Creating LISA Scripts to Automate Layout Operations in

Application Note
Creating LISA Scripts to
Automate Layout Operations
in Expert
Many layout design tasks in Expert can be automated using the LISA command language. Creating LISA Expert
Interface (XI) scripts for repetitive manual tasks can reduce project time and increase layout quality by reducing
the chance of manual layout errors. Since Expert menu
commands can be replicated using LISA commands, an
XI script can be created to automate almost any layout
task. Once written, these scripts can be quickly modified
for use in different design projects including ones with
different technology process nodes.
Two XI script examples are provided to show how short
LISA scripts can perform layout operations that would be
very time consuming if done manually. These examples
contain several basic LISA commands that can be applied to various tasks that may arise during the layout
phase of a design project.
Creating a LISA XI Script
Expert has a built in XI script editor that can be opened
using the following menu selection: Tools >> XI Script >>
Script Panel, shown in Figure 1. The Expert User Manual
contains a chapter devoted to XI scripts and provides
the syntax to access Expert functions using LISA commands. Once a script is written it can be executed by
clicking the “Run” icon on the Script Panel tool bar, or by
selecting Script >> Run in the menu.
Figure 1. Accessing the XI Script Panel.
Application Note 2-009
Memory Array Text Labeling Example
The first XI script example shown in Figure 2 is a short
LISA script that opens a user specified layout cell containing an array of memory cells and places incremented
text labels on the memory bit line and word line signal
paths. The use of text labels on signal nodes can greatly
improve LVS debugging, but the placing of these labels
on large arrays found in memory designs would take a
prohibitive amount of time if done manually.
The beginning of the script defines the variables that will
be used later in the code. After the variable definition
statements, the script uses the “cell open” command to
open the memory array layout that will be edited. This
script does not load the project database .eld file, and so
it is left to the user to load the database before executing
the script. The .eld file can be loaded in the XI script using the following command syntax:
PROJECT LOAD proj_name [tech_name] [/
outputname=output_name] [/readonly]
Figure 2. Text Labeling XI Script.
Page 1
Figure 3. Layout View of Labeled Array.
Figure 4. Contact Replacement XI Script.
Next is the “LOOP BEGIN” statement that will loop
through each of the bit line columns and place a text
label on the metal1 vertical bit line. The text begins as
“bl_0” and is incremented each time through the loop.
The same procedure is used to place text labels on the
rows of poly word lines. A close-up view of the resultant
layout is shown in Figure 3.
The example of the “find objects” command used in Figure 4 can be modified to apply to any number of tasks
that require searching through a large layout cell or an
entire layout database to find specific layout objects including shapes, wires, text, and instances that match a
series of user defined search criterion.
Contact Search and Replace Example
The second example XI script performs the task of resizing contact shapes in a layout database by searching for
any contact shape of a certain size and replacing that
shape with an instance of a layout cell containing the new
contact. The code for this example is found in Figure 4.
A list of all cells in the currently loaded layout database
is stored in the array variable “cells” by using the “get_library_cell_list” command. Then a loop is created that
iterates through each of the entries in the “cells” array
variable and performs a search for all drawn contacts
of 0.6um size by using the “find objects” command with
specific search criteria. A second nested loop begins if
the “find objects” search results has a size greater than
zero, indicating that a 0.6x0.6um contact was found in
the cell. Inside the loop, the “Select Object” command
selects each shape that was found and deletes it. By using the stored X and Y position values returned by the
search, an instance of a contact that is the correct size of
0.4um is placed at the origin of the deleted shape.
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Creating XI scripts with LISA code is an economical way
to perform systematic and repetitive layout functions in
Expert. The two examples shown above illustrate how
several basic LISA commands are used to create procedures that automate design tasks that would be very time
consuming if done manually. Investing a small amount of
time to create an XI script that can be reused throughout
a project and even migrated to future projects can have a
substantial impact in reducing the cycle time of the layout
phase of a design.
Application Note 2-009