File: StaApi.txt

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# OpenSTA, Static Timing Analyzer
# Copyright (c) 2019, Parallax Software, Inc.
# 
# This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
# it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.
# 
# This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
# GNU General Public License for more details.
# 
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this program.  If not, see <https://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

The STA is built in C++ with heavy use of STL (Standard Template
Libraries).  It also uses the zlib library to read compressed Verilog,
SDF, SPF, and SPEF files.

The sub-directories of the STA code are:

doc
  Documentation files.
util
  Basic utilities.  
liberty
  Liberty timing library classes and file reader.
network
  Network and library API used by all STA code.
verilog
  Verilog netlist reader that implements the network API.
graph
  Timing graph built from network and library cell timing arcs.
sdc
  SDC timing constraint classes.   
sdf
  SDF reader, writer and annotator.
dcalc
  Delay calculator API and implementations.
search
  Search engine used to annotate the graph with arrival, required times
  and find timing check slacks.
parasitics
  Parasitics API,  Spef and Spf readers.
app
  Interface between Tcl and STA (built with SWIG).
  Main program definition.
tcl
  User interface code.
  SDC (Synopsys Design Constraint) argument parsing.

Each sub-directory builds a library that is linked to build the STA
executable or linked into another application.

The file doc/CodingGuidelines.txt defines naming conventions used in
the code.

STA API
-------

Major components of the STA such as the network, timing graph, sdc,
and search are implemented as separate classes.  The Sta class
contains an instance of each of these components.

The Sta class defines the bulk of the externally visible API used by
the Tcl interface, and coordinates operations that involve multiple
components.  For example, when a false path command is entered into
the Tcl command interpreter, the Sta passes the declaration on to the
Sdc component and tells the Search component to invalidate all arrival
and required times.

Applications should call functions defined by the Sta class rather
than functions defined by the components.  Calling functions defined
by the components will get you in trouble unless you understand them
in detail.  For example, telling the delay calculator to recompute the
delays leaves the arrival times that depend on them wrong.  Always
remember that the Sta coordinates the components.

In general, objects passed as arguments to Sta functions that are
constructors become "owned" by the STA and should not be deleted by
the caller.  For example, a set of pins passed into
Sta::makeExceptionFrom are used in the resulting object (rather than
copied into another set).  On the other hand, strings passed as
arguments are copied by the Sta functions before they are retained in
STA data structures.

In many cases the major components contain pointers to other
components.  The StaState class is a simple container for these
components that makes initialization of pointers to the components
easier.

An STA with modified behavior can be built by defining classes derived
from the component classes and overloading some of the member
functions (which may have to be modified to be virtual).  Components
are created by Sta::makeComponents().  The Sta::makeComponents()
function in turn calls each of the Sta::make<Component> component
constructors.  These constructors can be overloaded by redefining them
in a class derived from Sta.  Because the components refer to each
other, Sta::updateComponentsState() must be called to notify the
components if any of them are changed after creation.  

The file liberty/LibertyExt.cc contains an example that shows how the
liberty reader is replaced with a custom one on the Sta object.

Units
-----

Units for values in Sta and liberty data structures are always the
following:

 time        seconds
 length      meters
 capacitance farads
 resistance  ohms

All file readers and the user interface are responsible for converting
any user input or output to these units.

Utilities
---------

The most significant utilities are the Vector, Map and Set templated
classes built on top the respective STL classes.  The main point of
these classes is to provide Java-like iterators that can be passed
around as one object.  STL iterators require the container to be
useful.  Iterators uniformly use the hasNext() function to test to see
if there is another member and next() to access the next iteration
member.

Most printing is done in Tcl rather than the STA C++ code.  Some
errors and warnings are reported by the STA in C++

All printing done by the STA core is done using the Report class API.
The report class supports output redirection to a file and logging to
a file.  The Tcl interpreter prints to "channels" that are
encapsulated by functions in the the ReportTcl class. Printing inside
the STA is directed to the Tcl channels so that it appears with the
Tcl interpreter output.

