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ITRI Launches Self-developed EDA Design Software— PIC Palette


InnoLight Technology Research Institute (ITRI) recently unveiled the PIC Palette, a tool for EDA in silicon photonics. In addition to integrating simulation, digital illustration, inspection, and testing, this tool provides comprehensive services from design to layout and inspection to data analysis after tape-out. It is compatible with the PDKs of mainstream silicon photonics foundries, providing support for customers dealing in self-built PDKs and customized services.

According to Dr. Wu Hao, Founder of  PIC Palette, the software aims to solve four problems in existing EDA tools: ecosystem incompatibility, high cost, user-unfriendliness, and imperfect error correction. "We hope to liberate silicon photonics designers from tedious modeling and mask drawing so that they can focus more on creation," he said.

Based on the physical properties and characteristics of photonic componentss, PIC Palette features various built-in design automation modules to help engineers simplify the design procedure, reduce the cycle of mask layout, and improve R&D efficiency. Meanwhile, PIC Palette, written in python 3.x, has been praised for its low learning and utilization costs and excellent scalability. Users may interface with mainstream PIC design tools as necessary or develop advanced functions depending on their proficiency.

PIC Palette includes six modules: pygds2, pysimu, pypdk, pydrc, pyschm, and pymeas.

Pygds2, a GDSII file generation module based on python scripts, can be used for layout design in mainstream optical circuits and any GDSII file generation that needs to draw masks. Standard GDSII files generated by pygds2 can be viewed and edited with Klayout ( and checked and operated with Mentor Calibre. Pygds2 has built-in straight waveguides, regular/Bessel curved waveguides, tapered waveguides, and S-shaped curved waveguides (regular/Bessel), all of which are commonly used in layout designs for PICs and other common devices. It also has built-in automatic port alignment and connection to design and connect large photonic circuits. Pygds2 includes basic Boolean operations and functions to manipulate GDSII graph structures. It is capable of generating various custom graphs. It also supports customized functional modeling for commonly used parametric graphs.

Pysimu1 module is an automated simulation process based on pygds2. At the physical simulation level, pysimu1 will interconnect with mainstream photonic device simulation software and import the layout model from pygds2 to the photonic device model for simulation. It avoids repeated modeling for the same device and the risk of errors during the model parameter transfer process. At the circuit simulation level, pysimu1 provides optical link simulation based on transmission matrix and time-domain/frequency-domain electrical signal simulation models. It also comes with a complete set of equivalent models according to the design characteristics of PICs, and provides customers with flexible user-defined model input.

Pypdk is a PDK management module based on pygds2. Pypdk supports importing complete PDK information for all current mainstream silicon photonics fabs, domestic and abroad. Customers can do layout conveniently using the foundry PDK through Pypdk. It can import building block port information in Foundry PDKs and allows for automatic Building block port alignment in pygds2. Pypdk also enables customers to establish and manage PDKs and supports team collaboration based on the git structure. It has a general device library according to Foundry's process and design characteristics and can adapt between different foundries.

Pydrc is a design rule check module developed for PICs. The inline check portion is built based on pygds2. It includes checking common risk items, such as waveguide discontinuity, minimal turning radius, maximum metal interconnection resistance, etc., according to the design characteristics of PICs, helping customers locate and correct risk points in advance during the layout process. In the future, the offline check portion will check GDSII layouts based on graphic operations per the design rules provided by Foundry to help customers reduce EDA tool expenses.

Pymeas is developed for the testing of PICs. Pymeas can extract the electrical and optical port information in GDSII generated for pygds2, including coordinates, direction, polarization, wavelength band, spot size, coupling method, etc. It supports custom output formats for the convenience of output information to the subsequent automated test system. In the future, Pymeas will support additional functions such as test results, simulation design and layout association, PDK data management, R&D and mass production data visualization, and database management.

Pyschm is currently under development and will support LVS in the future. One of the functions is to perform SDL and layout checks against the Schematics. Another function is to generate layouts according to the schematic.

For more information on PIC Palette and its trial, please visit

InnoLight Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is an enterprise research institute established by InnoLight. Its mission is to conduct advanced technology research to drive InnoLight's technology pipeline, deliver cutting-edge technologies, and create new opportunities to fuel InnoLight's growth. This includes identifying and exploring compelling new technologies along with demonstrating first-to-market technologies and innovative new usages for optical interconnect and communication applications. ITRI engages with leading experts in both academia and industry in addition to partnering closely with InnoLight product R&D teams.

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