Galaxy Custom Designer 

Frequently Asked Questions  

Q:What are the challenges with the current solutions? Why another tool?
A:The semiconductor industry has come a long way in a short period of time. In the discrete era, there were digital ICs and analog ICs. The AMS era integrated these discrete blocks into a single chip. The same tools used to design discrete-era chips were retrofitted to address AMS-era design challenges. The result has been an incomplete and fragmented solution using one-generation- old technology. In addition, the proprietary nature of this solution inhibited interoperability.

Today’s chips look much different in that the lines are blurred between digital and custom blocks. We are entering a new era: the Modern AMS era. In today’s designs we observe that custom and digital functions are highly interdependent, analog IP usage is mainstream, and embedded memory is on the rise.

Two-generations-old solutions cannot effectively address today’s modern-era AMS design challenges.

Q:What is new about Custom Designer?
A:Galaxy Custom Designer™ delivers a unified solution for both custom and cell-based designs to efficiently address modernera AMS challenges. Custom Designer was architected from the ground up for productivity. It is comprehensive and complete, addressing both custom implementation and verification needs within a single environment. Custom Designer is the industry’s first open system with interoperable (iPDK) libraries.

Custom Designer includes capabilities that the design community has been requesting for a long time. It has a familiar user interface to enable existing designers to easily adopt the tool. To further ease migration, Custom Designer is built natively on the OpenAccess database. In addition, TSMC is partnered with Synopsys and other EDA companies develop interoperable (iPDK) libraries.

Q:What is the total available market for Custom Designer?
A:The EDAC report estimates the TAM to be more than $400M based on the trailing 4 quarters.

Q:Do you see the market opportunity for custom/AMS design rising in the future? If so, what will be the driving factors?
A:Custom AMS is a key ingredient in today’s consumer-driven SoC designs. Although AMS may represent only 10% of the chip area, it represents about 50% of the chip cost and accounts for 70% of respins (Source: IBS report 2008).

Integration of computing, multimedia and wireless communication into a single SoC is the key driver. As this trend continues, the importance of a highly productive custom AMS solution that is part of a single platform for cell-based and custom implementation becomes paramount.

Q:What is the company’s overall strategy to address the custom AMS market? What does the AMS roadmap look like at Synopsys?
A:Synopsys has a strong roadmap for AMS that includes both a custom implementation and verification tool suite. We are entering the custom implementation market with Custom Designer, Star-RCXT™ and Hercules™. In addition to this strong foundation, we have best-in-class circuit simulators: HSPICE®, HSIM™ XA, and NanoSim® XA, as well as WaveView Analyzer for analysis and debugging.

We plan to do for custom implementation what we did for digital implementation.

Q:How does Custom Designer fit with existing Synopsys AMS offerings?
A:Custom Designer is the nucleus around which our simulators, waveform analyzer, and extraction technology revolves. They are all integrated into the Custom Designer environment, and, in conjunction with IC Compiler, form a complete solution for AMS implementation.

Q:Any other specific differentiating features of Custom Designer?
A:Custom Designer has been built from the ground up natively on OpenAccess to ensure interoperability for ease of migration and includes over 100 out-of-the-box features that enable a higher level of productivity than other commercially available tools.

With Custom Designer, users can dump many SKILL routines because the capability is already in the tool.

Following are standard features in Custom Designer that have been on customers’ wish lists:
  1. ‘On-canvas’ editing
    Simply click on a net or a symbol and change its property or net name. No need for pop-up dialogs.
  2. Dynamic connectivity in the schematic
    You lay down a connection and it immediately gets assigned a net name or inherits the name of any net it connects to.
  3. Dynamic net highlighting
    Mouse over a net and all nets with the same name are highlighted, including global nets.
  4. Transaction history
    Lets you step back to any point in your design during the current session. Try that with Virtuoso!
  5. An object layer panel (a.k.a. LSW) per design
    Lets you open another design with different layers and see them with their proper stipple and fill patterns all in the same session. Just imagine your bipolar design with your CMOS layer fills!
  6. WYSIWYG for your P-cells
    Dynamically see what your P-cell will look like when you change its parameters without having to place it first.