Network
-------

The network API is the key to making the STA a timing engine that can
be bolted onto another application.  This API allows the STA to
efficiently communicate with external network data structures without
the overhead of making and maintaining a copying of it.

The network API encapsulates both library and netlist accessors.
Libraries are composed of cells that have ports the define connections
to the cell.  Netlists are built out of cell instances, pins and nets.

The ConcreteLibrary and ConcreteNetwork classes are used by the STA
netlist readers.  These class definitions are to support a stand alone
STA that does not depend on external netlist data structures.

External network data structures are interfaced to the STA by casting
pointers to network object across the interface.  The external objects
do not have to be derived from STA network base classes.  The network
API functions are typically very thin functions that cast the STA
network types to the external class types and call the corresponding
external network database accessor.

Bus ports are expanded into ports for each bit in the bus, and
iterators are provided for the expanded and unexpanded set of cell
ports.

Network instances are calls of cells in the design hierarchy.  Both
hierarchcial and leaf instances are in the network.  Hierarchical
instances have children instances at the next lower hierarchy level.
Leaf instances have liberty cells with timing model data.  At the top
of the hierarchy is a top level instance that has instances for the
top level netlist.  If a cell has multiple instances the entire
sub-tree of hierarchy is repeated in the network.  This "unfolded"
network representation allows optimization to specialize instances of
a hierarchical block.  A "folded" network representation that has only
one sub-tree for each hierarchical block means that all copies must
have identical sub-trees, preventing optimations that specialize the
contents.

Pins are a connection between an instance and a net corresponding to a
port.  For bus ports each bit in the bus has a corresponding pin
(library iterators can be used to find the pins that correspond to all
of the bits in a bus).  Ports on the top level instance also have pins
in the network that are the top level inputs and outputs.

Nets connect together a group of pins.  Both hierarchical and leaf
pins are on a net.  Nets can connect pins on multiple levels of
hierarchy.

The network objects inside the STA are always pointers to instances of
undefined class objects.  The implementation and definition of the
network objects themselves is never visible inside the STA.  The
network API is implemented as an adapter that performs all operations
on all network objects.  There is one network adapter instance used by
all STA code.  For example, to find the cell of an instance
 
  Cell *cell = network->cell(instance);
  
The network adapter returns iterators for looping over groups of
network objects.  For example, the following code iterates over the
children of the top level instance.

  Instance *top_instance = network->topInstance();
  InstanceChildIterator *child_iter = network->childIterator(top_instance);
  while (child_iter->hasNext()) {
    Instance *child = child_iter->next();
    ...
  }
  delete child_iter;

An adapter to a network database is built by defining a class derived
from the base class Network, or NetworkEdit if it supports incremental
editing operations.  network/ConcreteNetwork.cc and oa/OaNetwork.cc
are sample network adapters.

A network adaptor to interface to an external network database must
define the virtual functions of the Network class (about 45
functions).  The external network objects do not have to use any STA
network objects as base classes or even be C++ objects.  These network
adapter functions should cast the network object pointers to the
underlying network object.

Network adapters built on the Network class must define the following
functions to find corresponding liberty objects.

  virtual LibertyLibrary *libertyLibrary(Library *library) const;
  virtual LibertyLibrary *makeLibertyLibrary(const char *name, 
					     LibraryAnalysisPt *ap);
  virtual LibertyCell *libertyCell(Cell *cell) const;
  virtual LibertyPort *libertyPort(Port *port) const;

The NetworkLiberty class provides implementations of the first two
functions for derived network classes.  The OaNetwork class shows an
implentation that uses the NetworkLiberty class.

If the network adapter implements the NetworkEdit API the following
TCL commands are supported:

 make_cell
 replace_cell
 delete_cell
 make_net
 delete_net
 connect_pins
 disconnect_pins

Each of these commands call correponding functions in app/StaTcl.i
that notify the Sta before and/or after the network operation is
performed.

