Don’t be afraid of the light!

By: Dr. Samir Chaudhry,  Director, TowerJazz Design Enablement   |  March 25, 2019 

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato

We at TowerJazz are certainly not afraid of light! In fact, we now offer the world’s first open foundry Silicon photonics process – PH18. Silicon photonics is THE process technology driving today’s rapid innovation in the optical fiber communication, automotive LiDAR and bio sensing applications. It enables more data to be transferred or processed in a shorter time than via traditional Aluminum or Copper interconnect in ICs.

Key to enabling the PH18 process for our customers has been our ability to leverage the tight interaction between design automation, models, and process technology to maximize performance and minimize cost, as well as time to market. We’ve brought over a decade of experience with building design platforms in the area of electronics [1] to photonics by partnering with leading Electronic Design Automation (EDA) vendors. This experience has been particularly important as it has been the Wild West in the field of photonics design automation.

TowerJazz Design ennoblement SiPho design kit

As a Photonic designer, you typically use PC based platforms with drag-and-drop type synthesis of schematics with manual or code-based layout generation and limited LVS or DRC verification. If you are an electronic designer entering the photonics world, you are used to elaborate custom design tools with a fair degree of automation in place for layout synthesis and verification. As such, the TowerJazz PH18 was built to support multiple design platforms with “matched libraries,” where a rich library of silicon photonic building blocks (such as waveguides, directional and grating couplers, MMIs, tapers, Ge photo detectors, and modulators) are fully defined in a reference document by the foundry, and the multi-platform PDKs were built off that golden reference with compatibility zealously enforced.

TowerJazz silicon photonics customers are currently using three main platforms to design in the PH18 platform:
  • Synopsys® PIC Design Suite: This platform enables schematic capture and simulation via OptSim and seamless layout synthesis and verification via OptoDesigner configured for PH18, enabling the only “single-vendor” design solution available for PH18. A live demo of this flow was recently presented at OFC 2019, and highlighted the photonics aware capabilities of the suite.
  • Cadence® & Lumerical Integrated electronics/photonic design automation environment: Based on Cadence’s well known Virtuoso® electronic design platform for schematic and layout synthesis and verification is linked seamlessly with Lumerical’s design tools for simulation and its own PVS tool for verification that is customized and supported for PH18. The latter also provides MODE solutions for full-wave simulation of waveguides and other optical components for the PH18 platform. Co-simulation of electronic and photonic components from TowerJazz’s SiGe, BiCMOS and PH18 platforms was presented recently at a DesignCon 2019 workshop and is an excellent primer on using this platform for Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) design.
  • Mentor Tanner L-Edit Photonics: This layout driven platform is based off of a rich selection of configurable cell library along with specialized photonic routing tools in L-Edit. This seamlessly links relevant library elements (e.g. waveguides or bends) as the designer drawn path is converted to real elements at the click of a button. Once the layout is complete, it can be simulated with Lumerical’s INTERCONNECT tool and verified with Mentor’s pioneering equation-based Design Rule Checking (eqDRC) in Calibre that are sign-off tools for tape-out to the PH18 platform.
TowerJazz Design ennoblement SiPho design kit

Focused on supporting the evolving market needs with innovative solutions, TowerJazz’s design enablement team continues to partner with leading-edge EDA providers to build on these capabilities in the coming months and years, expanding its PH18 platform to include additional laser attach and edge coupling schemes that will require ever more challenging design tools.

Wish to learn more and explore our advanced design capabilities? Join our team and let’s light up the future together!

To learn more about our design enablement offerings, click here.

[1] Samir Chaudhry & Marco Racanelli, “Specialty Foundry technology and design enablement for RF, high performance analog, and power,” October 2010, Proceedings of the Custom Integrated Circuits Conference

Dr. Samir Chaudhry

Director, TowerJazz Design Enablement  

Dr. Chaudhry has been leading the Design Kit and Modeling activities for TowerJazz since 2008. Prior to this, he led the SPICE modeling group at Jazz Semiconductor. His research interests include RF CMOS and statistical modeling. He has worked with the Compact Modeling Council in developing industry standard compact models for circuit simulation. 

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