IN2FAB Technology

Migrating IP to GlobalFOUNDRIES 22fdx® Technology

22fdx product detailsThe GLOBALFOUNDRIES 22FDX® Silicon on Insulator process delivers FinFET-like performance and energy efficiency at the cost of 28nm planar technology.  22FDX® technology gives designers high performance at low power for 5G, IoT and ultra-efficient RF and analog circuits.  22FDX® is gaining signficant traction in the industry, giving IP vendors new licensing opportunities for their products. 

IN2FAB Technology has joined Global Foundries’ FDXcelerator™ program as  a design service and EDA partner to streamline the migration process and help companies move their IP to this new technology in the most efficient way possible.  IN2FAB's advanced design migration technology transfers planar circuits to 22FDX® in a fraction of the time and cost taken for a circuit redesign.

Layout MigrationSemiconductor manufacturing processes continue to advance with ever-decreasing geometry sizes and extreme levels of integration.  Recent innovations have seen foundries move on from the bulk silicon devices that had been the mainstay of semiconductor engineering to meet the demands of the nano-meter technology.

Global Foundries has invested heavily in advanced technologies including a range of Silicon on Insulator (SOI) processes for advanced SoCs. This process is ideal for devices that must combine high performance with extremely low power consumption but without the high cost of FinFET manufacturing. 

IP vendors and SoC manufacturers have shown a great deal of interest in this new process but are faced with the perennial problem of moving their circuits from other processes in order to obtain the benefits it brings.  This is particularly true where analog circuits are involved as this usually involves a full redesign which is expensive in both time and resources.

Migrating circuits to an SOI process presents extra challenges that were not found in bulk silicon technology.  Some devices may be altered to take advantage of the benefits of body biasing so this must be addressed in both the schematic and layout.  Other factors like layer coloring, dummy shapes and layout dependent effects as well as complex changes in device construction and rules must also be considered. 

Migration vs. re-design

IP vendors always have to confront the problems of making their products available in a variety of foundries, processes and options.  In an ideal world with infinite time and resources, designers would approach each new technology with a blank sheet of paper and tailor their circuits to suit.  However, engineering limits and tight market windows mean companies often don’t have the luxury of extended design cycles.  If circuits cannot be brought to market quickly, IP vendors will lose out on lucrative licensing opportunities while SoC companies may have to make compromises based on a limited choice of available products.

Synthesised digital circuit design flows are regularly used to move IP to new processes but analog designs are often reworked from the ground up which takes long time and pulls engineers away from designing new products. 

An alternative to full redesign comes in the form of analog and mixed signal circuit migration.  This involves translating existing circuits to use elements from a new process design kit (PDK) and adapt to the new rules and requirements of the target foundry.  The structure, hierarchy and architecture remain the same as the original so most of the source data is reused directly with adjustments to suit the new technology.  Schematic circuits can be made available for simulation in a very short time so decisions made about functionality and circuit enhancements.  Once the circuit is validated in this way the full migration can be performed to deliver a completed layout that meets the needs of the target foundry.

Migration options

Migration can involve a port of the entire circuit to the new process to ensure IP is available in the shortest possible timeframe.  These designs will be an exact replica of the original with modifications made to comply with the requirements of the new PDK and design rules.  Components and interconnect will be adjusted as required but changes to the core circuit will be kept to a minimum.

Engineers also have the option to migrate the schematics and optimise the design using manual changes or through a component resizing tool such as Cadence’s ADE GXL™ product.  This also allows designers to take advantage of the body biasing options available in 22FDX® to improve performance or reduce leakage.  These changes can be fed in to the physical design where layout engineers can update the existing circuit or run re-layout using guided tools.  Global Foundries supports the advance Virtuoso™ 12.x environment where layout dependent effect awareness can be incorporated in to the flow to help guide the process.

Schematics and Simulation

The first step in the migration flow is usually to translate the schematic and test bench information in order to run first level simulations.  Map files that describe the old and new circuit elements as well as data on how to translate parameters are called by the migration tools to translate the circuit hierarchy to the new libraries and PDK.  Core circuit components will be replaced with equivalent devices from the new PDK and any standard cells placed in the analog hierarchy should also be swapped to elements from a library in the new process. 

