SAN MATEO, Calif. Mentor Graphics Corp. is developing an option to its Calibre physical verification tool that will allow engineers who create masks with Calibre to bypass using Numerical Technologies' CATS tool and directly send layout information to mask writers.
Joseph Sawicki, general manager of the Calibre Business Unit at Mentor, said the direct link to mask writers preserves layout hierarchy and allows mask writers to more efficiently process large designs.
Sawicki explained that mask data preparation (MDP) has become a serious bottleneck in the semiconductor industry, because data volumes are increasing to unmanageable sizes. He said that if data is handled incorrectly or flattened too early in the process, as is commonly done with current methods, the volume of IC data can increase by a factor of 10 or more, staggering mask-writing and inspection time.
"The option lets you take advantage of all the hierarchical processing Cal ibre does, but now further down in the tapeout cycle," said Sawicki. "The tool outputs to a Mebes machine. That means that all the layer derivations, sizing operations and the like can be done hierarchically, which allows engineers to get rid of week-long run-times."
Sawicki said that the tool will allow engineers to bypass using Numerical Technologies' Computer Aided Transcription System (CATS) fracturing tool and all its proprietary formats. The CATS tool takes in GDSII design data and converts it into the data formats needed to drive machines that write, measure and inspect masks and wafers.
Sawicki said that the new MDP option is currently in beta and should be available for the mass market by mid 2002.