Microphotograph showing one of the many chips which were made with ocean.

About OCEAN: the Sea-of-Gates Design System

OCEAN is a comprehensive chip design package which was developed at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. It includes a full set of powerful tools for the synthesis and verification of semi-custom sea-of-gates and gate-array chips. OCEAN covers the back-end of the design trajectory: from circuit level, down to layout and a working chip. In a nutshell, OCEAN has the following features:
 + Available for free, including all source code.
 + Short learning curve making it suitable for student design courses.
 + Hierarchical (full-custom-like) layout style on sea-of-gates.
 + Powerful tools for placement, routing, simulation and extraction.
 + Any combination of automatic and interactive manual layout.
 + OCEAN can handle even the largest designs.
 + Running on Sun workstations and Linux PC's, easy installation.
 + Includes three sea-of-gates images with libraries and a 200,000 transistor sea-of-gates chip.
 + Can be easily adapted to arbitrary images with any number of layers.
 + Interface programs for other tools and systems (SIS, Cadence, etc.)
 + Elaborate Users Manual with hands-on tutorials.
 + Robust and "combat-proven", used by hundreds of people.

A powerful layout editor allows fast automatic and accurate manual design.

Hardware requirements of OCEAN

OCEAN is running on the following platforms:
 * Sun Sparc
 * 386, 486 and Pentium PC
The minimum requirement is that the computer runs UNIX (or LINUX for PC) with X-window release 11.3 or higher. A disk space of about 50 Megabyte is required for installation.

How to retrieve OCEAN?

The entire OCEAN system is available for free via anonymous ftp. You may redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. Our current distribution includes:
 * source code (C/C++) of all tools
 * executables for 3 popular hardware platforms
 * cell libraries for 3 different semi-custom images
 * full documentation with hands-on tutorial examples
 * conversion tools for SIS, Cadence.
 * much more.
You can retrieve OCEAN and additional documentation with the SPACE distribution via:
  The SPACE website: www.space.tudelft.nl (goto the Download menu)
We advise to retrieve first the documents with the user manual. Click here for the on-line users manual. A PostScript version of the users manual is avaialble in the distribution. If you have any questions, remarks or problems, just contact us:
  The SPACE Support Team,
  Circuits and Systems Section, Department of Micro Electronics,
  Faculty for Electrical Engineering, Mathemathics and Computer Science,
  Delft University of Technology,
  Mekelweg 4, 2628 CD Delft,
  The Netherlands.
  Phone: +31-15-2786232 (Simon de Graaf)
  Phone: +31-15-2786217 (Arjan van Genderen)
  Phone: +31-15-2786258 (Nick van der Meijs)
  Email: space-support-ewi@tudelft.nl
Click here for the release list.

OCEAN: overview of the package

OCEAN allows you to:
 * Run logic synthesis tools and enter the circuit in various formats.
         Convenient input from logical synthesis tools (e.g SIS, MIS).
	 SLS-network format for textual circuit entry. Edif circuit

 * Interactively simulate this circuit at logic level, switch-level and SPICE.
         The simulator interface has the unique capability to switch the
	 simulation level just at the stroke of a button. Graphical input
	 simulation stimuli. A very powerful and fast switch-level
	 simulator is included.

 * Create hierarchical layouts of hierarchical circuits.
         In contrast to other sea-of-gates and gate-array systems, the
         circuit hierarchy does not have to be flattened. You can use and
	 create modules of any shape and size. Complexity can be handled
	 effectively. OCEAN can handle very large layouts.

 * Automatically place and route.
         The state-of-the-art placer and router are simply started by the
	 touch of a button from the layout interface. Both the placer and
	 the router make efficiently use of the unused space in the sub-
	 modules. Any number of interconnect layers can be handled. Manual
	 pre-routing of critical nets, special power and clock routing
	 facilities enable high-performance designs. Many special
	 provisions for semi-custom layout (e.g. substrate contacts, power
	 rails connection) are supported. Unused transistors can be
	 automatically converted into capacitances for power decoupling.

 * Manually place, route, view and modify the layout.
         The interactive layout interface give a easy control over any
	 combination of automatic and manual design. For example, you can
	 make part of a wire, and just click a button to make the automatic
	 router finish the rest of it. Mask-level layout (polygons) is
	 displayed. Very fast graphics for even the largest layout
	 (2,000,000 boxes).

 * Verify the connectivity and correctness of the layout design.
         Any short-circuits and unconnects are indicated in the layout.

 * Perform design rule checking and layout purification of manual layouts.
         Objects are snapped to the grid.  Stacked vias are indicated.

 * Extract the circuit back from the layout.
	 An advanced layout to circuit extractor is included, which
	 is capable of extracting accurate parasitics.

 * Interactively simulate the extracted circuit on three levels of accuracy.
         Easy comparison with the original circuit.

