To make the prototype layout process work smoothly, design constraints must be communicated to the layout automation, but there is currently no common open standard for defining these design constraints. As a result, users are forced to enter these constraints multiple times, once for each tool. Worse, subtle differences in the semantics can cause problems. To remedy this, the IPL Alliance, whose original charter was centered around open PDKs, has embarked on an initiative to create a single unified set of constraint definitions, covering both the syntax and the semantics. The goal, obviously, is to allow the designer to enter the constraints once and use tools from multiple vendors to achieve their design goals: higher quality, higher productivity, reduced time to market. The IPL Constraints Standard is available to all IPL Alliance members and is expected to be made public sometime in mid-2012.
The history is that in 2010 the IPL alliance decided to try and get ahead of the creation of design constraint standards. Otherwise every vendor would create their own proprietary standards and it is a lot harder to try and get alignment once such standards have achieved some adoption since there genuinely are costs of change and opportunity for political fighting among the most widely adopted standards.
The groupís goals were that the standard should be:
- Portable and interoperable
- Support existing and future tool sets
- Be extensible
- Take into account multiple ways that the constraints might be created: by hand, through GUIs, scripted, automated
- Take into account the entire design flow where many steps are co-dependent.
A decision was made to support text-based and openAccess-based constraints, and tools should be able to translate between the two representations if necessary without semantic problems.
The presentation from the 2011 DAC luncheon is here.
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