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Things You Didn't Know About Virtuoso: ADE XL Test Setup

Comments(5)Filed under: Custom IC Design, Virtuoso, IC 6.1.4, Virtuoso Analog Design Environment, IC 6.1, ADE, ADE-XL

In my last post, I left you in suspense, with your mouse hovering over the words "Click to add test" in ADE XL.  Clicking on this button will bring up the ADE XL Test Editor window (which should look suspiciously familiar) and a dialog asking you to point to the design you want to use.  This design does not have to be the same cellview as the adexl view you're working with.  It can be any design you want to simulate.

ADE XL Test Editor

Now take a look at the ADE XL Test Editor.  DON'T PANIC.  It's exactly the same as the good old friendly ADE L window.  You set up your test in exactly the same way you do it in ADE L.  If you have an existing state, load it here.  If not, use the Setup, Analyses, Variables and Outputs menus to create your simulation setup. 

The ADE XL Test Editor also includes all the features and enhancements discussed in my previous posts (here and here).

Tip: If you put the following in your .cdsinit file, the Test Editor window will also include the Run button, so you can test out your setup without stepping out of your comfort zone--

envSetVal("adexl.testEditor" "showAllMenus" 'boolean t)

Ok, let's step out of that comfort zone, shall we?  Why do you want that extra window anyway?  Close it and let's move along. 

You don't need the Test Editor

Back in ADE XL, you'll see the test you just added in the Tests section of the Data View Assistant (upper left corner of the main window).  By default, the test will be named something like myLib:myCell:1.  The :1 suffix will increment if you add other tests with the same library and cell name.

Tip: I don't know about you, but I usually find the default test names to be annoyingly long, so I like to rename them to something more meaningful to me.  To do this, we'll employ a technique I'll call "edit in place".  First, click on the name of the test in the Data View Assistant. It will look like it's selected.  Now click again and you'll be in edit mode.  Note I didn't say "double-click" (That would open the Test Editor window and we're done with that...).  Just click and then click again--there's a difference. 

You can see lots of information about the test right in the Data View Assistant.  By expanding the tree, you can see the simulator, the analyses and the design variables for each test.  Hover over the test name and you'll get a gigantic tooltip which will show you the lib/cell/view for that test (among other things).  Click the RMB (right mouse button) and you'll be able to directly access pretty much every element of the test setup (temperature, model libraries, options, etc.). 

Information about the outputs from the test can be seen and modified in the Outputs Setup pane (the big area in the middle of the window).  RMB in that area and you'll see all the entries relating to setting up outputs to be saved and plotted, adding expressions as well as access to the "Save All" and "Printing/Plotting Options" dialogs.  We'll talk more about this area in detail in a later article.

There's no need to open the Test Editor window again.  Really.  Why do you need another window?


Dude, where's my schematic?

RMB on the test name in the Data View Assistant and select "Open Design in Tab" to do just that (open the design corresponding to that test in a new tab).

Tip: By default, the design will be opened in "read" mode.  To open automatically in edit mode, put the following line in your .cdsinit file:

envSetVal("adexl.gui" "openDesignAccessMode" 'cyclic "w")

By the way, ADE XL is pretty smart about opening the schematic when you need it.  Executing any command that needs you to point to something on the schematic will automatically open it (outputs to be plotted, initial conditions, etc.).  Not only that, but it pays attention to which test your mouse was pointing to when the command was invoked and opens the correct schematic for that test.

Multi-Test Setup

Now that we've got one test set up, why not add more?  Surely you do more than one simulation?  This is where ADE XL really starts to shine.

Tip: If you want to use the same schematic with a different ADE state, RMB over the test name corresponding to that schematic and select Create Test Copy.  You'll get a duplicate copy of the test for which you can load a new state or edit as desired.

A single ADE XL view can contain any number of tests for different schematics using different sub-blocks and different simulators.  The checkboxes in the Data View Assistant can be used to enable/disable each test.  Even if you think you're totally finished with one testbench, just disable it.  Guess what, you'll probably end up needing to run it again eventually when you get that email letting you know that a new model file has just been released.  It sure would be handy not to have to go digging through the Library Manager to find all the tests you ran on that block 3 weeks ago. 

Tip: Using multiple tests in ADE XL also enables you to share variables (so they only need to be changed in one place), copy output expressions from one test to another (RMB->Copy to Test... in the Outputs Setup pane) and even (spoiler alert) create expressions which combine results from more than one test (more on that next time).

Stacy Whiteman



By Lior Dagan on August 3, 2013
What happens if I want to copy a Test from 1 ADE-XL view to the other? Is that possible?I.e. I have a test which I would like to copy from adexl view adexl1 to adexl2 and change the design which is used to run the simulation. Thanks!

By stacyw on August 30, 2013
Yes, it's quite possible.  In the adexl window for adexl2, use File->Import... from the window banner menu.  There you can selected lib/cell/view adexl1 and which elements of the setup you want to import (tests, corners, variables, etc.).  You can also use File->Export... to go the other way.

By stefano on April 10, 2014
Thank you so much stacyw ! you made my day. I had a problem when copying entire cellviews because the adexl2 remained always linked to the schematic1 of adexl1 and when I updated the schematic in the adexl2 it would just erase all my outputs, making me lose so much time! Thanks again

By stefano on April 10, 2014
In fact even if I use import for adexl, I then have to update the design in the test and everything gets reset... Is there a way to copy an adexl state and link it to a new schematic without erasing all the setups?

By stacyw on April 10, 2014
Don't forget that the tests in ADE XL don't have to reference the same cell where the adexl view exists.  So copying an adexl view won't change the tests inside it.  I think what you need is the cdsenv variable as follows in your .cdsinit: envSetVal("asimenv" "retainStateSettings" 'cyclic "all").  If this is set, it will attempt to keep any existing test settings when you point to a new design.  

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