Electronic Design

10 Semiconductor Manufacturing DFM Rules Every Designer Should Follow

  1. Know your limits: DFM should help you to understand the limits of your manufacturing partner and operate effectively within those limits.
  2. Don't dump your tool flow: Find ways to make it manufacturing-aware.
  3. Insist on accuracy: DFM-awareness helps only if the information is process calibrated and accurate.
  4. Don't settle for error reports: Finding things like litho hot-spots is useful, but a method to correct the defect is better.
  5. Know the terminology: Understand the difference between litho hot-spots, critical area analysis (or yield hot-spots), and CMP variation.
  6. Don't change careers: If a DFM approach requires you to become an expert in lithography or IC processing, run away. You shouldn't need to become an expert in semiconductor manufacturing to design manufacturable chips.
  7. Examine pedigree: Look at a vendor's manufacturing competency. Vendors that don't have experience serving IC manufacturing are likely to stretch Rule 3.
  8. Work closely with your fab: Unless design, manufacturing, and EDA are all coordinated, DFM efforts are likely to fail.
  9. Read the fine print: Make sure you understand what you're getting. Are there models needed for a new tool? If so, who will build them? Who will verify them? What does post-sale training and support look like?
  10. Don't take your eye off the ball: Always remember your goal—whether it's improved yield, lower power, or higher clock rate. And make sure your DFM tools help you achieve that goal. Don't be sidetracked by interesting analysis that won't allow you to directly move your design toward the goal.

This list of 10 DFM rules was composed by Mike Gianfagna, President & CEO of Aprio Technologies.

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