Gauda harnesses graphical processor units for OPC

by M. David Levenson, Editor-in-Chief, Microlithography World

Feb. 26, 2008 – Have you ever wished that computational lithography could be more like a videogame? Gauda, a Sunnyvale, CA, startup decloaking at this week’s SPIE’s Advanced Lithography Symposium is offering to make it so, at least for optical proximity correction and verification (OPC and OPV).

The idea, explained founder, president and CEO Ahmet Karakas in an interview with WaferNEWS, is to use the graphical processor units (GPUs) in commodity desktop PCs to do the heavy lifting for litho simulation, just as they do for videogame graphics. While some tasks (i.e., full-chip OPV) will run fast enough with Gauda software on one PC, a simple Ethernet connection enables operation of a cluster. Ten Ethernet connected commodity PCs with GPUs can do OPC decoration as fast as the industry-leading system with its FPGA-based hardware acceleration, he said. When there is no computational engineering to do, the cluster can revert to its usual role, running business software and videogames.

Gauda CTO Ilhami Torunoglu reported that the company’s software has run model-based OPC faster and as accurately as systems based on server farms or specialized hardware. Input and output for post-processing tasks can be in the form of GDSII or OASIS files. Unlike systems that require flat input files, Gauda software can process hierarchical data. Beyond OPC, he claimed that the Gauda software also enables etch process verification (EPV) and printability checking. The core innovation was the use of parallel computing algorithms to enable efficient operation of one or many GPU equipped PCs. “When the Gauda application is running, the GPUs do most of the work, leaving most CPUs available for word processing and other tasks,” reported Torunoglu.

Because commodity PCs are so inexpensive and useful for other applications, Karakas believes that Gauda’s computational lithography system will be adopted for RET tasks in design shops as well as in manufacturing environments. The first beta sites, however, are at IDMs, he reported. While the OPC for a 45nm chip layout will run overnight on a 20 PC system (costing perhaps $300,000), adding PCs adds speed linearly at low cost, enabling even more advanced future designs. — M.D.L.


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