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MediaTek recently gave the new Spectre X Simulator a try, and they talked about their experiences with it at DAC 2019 in a presentation given by YY Chen in the Cadence Theater.
Spoiler alert: they loved it.
MediaTek is the fourth largest fabless IC design company in the world, and they’re ranked #1 in the voice assistant device, android tablet, and network connectivity markets, among others. They, like so many others, have been faced with the challenge of ever-increasing complexity in designs and models. Designs have more parasitic elements and more model equations than they used to, and for models, MOS counts are growing, there’s more resistors, a huge increase in capacitors, and more. What used to take hours now takes days—and what used to take days now takes even longer.
Obviously, we can’t just let hard things be hard. Luckily, the solution is here, and it’s the Spectre X Simulator—the newest version of the Spectre APS Simulator you know and love.
MediaTek set three key performance indicators to measure how well the Spectre X Simulator improved their design and modeling processes. They wanted a 5X improvement in the simulator’s capacity to overcome unaddressed simulation challenges, a 15X improvement in core linearity, and a 2-5X improvement in overall speed without sacrificing any accuracy.
What did MediaTek find?
They tested a bunch of circuit types—PMIC, ADC, PLL, USB, and DDR. Most of the testcases were FinFETs. Using the smart preset of CX (conservative) mode got a 3.4X speedup, while the preset AX (analog) got a 4.2X. The saturation point was using 8 threads, which was the same as with Spectre APS, but Spectre X Simulator was 2.5X faster. There was a 6X speed improvement on a single thread, and that was a linear improvement over Spectre APS, even at sixteen threads.
MediaTek found that the Spectre X Simulator was great for FinFET-based circuits, and for transistor counts greater than 100,000. Overall, they had a whopping 7X speedup in their tests when using the Spectre X Simulator over Spectre APS.
In short: Spectre X Simulator's accuracy was what they knew and loved from Spectre APS, but it was faster and scaled better, and it had a greater capacity.
What’s not to love?
Read more about the Spectre X Simulator, and see MediaTek's full presentation given at the Cadence Theater at DAC 2019.