Posted: March 15, 2008

Software giants and startups tackle lithography complexity

(Nanowerk News) Semiconductor International has an article about EDA developemnts at last month's SPIE Advanced Lithography conference:
Every year at the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, the EDA sector seems to gain a little more prominence. While the bulk of the presentations, particularly looking to the next generations, still focus on tackling hardware and materials issues, there is no question that the software is enabling so much of the present-day advances keeping the industry on track.
This year’s conference, which took place again a couple weeks ago in San Jose, featured several announcements from the key players in the EDA space — such as Mentor Graphics, Synopsys, Cadence, Brion Technologies, Luminescent — and also carried the buzz about a couple of the latest newcomers, including Gauda and Tela Innovations. Much of the focus was on getting all the incredible amounts of data that are the necessary outcome of increasingly complex masks through the pipeline. Of course there was much talk about double patterning, and what the software providers are doing to solve key design splitting issues, but there was also talk about how they could help chipmakers avoid double patterning for just a little while longer.
Understandably, a great deal of buzz centered around the eventuality of relying on double patterning techniques to bridge the gap between water-based immersion lithography and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. While there are such issues as overlay requirements that fall into the purview of the toolmakers, there was much to be said from the EDA folks about how the design layers would be split into their respective masks.
Brion Technologies, for example, came out with its announcement the first day of the conference regarding two products — particularly its Tachyon DPT — that are better equipped to deal with computational lithography as it relates to double patterning.
Although Cadence did not officially announce news at the show, the company has been busily integrating capabilities from recent acquisitions such as ClearShape and Invarium into its own Virtuoso products to create a unified front-to-back design environment. With the spotlight on double patterning, Cadence recognizes the importance of an integrated approach to deal with complex issues such as split problems and conflicts, and overlay variation.
Their outlook is that they are starting with a “clean sheet” on the integration of these products, with no previous generations to bog them down. What they’re aiming to do is to incorporate new effects into the tools in a way that is transparent for the users, while also being flexible enough to support whichever double patterning techniques ultimately take hold in the marketplace.
Source: Semiconductor International (Aaron Hand)
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