Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDNS) today announced the introduction of Cadence Encounter RTL Compiler GXL, an upgraded version of the Cadence® Encounter® RTL Compiler global synthesis technology, and the top-tier of the recently announced segmented Cadence synthesis product line. This product helps leading-edge designers deliver smaller, faster and cooler chips in less time. New capabilities include advanced low-power synthesis with top-down multi-supply voltage (MSV) optimization, automatic physical layout estimation (PLE), top-down retiming for high-performance designs, multi-CPU superthreading to improve customer productivity, and single-pass multi-mode synthesis.
Advanced low-power-design techniques create new challenges for traditional synthesis tools. Encounter RTL Compiler global synthesis is architected to concurrently optimize timing, area, and power, thus resulting in optimal quality of silicon (QoS), even under challenging low-power requirement. New top-down MSV optimization lets low-power designers use synthesis more easily and efficiently to design optimal voltage levels across multiple logic domains in order to determine the best solution for lowering power while meeting timing requirements. Since synthesis is aware of the voltage domains, it creates a better design for physical implementation, enabling a smooth flow.
"Voltage scaling is a great technique for reducing overall static and dynamic power consumption, but its implementation presents many challenges," said Alessandro Uguzzoni, R&D manager at Accent. "Encounter RTL Compiler top-down MSV synthesis enables us to experiment early on with different voltage domain scenarios to find the best partitioning trade-off. Its MSV-aware optimization helps greatly in achieving timing convergence during the physical implementation phase."
In order to effectively consider submicron physical effects during the early synthesis process, a new breakthrough modeling technique improves the overall QoS with better timing, area, and power. The new PLE uses innovative, proprietary methods to adaptively model physical effects before logic gates exist. This new modeling has no impact on runtime and eliminates the need for traditional wireload models.
"The problems with wireload models in today's process geometries are well-known," said Karl Pfalzer, staff engineer at ATI Technologies Silicon Valley, Inc. "But that has been the only way to effectively model interconnect delay during synthesis from RTL to gates, when the logic structure is being created. We have tried experiments on some blocks from our designs and have found that using PLE in Encounter RTL Compiler provides the best correlation with and best results out of place and route."
Retiming is a powerful optimization technique that has traditionally been used only in special high-performance designs because of difficult methodology requirements. This new capability makes retiming easy for a wide range of designs, enabling improvements in a design's frequency or area. This capability also works seamlessly with formal verification tools.
"Our V10LAN transceiver uses large digital filters that we needed to pipeline," said Ed Beers, principal design engineer at Vativ Technologies. "We integrated retiming into our top-down synthesis with Encounter RTL Compiler and we were able to reduce our pipeline register count by 45 percent versus our previous flow. Retiming in Encounter RTL Compiler enabled us to implement our design at 130 nanometers while meeting our timing and area goals. I was amazed to discover how much other tools were leaving on the table. I had thought that synthesis was pretty mature."
The superthreading capability speeds synthesis runtimes by up to three times with no impact on QoS, thus improving productivity and time to market. It makes efficient use of multiple processors or workstations transparent to the user, and guarantees identical high QoS results as a single processor run.
"Our chips are roughly 2 million instances in size," said Subramanian Krishnamoorthy, director of the Design Solutions Group at Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC). "We are using Encounter RTL Compiler for preconditioning the gate-level netlist before implementing the design using TAEC's Pinnacle flow based on SoC Encounter. Fast turnaround time of this preconditioning process is critical to the overall implementation productivity. Encounter RTL Compiler's superthreading enabled us to speed this process twofold. It produces identical netlist and timing performance as the preconditioning process without the superthreading feature."
Modern chip design often requires multiple functional modes of operation and multiple power modes in addition to multiple test modes. Traditional methodologies require either manual merging of the constraints for different modes, or multiple iterative runs which may not achieve closure on all goals. Encounter RTL Compiler multi-mode synthesis enables single-pass optimization and analysis using constraints for all modes simultaneously.
"We continue to rapidly advance our global synthesis technology to raise the bar for the industry," said Dr. Chi-Ping Hsu, corporate vice president at Cadence. "This release further extends Encounter RTL Compiler's ability to deliver the fastest path to the highest QoS."
The Cadence product-segmentation strategy, announced at CDNLive! in September, provides customers with multiple levels of technology tailored to specific levels of design complexity. Cadence design platforms now offer a tiered range of products scaled to different complexities of digital IC design.
Cadence enables global electronic-design innovation and plays an essential role in the creation of today's integrated circuits and electronics. Customers use Cadence software and hardware, methodologies, and services to design and verify advanced semiconductors, printed-circuit boards and systems used in consumer electronics, networking and telecommunications equipment, and computer systems. Cadence reported 2004 revenues of approximately $1.2 billion, and has approximately 5,000 employees. The company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with sales offices, design centers, and research facilities around the world to serve the global electronics industry. More information about the company, its products, and services is available at www.cadence.com