TSMC, Synopsys using Nvidia’s AI-capable cuLitho for production

TSMC, Synopsys using Nvidia’s AI-capable cuLitho for production

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

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Foundry TSMC and EDA tool supplier Synopsys are going into production with Nvidia’s computational lithography platform to accelerate the process by up to a factor of 60.

Nvidia announced its cuLitho tool at its GPU Technology Conference in 2023 saying that TSMC and Synopsys would team up on technology. Computational lithography is the use of mathematical pre-processing of a photomask file to adjust for aberrations and effects in optical lithography.

This year Nvidia has introduced generative AI algorithms that enhance cuLitho performance and said that TSMC and Synopsys have integrated cuLitho into their software and manufacturing processes to speed up chip fabrication.

Computational lithography is the most compute-intensive workload in the semiconductor manufacturing process, consuming tens of billions of hours per year on CPUs. A typical mask set for a chip could take 30 million or more hours of CPU compute time to generate. With accelerated computing, 350 NVIDIA H100 systems can now replace 40,000 CPU systems, accelerating production time, while reducing costs, space and power.

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“Our work with Nvidia to integrate GPU-accelerated computing in the TSMC workflow has resulted in great leaps in performance, dramatic throughput improvement, shortened cycle time and reduced power requirements,” said C.C. Wei CEO of TSMC, in a statement issued by Nvidia. “We are moving Nvidia cuLitho into production at TSMC, leveraging this computational lithography technology to drive a critical component of semiconductor scaling.”

Since its introduction last year, cuLitho has enabled TSMC to open new opportunities for innovative patterning technologies. In testing cuLitho on shared workflows, the companies jointly realized a 45x speedup of curvilinear flows and a nearly 60x improvement on more traditional Manhattan-style, straight-line, grid-constrained flows.

“With the move to advanced nodes, computational lithography has dramatically increased in complexity and compute cost. Our collaboration with TSMC and Nvidia is critical to enabling angstrom-level scaling as we pioneer advanced technologies to reduce turnaround time by orders of magnitude through the power of accelerated computing,” said Sassine Ghazi, CEO of Synopsys, in the same statement.

Synopsys Proteus optical proximity correction (OPC) running on Nvidia cuLitho software and Nvidia AI hardware speeds up computational workloads compared to current CPU-based methods.

The generative AI workflow delivers an additional 2x speedup on top of the accelerated processes enabled through cuLitho. The application of generative AI enables creation of a near-perfect inverse mask or inverse solution to account for diffraction of light. The final mask is then derived by traditional and physically rigorous methods, speeding up the overall optical proximity correction (OPC) process by a factor of two.

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