Thursday, December 6, 2007

ECO Flow

Here is a useful checklist you should use when doing your ECOs.

  1. RTL bug fix
  2. Correct your bug in RTL, run simulations for the specific test cases and some your general golden tests. See if you corrected the problem and more important didn’t destroy any correct behavior.

  3. Implement ECO in Synthesis netlist
  4. Using your spare cells and/or rewiring, implement the bug fix directly in the synthesis verilog netlist. Remember you do not re-synthesize the entire design, you are patching it locally.

  5. Run equivalence check between synthesis and RTL
  6. Using your favorite or available formal verification tool, run an equivalence check to see if the code you corrected really translates to the netlist you patched. Putting it simply - the formal verification tool runs through the entire state space and tries to look for an input vector that will create 2 different states in the RTL code and the synthesis netlist. If the two designs are equivalent you are sure that your RTL simulations would also have the same result (logically speaking) as the synthesis netlist.

  7. Implement ECO in layout netlist
  8. You will now have to patch your layout netlist as well. Notice that this netlist is very different than the synthesis netlist. It usually has extra buffers inserted for edge shaping or hold violation correction or maybe even totally differently logically optimized.
    This is the real thing, a change here has to take into account the actual position of the cells, the actuall names etc. Try to work with the layout expert in close proximity. Make sure you know and understand the floorplan as well - it is very common to connect a logic gate which is on the other side of the chip just because it is logically correct, but in reality it will violate timing requirements.

  9. Run equivalence check between layout and synthesis
  10. This is to make sure the changes you made in the layout netlist are logically equivalent to the synthesis. Some tools and company internal flows enable a direct comparison of the layout netlist to the RTL. In many it is not so and one has to go through the synthesis netlist change as well

  11. Layout to GDS / gate level simulations / STA runs on layout netlist (all that backend stuff…)
  12. Let the layout guys do their magic. As a designer you are usually not involved in this step.
    However, depending on your timing closure requirements, run STA on the layout netlist to see if everything is still ok. This step might be the most crucial since even a very small change might create huge timing violations and you would have to redo your work.
    Gate level simulations are also recommended, depending on your application and internal flow.

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