Open Source Parasitic Extraction

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  • Speaker: Enrico Di Lorenzo
  • email: support <_at_> fastfieldsolvers <_dot_> com (this is an anti-spam measure. Please replace <_at_> and <_dot_> accordingly)
  • other information:



Superconducting computing, digital optical multi-chip modules operating in the tents of GHz range, human-implantable bioengineering devices, RFIDs, wireless links, high-current power switching electronics, all call for accurate evaluation of the electromagnetic effect of the interconnections on the ideal circuit behavior. Integrated Circuit (IC) design is no exception, as operating frequencies get higher and higher and fabrication techniques evolve to 3D to increase the devices density per area, rendering accurate parasitic extraction[1] for post-layout circuital verification mandatory for almost all modern digital design.

To this goal, Electronic Design Automation (EDA)[2] toos for IC design require parasitic values to be back-annotated to the circuit design. However, while many open source codes for calculating electromagnetic field distributions exist, parasitic extractors capable to directly and efficently provide circuital parametrs (such as resistance, inductance, capacitance, or impedance values) usable in circuital simulators are mostly close source, proprietary, specialized and expensive software.

In our contribution we will present the status of the art of the widely known free and open source field solvers FastHenry, FastCap, FasterCap, FastImp. We will discuss how these solvers can be used to deal with the EDA parasitic extraction challenge, including real examples and implementations[3][4]. We will also outline the advantages of an open source model from an user's perspective, in the context of the electomagnetic field simulations. In this context, open source means not only free software, with no advertising, no in-app purchases, no hidden spyware, but even more important, no black-box algorithms and claims of accuracy you should trust on word. Plus of course the possibility to enhance, adapt, re-use and customize the code base.

We will then touch the present challenges in the open source parasitic extraction field and the path that lies ahead. This includes the latest developments towards a new class of solvers dealing with voxelized[5] (i.e. based on cubes) geometries, apt to deal with the latest trend in 3D IC design, complex non-planar geometries, virtual fabrication frameworks and 3D printing technology[6].

During the speech, we will also discuss a business model based on the free distribution of the code, but in a context where where the software is specialized and addressing a niche market. In particular, a market where traditionally there are a limited number of big players and where dedicated research investments are often protected by Intellectual Propriety. In this game, the partnership and the research contribution from the Universities is fundamental. This must be coupled with the capability to provide a comprehensive set of support services, expertise and subject-matter knowlege. This allows companies where field solver simulations are non-core activities to save on investments by offloading electromagnetic studies, simulations and software customization to a partner they can trust.

Services and Business Model


General information

  • Tools
The ElectroMagnetic Workbench offers a full GUI-based 3D modeling interface for FastHenry.
FastHenry2 is a software for computing the magnetoquasistatic (MQS) frequency-dependant self and mutual inductances and resistances of a generic tridimensional conductive structure.
FasterCap is a powerful three- and two-dimensional capactiance extraction program.
FastCap2 is a software for computing the self and mutual capacitances of conductive three-dimensional structures embedded in a non-homogeneous dielectric.
VoxHenry is a magnetoquasistatic (MQS) inductance extraction simulator for voxelized geometries.
FastImp is a program for accurate analysis of wide-band (full-wave) electromagnetic effects in very complicated geometries of conductors.
  • Other references
FreeCAD is a 3D CAD/CAE parametric modeling application. It is primarily made for mechanical design, but also serves all other uses where you need to model 3D objects with precision and control over modeling history.
It offers a ElectroMagnetic workbench add-on for interfacing with FastHenry.
This is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology link for FastCap, FastHenry and FastImp *nix source files distribution. This software was originally developed by the M.I.T. CAD group. Throught this link you can reach the pages containing the original docs and the papers presenting the algorithms implemented in the software.
Whiteley Research offers a completely free graphical editor and design tool for integrated circuit mask layout, schematic capture, and much more, and a companion Spice circuit simulation tool, for *nix and Windows. All the software is also available in Open Source. Parasitic extraction is available through FasterCap, FastCap and FastHenry.