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  • Quality in Design Formats has become a must!

    Article: Magic Media Tablet: illusion about a niche market?-renee-donkers.jpgFractal Technologies is a privately held EDA company with offices in San Carlos, California and Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The company was founded by a small group of highly recognized EDA professionals. The scope of Fractal Technologies is to check consistency and validate all different data formats used in your design and subsequently improve the Quality of your Standard Cell Libraries, IO and IP. Fractal Technologies offers Crossfire software as well as services and customization.

    Rene Donkers and Johan Peeters are the gentlemen behind Fractal, guys who I worked with at Sagantec years ago, so it was great to catch up with them during this interview:

    Q: What are the specific design challenges your customers are facing?

    Our customers are facing the constant increase of design complexities combined with multiple design teams working on the same design, all using best of class EDA tools from different suppliers. In short, a huge challenge for Quality Assurance!

    How can we be sure that during design all design formats, from schematic to Verilog, Liberty and physical layout give you a consistent representation of your design?

    Ask any Design Engineer and he will tell you that checking Design Formats is becoming more and more complex. Data sizes grow exponential and the need to go to smaller geometries will make this problem even more complex.

    Q: What does your company do?
    Our company checks consistency and validates all different data formats used in your design and subsequently improve the Quality of your Standard Cell Libraries, IO and Hard IP.

    Q: Why did you start/join your company?
    I have started the company beginning 2010 as a spin off from Fenix Design Automation together with 2 ex Sagantec colleagues. We truly believe that validation of design formats should be done by an independent tool provider. Internal developed solutions also work but this is definitely not core business for Design groups or CAD teams.

    Started my carrier at Sagantec beginning of the 90ties and co-founded Fenix Design Automation in 2006. Becoming CEO of an EDA company has never been on my “to do” list but turns out to be 1 of the interesting challenges that can happen when you start a company.

    Q: How does your company help with your customers’ design challenges?
    Our tool, Crossfire, provides a vendor independent, automated solution for validation of Consistency and Quality of the Design Formats. Crossfire will read and cross-check all the various formats and views like Open Access layout & schematic views, Milky-Way database, Verilog, Tetramax, VHDL, Liberty .lib, Lef, Def, GDSII, Oasis, Spice, Spectre, Spef(beta), Fastscan/ATPG, STIL/CTL (Core Test Language), HTML, documentation.

    Whatever information is provided in a certain format, like delay paths in a .lib file, must be consistent with all other formats. Crossfire is the most complete tool in the industry for checking the quality of designs. The API in Python, Perl and TCL allows adding more checks in a fast and simple way.

    Q: What are the tool flows your customers are using?
    Crossfire users are split into 3 main groups:

    • Used as Signoff for:
      • Standard Cell / IO Libraries
      • Hard IPs

    • Used in Design Flow in:
      • Library Groups
      • Characterization Groups
      • IP Groups

    • Used for Incoming Inspections for:
      • Standard Cell Libraries
      • Hard IPs

    Q: What will be the focus at the Design Automation Conference this year?
    At DAC focus will be on the latest checks and features in Crossfire for Hard IP validation, for example support for Spectre, .lib.gz., waiving mechanism and the HTML reporting capabilities.

    Q: Where can SemiWiki readers get more information?
    All information on our company is on our website:
    Interesting to read is the Crossfire White Paper:
    White paper Crossfire
    and, if you are at DAC and interested in our products please visit our booth:
    Fractal at DAC 3-5 June 2013

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