"Within minutes of deploying Pinpoint, I was able to break down our timing across multiple blocks, visualize it, and communicate it to my team. A process that normally took hours is now done in minutes. I don't want to say I can't live without Pinpoint, but I can't live without it."
- Ralph Portillo, Physical Design Manager,
In the midst of the battles to make tapeout, does your team really know where you are? In the olden days a battle could be managed from the top of a hill with a good pair of binoculars and a couple of runners. If your plan is to take a continent, the hill is still relavant, but it needs context. Likewise, the scale of chip design has grown beyond recognition. How do you collaborate across the gigabytes of infomation each run creates? How do you share a common vision of the problems at hand? Where is the battle map? And the question persists:
In our discussions with customers, there are several consistent themes to managing design closure. The first is the need to communicate the progress of the design across the design team. The second is the ability to see historical data in order to gain insight about the big hairy issues in the design. And lastly, the need for more confidence around coming to closure.
We designed Pinpoint, Tuscany's Decision Support System, to facilitate on-time delivery by providing communication, tracking, and predictability to your teams. Our goal is to make your designs feel tangible, at a scale that is manageable, and with views into the data that give you insight you can apply now and over time.
Pinpoint gives your team the map, the blueprint, the support your team needs to make decisions.
Imagine the process of erecting a giant skyscraper. As one of the plumbers, for weeks on end laboring away inside on the sprinkler system, the overall progress of the construction can be hard to see. Standing outside and gazing up at the facade provides no insight. The architect could be chasing lighting specifications while the glass man cuts odd lengths of borosilicate tubing for who knows what. With uncountable elements to control, wouldn't it be great if everyone could see all the parts coming together?
Now, what if you could hold this building in your hands? Rotate it, look under it, pull apart the pieces and gaze inside. What if you could watch a time lapse video of the building coming together? You could move between points in time and see the progress of weeks happen within seconds. That would tell you a lot. Imagine being able to remove the walls and see only the electrical pathways, the ventilation system, or maybe just the hot water lines. As plumber, you could hand it to the architect and say, "Right here, you put the elevator columns in between the bathrooms and the kitchens. You know how much 83 floors of copper plumbing like that is gonna cost?"
That's how we imagine Pinpoint will help physical design teams.
For Example: The Troubled Path
One of our customers pulled in the top level design along with all of the underlying blocks without using any abstractions (Pinpoint can handle designs as big as 100M instances or bigger). He then loaded his timing reports from the signoff timer (also done flat). He was then able to see where the problem blocks were in the chip, trace the paths in and out of blocks, and even click on the fly lines to see the routing. When he did that, he realized why this path was in trouble; the pin placement on two of the blocks was bad causing a lot of failing paths through that area.
Ending the Myth: "Explaining it takes longer than doing it."
Sometimes physical design engineers are looking at problems in the design, and they don't know if they should continue banging on the tool or ask for help. Asking for help normally takes him a lot of time to prepare the screenshots, the path data, etc. and send it to the front end guy. The front end guy has to unpack the image, look at the path report, and try to figure out what is going on. This causes the physical design engineer to work much longer on a problem than he should. With Pinpoint, the physical design engineer simply copies a URL which sends all the necessary design information to the front end engineer. Plus, when the physical design engineer is in India and the RTL designer is in the US, the RTL designer can also get more context by looking at the other paths in the same report and drilling into the data while the Physical Design Engineer is sleeping.
Check It Out
Pinpoint is easy to get up and running with your design data (often within the same day of the installation). If you'd like more information or a demo, Contact Us and we can set up a time to talk to you more about whether Pinpoint can help you on your next design.