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Design Rules for Drawing Masks using AutoCAD

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AutoCAD is often used to draw masks for microelectronic circuits because it is widely available and gives the experienced user many tools for laying out unusual shapes. However no mask making machine is controlled directly by AutoCAD’s DXF file. Instead the DXF file is translated in one or more steps into a data file that controls the mask making machine.
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Content Preview
Design Rules for Drawing Masks
using AutoCAD
Artwork Conversion Software, Inc

Table of Contents
Setting up the AutoCAD Drawing Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-3
Getting started on the right foot.
Introduction & Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-3
Units and Grid Snap, Data Origin, Construction Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-4
UCS and VPOINT, Layer Names, No Hatching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-5
Drawing Boundaries using the Polyline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-5
The polyline is your best friend. Use him properly and
all of your masks will come out correct the first time.
Closed, Number of Vertices, No Hatching, Q&A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-5
Polylines w/ Width, Solids, Lines and Arcs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-5
The Re-entrant Polyline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-6
This special case of a boundary folds back on itself
and creates an empty internal area. Use it wisely.
200 Vertex Limit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-6
The old GDSII spec restricted you to 200 vertices per
boundary. But you may exceed this limit sometimes...
Drawing Paths using Polylines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-7
The polyline with width is nice to use but make sure
you know what is goin on at the ends. As tempting as
it may be, Don’t close a polyline with width to form a frame.
Characteristics of Paths, Drawing in AutoCAD & Path Mitering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-7
Drawing Islands and Isolated Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-7
Don’t draw a polygon inside a polygon - how to use
“paint and scratch” to handle those complex masks.
Two mating boundaries & Re-entrant Boundary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-7
Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-8
What Works, What Doesn’t A mask making machine is not a
laser printer - there’s no support for Postscript or True Type fonts...
Supported/Unsupported Text Functions & Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-8
Defining and Inserting Blocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-8
Blocks make repetitive data easy to handle..but please
don’t rotate them and watch the scale factor.
Scale, Insertion Layer & Rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-8
Block Names & Attributes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-9
MINSERTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-9
AutoCAD’s multiple insertion of blocks...
Rules & Reasons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-9
Circles and Arcs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-9
Mask making machines don’t do arcs - they get
broken down into segments. What you should know...
Arc Resolution, Arc Sag, & Combining the two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-9
Creating the DXF File . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-10
Purge your drawing of unecessary stuff....then DXF
out. Make sure enough places of accuracy are used.
Purge the Database, DXFOUT Command & Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-10
Appendix II - 2
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD

Setting Up the AutoCAD Drawing Environment
Introduction
AutoCAD is often used to draw masks for microelectronic circuits because it is widely avail-
able and gives the experienced user many tools for laying out unusual shapes. However no
mask making machine is controlled directly by AutoCAD’s DXF file. Instead the DXF file is
translated in one or more steps into a data file that controls the mask making machine. The
most common types of machines are:
Photoplotters
Gerber data controls these machinese
Pattern Generators
PG data controls these machines
Electron Beam
MEBES data controls these machines
LaserWriter
Proprietary formats control these machines
Figure A-1. An example of a mask
One does not even convert directly from DXF but goes through an industry standard mask
drawn in AutoCAD.
data format known as Calma GDSII stream, or GDSII for short.
To get the mask right you need to understand quite a lot about the nature of the mask making
machine, the nature of GDSII and the nature of the translation software used to move from
DXF to GDSII to the mask database. What you need to know about good drawing practice is
summarized in this document.
ASM 500
Gerber
Photoplotter
DXF2GBR
RS274X
AutoCAD
DXF
ASM 3500
Pattern
GDS2PG
DXF2GDS
Calma
Generator
GDSII
Figure A-2.
Laserwriter
EBEAM
Research
Before you put pen to paper learn something about the process that will produce your mask. I’ve sketched out below a couple
of typical worksheets for different types of machines.
Pattern Generator
TI LaserWriter
Glass Size:
5 x 5
Glass Size:
10 x 10
Margin: 0.25
inch
Margin: 0.25
inch
Machine:
PG Mann 3600
Machine: TI Laswerwriter
Paint & Scratch:
NO
Paint & Scratch:
YES
Re-entrant Polys:
YES
Re-entrant Polys:
YES
Arcs/Circles:
Avoid if possible
Arcs/Circles: OK
Units to Draw In:
MILS
Units to Draw In:
UM
Min Line Width:
0.2 mil
Min Line Width:
2 um
Data Coordinates:
Center on 0,0
Data Coordinates:
Center on 0,0
Data Grid: 0.1 mil
Data Grid:
0.5 um
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD
Appendix II - 3

