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  • Silvaco: TCAD to Signoff in Vertical Markets

    The International Conference on Engineering of Reconfigurable Systems and Algorithms-silva1.jpgRecently, I talked about meeting with Dave Dutton the CEO of Silvaco. Mainly we were talking about the recent acquisition of Invarian but he also brought me up to date on Silvaco and how he is bringing their disparate product lines into a more focused strategy.

    See also Silvaco Swallows Invarian

    Silvaco would be the first to admit that they have not done a great job of marketing themselves and their product lines. In fact people are often surprised how significant they are:
    • 30 years old, no debt, no VCs, funded entirely by cash flow
    • >400 customers worldwide
    • around 200 employees with a global footprint
    • development centers in Santa Clara CA, Cambridge UK, Hsinchu TW and Yokohama JP
    • only providrer delivering a complete TCAD, 3D RC extraction, SPICE modeling, SPICE simulation, custom IC design and verification flow
    • #1 supplier for flat-panel display (FPD) with almost all manufacturers, both TFT and OLED
    • #1 supplier of solutions for radiation and soft-error reliability
    • #2 TCAD supplier overall, with customers for for power, optical, radiation/reliability, and CMOS markets
    • #4 supplier for full AMS/power IC flow

    As a private company they do not reveal their detailed financials. But they will say they are financially strong (cash reserves are 30% revenue) and profitable. Given 200 employees...well, you do the math. They plan to double revenue in the next 3 years by 2018.

    They are also in their second year of collaboration with Sematech working on 16nm FinFET TCAD and TSVs, parasitic analysis of 10nm FinFET/SRAM and impact of strain/stress on FinFET performance.

    The International Conference on Engineering of Reconfigurable Systems and Algorithms-sil1.jpg

    The matrix above shows how their various product capabilities fit together to serve specific markets. In most markets they have a tool portfolio that allows a company to leverage their TCAD capabilities up to SPICE and then go up further to the design and verification level, with everything tied tightly together. This gives them a "TCAD to Signoff" capability.
    The International Conference on Engineering of Reconfigurable Systems and Algorithms-silva3.jpg

    The key vertical markets that Silvaco brings technology to address are:
    • display: this market is primarily in Asia where all the displays for TVs, computers and phones are manufactured. Almost everyone in the market uses Silvaco for this
    • power (design of processes and circuits for high-voltage switching)
    • optical: this is a pure TCAD play
    • radiation and soft-error analysis: recently declassified Silvaco technology previously restricted to the military is now available for the commercial market
    • CMOS and advanced CMOS: TCAD for process and device development, analog, standard cell and memory cell design

    See also If You Plan to put Electronics in Space or Avionics You Must See This Webinar

    The market that gets all the glory in semiconductor design is, of course, digital design in leading edge processes, especially for the very high volume mobile market. It is easy to assume that this is the entire market for semiconductors and for tools to design them, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even TSMC does nearly 30% of their volume in non standard designs such as power, flash and MEMS, and if you throw in analog design done in non-leading-edge processes (such as 90um or 130um) it is an even bigger percentage. Silvaco doesn't really "do" leading edge digital design (no synthesis, place & route and so on) but for all these other designs, including leading edge analog, they have a huge range of technologies to bring to bear.

    The different verticals are actually addressed using different key technologies, sometimes special variants of them, combined in different ways. Those key technologies are:
    • TCAD: technology CAD, with a single engine for 1D, 2D and 3D with process, device and stress simulation
    • SPICE modeling and simulation: leading supplier of high-voltage and TFT models, statistical yield analysis
    • custom layout and extraction:highest accuracy capacitance extraction for TFT, analog, SRAM and FinFET. Full flow including layout, schematic, physical verification, extraction and more. Wide range of PDKs available to support many foundries, primarily for analog, mixed-signal, RF including PCells
    • EM/IR: (electro-migration, current/resistance drop analysis) including thermal analysis and reliability flow

    The International Conference on Engineering of Reconfigurable Systems and Algorithms-sil4.jpg
    Now, also, with the acquisition of Invarian, users of the Silvaco flow have all the data required to enhance their analysis capabilities with Invar, and thereby get the most critical insight on reliability that is required for successful designs.

    Silvaco's website is here.