KEYWORDS: Transceivers, Silicon, Amplifiers, Modulators, Telecommunications, Analog electronics, Standards development, Global system for mobile communications, Phase only filters, Evolutionary algorithms
In the last few years, we are witnessing the convergence of more and more communication capabilities into a single
terminal. A basic component of these communication transceivers is the multi-standard Analog-to-Digital-Converter (ADC). Many systematic, partially automated approaches for the design of ADCs dealing with a single communication standard have been reported. However, most multi-standard converters reported in the literature follow an ad-hoc approach, which do not guarantee either an efficient occupation of silicon area or its power efficiency in the different standards. This paper aims at the core of this problem by formulating a systematic design approach based on the following key elements:
(1) Definition of a set of metrics for reconfigurability: impact in area and power consumption, design complexity and
performances; (2) Definition of the reconfiguration capabilities of the component blocks at different hierarchical levels,
with assessment of the associated metrics; (3) Exploration of candidate architectures by using a combination of simulated
annealing and evolutionary algorithms; (4) Improved top-down synthesis with bottom-up generated low-level design
information. The systematic design methodology is illustrated via the design of a multi-standard &Sgr;&Dgr; modulator meeting the
specifications of three wireless communication standards.
This paper introduces a CAD methodology to assist the designer in the implementation of continuous-time (CT) cascade ΣΔ modulators. The salient features of this methodology are: (a) flexible behavioral modeling for optimum accuracy-efficiency trade-offs at different stages of the top-down synthesis process; (b) direct synthesis in the continuous-time domain for minimum circuit complexity and sensitivity; and (c) mixed knowledge-based and optimization-based architectural exploration and specification transmission for enhanced circuit performance. The applicability of this methodology will be illustrated via the design of a 12 bit 20 MHz CT ΣΔ modulator in a 1.2V 130nm CMOS technology.
In order to speed up the design process of analog ICs, iterations between different design stages should be avoided as much as possible. More specifically, spins between electrical and physical synthesis should be reduced for this is a very time-consuming task: if circuit performance including layout-induced degradations proves unacceptable, a re-design cycle must be entered, and electrical, physical, or both synthesis processes, would have to be repeated. It is also worth noting that if geometric optimization (e.g., area minimization) is undertaken after electrical synthesis, it may add up as another source of unexpected degradation of the circuit performance due to the impact of the geometric variables (e.g., transistor folds) on the device and the routing parasitic values. This awkward scenario is caused by the complete separation of said electrical and physical synthesis, a design practice commonly followed so far. Parasitic-aware synthesis, consisting in including parasitic estimates to the circuit netlist directly during electrical synthesis, has been proposed as solution. While most of the reported contributions either tackle parasitic-aware synthesis without paying special attention to geometric optimization or approach both issues only partially, this paper addresses the problem in a unified way. In what has been called layout-aware electrical synthesis, a simulation-based optimization algorithm explores the design space with geometric variables constrained to meet certain user-defined goals, which provides reliable estimates of layout-induced parasitics at each iteration, and, thereby, accurate evaluation of the circuit ultimate performance. This technique, demonstrated here through several design examples, requires knowing layout details beforehand; to facilitate this, procedural layout generation is used as physical synthesis approach due to its rapidness and ability to capture analog layout know-how.
Accelerating the synthesis of increasingly complex analog integrated circuits is key to bridge the widening gap between what we can integrate and what we can design while meeting ever-tightening time-to-market constraints. It is a well-known fact in the semiconductor industry that such goal can only be attained by means of adequate CAD methodologies, techniques, and accompanying tools. This is particularly important in analog physical synthesis (a.k.a. layout generation), where large sensitivities of the circuit performances to the many subtle details of layout implementation (device matching, loading and coupling effects, reliability, and area features are of utmost importance to analog designers), render complete automation a truly challenging task. To approach the problem, two directions have been traditionally considered, knowledge-based and optimization-based, both with their own pros and cons. Besides, recently reported solutions oriented to speed up the overall design flow by means of reuse-based practices or by cutting off time-consuming, error-prone spins between electrical and layout synthesis (a technique known as layout-aware synthesis), rely on a outstandingly rapid yet efficient layout generation method. This paper analyses the suitability of procedural layout generation based on templates (a knowledge-based approach) by examining the requirements that both layout reuse and layout-aware solutions impose, and how layout templates face them. The ability to capture the know-how of experienced layout designers and the turnaround times for layout instancing are considered main comparative aspects in relation to other layout generation approaches. A discussion on the benefit-cost trade-off of using layout templates is also included. In addition to this analysis, the paper delves deeper into systematic techniques to develop fully reusable layout templates for analog circuits, either for a change of the circuit sizing (i.e., layout retargeting) or a change of the fabrication process (i.e., layout migration). Several examples implemented with the Cadence's Virtuoso tool suite are provided as demonstration of the paper's contributions.
Despite the spectacular breakthroughs of the semiconductor industry, the ability to design integrated circuits (ICs) under stringent time-to-market (TTM) requirements is lagging behind integration capacity, so far keeping pace with still valid Moore’s Law. The resulting gap is threatening with slowing down such a phenomenal growth. The design community believes that it is only by means of powerful CAD tools and design methodologies - and, possibly, a design paradigm shift - that this design gap can be bridged. In this sense, reuse-based design is seen as a promising solution, and concepts such as IP Block, Virtual Component, and Design Reuse have become commonplace thanks to the significant advances in the digital arena. Unfortunately, the very nature of analog and mixed-signal (AMS) design has hindered a similar level of consensus and development. This paper presents a framework for the reuse-based design of AMS circuits. The framework is founded on three key elements: (1) a CAD-supported hierarchical design flow that facilitates the incorporation of AMS reusable blocks, reduces the overall design time, and expedites the management of increasing AMS design complexity; (2) a complete, clear definition of the AMS reusable block, structured into three separate facets or views: the behavioral, structural, and layout facets, the two first for top-down electrical synthesis and bottom-up verification, the latter used during bottom-up physical synthesis; (3) the design for reusability set of tools, methods, and guidelines that, relying on intensive parameterization as well as on design knowledge capture and encapsulation, allows to produce fully reusable AMS blocks. A case study and a functional silicon prototype demonstrate the validity of the paper’s proposals.