Cadence Provides ‘Clarity’ in Design Tool


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Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Brad Griffin, product marketing director for Cadence Design Systems, about Cadence’s Matrix solver technology. They discuss its use as a multi-disciplinary field solver as well as Cadence’s focus on thermal analysis and utilizing the power of the cloud.

Nolan Johnson: Brad, now more than ever you must make decisions in design that are going to impact manufacturing. 

Brad Griffin: I agree with you. Cadence is very uniquely positioned because we’ve always had PCB and IC packaging design tools. So much of what we used to do on a printed circuit board is now done in silicon on a silicon interposer. The tools that are used at the board and package level have had to evolve to be able to support the new types of designs.

We’re engaged through the whole process. That’s where field solvers come in because if you’re a printed circuit board designer and you’re laying out a board, you may not even think about a 2D field solver running in the background, calculating impedance for you to tell you that you’ve met the 50 ohms of impedance that you were trying to get to. Those tools are embedded in the design tools, and the users don’t even know they’re running an EM solver. But as you get into more involved work, where you’re sending 64 bits simultaneously at five gigabits per second on a DDR5 bus, things get to a point where you need to look at the signal, the power, and the ground because now they all interact. That’s the same, whether on a board, on the package, or whether you’re on an interposer; you just may use different material properties to be able to model the interconnect. 

A sophisticated, full wave 3D field solver can work in all those types of applications if it has the speed, the capacity, and the ability to crunch that large of a problem. That’s where Clarity 3D Solver comes in. It’s unique in the industry in its ability to apply Maxwell’s equations to make accurate, full-wave 3D assessments of how the interconnect is going to behave, do so on a very large scale, and in a timeframe that allows an engineer to make a decision based on that simulation results. 

Johnson: Not in post-processing, but during the design process?

Griffin: Again, it’s always going to vary, but you’re right. For example, if somebody is routing that differential pair and they really don’t want to put any vias in place because they know it’s going to cause some discontinuity, but they need to find out if it will work, then this is where, in design, you can call on Clarity in the middle of design. Clarity can give you an S parameter. You can plug that S parameter into a circuit simulator, and you can look at the eye diagram and determine whether it will work. You can make that decision in design instead of waiting until the end, with your fingers crossed hoping that it’s going to work. 

That’s the case where you probably get your answer back in minutes. There are other cases where you’re looking at something bigger and you’re saying, “I’m willing to let this run overnight.” Again, I think this is where Clarity comes into play, where other field solvers might be running for weeks before they get the answer. The speed and the capacity of Clarity is really opening up what signal integrity and power integrity engineers can do in the design process.

Johnson: I’ve been hearing a lot about Sigrity X. Tell us about it.

Griffin: Sigrity X is what we call the new version that has the 10X faster simulation capabilities. That’s where the matrix solver comes in. 

Johnson: Are we still living in a world where you can have these processes running for days and weeks?

Griffin: Oh yes, absolutely. We see this all the time. If the compute power is there, people will use it. They must simulate this altogether as one structure, and they’re willing to wait a week for that answer, if that’s what it takes. Then we show them they can get it done in 10 hours now. That’s a big difference.

It’s amazing how much faster some of these solvers are, but once they’ve got that, they’ll just make the simulation bigger, so our customers will still run the Clarity solver for days. We’ve connected Clarity to the cloud through AWS, so now you have almost unlimited computing resources, but there’s always a cost associated with it. While the solver can run much faster, maybe they don’t want to use all the licenses required, so they might say, “I can get it done in 10 hours, I’m okay with that, even though I could use 10 times the licenses to get it done in one hour.”

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the July 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

Download The System Designer’s Guide to… System Analysis by Brad Griffin along with its companion book The Cadence System Design Solutions Guide.

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