Physical information such as symbols, wires and pins are migrated and adapted to suit the elements in the new PDK with automatic position adjustment, rewiring, short location and connectivity checking tools.  Some SOI transistors have extra pins for body biasing so these must be connected as required.  Automatic short location within the migration tools picks up any places where a new pin shorts to an existing wire and re-routes to fix the problem.

Schematic properties

Symbol migration with automatic rewiring and property assignment

Migrating parameters is often far more complex than it first appears so the flow must deal with differences in parameter definition and construction.  Translating IP from the same foundry is usually easier as most of a foundry’s PDKs have a similar construction but converting data from elsewhere is often much more complex.  Differences in basic device definition means that there is no direct map from source to target but even the most complex conditional based parameter mapping can be built in to the flow.  All of this is defined and controlled within the migration tools, making the details of the conversion factors transparent to the user.

Device size limits can also play an important part in process migration.  Tools must recognise instances that can no longer be drawn in the target process due to limits in maximum or minimum values and adapt them accordingly.  For example, the maximum finger width in 22FDX® may be smaller than that allowed in an older technology so devices must be reconfigured to retain their total size.  Old parameters that are out of the reach of the new PDK are a common issue in design migration and the OSIRIS flow will recognise and reconfigure components as required.

Similar changes are often required in passive components when size limits many mean changes in the number of segments in a resistor chain or revised multiples for a bank of capacitors.  The migration flow uses special call back triggers in the target PDK to set component values to ensure that they are properly calibrated.  There is no need for the user to calculate capacitance or resistance per square in the old and new processes and create conversion factors for every component themselves.

Once the schematic migration is complete and the test benches are converted, the circuit can run through first level simulation.  This should confirm overall functionality of the system in the new process as the simulation is using models from the 22FDX® libraries.  More accurate simulation can be achieved by using the ‘pre’ models provided in the PDK to include first level estimates of parasitics in the new process. Full Monte Carlo analysis will give more detailed data but first order simulation will give an overview of what can be expected in the SOI process.

Designers may also wish to boost circuit performance by updating certain parts of the circuit to take full advantage of the features available in SOI.  Body biasing could be applied to input stages to deliver faster switching and large driving devices could be given reverse body bias to reduce leakage.  A migrated schematic means that designers can get to the circuit tuning level without having to worry about building an entirely new design from scratch.  Once this migration flow is configured, even large designs can be migrated and ready for simulation in a matter of hours.

Layout Migration

migrated layoutWith the schematic migrated and first simulations run, attention can turn to the layout.  In cases where circuits that have received extensive changes, the layout may need to be recreated and the migrated schematic can include pre-defined constraints to drive a guided layout flow.  An important feature of any migrated database must be that it can be used and edited like any other design so updates can be made the migrated circuit at will, just as if it had been drawn directly in the 22FDX® process. 

If the design has not been extensively modified, the OSIRIS layout migration tools can translate the design to the new process to be verified against the migrated schematic.  Layout migration is much more complex than translating schematics and moving from bulk silicon to an SOI process presents some extra challenges.  However, a comprehensive migration flow will address the intricacies of the different circuit elements while giving designers control and flexibility to update the circuits where necessary.  While schematic migration is fully automated, some sort of interaction is usually necessary during layout migration to adapt the design where necessary.

The key to migrating analog layout is to use foundry elements in the target PDK to build the migrated design.  Parameterised cells (Pcells), vias and shape based data from the original circuit are replaced by elements from the new PDK through the hierarchy with component parameters adapted as required.  A shape based flow that reduces the design to a collection of polygons will never be able to convert bulk silicon layout to SOI but using Pcells means that devices are correct by construction wherever they are placed.  The parameters for active components are adapted to match the original while passives can retain their value while physical dimensions are updated to give the correct values in the new process.

