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  • Modern Data Management

    Most mixed-signal design teams don't use data management. Well, that's not entirely true, everyone has to do data management of some sort, it is just that it is often very ad hoc, often done by some vaguely systematic way of doing file naming, using email to keep track of changes, no access control and so on. This leads to all sorts of problems such as losing changes, running verification against the wrong cells, miscommunication. Generally, the schedule slips out as nobody really seems to know exactly what remains to be done or which the "golden" files for tapeout are.

    As mixed signal designs have got larger, and as the amount of verification and characterization required is growing larger and larger with each process node, this sort of non-data-management data-management no longer cuts it. And that's before even starting to worry about syncing data between geographically separated design teams. Or the exploding amount of disk space required since everyone feels they need their own copies of everything just to be safe.

    At CDNLive on March 12th, ClioSoft will be showing their hardware configuration management tools which are seamlessly integrated with Cadence's Virtuoso environment. It avoids all the problems above by keeping track of all the versions completely automatically.

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    Each user works in their own scratch environment and updates their work into a shared project repository. Each check-in creates a new version of the cell, but it can be reverted to any older version at any time. The change history (who changed what and when) is also maintained automatically. Also, unlike in the ad hoc approaches, the project administration can control who gets to do what to which cells.

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    For multi-site operation, there is a primary repository and then, for performance reasons, each site has a cache of the repository. Changes made at any site are automatically propagated from the primary server to all the cache servers so that all users see all changes in real time.

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    One thing that users need to do is to look at a version of a cell and see what was changed from either the previous version or some earlier important version (such as the last fully verified version). Since the cells are actually stored as binary files, a regular file compare program is basically useless. Visual Design Diff (VDD) allows different versions of schematics or layout to be compared graphically with the changes highlighted in Virtuoso.

    Using the ClioSoft Data Management (DM) system makes the development process more structured and better controlled, both for the designers themselves and for the management team. Everyone is much more aware of what everyone else is doing, leading to shorter project schedules, fewer respins, and a lot less day to day frustration.

    Details of the silicon valley CDNLive, including registration, are here.

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