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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    The DFT Arms Race: Technological Convergence of Test Solutions From Magma and Synopsys

    Magma's Talus ATPG has put Magma very close (in technological terms) to matching Synopsys's test solutions. The first thing that struck me about the Talus press coverage was the high level of similarity between tool features touted by Magma and Synopsys.

    #1 : Combinational On-Chip Compression
    . Synopsys projected Adaptive Scan's low-overhead fully-combinational architecture as revolutionary in comparison to sequential compression technologies from Mentor's TestKompress. Now, Magma claims their ATPG-X solution consists of a "stateless broadcaster" and a "combinational compactor" duo.

    #2 : Slack-Aware Delay Testing. Propagating faults along the longest path in transition patterns rather than the easiest path was something Synopsys had been working on for some time now. The patent for this technology was filed in 1999 and granted in 2002! Yet, both Magma and Synopsys give press releases at the same time for this feature.

    #3 : Concurrent Fault Detection. This one is just plain spooky. First, at SNUG 2007 Bangalore, we have a paper ( Concurrent Fault Detection : The New Paradigm in Compacted Patterns) on detecting multiple fault models using one pattern set using TetraMax. Now, it is claimed that "in Talus ATPG, when one fault model is targeted, other fault models are automatically simulated".

    #4 : Just about Everything Else. Imitation , it is said, is the sincerest form of flattery. That said, imitation is also the first step in having the original eat your dust. From supporting industry standard STIL to diagnosis of compressed patterns, it appears that Magma has designed Talus ATPG to capitalize on Synopsys's success with TetraMax and DFT-Max.

    The big difference, the one Magma is counting on, is the level of integration between test and place-and-route. It remains to be seen if this factor will be enough to overcome the dominance of DFT-Max and TetraMax.

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    1. Isn't the "level of integration between test and place-and-route" what Synopsys addressed with the Odyssey tool that they announced this last week? I'm just assuming - because the press release doesn't state it, but a volume diagnostics tool surely links back to Milkyway?

      I think this link between test data and layout is the lynchpin in everyone's ATPG efforts, because much effort will be spent there in the coming years to extract decent yields from smaller geometry processes...

    2. Linkage to Odyssey is not exactly a integration to PNR. Maybe if there was a strong link to IC-Compiler, they'd be closer to what Talus is to Magma. Magma, unlike Synopsys, offers one unified interface/environment. For Synopsys, the inter-tool links are very weak. Generation of bridging patterns is using coupling cap as a proxy. Mentor and, now Magma, leverage their respective DRC engines. False paths/Multi-cycles come through a tcl proc in PT. You're right about the ATPG-PNR link. Synopsys is not going to sit on its thumbs and we can expect something from them real soon.

    3. OK - so you're talking about a direct link to the PnR tool - not the database. Well, I'm not quite to the point where I'm using these yield tools yet, I work for a startup, and we're not yet in that phase.

      Keep up the good blogging! I like your website. I look forward to your contributions at DFT Forum, too. I think it can be a good community.