Caltech Intermediate Form
|Type of format||EDA file format|
Caltech Intermediate Form (CIF) is a file format for describing integrated circuits. CIF provides a limited set of graphics primitives that are useful for describing the two-dimensional shapes on the different layers of a chip. The format allows hierarchical description, which makes the representation concise. In addition, it is a terse but human-readable text format.
Each statement in CIF consists of a keyword or letter followed by parameters and terminated with a semicolon. Spaces must separate the parameters but there are no restrictions on the number of statements per line or of the particular columns of any field. Comments can be inserted anywhere by enclosing them in parentheses.
There are only a few CIF statements and they fall into one of two categories: geometry or control.
The geometry statements are:
LAYER to switch mask layers,
BOX to draw a
WIRE to draw a path,
ROUNDFLASH to draw a circle,
POLYGON to draw an arbitrary
CALL to draw a subroutine of other geometry statements.
The control statements are
DS to start the definition of a subroutine,
DF to finish the
definition of a subroutine,
DD to delete the definition of subroutines,
include additional user-specified information, and
END to terminate a CIF file.
All of these keywords are usually abbreviated to one or two letters that are unique.
LAYER statement (or the letter
L) sets the mask layer to be used
for all subsequent geometry until the next such statement.
LAYER keyword comes a single layer-name parameter.
For example, the command:
sets the layer to be the CMOS contact cut (see Fig. B.1 for some typical MOS layer names).
||CMOS metal 1|
||CMOS metal 2|
|FIGURE B.1 CIF layer names for MOS processes.|
BOX statement (or the letter
B) is the most commonly used way of
It describes a rectangle by giving its length, width, center position, and an optional rotation.
The format is as follows:
B length width xpos ypos [rotation] ;
Without the rotation field, the four numbers specify a box the center of which is
at (xpos, ypos) and is length across in x and width tall in y.
All numbers in CIF are integers that refer to centimicrons of distance, unless subroutine
scaling is specified (described later).
The optional rotation field contains two numbers that define a vector endpoint
starting at the origin.
The default value of this field is (1, 0), which is a right-pointing vector.
Thus the rotation clause
10 5 defines a 26.6-degree counterclockwise rotation from the normal.
10 -10 will rotate clockwise by 45 degrees.
Note that the magnitude of this rotation vector has no meaning.
WIRE statement (or the letter
W) is used to construct a
path that runs between a set of points.
The path can have a nonzero width and has rounded corners.
WIRE keyword comes the width value and then an arbitrary
number of coordinate pairs that describe the endpoints.
Figure B.2 shows a sample wire.
Note that the endpoint and corner rounding are implicitly handled.
ROUNDFLASH statement (or the letter
R) draws a filled
circle, given the diameter and the center coordinate. For example, the statement:
R 20 30 40;
will draw a circle that has a radius of 10 (diameter of 20), centered at (30, 40).
POLYGON statement (or the letter
P) takes a series of
coordinate pairs and draws a filled polygon from them.
Since filled polygons must be closed, the first and last coordinate points are
implicitly connected and need not be the same.
Polygons can be arbitrarily complex, including concavity and self-intersection.
Figure B.3 illustrates a polygon statement.
CALL statement (or the letter
C) invokes a collection
of other statements that have been packaged with
All subroutines are given numbers when they are defined and these numbers are used in
CALL to identify them.
If, for example, a
LAYER statement and a
BOX statement are
packaged into subroutine 4, then the statement:
will cause the box to be drawn on that layer.
In addition to simply invoking the subroutine, a
CALL statement can include
transformations to affect the geometry inside the subroutine.
Three transformations can be applied to a subroutine in CIF: translation, rotation, and mirroring.
Translation is specified as the letter
T followed by an x, y offset.
These offsets will be added to all coordinates in the subroutine, to translate its
graphics across the mask.
Rotation is specified as the letter
R followed by an x, y vector endpoint
that, much like the rotation clause in the
BOX statement, defines a line to the origin.
The unrotated line has the endpoint (1, 0), which points to the right.
Mirroring is available in two forms:
MX to mirror in x and
MY to mirror in y.
Mirroring is a bit confusing, because
MX causes a negation of the x
coordinate, which effectively mirrors about the y axis.