Units and Grid Snap
All mask making machines and their databases including
GDSII are integer or grid based; AutoCAD uses a double
precision database that is not grid based. To prevent round
off approximations from messing you up during translation
you should set a grid snap in AutoCAD and make sure
everything you draw is snapped to grid.
A typical grid value if you were drawing a semiconductor
mask would be 0.25 or 0.1 or even 0.01 um. Most GDSII
databases are in units of microns. Other units are accept-
able but we recommend that you try to draw in units of
um, mils or mm as appropriate. Never scale your mask to
fit to a page border; always draw your mask at 1:1.
Figure A-3. In this example the user was careful to
One reason we recommend that you avoid arcs is that the
snap his polygon to the 0.5 um grid of the machine. But
he forgot that 45 degree rotation would pull his vertices
vertices of the approximation may be snapped to grid in an
off of the grid. The resulting polygon didn’t look very
ugly or unacceptable fashion.
good on the mask!.
Data Origin
You should select one of two locations for your mask
origin:
[a] locate 0,0 at the lower left extents of your data
[b] locate 0,0 at the center of your data.
Figure A-4.
Avoid drawing your mask so that it is far away from the origin [c] - this could cause problems later on. Do not draw any data
outside of the normal extents of your mask. If you must have data outside of the mask area, such as a title border, make sure it
is on a separate layer and purge that layer prior to running a translation to DXF.
Construction Lines
Prior to starting a layout create a construction layer that contains the glass out-
line, margins and other lines you may help you align your data.
In the example below, the glass outline, margin and center lines were drawn
on a layer called construct. Don’t draw these entities on your actual mask lay-
ers however.
Figure A-5.
Appendix II - 4
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD

Setting up the AutoCAD Drawing Environment cont....
UCS and VPOINT
Make sure that you set UCS (user coordinate system) to WORLD and that you do not modify the vpoint. AutoCAD modifies
the coordinates of entities entered while a different UCS is in effect. The translator may not map these to GDSII database cor-
rectly.
Layer Names
GDSII uses layer numbers from 0-63. We suggest that you do the same with your AutoCAD layer naming scheme so that there
is less chance for confusion. DXF2GDS and GDS2DXF translators do include a method of controlling AutoCAD name to GDSII
layer number mapping if needed.
No Hatching
Some designers think that they should use AutoCAD's hatch command to indicate filled areas on the mask. No! Erase all
hatching blocks wherever possible. Hatching is stored in the DXF file as lines contained in unnamed blocks. These lines will
end up on GDSII layer 0 and are of no value in the GDSII stream file. GDSII has no hatch entity. GDSII boundaries are always
considered filled so adding hatching to simulate a filled boundary is unnecessary and redundant.
Drawing Boundaries Using the Polyline
One of the two basic entities in GDSII is the boundary.
Closed -A boundary consists of a series of straight seg-
ments forming a closed area. The first and last vertex
must be the same. The inside of the boundary is solid.
Number of Vertices - A boundary may have no less
than 3 vertices and no more than 200 vertices.
self intersecting
two polygons
one polygon
(clearly illegal)
(legal)
(non-intersecting)
legal????
No Self Intersection - A boundary may not overlap on
itself nor self-intersect. However it may touch itself. A
boundary that touches itself is called a re-entrant
boundary.
AutoCAD has no boundary entity so the closest entity
that matches a closed filled area is the zero width
How a re-entrant polygon is legal.
closed polyline. This can be directly translated into a
GDSII boundary or into a fillable polygon.
Figure A-6. Polygon rules.
If at all possible use the zero width closed polyline (ZWCP) to form all of your regions.
Q. Can I use arcs as part of my ZWCP?
A. Yes, the ZWCP in AutoCAD supports arcs as part of the boundary definition. However you may wish to use some caution:
Mask making machines don’t directly support arcs so they will be fractured into small segments. For critical applications this
may be a problem. Also when the arcs are fractured the boundary may have too many segments.
Q. What is the maximum number of vertices per closed polyline?
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD
Appendix II - 5

