Conventional EDA tools fall short of requirements in virtually fabricating MEMS chips like the way you do other IC designs. That's because their three-dimensional structures cannot be represented well by those tools. Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools are closer to the mark but usually work on millimeter-sized designs instead of the micron-size scales that MEMS employ.

To bridge the gap, Coventor Inc. has created its Coventor and MEMS+ tools, which have now been merged into a unified platform for IoT makers, according to Steve Breit, vice president of the company's MEMS business.

201705_EDNA_CoventorMP_MEMS_cr *Figure 1: By dove-tailing the library-based MEMS+ design flow into the finite element modeling of Coventor the new CoventorMP covers all bases for MEMS chip design and manufacturer. (Source: Coventor.) *  

"Our new unified MEMS platform, CoventorMP, integrates our older separate platforms—CoventorWare and MEMS+ for separate design-modeling and device-simulation—into a single platform that integrates with Cadence and specific foundry PDK's [process design kits] for modeling, design, simulation and test all with the same platform," Breit told EE Times in an exclusive interview before the announcement.

CoventorMP sports compact finite analysis tools that look like PDKs for semiconductors, but for MEMS devices. A library of generic MEMS parts that cover the spectrum of devices today, can be assembled into a particular MEMS structure. CoventorMP is agnostic to processes, but has been specifically adapted to Cadence EDA and X-Fab PDK, resulting in a MEMS-PDK (MPDK) that looks like what semiconductor designers expect, only for MEMS.

201705_EDNA_CoventorMP_MEMS_2_cr Figure 2: CoventorMP's interfaces directly with Matlab, Simulink and Cadence making designs foundry ready. (Source: Coventor)  

Coventor, Cadence Design Systems, X-FAB and Reutlingen University are jointly sponsoring a worldwide MEMS Design contest with an $8,000 purse for 10 hand-selected entries (from a field of 20) to design MEMS-based solutions for IoT and other applications. The winners will be announced in early 2018.

The applications being developed by the 10 teams are aimed at medical, sensing and inertial tracking techniques that are not only novel, but which have value to society. The first place winner will get not only the CoventorMP tools and $5,000 in cash, but also a free manufacturing run on X-Fab's line.

Besides Cadence and X-Fab, Coventor is also working with other EDA makers and foundries to come up with new specific MEMS-PDK versions to make CoventorMP seamlessly compatible with their tools, too.

"We want a single-point Gold Standard design entry using the library approach where you adjust parameters for the integrated base of MEMS components you picked, do a simple simulation with MEMS+ then do more detailed behavior simulations as with CoventorWare," said Breit. "If you need more sophisticated simulations then you export the design to MatLab, the Simulink modeling environment, the Cadence Virtuoso circuit modeling environment, or SPICE simulators that support Verilog-A. With these you can get accurate system dynamics, such as calculate the signal-to-noise ratio for a MEMS microphone including the sensitivity of the electronics."

Included in the MEMS library are gyroscopes, accelerometers, microphones, pressure sensors, scanning micro mirrors plus MPDKs and validated models suitable for submission to foundries.