Liberty
-------

The liberty timing library reader builds classes that are derived from
the concrete library classes.  In addition to the library, cell and
port classes, there are classes to represent timing arcs, timing
models, wireload models, operating conditions, and scale factors for
derating timing data.

Timing arcs are grouped into sets of arcs between a pair of cell
ports.  For example, a buffer has two timing arcs between the input
and output; one for a rising output and another for a falling output.
The timing arcs are:

  A r -> Z r
  A f -> Z f

Since a buffer is non-inverting, the timing arc set is positive-unate.
Similarly, an inverter has two negative-unate timing arcs.

  A f -> Z r
  A r -> Z f

On the other hand, a multiplexor, has a non-unate path from the select
input to the output because a rise or fall change on the input can
cause the output to either rise or fall.  There are four timing arcs
in this arc set:

  S f -> Z r
  S f -> Z f
  S r -> Z r
  S r -> Z f

The liberty file reader can be customized to read attributes that are
not used by the STA.  See liberty/LibertyExt.cc for an example.

Graph
-----

The timing graph is the central data structure used by the delay
calculation and search algorithms.  It is annotated with timing arc
delay values and slews (from SDF or a delay calculator).  A forward
search annotates the graph with arrival times, and a backward search
annotates required times.

The graph is composed of vertices and edges.  Each pin in the design
has a vertex.  Bidirect pins have two vertices, one for its use as an
input and another for its use as an output.

The Network adapter supplies functions to find and set the index
(unsigned) of a graph vertex corresponding to a pin.

  Network::vertexIndex(const Pin *pin) const;
  Network::setVertexIndex(Pin *pin, VertexIndex index);

An STL map can be used for the lookup, but it is rather memory hungry
compared to storing the value in the pin structure.

A pointer to the vertex used for a bidirectional pin driver is kept in
a map owned by the Graph class.

Edges in the graph connect vertices.  The pins connected together by a
net have wire edges between the pin vertices.  Timing arc sets in the
leaf instance timing models have corresponding edges in the graph
between pins on the instance.

The Graph class constructor option slew_tr_count is used to prevent
the grpah from reserving memory to store slews.  Similarly, if the
have_arc_delays option is false no memory is reserved for storing arc
delay values.  This is useful if an external delay calculator is used
to annotate delays on the graph.  In this case the Graph functions
arcDelay and wireDelay should be overloaded to return delay values
stored outside of the STA.

A graph with no slews or delays is constructed using:

  Graph(this, 0, false, ap_count);

A graph with one slew for rising and falling edges is constructed using:

  Graph(this, 1, true, ap_count);

A graph with separate rising and falling slews (the default) is
constructed using:

  Graph(this, 2, true, ap_count);


SDC
---

There is no support for updating SDC when network edits delete
the instance, pin, or net objects refered to by the SDC.

Delay Calculation
-----------------

The graph is annotated with arc delay values and slews (also known as
transition times) by the graph delay calculator and the SDF reader.
The GraphDelayCalc class seeds slews and arrival times from SDC
constraints and uses a breadth first search to visit each gate output
pin.  The GraphDelayCalc then calls a timing arc delay calculator for
each timing arc and annotates the graph arc delays and vertex slews.

The delay calculator is architeched to support multiple delay
calculation results.  Each result has an associated delay calculation
analysis point (class DcalcAnalysisPt) that specifies the operating
conditions and parasitics used to find the delays.

The ArcDelayCalc class defines the API used by the GraphDelayCalc to
calculate the gate delay, driver slew, load delays and load slews
driven by a timing arc.  The following delay calculation algorithms
are defined in the dcalc directory:

 UnitDelayCalc - All gate delays are 1.  Wire delays are zero.

 LumpedCapArcDelayCalc - Liberty table models using lumped capacitive
 load (RSPF pi model total capacitance).  Wire delays are zero.

 SimpleRCArcDelayCalc -  Liberty table models using lumped capacitive
 load (RSPF pi model total capacitance).  Wire delays are the RSPF 
 elmore delay.

