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As an Applications Engineer, the first demonstrations you deliver of a new technology are always the most interesting. The questions you receieve are all over the map and your skills in thinking on your feet are put to the test. Personally, I really enjoy this learning phase and as I was putting together this screencast, I was reminded of the first demo I ever gave of First Encounter back in 2001. The primary question in the meeting that I didn't have a good answer for was this: "Does First Encounter have a good hard macro placer?"
Keep in mind that this was 8 years ago, and that I'd been with the company only about 2 weeks at this point. I remembered from my time talking with other AEs while I was out in San Jose that First Encounter's strength as a silicon virtual prototyping tool was to estimate the feasability (ie, the routability, timing, area, and power) of any floorplan it was supplied. At the time, First Encounter wasn't necessarily a strong floorplanning tool. I remember the answer I gave alluding to this strength, and de-emphasizing the core question but the customer was steadfast: He wanted a good hard macro placer!
Fast forward to today. I'm pleased to report that the Encounter Digitial Implementation System has a very good hard macro placer. We call it Automatic Floorplan Synthesis, and it's part of a collection of functionality that makes creating and exploring floorplans faster and easier than ever. Have a look at Automatic Floorplan Synthesis in action in this 7 minute video:
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Question of the Day: What do you think about MasterPlan? Have you tried it on your designs lately?
We have had great success with planDesign. We first used it a couple of years ago on a design that was challenging for timing closure. For several blocks, after spending a lot of time on our own floorplans, we ran planDesign and quickly had a floorplan that had a much better WNS after optDesign -preCTS than what we had come up with on our own. So now, we always give it a spin. The demo does a great job of showing the recent enhancements like multiPlanDesign and finishFloorplan. I'm looking forward to using these on my next project.