Q:How does Custom Designer differ from other commercially available tools on the market?
A:Custom Designer was architected for productivity, delivering a unified environment for both custom and cell-based designs. It is a complete environment for implementation and verification and it is open.

Everyday tasks associated with custom implementation are accomplished with fewer clicks. Support for standard languages like Python and TCL enable a greater degree of openness that cannot be achieved with proprietary languages such as SKILL.

Q:How does Custom Designer deliver better interoperability and productivity?
A:Custom Designer was architected from the ground up with productivity in mind. Instead of cumbersome pop-up menus and forms that require many clicks, Custom Designer has a more efficient menu structure that streamlines data entry and requires fewer clicks.

Interoperability with legacy design systems is accomplished through the use of the OpenAccess infrastructure and support for standard languages, such as Python and TCL.

Q:Custom Designer is on OpenAccess, why isn’t IC Compiler?
A:The modern AMS era is all about efficient data management and is not about databases. Within the Galaxy™ platform we have common data transfer, models and flows with IC Compiler, Custom Designer, Star-RCXT, Hercules, HSPICE and WaveView Analyzer.

The IC Compiler database is Milkyway™ and has been optimized for cell-based place-and-route. We chose OA for Custom Designer to enable a seamless import of legacy custom data.

Q:Why is the Custom Designer/IC Compiler unified flow better than using other custom tools with IC Compiler?
A:The optimized link between IC Compiler and Custom Designer streamlines the exchange of design data and also includes information with respect to design intent that Custom Designer can adhere to. This is much more efficient than having to translate what can be gigabytes of design data into intermediate formats and then translating them back again into the respective tool.

Q:Would you get better productivity if you had a single database to do the route editing and chip finishing?
A:IC Compiler has a powerful, built-in route editor. As a result, there is no need to go to another tool for this capability. IC Compiler’s route editing capability eliminates the need for data transfer altogether.

Q:What types of customers will receive the greatest benefit from using Custom Designer?
A:Customers using IC Compiler, Star-RCXT, Hercules, HSPICE, HSIM XA, NanoSim XA and WaveView Analyzer will receive immediate benefits from using Custom Designer.

Q:What have you done to mitigate potential migration risks?
A:Custom Designer has been designed to be completely data-compatible with legacy systems and has a familiar look-and-feel that virtually eliminates any learning curve.

Q:How do you support legacy SKILL codes with Custom Designer?
A:SKILL is a proprietary language and Cadence refuses to open it up to the community. Custom Designer supports open languages like Python, TCL and C++ to enable customers to easily create additional complex functions that are also portable. Custom Designer supports open languages like Python, TCL and C++, which enable customers to easily add any functionality they may need over and above what is included out-of-the-box.

Q:Why has it taken so long for Synopsys to fill this hole in its product portfolio? Hasn’t Synopsys missed a huge opportunity by entering the market so late?
A:Synopsys is entering the custom design market with a product that has been architected to address modern AMS era challenges. Actually, Synopsys is entering this market at the right time, when nearly 100% of designs have custom content and two-generations-old solutions cannot address today’s challenges. We developed Custom Designer from the ground up, and were able to take advantage of best-in-class technologies to build it right, on an open infrastructure and with all the functionality necessary to address modern-era custom design needs.

Q:What is the customer reaction to Custom Designer, specifically, and, more generally, to going from a single longstanding custom design option to three within 6 months?
A:Customers are pleased to see a complete Synopsys custom design solution that is integrated with tools they already know and trust, such as HSPICE, HSIM XA, NanoSim XA, Star-RCXT, Hercules, and WaveView Analyzer.

On the day of our product launch (September 22nd) at Boston SNUG our early partners TSMC, Cray and Priva Technologies will be sharing their early results, and later in October at Europe SNUG two other early partners will be discussing their experiences. In addition, our quote sheet has over 10 supportive endorsements from leading companies.

In general, customers are happy to have an alternative.