A. It depends on the target machine or postprocessing software. Older
GDSII based tools have a limit of 200 verices per boundary. Newer
software has a much higher limit - 2048 or even 5000 sides. Before
starting your design you should check with the mask shop to see what
the limit is.
Q. Can I close a polyline with width to form a frame?
A. No don’t do this. At the start/end vertex you will normally get a self
intersecting boundary because this is first converted to a polygon. Either
Figure A-7. Left = Closed polyline with width
drawn in Auto CAD. Right = Mask data with
you will get no mask data at all or you will get a small unfilled area.
notch due to self intersection.
See illustration to right.
Polylines with Width - You can also use an AutoCAD polyline with
width. The width may vary from vertex to vertex with the following exceptions:
I do not start or end with a zero width vertex.
I do not use an arc section that changes width.
I do not close a polyline with width.
Solids - The AutoCAD solid entity may be used as long as you do not accidentally draw a bow-tie solid.
Lines and Arcs - Lines and arcs may be used to form closed boundaries, but the designer must take great care to
make sure that the endpoints snap together and that there are no hidden lines under lines. An Autolisp program
called BBPRO is available from Artwork that will interactively convert lines and arcs into zero width closed poly-
lines.
It is also possible to accidentally draw self-intersecting boundaries when using lines and arcs since the linking routine may
come to a point where the correct path to follow is ambiguous.
The Re-entrant Polyline
Re-entrant boundaries should only be drawn using zero width closed polylines; never use lines.
200 vertex limit
If you recall, a polygon may never intersect itself - i.e. never
fold back over itself. There is a special case of polygon that
does fold back to touch itself but doesn’t actually overlap.
This is called a re-entrant polygon and is often drawn when
working with mask making machines that don’t support clear
Figure A-8.
or empty polygons.
The 200 vertex limit is an artificial one imposed by the GDSII definitions. Many software developers have found this limitation
too restrictive and have developed programs that support more than 200 vertices.
For example, if you are generating GDSII data to be sent to a MEBEs fracturing software, such as CATS by Transcription
Enterprises, you may find that this fracturing software supports boundaries with vertices up to 2048 sides.
If you verify that the end user can accept more than 200 vertices, then you can go ahead and
1] draw more complicated boundaries and
2] configure Artwork's translators to support more than 200 vertices.
Appendix II - 6
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD

Drawing Paths using Polylines
In addition to the boundary, GDSII also has a PATH entity. (Some CAD
systems call a path a WIRE). These are often used in IC's to intercon-
nect boundaries representing metal pads. There are three types of
Figure A-9.
PATHS.
ASM 3500 always generates PATHS of type 0.
Characteristics of PATHS
I The GSDII path has constant width.
I It must have at least two vertices and no more than 200 vertices
I If a path bends through more than 90 degrees the corners may be
mitered - however there is no GDSII specification on the mitering
Figure A-10.
rules.
Drawing PATHS in AutoCAD
Always use the AutoCAD polyline with width. Width should be constant. You can force a polyline to have a constant width by
using the PEDIT command and setting the width.
Path Mitering
AutoCAD does not miter polylines that bend through more than 90 degrees but most CAD systems that import GDSII data
automatically apply some type of mitering. This is not under control of the translation software.
Drawing Islands and Isolated Areas
Islands are clear field areas surrounded by a dark field on the mask. They cannot be drawn in the same manner as you would
for controlling a plotter or cutting machine. AutoCAD and GDSII have no way to determine that a particular polygon interior
should be clear.
In the drawing to the right, the designer drew one boundary inside of anoth-
er [a]. Instead of getting the mask he desired [b], he got the black mask
shown in [c].
This is because GDSII fills each boundary solid independent of its relation-
Figure A-11.
ship to other boundaries. There is no such thing as an empty boundary in
GDSII.
There are a couple of ways to work around this:
Two mating boundaries
Figure A-12. These actually
You can use two separate boundaries that butt up against each other to form the
touch but are shown separat-
ed for clarity.
frame. Only use a closed polyline - if you use lines, most likely they will be
linked incorrectly to form a self intersecting boundary.
Re-entrant Boundary
Another method to realize an island is to go into the interior of your polygon and
out again via the same path. This is called a re-entrant boundary. This is best done
Figure A-13.
using a closed zero width polyline.
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD
Appendix II - 7

