It's critical that the surface of silicon wafers be as flat as possible so that as each metal layer is patterned, you minimize the risk of moving in and out of the focal plane of the imaging system. Failure to achieve near-perfect flatness can result in yield-destroying parametric failures.
Blaze DFM's latest product, Blaze IF (for "intelligent-fill synthesis"), inserts "dummy fill" patterns into users' design layouts to reduce those topographical variations that result from chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) processes.
Without Blaze IF, designers must perform fill synthesis using custom scripts written for design-rule verification tools. Whereas these rules began as a relatively simple collection, they've long since become outlandishly complex. At the 65-nm node, it'll simply be impractical to write scripts for an optical-proximity correction/reticle-enhancement technology (OPC/RET) tool such as Mentor Graphics' Calibre to perform design-rule checking and create shapes to compensate for CMP.
Blaze IF provides a purpose-built tool for the job of fill synthesis. It not only manages variation in terms of minimizing the difference between "peaks" and "valleys" across the wafer, but also ensures that these minima and maxima aren't in close proximity. Dummy-fill patterns are created in such a way as to account for the extra parasitic capacitance they create in meeting timing and power constraints.
The tool is driven by internal delay calculation as well as static timing/noise analysis. It addresses all layers and employs a flexible set of fill strategies. It also supports all modern CMP design rules.
Blaze IF is available now for 32- and 64-bit Red Hat Linux and 64-bit SUSE Linux operating systems. Pricing starts at $250,000 per year.