Analog/mixed-signal IC designers are feeling the heat these days, and it's not just from their ever-shrinking design cycles. It's from their designs themselves. Now more than ever, from the start to the finish of the design flow, designers need to accurately assess the temperature variations in their designs and how those variations affect circuit performance and reliability.
Into the breach comes CircuitFire, a tool that provides detailed 3D temperature analysis (see the figure). Based on the technology behind Gradient Design Automation's FireBolt tool, CircuitFire takes in the design layout and power dissipation and descriptions of the target IC package and process technology.
Using those inputs, the tool automatically builds a detailed thermal model and computes the temperatures throughout the die. This data lets designers evaluate the chip's internal temperature distribution, considering the ambient temperature conditions and package characteristics. Because the tool interfaces with common simulators, users can incorporate the temperatures of the device, as well as its interconnects, into their simulations.
Previous temperature-analysis methods have assumed a constant temperature throughout the chip, or, at worst, a minimal amount of distributed temperature. Such assumptions don't provide enough information to predict potential functional failures in final silicon.
Devices such as bandgap references and matched circuits can be highly sensitive to temperature gradations. In addition to hiding potential functional issues, the use of constant-temperature assumptions can cause designers to overlook electromigration or other reliability problems.
CircuitFire is available now. Pricing for time-based licenses starts at $75,000.
Gradient Design Automation