Custom physical design is time consuming, prone to errors and boring. However manual design is unsurpassed in terms of performance and layout quality, and it is still widely used for library cells, analog blocks, and to assemble mixed signal chips where crosstalk, substrate noise and matching considerations must be taken into account.
In an automatic place & route environment the purpose of automation is to complete a fully specified design with zero errors and with no human intervention, often starting from scratch. However in an interactive environment most of the work is incremental, it is performed on an design where often some parts are missing during part of the development, or are subject to frequent changes (ECOs). The main purpose of automation therefore is to provide guidance to the user, so that the design can be completed manually as quickly as possible, and without errors.
Automating custom physical design is challenging. The freedom of the designers cannot be constrained into predefined design styles. The speed of the automation utilities embedded in an interactive environment often must be comparable to the time between mouse clicks. The ACPD methodology is based on the following main concepts:
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