Archive for December, 2011

Dec 27 2011

IEDM 2011 – EDA shifts to TCAD

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At the IEDM conference in Washington DC this year, the electron device conference moved up from basic layer and element creation for sub 20nm processes and new device technologies. The past couple of years, the conference focused on the ability to create these devices – 3D transistors, FinFets, Graphene devices, double and quad patterned memories – all as can we manufacture them.

This year, the ability to make these devices was second to how do the devices work, how should they be modeled to be compatible with the design community and what are the sensitivities and variability associated with the parametric performance of these devices. The processing capabilities have improved to the point, where these technologies can now be built at production scale for the semiconductor industry. The big question is – can designs be created that can simultaneously take advantage of their new performance characteristics while compensating for the challenges of these devices and their differences from the traditional MOS switch?

To address this question, about 30% of the sessions were focused on the device modeling and the actual current transport mechanism in the new structures. These included, the associated variability in gain, on/off resistance, and the transconductance and other basic device parameters. These were both shown from empirical data collected and from TCAD and mathematical models. These models were used, and shown in the joint circuit design session, as part of the advanced applications sessions.

The models were not just for single devices, but there were tutorials and findings on MEMS, Sensors, Biodevices, Energy Harvesting Devices, and high power (up to 6.5Kv and 2500A) solid state transistors also. These technologies, more so than traditional lithographic scaling, are becoming the new drivers for advanced technologies. The capabilities of the solid state devices has now moved on from just smaller/faster to being new capabilities, power aware and context aware.

As a result, the understanding of how these mechanical and biological interface devices as well as power handing devices – all of which are not handled by traditional RTL and digital verilog descriptions – will be the new basis for broad appeal design moving forward. The EDA community has not really been addressing this as yet, as it is not algorithmically derivative of current solutions tools in the market. These new markets are currently being addressed by TCAD tools, mathematical and physics based modeling tools and in-house created tools as has long been the mainstay of the analog/specialty design marketplace. As things move forward, the mainstream EDA community has to address these directions and bring solutions or the in-house ad-hoc solutions that are built for a specific process will once again dominate the design industry as it did in the 60′s-70′s pre-EDA gen 1.

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