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Algorithmic studies on PCB routing

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Title: Algorithmic studies on PCB routing
Author(s): Yan, Tan
Director of Research: Wong, Martin D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Wong, Martin D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Chen, Deming; Lumetta, Steven S.; Rutenbar, Robin A.
Department / Program: Electrical & Computer Eng
Discipline: Electrical & Computer Engr
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Algorithm printed circuit board (PCB) routing Escape routing Length-matching routing Length-constrained routing Layer assignment Network flow Pin Grid Array Ball Grid Array
Abstract: As IC technology advances, the package size keeps shrinking while the pin count of a package keeps increasing. A modern IC package can have a pin count of thousands. As a result, a complex printed circuit board (PCB) can host more than ten thousand signal nets. Such a huge pin count and net count make manual design of packages and PCBs an extremely time-consuming and error-prone task. On the other hand, increasing clock frequency imposes various physical constraints on PCB routing. These constraints make traditional IC and PCB routers not applicable to modern PCB routing. To the best of our knowledge, there is no mature commercial or academic automated router that handles these constraints well. Therefore, automated PCB routers that are tuned to handle such constraints become a necessity in modern design. In this dissertation, we propose novel algorithms for three major aspects of PCB routing: escape routing, area routing and layer assignment. Escape routing for packages and PCBs has been studied extensively in the past. Network flow is pervasively used to model this problem. However, previous studies are incomplete in two senses. First, none of the previous works correctly model the diagonal capacity, which is essential for 45 degree routing in most packages and PCBs. As a result, existing algorithms may either produce routing solutions that violate the diagonal capacity or fail to output a legal routing even though one exists. Second, few works discuss the escape routing problem of differential pairs. In high-performance PCBs, many critical nets use differential pairs to transmit signals. How to escape differential pairs from a pin array is an important issue that has received too little attention in the literature. In this dissertation, we propose a new network flow model that guarantees the correctness when diagonal capacity is taken into consideration. This model leads to the first optimal algorithm for escape routing. We also extend our model to handle missing pins. We then propose two algorithms for the differential pair escape routing problem. The first one computes the optimal routing for a single differential pair while the second one is able to simultaneously route multiple differential pairs considering both routability and wire length. We then propose a two-stage routing scheme based on the two algorithms. In our routing scheme, the second algorithm is used to generate initial routing and the first algorithm is used to perform rip-up and reroute. Length-constrained routing is another very important problem for PCB routing. Previous length-constrained routers all have assumptions on the routing topology. We propose a routing scheme that is free of any restriction on the routing topology. The novelty of our proposed routing scheme is that we view the length-constrained routing problem as an area assignment problem and use a placement structure to help transform the area assignment problem into a mathematical programming problem. Experimental results show that our routing scheme can handle practical designs that previous routers cannot handle. For designs that they could handle, our router runs much faster. Length-constrained routing requires the escaped nets to have matching ordering along the boundaries of the pin arrays. However, in some practical designs, the net ordering might be mismatched. To address this issue, we propose a preprocessing step to untangle such twisted nets. We also introduce a practical routing style, which we call single-detour routing, to simplify the untangling problem. We discover a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of single-detour routing solutions and present a dynamic programming based algorithm that optimally solves the problem. By integrating our algorithm into the bus router in a length-constrained router, we show that many routing problems that cannot be solved previously can now be solved with insignificant increase in runtime. The nets on a PCB are usually grouped into buses. Because of the high pin density of the packages, the buses need to be assigned into multiple routing layers. We propose a layer assignment algorithm to assign a set of buses into multiple layers without causing any conflict. Our algorithm guarantees to produce a layer assignment with minimum number of layers. The key idea is to transform the layer assignment problem into a bipartite matching problem. This research result is an improvement over a previous work, which is optimal for only one layer.
Issue Date: 2011-01-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18367
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Tan Yan
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-01-14
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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