imec and Cadence tape out industry’s first 3nm test chip

The research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, imec, and Cadence Design Systems, Inc. today announced that its extensive, long-standing collaboration has resulted in the industry’s first 3nm test chip tapeout. The tapeout project, geared toward advancing 3nm chip design, was completed using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and 193 immersion (193i) lithography-oriented design rules and the Cadence Innovus Implementation System and Genus Synthesis Solution. Imec utilized a common industry 64-bit CPU for the test chip with a custom 3nm standard cell library and a TRIM metal flow, where the routing pitch was reduced to 21nm. Together, Cadence and imec have enabled the 3nm implementation flow to be fully validated in preparation for next-generation design innovation.

The Cadence Innovus Implementation System is a massively parallel physical implementation system that enables engineers to deliver high-quality designs with optimal power, performance and area (PPA) targets while accelerating time to market. The Cadence Genus Synthesis Solution is a next-generation, high-capacity RTL synthesis and physical synthesis engine that addresses the latest FinFET process node requirements, improving RTL designer productivity by up to 10X. For more information on the Innovus Implementation System, please visit, and to learn about the Genus Synthesis Solution, visit

For the project, EUV and 193i lithography rules were tested to provide the required resolution, while providing PPA comparison under two different patterning assumptions. For more information on EUV technology and 193i technology, visit

Post place and route layout of 21 nm pitch metal layers

Post place and route layout of 21 nm pitch metal layers

“As process dimensions reduce to the 3nm node, interconnect variation becomes much more significant,” said An Steegen, executive vice president for semiconductor technology and systems at imec. “Our work on the test chip has enabled interconnect variation to be measured and improved and the 3nm manufacturing process to be validated. Also, the Cadence digital solutions offered everything needed for this 3nm implementation. Due to Cadence’s well-integrated flow, the solutions were easy to use, which helped our engineering team stay productive when developing the 3nm rule set.”

“Imec’s state-of-the-art infrastructure enables pre-production innovations ahead of industry demands, making them a critical partner for us in the EDA industry,” said Dr. Chin-Chi Teng, corporate vice president and general manager in the Digital & Signoff Group at Cadence. “Expanding upon the work we did with imec in 2015 on the industry’s first 5nm tapeout, we are achieving new milestones together with this new 3nm tapeout, which can transform the future of mobile designs at advanced nodes.”


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