Compact variation-aware standard cells for statistical static timing analysis

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Aftabjahani, Seyed-Abdollah
Milor, Linda S.
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This dissertation reports on a new methodology to characterize and simulate a standard cell library to be used for statistical static timing analysis. A compact variation-aware timing model for a standard cell in a cell library has been developed. The model incorporates variations in the input waveform and loading, process parameters, and the environment into the cell timing model. Principal component analysis (PCA) has been used to form a compact model of a set of waveforms impacted by these sources of variation. Cell characterization involves determining equations describing how waveforms are transformed by a cell as a function of the input waveforms, process parameters, and the environment. Different versions of factorial designs and Latin hypercube sampling have been explored to model cells, and their complexity and accuracy have been compared. The models have been evaluated by calculating the delay of paths. The results demonstrate improved accuracy in comparison with table-based static timing analysis at comparable computational cost. Our methodology has been expanded to adapt to interconnect dominant circuits by including a resistive-capacitive load model. The results show the feasibility of using the new load model in our methodology. We have explored comprehensive accuracy improvement methods to tune the methodology for the best possible results. The following is a summary of the main contributions of this work to the statistical static timing analysis: (a) accurate waveform modeling for standard cells using statistical waveform models based on principal components; (b) compact performance modeling of standard cells using experimental design statistical techniques; and (c) variation-aware performance modeling of standard cells considering the effect of variation parameters on performance, where variation parameters include loading, waveform shape, process parameters (gate length and threshold voltage of NMOS and PMOS transistors), and environmental parameters (supply voltage and temperature); and (f) extending our methodology to support resistive-capacitive loads to be applicable to interconnect dominant circuits; and (e) classifying the sources of error for our variational waveform model and cell models and introducing of the related accuracy improvement methods; and (f) introducing our fast block-based variation-aware statistical dynamic timing analysis framework and showing that (i) using compiler-compiler techniques, we can generate our timing models, test benches, and data analysis for each circuit, which are compiled to machine-code to reduce the overhead of dynamic timing simulation, and (ii) using the simulation engine, we can perform statistical timing analysis to measure the performance distribution of a circuit using a high-level model for gate delay changes, which can be linked to their parameter variation.
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