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Roadmap on CAD Tools Development for VLSI

This roadmap is particularly suited for CS junta ( preferably competitive coders) who are interested in CAD tools development for the Semiconductor Industry. Electronics grads might find this a little too much to consume. 

Most of the jobs in VLSI are heavily dependent on Software Tools. There has been a significant amount of time and effort given to the Software Tools Development. Over the years, the tools have evolved and matured.

Prerequisites → Anyone who has a good hold in Coding, Data Structures and Algorithms.

If you are interested in pursuing your graduate studies and research in EDA, follow this quora link; it gives a very clear insight about the various universities and their strengths in various streams of VLSI & EDA.

EDA Tool development is quite a challenging job since the end product (The Tool) by itself is quite intense and heavy on math and computation. Only the extremely passionate people land here since this stream puts a test to ones’ patience. You could do a lot of hard work and still fail to get the desired output.

The EDA industry is dominated by three major organisations. They are

You can find their product catalogues by following the links given above.

As I mentioned in my previous roadmap VLSI by itself is huge huge industry and it is supported by the wide range of S/W products. Most of the S/W tools are written in C, CPP and Java.

In institutions like the IISc and IIT’s, the grad students are asked to implement all the algorithms taught to them. VLSI taught at IISc is extremely hectic since the student has to cover topics ranging from Algorithms, Analog Design and Digital Design and all the three streams as very vast.

“CAD for VLSI” is a graduate level course and not many schools teach this at the under-grad level. I did my graduation from VIT. We had this course in our M.Tech curricula. I’ll share some of the references followed during our coursework.

  1. Algorithms for Physical Design Automation by Naveed Shervani
  2. Handbook of Algorithms for Physical Design Automation by Sachin Sapatnekar
  3. VLSI Physical Design : From Graph Partitioning to Timing Closure by Andrew B Kahng
  4. Practical Problems in VLSI Physical Design Automation by Sung Kyu Lim

P.S → These references are also followed in prestigious universities like UC Berkeley, MIT, UT Austin, CMU and UIUC.

CAD Job Prospects  Anyone who goes through these books will get a clear idea of the practical problems in EDA CAD industry. For careers in EDA , one could check the careers site of the companies given below and apply for the relevant positions available.

  1. Qualcomm
  2. Synopsys
  3. Cadence
  4. Mentor Graphics
  5. Texas Instruments
  6. Apple
  7. Samsung
  8. Google

These roles are mostly R&D in nature. VLSI companies like Qualcomm, TI, Intel etc. have limited roles of these kind, but they pay a lot. EDA companies like Synopsys, Cadence etc. look for people having these skills. They have a relatively higher number of positions available. A lot of innovation goes into these kind of roles. A career in EDA is very rewarding, fulfilling and satisfying.

 

By,

Sethupathi Balakrishnan

Physical Design Engineer at Qualcomm


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