Layout migration involves much more than simply plugging in new Pcells to replace the old ones.  Differences in device rules and construction usually means that components and routing don’t line up any more and so the tools have to apply extra adjustments to the layout to reconnect wires and components.  Reconnection is performed automatically in the OSIRIS flow and retains the matching and topology of the original design; only making small adjustments where necessary.  Transistors are pushed together to re-align any source/drain overlaps and the metal and vias moved to their correct positions.  Extra reconfiguration steps can also improve the migrated layout including automatic via staggering and device or layer adjustment.  Metal coloring can also be achieved in the flow to satisfy the demands of manufacturing in the new process. 

The migration must be able to deal with these differences without any new database requirements or the need to have extra information added to the source layout.  A migration flow that needs to adjust the source design in order to work would be cumbersome and would slow the process down considerably.  The OSIRIS migration reads the source layout as is no matter where it came from and the flow will deal with differences between source and target processes, even if they are from completely different foundries.

40nm transistor

Original transistors in GF 40nm process

The complexity of parameters for components in advanced processes gives flexibility but also places burdens on tools and engineers.  The migration tools cannot just set simple dimension information and leave everything else at default values as this would leave thousands of DRC errors even in small circuits.  IN2FAB’s OSIRIS tools can be programmed to detrermine which switches should be set and apply the correct values where requirements change for each instance.  For example, internal source/drain connections may not be needed in certain places and extra shapes such as dummy poly are only needed at the ends of transistor rows.  These switches can’t just be left to a layout engineer as this would make the whole task would impossibly tedious.

22nm default transistor

Layout migrated to 22nm using default values and co-ordinates

Even a simple transistor placement can cause endless problems.  In this instance, metal in the Pcell causes a short between source and drain and dummy poly has been placed where it is not needed, violating the next transistor in the row.  Differences in design rules also mean that the transistors no longer overlap and the metal is badly placed, even though the old and new transistors have identical width and length values.

22nm migrated

Layout migrated using OSIRIS with switch control and automatic adjustment

Switch control and automatic reconnection will set the transistor values correctly and then align and adjust the components as necessary.  Further adjustments can be made through automated tools or simply by editing the layout to deliver a migrated circuit in a fraction of the time taken for redesign.

IN2FAB’s OSIRIS migration tools are fully integrated with the Virtuoso tool suite from Cadence Design Systems.  Designs are migrated directly between old and new processes within the Cadence database meaning that PDKs are used in their native form rather than being adapted or translated through an external tool.  Migrating directly in the Virtuoso editor also means that optional adjustments can be made manually as the migration progresses, enhancing the circuit and taking advantage of the hierarchy to manage the migration processes.

Variations in processes and device models can mean that designs need several modifications during migration but these are often restricted to specific areas of the circuit.  A hierarchical and flexible flow means that these areas can be addressed using the migrated design as a base while the rest of the design is migrated in parallel, saving time and resources to bring the product to market.

Containing the migration within the standard schematic and layout editing tools means that modifications and tuning can be performed at any time without trying to squeeze it in to the migration flow.  Using migration to move the design to the new process and tuning it afterwards is far more efficient and allows dedicated simulation and optimisation tools to do the rest. 


Rapid migration of analog and mixed signal products has long been a goal in semiconductor design.  While digital circuits can be re-synthesized from a high-level description, analog engineers spend endless time re-designing the same circuits over and over again whenever a new process is needed.  A guided and flexible migration flow drastically reduces the effort involved and makes effective design reuse achievable.

Analog circuitry can be migrated and tuned as required while the digital section can be regenerated as required.  A migrated schematic means that circuits can be validated quickly and at very low overhead while the layout migration flow ensures that the topology and hierarchy of the original design is maintained as adjustments are made to suit the new process.  SoC companies can also benefit by being able to select IP based on desired functionality or previous experience knowing the circuit can be moved to the new technology quickly. 

IN2FAB’s design migration technology has been used to move hundreds of circuits between foundries and process nodes.  While nanometre design and SOI bring extra challenges, SoC designers and IP vendors can be confident that using IN2FAB’s OSIRIS migration will bring major benefits when moving their products to 22FDX® and beyond.   

About IN2FAB

IN2FAB Technology is the world’s leading analog and mixed signal process migration company delivering migration software and services to the semiconductor industry.