IC design can be divided into the broad categories of digital and analog IC design. Digital IC design is to produce components such as microprocessors, FPGAs, memories (RAM, ROM, and flash) and digital ASICs. Digital design focuses on logical correctness, maximizing circuit density, and placing circuits so that clock and timing signals are routed efficiently. Analog IC design also has specializations in power IC design and RF IC design. Analog IC design is used in the design of op-amps, linear regulators, phase locked loops, oscillators and active filters. Analog design is more concerned with the physics of the semiconductor devices such as gain, matching, power dissipation, and resistance. Fidelity of analog signal amplification and filtering is usually critical and as a result, analog ICs use larger area active devices than digital designs and are usually less dense in circuitry.
Modern ICs are enormously complicated. A large chip, as of 2009 has close to 1 billion transistors. The rules for what can and cannot be manufactured are also extremely complex. An IC process as of 2006 may well have more than 600 rules. Furthermore, since the manufacturing process itself is not completely predictable, designers must account for its statistical nature. The complexity of modern IC design, as well as market pressure to produce designs rapidly, has led to the extensive use of automated design tools in the IC design process. In short, the design of an IC using EDA software is the design, test, and verification of the instructions that the IC is to carry out.
A typical IC design cycle involves several steps:
Feasibility study and die size estimate
Design For Testand Automatic test pattern generation
Design for manufacturability (IC)
Mask data preparation
Post silicon validation&integration
Tweak (if necessary)
Datasheet generation Portable Document Format
Yield Analysis / Warranty Analysis Reliability (semiconductor)
Failure analysison any returns
Plan for next generation chip using production information if possible