PowerSynth: Overview

The PowerSynth project started in 2010 when Prof. Mantooth realized that wide bandgap power module layout was too multidimensional and manual. After winning a 2009 R&D 100 Award for the world's highest temperature power module at the time, a collaborative effort with Rohm Semiconductor, Arkansas Power Electronics International, and the University of Arkansas, he and his team's research was leading the field. But, it was clearly a process in need of improvement and formalization. The PowerSynth project began with PC board layout optimization and then grew to 2D, 2.5D and now 3D power module layout generation. The project continues to this day and has been supported by the NSF GRAPES Center, the NSF POETS Center, NSF under a GOALI grant with ANSYS, and the Army Research Laboratory. Several companies have also had vital input into the tool's specifications and requirements. The listing below describes some of the details and key publications of versions of the tool that we make freely available for download. If you wish to support the PowerSynth project, please contact Prof. Alan Mantooth or Prof. Yarui Peng for more information.

PowerSynth (v1.4) won the First Place Award in ECCE 2021 Student Demo Competition (Software Track)! Demonstration title: PowerSynth an MCPMs Layout Optimization Tool (University of Arkansas), Team Members: Quang Le, Imam Al Razi, Tristan Evans, Alan Mantooth (Advisor), Yarui Peng (Advisor)

Quick Overview Video of PowerSynth (v1.4)

PowerSynth: Disclaimer

The software can be evaluated and distributed for academic research and non-commercial use. The University of Arkansas only requests that you attribute this work in your publications and presentations as appropriate in return for the free usage of the tool.

The software is provided "AS IS", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the software.

Release: PowerSynth (v1.9)

Abstract

As a critical energy-conversion system component, power semiconductor modules and their layout optimization has been identified as a crucial step in achieving the maximum performance and density for wide bandgap (WBG) technologies (i.e., GaN and SiC). New packaging technologies are also introduced to produce reliable and efficient multi-chip power module (MCPM) designs to push the current limits. The complexity of the MCPM layout is surpassing the capability of a manual, iterative design process to produce an optimum design with agile development requirements. An electronic design automation (EDA) tool called PowerSynth has been introduced with on-going research towards enhanced capabilities to speed up the optimized MCPM layout design process. As a part of this continuing research, in PowerSynth v1.9, a constraint-aware layout engine has been developed (first previewed in v1.3 as an experimental feature), which enables integrating heterogeneous components, handling complex geometry, exploring a larger solution space, improved success rate, and providing options for multi-objective optimization algorithms. The layout engine is generic, scalable, and efficient in performing electro-thermal optimizations on both 2D and 2.5D power modules. To validate these enhanced design capabilities, a 2.5D full-bridge power module layout is designed, optimized, fabricated, and tested with measurement results matching closely with model prediction. This result closes the loop in the power electronics design process with an experimentally-validated module design automation flow.

Note

This is a Non-GUI version, as the preview but stable version for the upcomming PowerSynth 2 release. For GUI release in PowerSynth 1 series, please refer to PowerSynth pre-v1.4 versions.

Related Publications

Imam Al Razi, Quang Le, Tristan Evans, Shilpi Mukherjee, H. Alan Mantooth, and Yarui Peng, "PowerSynth Design Automation Flow for Hierarchical and Heterogeneous 2.5D Multi-Chip Power Modules", IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, (accepted) 2021. [PDF]

Release (v1.9)

[Installation Package] [User Manual]

Release: PowerSynth (v1.4)

Abstract

Recent developments in EDA tools for power electronics modules have led to simultaneous analysis and optimization of package features with regard to electro-thermal and thermo-mechanical aspects. In this work, two of these EDA tools, PowerSynth and ParaPower, are linked together with a software application programming interface (API) to rapidly explore a combined electro-thermo-mechanical design space and present the user with co-optimized solutions and tradeoffs in a fraction of the time consumed using traditional analysis methods. An overview of this co-design process and its advantages over that of the traditional, iterative approach is presented along with an explanation of the methods used by the respective tools for analysis. Finally, additional considerations and constraints are introduced that ensure manufacturing feasibility and reliable operation at high voltages. A case study in co-design using these tools has been proposed for the final paper.

