what is silicon compiler
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The tool is used to generate low-level cells, and/or standard cells that are limited to ~10 to 40 transistors per cell, very
quickly and efficiently while drawing all the layers required in a VLSI process.
Silicon compilers require extensive and expert maintenance to be effective
in a changing environment. They provide the fastest cell generation possible. A
standard cell library can be generated in ~1 day while customizing the cells for a
specific placer and/or routing tool.
Applications for silicon compilers include the following:
• Standard cell libraries, where standardization of the pin assignment, cell
height, abutment, etc., is an important factor in layout design
• Cells for datapath, where the tool and design requirements have to be guaranteed
and tailored to specific designs
• Any time speed is the most important factor in a layout generation
Re: what is silicon compiler
Some of the good features of silicon compilers are
• Layout generation is fast, but the tools are expensive for a small company.
For example, silicon compilers for standard cell libraries are so expensive
that only companies selling libraries as their main product can justify their
• Only highly trained people in software, i.e., software engineers and/or
designers with broad background in software, can use the tools. They may
know how to run the tool, but not necessarily how the layout is supposed
to look and be used. We hope this book will help them to understand more
about generating layout for the entire design process.
• There are many internal tools inside big companies for this specific task that
require a CAD group to set up, develop, and maintain the design environment.
Standard formats are used to interface the output of silicon compilers
with the other tools in the flow. The problem with using standard formats is
that specific information that is required for the compiler may be lost and
the advantage of using the tools defeated.
• They are so fast compared to full-custom polygon pushers that they have
gained a lot of market-share in the past 5 years. Silicon compilers can be used
not only for layout generation, but for process porting as well.
• Some compilers are targeted to specific applications: RAMs, ROMs, PLAs,
I/O cells, standard cells, datapath designs, etc. These compilers do not
require as much training because they have been designed for novice users.