 DmpCeffElmoreDelayCalc - RSPF (Driver Pi model with elmore interconnect
 delays) delay calculator.  Liberty table models using effective capacitive
 model as described in the following paper:
   "Performance Computation for Precharacterized CMOS Gates with RC Loads",
   Florentin Dartu, Noel Menezes and Lawrence Pileggi, IEEE Transactions
   on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, Vol 15, No 5,
   May 1996.
 Wire delays are computed by applying the driver waveform to
 the RSPF dependent source and solving the RC network.  

 DmpCeffTwoPoleDelayCalc - Driver Pi model with two pole interconnect
 delays and effective capacitance as in DmpCeffElmoreDelayCalc.

Other delay calculators can be interfaced by defining a class based on
ArcDelayCalc and using the registerDelayCalc function to register it
for the "set_delay_calculator" Tcl command.  The Sta::setArcDelayCalc
function can be used to set the delay calculator at run time.

Search
------

A breadth first forward search is used to find arrival times at graph
vertices.  Vertices are annotated with instances of the Event class to
record signal arrival and required times.  As each vertex is visited
in the forward search its required time is found using If the vertex
is constrained by setup or hold timing checks, min/max path delay
exceptions or gated timing checks its required time is found from the
SDC.  The slack is the difference between the vertex required time and
arrival time.  If the vertex is constrained it is scheduled for a
breadth first backward search to propagate required times to the fanin
vertices.  Separate events (and hence arrival and required times) are
used for each clock edge and exception set that cause a vertex to
change.

Arrival, required and slack calculations are incremental using a level
based "lazy evaluation" algorithm.  The first time arrival/required
times are found for a vertex the arrival/required times are propagated
to/from the vertex's logic level.  After that no search is required
for any vertex with a lower/higher logic level when the
arrival/required time is requested.

Clock arrival times are found before data arrival times by
Search::findClkArrivals().  Clock arrival times now include insertion
delay (source latency).

When an incremental netlist change is made (for instance, changing the
drive strengh of a gate with swap_cell), the STA incrementally updates
delay calculation, arrival times, required times and slacks.  Because
gate delay is only weakly dependent on slew (transition time), the
effect of the change will diminish in gates downstream of the change.
The STA uses a tolerance on the gate delays to determine when to stop
propagating the change.  The tolerance is set using the
Sta::setIncrementalDelayTolerance function.

  void Sta::setIncrementalDelayTolerance(float tol);

The tolerance is a percentage (0.0:1.0) change in delay that causes
downstream delays to be recomputed during incremental delay
calculation.  The default value is 0.0 for maximum accuracy and
slowest incremental speed.  The delay calculation will not recompute
delays for downstream gates when the change in the gate delay is less
than the tolerance.  Required times must be recomputed backward from
any gate delay changes, so increasing the tolerance can significantly
reduce incremental timing run time.

Tcl Interface
-------------

The interface from Tcl to C++ is written in a SWIG (www.swig.org)
interface description (tcl/StaTcl.i).  SWIG generates the interface
code from the description file.

All user interface code is written in Tcl.  SDC argument parsing and
checking is done with Tcl procedures that call a SWIG interface
function.  All reporting commands are written in Tcl so they can be
easily customized.

The Tcl 'sta' namespace is used to segregate internal STA functions
from the global Tcl namespace.  All user visible STA and SDC commands
are exported to the global Tcl namespace.

A lot of the internal STA state can be accessed from Tcl to make
debugging a lot easier.  Some debugging commands require a namespace
qualifier because they are not intended for casual users.  Some
examples are shown below.

  sta::report_arrival
  sta::report_required
  sta::report_slack
  sta::report_edges
  sta::report_slews
  sta::report_level pin
  sta::report_constant pin|instance
  sta::report_network

  sta::network_pin_count
  sta::network_net_count
  sta::network_leaf_instance_count
  sta::network_leaf_pin_count

Additionally, many of the STA network and graph objects themselvs are
exposed to Tcl using SWIG.  These Tcl objects have methods for
inspecting them.  Examples of how to use these methods can be found in
the tcl/Graph.tcl and tcl/Network.tcl files.

