If it's true that today's tools become tomorrow's toys, then the prodigy of the Calma GDS-II will certainly be a sight to behold. The Calma GDS-II is a graphics integrated design tool: a 7-color, 20-inch (50.8-cm), refresh display terminal with a high-resolution digitizing table; all this is connected to a Data General Eclipse computer, with floating-point processor and 80-megabyte hard disk. Most GDS-II systems use a Versatec 8242 electrostatic plotter for hardcopy.

From afar the GDS-II looks like the bridge of the starship Enterprise (see Fig. 2-36A). But up close, the GDS-II shows its stuff. As shown in Fig. 2-36B the main purpose of the GDS-II is the creation of a database of coordinates that define the layers of an integrated semiconductor circuit. A typical IC design may involve up to 64 layers of individual structures. These structures represent transistors, diodes, resistors, and connecting paths between component parts. With the GDS-II the designer can represent up to 64 different color shadings, and can move through these layers one at a time. The designer can stop on a surface layer and move throughout its plane, a section of the surface may be expanded with a zoom feature and the user may then alter the shape with the aid of the digitizing table.

The Calma unit features a VLSI database of over 4 billion points per axis. Coordinates are entered via the input table; software automatically connects points with 90-degree or 45-degree lines. For hardcopy the user can specify that the color display be reproduced on a high-resolution black and white electrostatic plotter, and, as shown in Fig. 2-37, the colors in the display are converted to equivalent black and white shadings (64 maximum shades).

Software for the GDS-II is truly the graphics designer's dream. Control of the structure on the screen is through the graphics editor. The editor manipulates the database (the coordinates of the structure) and includes these features: erase, move, polygon manipulate, stretch side, group stretch, window, copy, data type, layer change, rotate, mirror, area shift, notch, and close.


(A) Left to right: graphics console, plotter, auxillary terminal, printer, hard disk, and minicomputer. (B) Showing 20-in, 7-color, raster scanned crt, with 64 color shadings, and designer is selecting functions via digitizing table and is preparing IC design on left. Fig. 2-36. The Calma GDS-II system.


Fig. 2-37. Electrostatic plot of integrated-circuit structures showing semiconductor layers as different shadings.

Besides being used for IC design, the Calma people provide similar packages for architectural design and for mapping (construction of geological maps).

But before you run out to buy a GDS-II you should consider first owning a semiconductor company with revenues of at least $500 million per year, because the price tag on the GDS-II is a healthy $250,000! So far Calma has sold over 20 GDS-II systems and has many more on order.

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