ClearSpeed Clearly Achieves First-pass Silicon Success with Magma Tools

12/17/2003 - Magma® Design Automation Inc. (Nasdaq: LAVA), a provider of chip design solutions, announced that ClearSpeed Technology achieved first-pass silicon success on the CS301 floating-point chip using Blast Fusion® APX, Blast Noise® and Blast RailTM. The 40-million-transistor, 0.13-micron CS301 is the highest performance floating-point chip in the world, performing 25 billion floating-point operations a second. ClearSpeed adopted Magma's integrated IC implementation flow after ClearSpeed's traditional point-tool flow failed to complete routing, achieve timing closure, meet low-power requirements or maintain signal integrity. With Magma's integrated approach, ClearSpeed was able to meet their design requirements and tape out the design in less than three months. Analysis of the design results showed tight correlation to industry-standard timing, noise and power sign-off tools.

"The CS301 is an extremely complex device with stringent power requirements," said Russell David, vice president of engineering at ClearSpeed. "The Magma system provided a correct-by-construction approach to power, signal integrity and physical design. Its tight integration and unified data model gave us great visibility into the design. We could understand the decisions the system was making so when we got an unexpected result we could quickly identify what we could do better to eliminate the problem. In just three months we were able to deliver a design with incredible performance and stunningly low power."

"The point-tool flow we had been using was completely unpredictable and gave us no insight into what was preventing us from achieving design closure," David added. "When we tried to fix one problem, we would introduce others."

"Point-tool flows just cannot address the challenges of 0.13-micron and below," said Alan Runcie, vice president of European Operations at Magma. "ClearSpeed's ability to deliver this large, complex device using our software demonstrates the advantages of Magma's integrated approach. ClearSpeed's confidence in the accuracy of our system is further illustrated by their use of Magma's embedded analysis engines as sign off for timing, power and signal integrity."

Integrated System and FixedTiming Methodology Deliver Lower Power and Reduce Area
Magma's IC implementation system is based on the patented FixedTimingTM methodology, an approach that enables Magma's system to predict circuit speeds prior to detailed physical design. The system then uses a series of design refinements during the place and route process to achieve a final timing that is very close to the predicted circuit speed. With predictable timing results, iterations can be eliminated and time to market can be significantly improved. FixedTiming also ensures that each cell is sized according to the actual wireload, resulting in lower cell counts and more compact layouts.

"Magma's system produced much better placement so there was a significant reduction in wire length," David said. "That contributed significantly to helping us minimize the power consumption of the CS301."

Built-In Timing, Power and Signal Integrity Analysis Engines Used for Signoff
Magma provides sign-off quality timing analysis and signal and power integrity design capabilities within a single environment. This eliminates the need for separate sign-off tools and further reduces turnaround time.

Using a standalone timing analysis tool, ClearSpeed was unable to identify and fix timing problems during implementation. After implementing the design using Magma's system, they compared the results with those of a transistor-level timing analysis tool and found that they were comparable. As a result, ClearSpeed now uses Magma's built-in timer for sign off.

Blast Rail and Blast Noise were also critical in minimizing power and increasing performance of the CS301. Both work concurrently with Blast Fusion throughout the implementation flow. Blast Noise automatically analyzes and adjusts the chip design to avoid crosstalk noise, crosstalk delay and signal electromigration (EM) problems. Blast Rail provides automated power analysis and planning, voltage-drop analysis, voltage-drop-induced delay analysis, and electromigration analysis on rail wires and vias. By automatically addressing signal integrity and power problems during physical design, Blast Noise and Blast Rail eliminate the need for cumbersome post-layout analysis and repair, and ensure working silicon.

Because the design was at 0.13 micron, ClearSpeed anticipated signal integrity problems, but Blast Noise automatically avoided signal integrity violations. ClearSpeed used Blast Noise's accurate AC noise characterization to quickly identify false violations that would otherwise be reported if using only DC noise margins only. This prevented ClearSpeed from wasting time trying to fix paths that were not a problem. In addition, ClearSpeed found that the Blast Noise and Blast Rail results correlated well with their transistor-level tools. The results were later validated in silicon.

About ClearSpeed
ClearSpeed Technology is a semiconductor company focused on delivering high-performance, low-power, parallel processing solutions for the computing and communications industries. ClearSpeed's advanced multi-threaded array processor technology provides its customers with the ability to significantly accelerate data-intensive applications at extremely low power. Privately funded, ClearSpeed has offices in the USA and UK and already has over 40 patents granted and in process. Visit ClearSpeed at

About Magma
Magma provides leading software for designing highly complex integrated circuits while maximizing Quality of Results with respect to area, timing and power, and at the same time reducing overall design cycles and costs. Magma provides a complete RTL-to-GDSII design flow that includes prototyping, synthesis, place & route, and signal and power integrity chip design capabilities in a single executable, offering "The Fastest Path from RTL to Silicon"TM. Magma's software also includes products for advanced physical synthesis and architecture development tools for programmable logic devices (PLDs); capacitance extraction; and characterization and modeling. The company's stock trades on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LAVA. Visit Magma Design Automation on the Web at

Magma, Blast Fusion, Blast Noise and FixedTiming are registered trademarks and Blast Rail and "The Fastest Path from RTL to Silicon" are trademarks of Magma Design Automation Inc.

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