Related Publications

Tristan Evans, Shilpi Mukherjee, Yarui Peng, and H. Alan Mantooth, "Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Tools and Considerations for Electro-Thermo-Mechanical Co-Design of High Voltage Power Modules", in Proc. IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition, pp. 5046–5052, Oct 2020. [PDF]

Release (v1.4)

[Installation Package] [User Manual]

Release: PowerSynth (v1.3)

Abstract

PowerSynth has been developed to significantly accelerate power module design through a multi-objective layout synthesis and optimization process. It uses a series of layout generation and optimization algorithms and various electrical and thermal models to automatically synthesize power module layouts and create a Pareto surface of solutions with optimum electrical and thermal performance. Recent advanced power modules are designed with various types of components integrated on multiple device layers to minimize the parasitics and increase power density. With more compact layouts and tighter design constraints, power modules design becomes increasingly challenging because of reliability and signal integrity issues, such as partial discharge, EMI, electro migration, and noise-induced false turn-on. This paper summarizes latest PowerSynth layout engine and model improvements with an emphasis on the new reliability and signal integrity features. A generic and scalable constraint-aware layout engine is developed to process generic types of devices, traces, and connectors on power modules. Electrical models are improved from a 1D wire model to a 2D mesh model with enhanced feature sets to better capture the intrinsic layout structures and extract coupling between power and gate loops. EMI models are built on top of it to further reduce the noise analysis and qualification requirement posted on designers. Finally, a new post-layout optimization step is included in the flow as an improvement of design for manufacturability and reliability. The software development along with the hardware testing results demonstrates the latest advances in design automation for power electronics.

Related Publications

Yarui Peng, Quang Le, Imam Al Razi, Shilpi Mukherjee, Tristan Evans, and H. Alan Mantooth, "PowerSynth Progression on Layout Optimization for Reliability and Signal Integrity", IEICE Nonlinear Theory and Its Applications, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 124-144, Apr 2020, Invited Paper. [PDF]

Release (v1.3)

[Installation Package] [User Manual]

Release: PowerSynth (v1.1)

Abstract

PowerSynth is a multiobjective optimization tool for rapid design and verification of power semiconductor modules. By using reduced order models for the calculation of electrical parasitics of the layout and thermal coupling between devices, optimal trace layout and die placement can be simultaneously achieved orders of magnitude faster than conventional finite element analysis (FEA) techniques. An overview of the tool, its modeling methods, model validation, and module layout optimization are presented. The electrical and thermal models are validated against FEA simulations and physical measurements of built modules generated from the tool. The FEA comparisons are performed with FastHenry and ANSYS Icepak to evaluate electrical parasitics and thermal behavior, respectively. A sample hardware prototype based on a half-bridge circuit topology is chosen for testing. Excellent agreement between the FEA simulations, experimental measurements, and PowerSynth predictions are demonstrated. Additionally, when compared with conventional simulation runtime and workflow, PowerSynth takes considerably less computation and user time to produce several candidate layout solutions from which a designer may easily balance selected tradeoffs.

Related Publications

Tristan Evans, Quang Le, Shilpi Mukherjee, Imam Al Razi, Tom Vrotsos, Yarui Peng, and H. Alan Mantooth, "Powersynth: A Power Module Layout Generation Tool", IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 5063–5078, Jun 2019, Highlighted Paper. [PDF]

Release (v1.1)

[Installation Package] [User Manual]

PowerSynth: In Development

Abstract

We are currently developping new features for PowerSynth including a new graphical user interface and extending the layout capability to handle complicated 3D modules, flip-chip, and wirebond-less designs. Will update once a new package is released.

Related Publications

In Submission

Release (vNext)

Comming Soon!

PowerSynth: Other Publications

For publications not associated with a specific release, please refer to the publication page for the most up-to-date publication list and downloadable pdfs.