power Format (UPF) (IEEE Std. 1801) is effective in capturing the low-power design intent and directing the EDA tools to implement it. The biggest advancements in standards for FinFETs are in the Interconnect Technology Format (ITF) standardized by the IEEE-ISTO and in the new BSIM-CMG (CMOS Multi-Gate) SPICE model.

Karen: Are these standards sufficient for FinFETs today?

Rich: Standards for advanced semiconductor design, including FinFETs, should always evolve. While the standards may suffice for a given technology or geometry node, design and EDA engineers are constantly inventing more effective ways of overcoming challenges. As these engineers learn new techniques, the standards for interoperability and modeling need to be enhanced. It’s a cyclical situation. The standards enable new designs that can render the standards obsolete unless the standards are updated to include new methods and technology. Thus, standards working groups, comprised of tech-savvy engineers and experts in standards development, are part of the overall success of new technologies such as FinFETs.

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