Text
ASM 3500 supports text but cannot pass the actual font information. You should not rely on fancy or special text fonts as many
mask making machines don’t support GDSII text at all.
Supported Text Functions:
I Rotation
I Mirroring
n Height
I Upper Case Numbers and Characters and period, comma, dash, space and slash 1234567890
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ .,- _ /
Unsupported Text Functions
I Obliquing
I Vertical
I Dynamic (i.e. fitted or where width factor not equal to 1)
I Special Characters
I Special Fonts
Notes
Just because ASM 3500 supports text and text is a valid entity in GDSII, it does not mean that all target systems will correctly
read text. Some GDSII postprocessors do not support text. Check with the mask vendor.
If you know that your target does not support text, the dxf2gds translator offers a special option called PG Text. This option
converts your strings of text into GDSII boundaries automatically so you don't have to do it.
AutoCAD txt.shx
PG font generated by ASM 3500
Using Blocks and Inserts
Blocks are very useful for repetitive data - you can nest blocks inside of blocks to minimize your drawings size.
Insertion Scale
Insert blocks at scale=1 if possible. Although GDSII and dxf2gds support blocks inserted with scale, some GDSII postproces-
sors may not support structures inserted at scale other than 1. Never insert a block with x scale different from y scale. GDSII
does not support this.
Insertion Layer
Insert all blocks on layer 0. While this is not mandatory you should note that unlike DXF, GDSII does not mark on which layer
structures are inserted.
Insertion Rotation
Do not insert blocks with rotation unless absolutely necessary. Many CAD systems that import GDSII only support rotations of
90, 180 and 270 degrees - some don't support rotation at all.
Appendix II - 8
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD

Block Names
It is good practice to use only upper case characters and numerals for block names. Many CAD systems that import
GDSII have difficulty with lower case block names - some reset the names to upper case and some fail on importa-
tion. GDSII allows up to 32 characters maximum per name.
Block Attributes
Block attributes are not passed to GDSII.
MINSERT FOR ARRAYS
AutoCAD's MINSERT command (multiple insertion of blocks) is translated to a GDSII AREF (array reference). This is a very
useful command for inserting large arrays of cells and it keeps both the DXF and GDSII database small. We suggest that if you
use this command that you:
1. Never rotate the MINSERT
2. Always make the row and column distance positive values
Although both the translator and GDSII database support both rotation and negative step sizes we have found that many other
GDSII based programs do not implement these transformations consistently. You may spend many hours chasing down weird
effects at the other end.
Circles/Arcs
Avoid using circles and arcs if possible. Although the dxf2gds translator can convert circles and arcs into GSDII data, it is not a
perfect translation because GDSII does not include an arc or circle entity. The translator will approximate your arc or circle
with a series of short segments. You have some control over this approximation. If you have many circles of the same diameter
you may want to convert your circle(s) into a block. This will reduce the size of the GDSII file.
ARCRES (Arc Resolution)
Arcres is a value in degrees that determines how many segments are generated per curve. Typical values range from 2 degrees
up to 15 degrees.
ARCSAG
ARCSAG
Arcsag is the maximum error between the ideal arc and the
segmented arc. This value always occurs at the center of each
chord as shown in the illustration. dxf2gds will then calculate
the number of segments required to produce the desired maxi-
ARCRES
mum error. A zero value of arcsag causes the translator to
ignore the setting.
Combining Arcsag and Arc Res
Figure A-14. Examples of arcsag and arcres.
The two parameters can be used together - the one that results
in the more precision will take effect.
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD
Appendix II - 9

Creating the DXF File
This step may seem simple but we often see many customer errors in simply creating the DXF file from AutoCAD.
Purge the Database
ASM 3500 translates all entities and blocks in your DXF file whether or not the layer is on, off or frozen. To minimize transla-
tion time, and to reduce the ultimate GDSII file size you should clean and purge your drawing prior to running the DXFOUT
command.
1. Erase all data on layers you do not wish to translate to GDSII.
2. Save your drawing. Open the drawing and use the Purge All command to eliminate unused layers,
blocks and fonts.
3. Repeat the preceding step over and over until no more items can be purged.
An alternative approach to purging is to use AutoCAD's WBLOCK command to create a new file containing only the entities
you wish to translate to GDSII.
DXFOUT Command
I Always DXFOUT the entire file. Never select DXFOUT "entities" as the header is not included.
Without the header dxf2gds will not run correctly.
I Do not DXFOUT binary data (DXB) - the translator cannot read this format.
I Make sure the number of significant places is enough. The default of 6 places is normally fine.
However there are exceptions where 6 places may not be enough.
Example
A typical error is creating an AutoCAD drawing in units of inches with very small dimensions - say on the order of 0.000001
inch. If you accept the standard 6 places accuracy when creating the DXF file you may have errors in your GDSII data - due to
the fact that AutoCAD stores the data internally to about 14 places but is only writing out 6 places to the DXF file.
Appendix II - 10
Drawing Design Rules for AutoCAD

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