Optional Components
-------------------
Optional components that are not included in the standard distribution are:

 Edif netlist reader
 OpenAccess netlist and parasitics interface
 Verific netlist interface
 Budgeter
 Interface Logic Model (ILM) generation
 Arnoldi reduced order delay calculation

Architecture alternatives for using the STA Engine
--------------------------------------------------

There are a number of alternatives for using the STA engine with
an application.

* STA with TCL application

The simplest example is an application written in TCL.  The
application calls STA commands and primitives defined in /tcl and
tcl/StaTcl.i.  A stand-alone STA executable is built and a TCL file
that defines the application is included as part of the STA by
modifying app/Makefile.am to add the TCL file to app/TclInitVar.cc.

The user calls STA commands to read design files (liberty, verilog,
SDF, parasitics) to define and link the design. The user defines SDC
commands or sources an SDC file.  The user calls the application's TCL
commands.

A simple gate sizer is an example of an application that can be built
this way because it has very little computation in the sizer itself.
STA TCL commands can be used to find the worst path and upsize gates
or insert buffers.

* STA with C++ application

The application is built by adding C++ files to the /app directory and
modifying app/Makefile.am to include them in the executable. Interface
commands between C++ and TCL are put in a SWIG .i file in the /app
directory and modifying app/StaApp.i to include them. TCL commands are
added to the STA by modifying app/Makefile.am to add the application's
TCL files to TclInitVar.cc.

The user calls STA commands to read design files (liberty, verilog,
SDF, parasitics) to define and link the design. The user defines SDC
commands or sources an SDC file.  The user calls the application's TCL
commands.

* C++ application without native Network data structures linking STA libraries 

The application builds main() and links STA libraries. On startup it
calls STA initialization functions like staMain() defined in
app/StaMain.cc.

The application must link and instanciate a TCL interpreter to read
SDC commands like staMain().  The application can choose to expose the TCL
interpreter to the user or not. The STA depends on the following data
that can be read by calling TCL commands or Sta class member functions.

Liberty files that define the leaf cells used in the design. 
Read using the read_liberty command or by calling Sta::readLibertyFile().

Verilog files that define the netlist.  Read using the read_verilog
command or by calling readVerilogFile() (see verilog/Verilog.i
read_verilog).

Link the design using the link_design command or calling Sta::linkDesign().

SDC commands to define timing constraints.
Defined using SDC commands in the TCL interpreter, or sourced
from a file using Tcl_Eval(sta::tclInterp()).

Parasitics used by delay calculation.
Read using the read_parasitics command, Sta::readParasitics(), or
using the Sta::Parasitics class API.

The application calls network editing functions such as
Sta::deleteInstance() to edit the network.

* C++ application with native Network data structures linking STA libraries 

The application defines a Network adapter (described above) so that
the STA can use the native network data structures without duplicating
them for the STA.  The application defines a class built on class Sta
that defines the makeNetwork() member function to build an instance of
the network adapter.

The application builds main() and links STA libraries. On startup it
calls STA initialization functions like staMain() defined in
app/StaMain.cc. The application reads the netlist and builds network
data structures that the STA accesses through the Network adapter.

The application must link and instanciate a TCL interpreter to read
SDC commands like staMain().  The application can choose to expose the TCL
interpreter to the user or not. The STA depends on the following data
that can be read by calling TCL commands or Sta class member functions.

Liberty files that define the leaf cells used in the design. 
Read using the read_liberty command or by calling Sta::readLibertyFile.

SDC commands to define timing constraints.
Defined using SDC commands in the TCL interpreter, or sourced
from a file using Tcl_Eval(sta::tclInterp()).

Parasitics used by delay calculation.
Read using the read_parasitics command, Sta::readParasitics(), or
using the Sta::Parasitics class API.

The application calls network editing before/after functions such as
Sta::deleteInstanceBefore() to notify the Sta of network edits.

A placement tool is likely to use this pattern to integrate the STA
because the DEF file includes netlist connectivity.