Expert Layout Editor – New Commands Focus On Easier Operation

 

Expert layout editor version 4.0.1R has several new commands and functions released together with the new Qt GUI interface. Most of them are developed in order to improve easier operation.

Various LSI layout editors have been released by multiple EDA vendors, but, all of them have almost same or similar functions and commands. If a user benchmarks one of these products, the focus will be the ease-of-use (operability) as one of the most important features in the comparison.

If the user is not satisfied with the basic layout editor purchased, he may customize it by combining some basic features using programming languages to reduce the number of operation steps.

Expert has been developed considering how to improve the operability, and has several new commands and functions including the new GUI.

Property Bar – Property Bar interactively displays attributes of selected objects in the design window. Values of attributes can be changed directly in this Property bar.

 

Figure 1. Property Bar

 

Add jog Points / Remove All Jog Points – Edit >> Add Jog Points command allows to draw a cut-line across polygons or wires, and add new vertices to those already-existing shapes. These vertices allow to stretch a part of segment, and make some jogs.

Figure 2. Add Jog Points / Remove All Jog Points

Edit >> Remove All Jog Points command deletes all lengthy (unnecessary) vertices created by Edit >> Add Jog Points.

 

Property Bar

The chart shown in Figure 3 shows a general operation steps needed to change attribute values of already-existing object(s) in ordinary layout editors.

Figure 3. Operation Steps.

 

Manual editing is frequently required in various design levels such as chip-level or block level. The iteration of operations mentioned in the above chart decides the length of the total operation process.

Ordinary LSI layout editors have developed impressive functionalities such as visualization, but left out the improvements in operation steps (like the one in the chart below) – the capabilities that users have really wanted.

Property bar solves the problem of reducing the number of operation steps. The total editing time is also reduced by this feature as a major benefit to the user.

The basic operation flow with Property bar is described below.

Figure 4 shows the appearance of the Property bar when a cell instance is selected.

Figure 4. Property Bar.

Show / hide this Property bar by clicking the right mouse button at the frame of Expert design window and selecting Property bar in the popup menu.

When a layout object is selected, it shows all of the attributes. Select any column(s) in the Property bar to modify.

Figure 5 shows the Property bar appearance when the cell name field in the Property bar is selected. When each field is selected, a drop-down list appears to select an item out of several candidates, or a text field appears to modify the value directly.

Figure 5. Property Bar.

 

Apply the modification to the target object by clicking the “Update” button at the top of the Property bar.

The Property bar eliminates one of the ordinary operation steps how to modify an object, and thus improves the productivity

 

Add Jog Points / Remove All Jog Points

In LSI manual designs, a need to insert new objects in an already-finished layout design is frequent. A typical case is stretching already-existing objects such as wires, polygons or rectangles to make a room.

In the ordinary editing environment a user would need to combine cut, stretch or move commands.

The older versions of Expert had the feature of Split wire, implemented in Edit >> Stretch as an option, allowing to add new jogs in segments. This feature does not work with polygons or rectangles and only with wires. Ordinary layout editors generally don’t have a function to add those jog points to segments of polygons, wires, or rectangles.

Expert has a new feature “Add Jog Points”, which solves this problem and improves much of the design productivity in the above situation. It allows to add multiple jog points at one operation on intersecting points of entered cut-line and center lines of already-existing wires, or segments of polygons or rectangles.

The following figures show how wires can be stretched with this feature.

Before stretching.

 

After stretching.

The two figures above (top left and top right) describe an example of the situation when a user wants to move the blue wires overlapping the red rectangular region in order to to make a room.

First, you run Edit >> Add Jog points command from Expert menu bar.

 

And then, enter a cut line by mouse for jog points overlapping the existing wires.

 

Clicking the right mouse button to apply the cut line, the command is executed and new jog points are created at the intersecting points of the cut line and wires.

Created jog points are drawn as white dots in the above figure.

Next, run Edit >> Stretch command, and select rightward segments of wires from the created jog points.

 

And then, move the selected center lines not to overlap on the red region. Drag those segments by pressing left mouse button.

The black arrow indicates the destination of the stretching.

 

Release the left mouse button on the destination point to finish the stretching. The target wires has new vertices as below. The same operation can be done for polygons and rectangles.

 

Completed Design

Created jog points are drawn as white dots in the above figure.

Finally, type ESC key to quit the Stretch command to finish this operation.

 

Conclusion

Expert version 4.0.1R has a new Qt based GUI and combined with that a large number of new commands and functions specifically developed to increase operability and user productivity

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