Sage-DA announces a new tool to verify DRC decks

DRVerify acts like ATPG for DRC, targeting complex new process design rules

February 18, 2014, Santa Clara, CASage Design Automation, Inc. (Santa Clara CA) today announced DRVerify, a new tool that verifies design rule check (DRC) decks – the latest product in the iDRM design rule compiler platform.  Used by process design kit (PDK) teams and DRC deck developers, DRVerify addresses the problem of DRC deck errors, especially in leading edge process nodes of 20nm and below. DRC deck errors that are found late in the design or after tapeout are very costly, and can cause yield issues, incur additional redesign and mask costs, and ultimately hinder the production schedule.

Using the design rule definition as input, DRVerify generates an exhaustive set of tests that thoroughly checks the correctness and accuracy of the DRC code as it is being developed. When deployed early on, DRVerify accelerates the development of DRC decks and eliminates errors and inaccuracies. 

New advanced semiconductor process technologies, at 20nm and lower, come with new design rules that are extremely complex. Implementing DRC checks for such rules is a laborious and error-prone manual programming task, and thus the resulting code can easily have errors and inaccuracies. Yet, it is almost impossible to catch all these errors, since there is no methodical check that verifies that the DRC code exactly reflects its respective design rule description. CAD teams and designers try to create sets of layout test cases exhibiting both "pass" and "fail" conditions and use them to check the DRC deck. Today these tests are usually devised and made manually or assisted by scripts or layout design tools. When it comes to complex design rules, it is very hard to envision and create all possible corner cases, and it is very easy to make mistakes in the pass/fail determination of each case.  

DRVerify uses the iDRM formal graphical rule definition as its input, and generates test cases based on that input.  DRVerify systematically searches all boundary conditions of the rule expression and creates every possible variation of the design rule expression that can change the check result. Since it works off the design rule definition source, all its test cases are correct-by-construction. Using a sophisticated layout engine, DRVerify generates thousands of test cases per rule in a matter of minutes.  

"The experience of designers in leading edge process technologies has too often shown alarming discrepancies between a DRM design rule specification and the DRC check for it. This phenomenon is not the issue of one specific foundry or another – it is a systemic problem in the industry, which becomes increasingly painful with newer process nodes," said Coby Zelnik, CEO of Sage-DA.

"In addition to ensuring DRC decks are now correct and accurate, DRVerify also enables accelerated availability of DRC decks for new process technology rules or design rule updates."

Design rule manual applications

In addition to verifying DRC decks, DRVerify is also used by design rule manual (DRM) teams to validate DRM design rule specifications. A design rule definition can be quite complex, and when it's finally written down, the specification text or table might not exactly express the original design rule intent. DRVerify automatically creates pass and fail cases that visualize for the user all the boundary cases of the design rule expression, flushing out the complete and true meaning of what was specified. Unexpected test cases will indicate possible errors or incomplete parts in the rule definition.

DRVerify also addresses the design rule consistency problem. Design rules may be specified in a way that they conflict with other design rules. Since DRVerify has to respect all other rules while exercising the rule under test, it automatically finds such conflicts and indicates them to the user.


Sage-DA will demo DRVerify and the iDRM Platform in Booth 324 at this year’s SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference in San Jose, CA on February 25 and 26.  The product is now used by beta customers and will be released in May 2014.

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About Sage Design Automation

Sage-DA developed its breakthrough iDRM technology to deliver design rule consistency and closure between manufacturing process limitations, their respective DRM (design rule manual) representation and their DRC deck implementation. Sage-DA’s iDRM (integrated design rule management) platform integrates an easy-to-use graphical design rule capture with instantaneous checking capability. iDRM enables non-programmers to quickly capture design rules and generate correct-by-construction checks, accelerates the development and availability of design rule checks for new process technologies and ensures their correctness and consistency, delivering higher yield and faster production ramp up of integrated circuits (ICs) in advanced process nodes.

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Liz Massingill
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