 * Perform this fast and convenient design cycle as many times as necessary.

Who is OCEAN intended for?

OCEAN is suitable for any low-cost chip design application. Low cost, however, does not necessarily mean simple circuits. Large high-performance circuits (e.g. 90 MIPS processor) have also been designed with OCEAN. The tools are also suitable for mixed analog-digital designs. Coming from a University, OCEAN was originally intended for research but especially for educational purposes. At Delft University, all 160 2nd year students follow a design course in which they design an entire chip using OCEAN. The short learning curve of OCEAN makes it possible that a complex chip (spanning 45,000 transistors) is designed by a group of 16 students in just 8 weeks (2 afternoons per week). More information and course material is available upon request. See also appendix A.

OCEAN: Flexible hierarchical sea-of-gates design

The hierarchical layout design style is the key feature of OCEAN. It allows you to structure the layout in the same way as the circuit. Larger structured blocks (such as registers, RAM, ALU) can be designed efficiently, much in the same way as on a full-custom chip, but at the cost and design speed of a gate-array. Many levels of hierarchy may be used to smash the complexity and to speed up design. Unlike other standard-cell, gate-array or sea-of-gates design packages, there is no need to break up the entire circuit into a two-level hierarchy with small equal-sized modules. From our experience, OCEAN's unique clear and visible relation between layout and circuit has many advantages. Not only does it give the novice user (e.g. student) a better comprehension of the design, it also allows expert designers and tools to make better use of the inherent structure and regularity of the circuit.

Sea-of-gates chips, images and libraries included in OCEAN

The OCEAN system comes with technology files and libraries for three images:
  1. fishbone   (gate-isolation image in double metal process)
  2. octagon    (symmetrical and rotatable image in 3 metal layer process)
  3. gatearray  (old fashioned row-based gate-array in single-layer process)
Adding your own image, library and technology description is easy. OCEAN can handle any number of interconnect layers and intricate image structures. The basic library allows you to create digital as well as analog designs. The layout of an entire 200,000 transistor chip in the fishbone image is included with OCEAN.


Appendix A: Background of OCEAN

OCEAN is the result of a joint effort of many people from the Electrical Engineering Faculty at Delft University of Technology. It is based to a large extent on the NELSIS IC Design System and database. This full-custom system was developed over the past 10 years at Delft University, especially in the Network Theory group. To handle sea-of-gates design, new tools were created and other tools were modified. Most of this work was performed as a result of the IOP sea-of-gates project, which started 4 years ago. The main drive to make the package more user-friendly was the advent of the new curriculum for EE students. The latter included a practical design course in which the students design a complex circuit in a group, simulating a commercial environment. This course started september 1992 for the first time and has been quite successful.

Why sea-of-gates?

The OCEAN design system is targeted to produce sea-of-gates layout. This means that they deal with a prefabricated transistor pattern on the chip. To implement a circuit, the tools (or the designer, for that matter) interconnect these transistors with metal wires. Our sea-of-gates layout strategy aims at four goals:
 1. Minimization of the fabrication time. Because the chips are
    prefabricated (the transistors are already on the master image), the
    silicon foundry only processes the masks related to metal wires.

 2. Minimization of the design time. The time involved in designing a cell
    layout is reduced dramatically (as compared to full-custom) because the
    transistors are preplaced on the image. Typically, it takes only a few
    minutes to layout a flipflop or a combinatorial gate, and the designer
    does not need to know anything about the process design rules.

 3. Minimization of the chip cost. The layout design starts with a
    prefabricated master image. This is a semi-manufactured article that
    can be produced in large quantities. At Delft University of Technology
    we have 150 wafers for the fishbone image in stock.

 4. Full-custom properties on Semi-Custom chips: Efficient implementation
    of structured logic (RAM, PLA etc.). In contrast to the conventional
    gate-array, a sea-of-gates does not have pre-defined routing channels.
    This enables a much more compact and clean implementation of
    structured circuits such as processors.
The OCEAN suite of tools handles a wide variety of sea-of-gates master images and process technologies. The tools madonna (the placer), trout (the router) and fish (purifier and design rule checker) handle the various peculiarities of the images to produce optimal layout.

Appendix B: List of primary programs in OCEAN

    cedif      Write EDIF netlist format.
    csls       Write SLS netlist format.
    fish       Layout purifier for sea-of-gates, DRC.
    ghoti      Circuit purifier for spice.
    madonna    Automatic placer.
    seadali    Interactive layout editor, general interface for
               automatic and manual layout generation.
    simeye     Interactive simulator interface, enables
               unequaled smooth work with sls and spice.
    sls        Logic level and switch-level simulator.
    space      Fast & accurate layout extractor.
    trout      Automatic router, connectivity verifier.
    xedif      Read EDIF netlist format.
    xsls       Read SLS netlist format.

Last update: January 31, 2018, by Simon de Graaf.