Handling the complexity of routing problem in modern VLSI design
Zhang, Yanheng (2010) Handling the complexity of routing problem in modern VLSI design. PhD thesis, Iowa State University.
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In VLSI physical design, the routing task consists of using over-the-cell metal wires to connect pins and ports of circuit gates and blocks. Traditionally, VLSI routing is an important design step in the sense that the quality of routing solution has great impact on various design metrics such as circuit timing, power consumption, chip reliability and manufacturability etc. As the advancing VLSI design enters the nanometer era, the routing success (routability issue) has been arising as one of the most critical problems in back-end design. In one aspect, the degree of design complexity is increasing dramatically as more and more modules are integrated into the chip. Much higher chip density leads to higher routing demands and potentially more risks in routing failure. In another aspect, with decreasing design feature size, there are more complex design rules imposed to ensure manufacturability. These design rules are hard to satisfy and they usually create more barriers for achieving routing closure (i.e., generate DRC free routing solution) and thus affect chip time to market (TTM) plan. In general, the behavior and performance of routing are affected by three consecutive phases: placement phase, global routing phase and detailed routing phase in a typical VLSI physical design flow. Traditional CAD tools handle each of the three phases independently and the global picture of the routability issue is neglected. Different from conventional approaches which propose tools and algorithms for one particular design phase, this thesis investigates the routability issue from all three phases and proposes a series of systematic solutions to build a more generic flow and improve quality of results (QoR). For the placement phase, we will introduce a mixed-sized placement refinement tool for alleviating congestion after placement. The tool shifts and relocates modules based on a global routing estimation. For the global routing phase, a very fast and effective global router is developed. Its performance surpasses many peer works as verified by ISPD 2008 global routing contest results. In the detailed routing phase, a tool is proposed to perform detailed routing using regular routing patterns based on a correct-by-construction methodology to improve routability as well as satisfy most design rules. Finally, the tool which integrates global routing and detailed routing is developed to remedy the inconsistency between global routing and detailed routing. To verify the algorithms we proposed, three sets of testcases derived from ISPD98 and ISPD05/06 placement benchmark suites are proposed. The results indicate that our proposed methods construct an integrated and systematic flow for routability improvement which is better than conventional methods.
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