Any number of transformations can be applied to an object and their listed order is the sequence that will be used to apply them. Figure B.4 shows some examples, illustrating the importance of ordering the transformations (notice that Figs. B.4c and B.4d produce different results by rearranging the transformations).
Defining subroutines for use in a
CALL statement is quite simple.
The statements to be packaged are enclosed between
DF (definition finish) statements.
Arguments to the
DS statement are the subroutine number and a subroutine scaling factor.
There are no arguments to the
The scaling factor for a subroutine consists of a numerator followed by a denominator
that will be applied to all values inside the subroutine.
This scaling allows large numbers to be expressed with fewer digits and allows ease
of rescaling a design.
The scale factor cannot be changed for each invocation of the subroutine since it
is applied to the definition.
As an example, the subroutine of Fig. B.4 can be described formally as follows:
DS 10 20 2; B10 20 5 5; W1 5 5 10 15; DF;
Note that the scale factor is 20/2, which allows the trailing zero to be dropped from all values inside the subroutine.
Arbitrary depth of hierarchy is allowed in CIF subroutines. Forward references are allowed provided that a subroutine is defined before it is used. Thus the sequence:
DS 10; ... C 11; DF; DS 11; ... DF; C 10;
is legal, but the sequence:
C 11; DS 11; ... DF;
is not. This is because the actual invocation of subroutine 11 does not occur until after its definition in the first example.
CIF subroutines can be overwritten by deleting them and then redefining them.
DD statement (delete definition) takes a single parameter and
deletes every subroutine that has a number greater than or equal to this value.
The statement is useful when merging multiple CIF files because designs can be
defined, invoked, and deleted without causing naming conflicts.
However, it is not recommended for general use by CAD systems.
Extensions to CIF can be done with the numeric statements
Although not officially part of CIF, certain conventions have evolved for the
use of these extensions (see Fig. B.5).
||Set named node on specified layer and position|
||Place message above specified location|
||Place message below specified location|
||Place message centered at specified location|
||Place message left of specified location|
||Place message right of specified location|
||Declare cell boundary|
||Attach instance name to cell|
||Labels a signal at a location|
||Declare cell name|
||Attach instance name to cell|
||Place label in specified location|
||Place label in specified area|
|FIGURE B.5 Typical user extensions to CIF.|
The final statement in a CIF file is the
END statement (or the letter
It takes no parameters and typically does not include a semicolon.
The following is the grammar for the CIF format with cifFile being the top level grammar node.
cifFile ::= (blank* command? semi)* endCommand blank* command ::= primCommand | defDeleteCommand | defStartCommand semi (blank* primCommand? semi)* defFinishCommand primCommand ::= polygonCommand | boxCommand | roundFlashCommand | wireCommand | layerCommand | callCommand | userExtensionCommand | commentCommand polygonCommand ::= "P" path boxCommand ::= "B" integer sep integer sep point (sep point)? roundFlashCommand ::= "R" integer sep point wireCommand ::= "W" integer sep path layerCommand ::= "L" blank* shortname defStartCommand ::= "D" blank* "S" integer (sep integer sep integer)? defFinishCommand ::= "D" blank* "F" defDeleteCommand ::= "D" blank* "D" integer callCommand ::= "C" integer transformation userExtensionCommand ::= digit userText commentCommand ::= "(" commentText ")" endCommand ::= "E" transformation ::= (blank* ("T" point |"M" blank* "X" |"M" blank* "Y" |"R" point)*)* path ::= point (sep point)* point ::= sInteger sep sInteger sInteger ::= sep* "-"? integerD integer ::= sep* integerD integerD ::= digit+ shortname ::= c c? c? c? c ::= digit | upperChar userText ::= userChar* commentText ::= commentChar* | commentText "(" commentText ")" commentText semi ::= blank* ";" blank* sep ::= upperChar | blank digit ::= "0" | "1" | ... | "9" upperChar ::= "A" | "B" | ... | "Z" blank ::= any ASCII character except digit, upperChar, "-", "(", ")", or ";" userChar ::= any ASCII character except ";" commentChar ::= any ASCII character except "(" or ")"
- Computer Aids for VLSI Design - Appendix B: Caltech Intermediate Format by Steven M. Rubin
- Hon, Robert W. and Sequin, Carlo H., "A Guide to LSI Implementation," 2nd Edition, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center technical memo SSL-79-7, January 1980.