Electronic circuit (IC) design
Semiconductor integrated circuits are used to carry out a wide variety of tasks in many different electrical and electronic components. An integrated circuit (IC) has a large number of electronic components, such as transistors, logic gates, diodes, wires, etc., that are fabricated by forming layers of different materials and of different geometric shapes on various regions of a silicon wafer. Integrated circuits typically comprise a die attached to a package, often utilizing aluminized bond pads around the edge of the die and electroplated, e.g., gold over nickel over copper, post pads on the package. The design of an integrated circuit transforms a circuit description into a geometric description called a layout. The process of converting specifications of an integrated circuit into a layout is called the physical design. A circuit design must be converted into circuit components, such as transistors, resistors, capacitors, and connecting wires, formed from areas of conductors, semiconductors, and insulators on a semiconductor silicon die. Each of the steps in converting from logic to physical circuit must be verified to ensure that it properly implements the designed logic. Electronic circuits are often designed using automated design systems to increase the speed of the design process, and to allow evaluation of a design prior to actual production. Standard languages such as Hardware Description Languages (HDLs) have been developed to describe digital circuits to aid in the design and simulation of complex digital circuits. In an HDL method, the IC to be designed is first specified by a specification document. Then, the IC design is reduced to HDL code. This level of design abstraction is referred to as the register transfer level (RTL), and is typically implemented using an HDL language such as Verilog or VHDL. The schematic diagram or HDL specification is then synthesized into cells of a specific cell library. Each cell corresponds to a logical function unit, which is implemented by one or more transistors that are optimized for the cell. A series of computer-added design tools generate a netlist of the selected cells and the interconnections between the cells. The RTL netlist is typically a technology independent netlist in that it is independent of the technology/architecture of a specific vendor's integrated circuit, such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) or an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The netlist is used by placement tool to place instances of the selected cells at particular locations in a layout pattern. A routing tool routes the interconnections between the cells along predetermined routing layers. Electronic components of the IC are therefore formed on the wafer in accordance with the patterns. Modern semiconductors are assembled in either wirebonded or flipchip packages. In either case, the package provides the interconnect between the fine geometries of the silicon design and wider pitches at the circuit board level. The package also serves as environmental protection for the silicon die. Many phases of physical design may be performed with computer aided design (CAD) tools or electronic design automation (EDA) systems.
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