Acceleware Corp. (Calgary, Alberta), developer of high-performance computing applications, and Synopsys, Inc. (Mountain View, CA), software provider for semiconductor design and manufacturing, announced a new hardware solution that enables up to 20-times faster electromagnetic simulation of optoelectronic devices such as CMOS image sensors. The solution, which links Synopsys' TCAD Sentaurus Device simulation software and Acceleware's ClusterInABox Quad Q30 workstation, enables an order-of-magnitude speed-up of the high accuracy finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) electromagnetic modeling algorithm used in Sentaurus Device. This performance increase allows engineers to leverage the rigor and accuracy of the FDTD method in designing and optimizing optoelectronic devices while shortening the product development cycle. Synopsys and Acceleware demonstrated the joint solution at Photonics West 2008 (Jan. 19-24 in San Jose, CA).

In the rapidly growing optoelectronics market, manufacturers are under constant pressure to produce higher performance devices in a shorter time. For example, CMOS image sensors, which are used widely in camera phones, webcams, digital cameras, and camcorders, must be cost-effective to produce and pack more pixels into each device generation. TCAD tools are well-suited for optoelectronics manufacturers designing more sophisticated devices and performing complete characterization of their device structures over a wide range of light incidence angles, lens shapes, pixel sizes, and other factors prior to manufacturing. This high-performance, cost-effective solution also allows the statistical analysis of the impact of manufacturing variations, such as lens misalignment, through multiple simulations.

Due to the complex nature of optoelectronic devices, FDTD simulations typically require tens of hours to fully characterize a CMOS image sensor design in 3D. The new hardware acceleration solution reduces the FDTD simulation time by up to 20 times, allowing engineers to carry out more extensive simulation studies, reducing development costs and time. TCAD Sentaurus Device simulation software uses the ClusterInABox Quad Q30's built-in NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs), which deliver up to two Teraflops of computational power, to significantly accelerate FDTD simulations of optoelectronic devices.

"The collaboration between Synopsys and Acceleware brings powerful TCAD simulation capabilities to our mutual customers, who are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and time in developing advanced semiconductor devices," said Terry Ma, group director, TCAD Business Unit at Synopsys. "Customers can now take advantage of this combined software and hardware solution to explore more design options and to optimize performance, manufacturability and yield for these complex optoelectronics device structures."

"Process and device engineers are continuously challenged with improving product performance in a shorter development cycle," said Ryan Schneider, Acceleware's chief technology officer. "Our deskside supercomputing solutions provide the fastest FDTD processing on the market, opening up new possibilities in innovation and product delivery for engineers working with Synopsys' sophisticated TCAD solution. The end result for manufacturers of optoelectronic devices is the ability to deliver higher quality products to their customers more quickly, without raising costs." --V.C.