Automatic Standard Cells Metal Only ECO Flow

In Metal Only ECO, the design has completed place and route. Any new gates added should map to spare gates that located in the design. GOF supports Standard Spare Cells and Metal Configurable Gate Array Spare Cells post-mask metal only ECO.

Figure 1: Metal Only ECO

Standard Cells Spare Gates Mapping

GOF employs an internal synthesis engine to map patch logic onto spare gates. These spare gates must consist of the following spare type combinations.

  1. Two ports 'and/or' gates, 'inv' gates and flops, 'mux' is optional.
  2. Two ports 'nand/nor' gates, 'inv' gates and flops, 'mux' is optional.
  3. Two ports 'nand/nor/and/or' gates, 'inv' gates and flops, 'mux' is optional.

Out of the three combinations, the second combination has the least area and the third combination has the best performance in metal only EOC.

In Figure 2, the circuit produced by ECO on the left-hand side contains arbitrary standard cells. During the mapping process, gates of type MUX and flop are mapped directly onto the spare gates, as they have a one-to-one correspondence with the spare gate list. However, for more complex cell types such as AO32, they must be synthesized and mapped onto three AND gates and one NOR gate.

Figure 2: Standard Cells Spare Gates Mapping

Spare Gates Synthesis

GOF ECO utilizes a heuristic method that employs constraints to identify the optimal mapping of spare gates. The process involves setting constraints to restrict the types of NAND/NOR/AND/OR gates to be considered, and then conducting a mapping exercise to identify the nearest available spare gates. The cost of the mapping is determined by adding the distance between the measured location and the actual location of the spare gate. For example, if a NAND gate needs to be mapped in a metal-only ECO, and the measured location is (100, 100), while the closest spare gate (spare_0) is located at (120, 120), then the cost is calculated as (120-100)+(120-100)=40. The method involves multiple iterations, and the optimal solution is selected based on the lowest cost.

To ensure that new instances are accurately mapped to the nearest spare gate instances, it is necessary to have a Design Exchange Format (DEF) file. Without loading the DEF file, the GOF process will use spare gate types without precise mapping to exact spare instances. However, P&R tools like SOC Encounter will map new instances in the new netlist to the closest spare gates.

During the 'fix_design' command, GOF examines the top-level module and its sub-modules to identify any non-equivalent points and optimize the logic cone to create a patch circuit with the minimum number of gates.

Spare Gates Number and Distribution

Spare gates are incorporated into the design and their percentage relative to the entire digital area is usually dependent on the design maturity. For instance, the first version of a design typically requires a higher percentage of spare cells, usually around 8-10% of the entire digital area. As the design progresses to the second version, a lower percentage of spare cells, approximately 4-5% of the total digital area, is sufficient. By the third version, less than 3% additional spare cells may be necessary. Additionally, during the backend placement process, any remaining empty space can be filled with extra spare gates.

Besides the spare gate area percentage, the proportion of various spare gate types is also crucial. For example, a design with 126K instances may have spare gates in different categories, as depicted in the following figure:

Figure 3: Spare Gates numbers and distribution

Usually, spare gates are uniformly distributed on the floor plan, as shown in figure 3. Nevertheless, if accessible, users can adjust the distribution based on historical metal-only ECO data. Blocks that are prone to design changes may require more spare gates, while mature logic may require fewer spare gates.

Check Standard Cells Metal Only ECO for detail

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