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Alessandro Girardi and Sergio Bampi

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS

Instituto de Informática
Porto Alegre - RS - Brazil

{girardi, bampi}

ABSTRACT [10]. The main difficulty encountered for widespread

usage of these tools is that they require appropriate
This paper presents a transistor sizing methodology for modeling of both devices (technology dependence) and
analog CMOS circuits that combines the physics-based circuit in order to achieve the design objectives in a
gm/ID characteristics provided by the ACM compact reasonable processing time. The choice of different circuit
model and the simulated annealing technique for the topologies to support in a method or tool is also a
circuit optimization. The methodology exploits different problem, since most approaches work with topology-based
transistor widths and lengths and provides good solutions equations, which limits the application range. The
in a reasonable CPU time, with a single technology- addition of new block topologies to the CAD system has to
dependent curve and accurate expressions for be supported, since it is a critical and often slow process
transconductance and current in all operation relgions. that requires again expert designer knowledge. The use of
The advantage of constraining the optimization within a optimization algorithms combined with design techniques
power budget is of great importance for the designer. As seems to be a good solution when applied to specific
an example, we show the optimization results obtained for applications, since a general solution most often proves to
the design of a two-stage operational amplifier. have shortcomings for fully exploiting the capabilities of
the analog CMOS technology. The main requirements of
an analog synthesis tool are: interactivity with the user,
1. INTRODUCTION flexibility for multiple topologies and reasonable response
time. The interface with an electrical simulator is also
The design of CMOS analog integrated circuits needs convenient.
skilled specialists that often used detailed knowledge of This paper describes a methodology for analog design
the device technology and models to complete the design automation that combines the simulated annealing
of blocks containing tens of transistors. The task is optimization technique, a physics-based transconductance-
demanding due to the complex relations between the to-current ratio characteristics and the electrical
design objectives (multiple and complex performance simulation in the same environment, providing even to a
specifications to be met, like bandwidth, gain, power, non-expert user a very flexible tool that is able to size
maximum offset voltage, power-supply rejection ratio, analog circuits including a broad range of constraints
etc.) and the multiple design variables (transistor sizes such as total power dissipation. The paper is organized as
and bias currents) to be set. Previous work has been done follows: Section 2 describes the proposed methodology
in the field of analog design automation to enable fast and explains the relationship between the simulated
design at the block level. Different strategies and annealing algorithm, the gm/ID technique and the ACM
approaches have been used, such as spice simulation [12], MOSFET model; in Section 3 the synthesis of a two-stage
symbolic simulation [6], artificial intelligence [4], operational amplifier is shown in order to demonstrate the
manually derived design equations [3], hierarchy and capabilities of the methodology; finally, in Section 4 we
topology selection [7] and geometric programming [8] present some conclusions.

where βi is the weighting coefficient for performance
parameter pˆ i ( X ) which is a normalized function of the
vector of independent design parameters X. This function
allows the designer to set the relative importance of
competing performance parameters, such as, for example,
a weighted relation between power and noise.
For the transistor sizing, knowledge-based equations
that describe the relations between the transistors and
specifications are needed. These equations are topology-
specific and can be used within a synthesis methodology
for the resolution of a system of non-linear equations. This
system usually has more independent variables than
equations, returning infinite solutions. If a set of design
parameters has to be minimized, then the simulated
annealing algorithm is a good option, since it exploits
most of the design space, including different transistor
Fig. 1 – gm/ID x I curve for 0.35 m CMOS technology.
lengths, which are kept fixed in most design tools.
For the circuit performance evaluation, we use a
methodology called gm/ID. The gm/ID method considers
the relationship between the ratio of the transconductance
gm over DC drain current ID and the normalized drain
Simulated annealing (SA) is a well known random search
current I = ID/(W/L) as a fundamental design tool [13],
technique which exploits an analogy between the way in

such as the curve shown in figure 1. The gm/ID

which a metal cools and freezes into a minimum energy
characteristic is related to the performance of analog
crystalline structure (the annealing process) and the
circuits, gives a clear indication of the device operation
search for a minimum of a cost function in a more general
region and provides a way for automating the calculation
system. It forms the basis of an optimization technique for
of transistors dimensions. The main advantage of this
combinatorial and other problems [9]. The use of
simulated annealing in the synthesis of analog circuits method is that only the gm/ID x I curve must be related to

was reported in previous works [5][11]. SA’s major the fabrication technology parameters, a feature that
advantage over other methods is the ability to avoid facilitates the migration to another CMOS technology. In
becoming trapped in local minima. The algorithm this work, the gm/ID x I curve is generated by electrical

employs a random search which does not only accept simulation using the ACM compact MOSFET model [2],
solutions that decrease the objective cost function fc which is also implemented in the commercial simulator
(assuming a minimization problem), but also some SMASH. This model is composed by simple expressions
changes that increase it. The latter are accepted with a to describe all regions of operation in a continuous
probability representation of the transistor current and small-signal
∆f c The symmetry of the MOSFET drain-source is

p=e T
(1) observed and a reduced number of model parameters is
used. Moreover, all the parameters have a strong physical
basis. The proposed methodology joins the SA algorithm,
where ∆fc is the increase in fc and T is a control the gm/ID technique and the ACM MOSFET model in the
parameter, which by analogy to the annealing is known as same environment in order to optimize the design of
the system ”temperature” irrespective of the objective analog circuits based on the transistor inversion
function involved. The analog circuit modeling for coefficient. The main advantage of using the SA over the
simulated annealing is straightforward. The design crude gm/ID technique is that the design space is explored
objective (e.g. minimum power and area) is called the cost in a more effective way, combining operation in weak and
function which has to be minimized and should be strong inversion to achieve optimum low-power design.
formulated appropriately. In this work we propose and use Figure 2 shows the design flow. The user enters the design
the following cost function: specifications, technology parameters and configures the
cost function according to the required design objectives.
fc = β i pˆ i ( X )

i =1

Fig. 3 – Schematics of a two-stage operational amplifier

Fig. 2 – Proposed design flow

Tab. 1 – Specifications and simulated results for the two-
The optimization loop starts with a random stage amplifier
perturbation on the design variables, whose amplitude is
defined by the current temperature. These variables are
defined by the user, and are always related to the
transistor geometry, large and small-signal parameters,
such as W, L, ID, gm and gm/ID. Following, the design
properties evaluation is performed by the calculation of
the circuit characteristics such as gain, cut-off frequency,
phase margin, power, noise, etc. This is done using circuit
specific analytical equations, the gm/ID versus I curve

and the ACM model for calculation of Early voltages,

transconductances and currents. At this point, the cost
function can be evaluated and the solution is accepted if
the cost decreased or else if the cost increased with a
probability given by equation 1. If the circuit is feasible,
i.e., transistor sizes are within an allowed range, the new 3. DESIGN EXAMPLE
solution is accepted. Otherwise, it is discarded. The next
iteration starts with a new temperature, which is The proposed design methodology was implemented in
calculated by MATLAB and applied to the synthesis of a two-stage
operational amplifier, shown in figure 3. This amplifier is
Tk +1 = αTk (3) composed by an input differential pair with active load in
the first stage and an inverter amplifier in the second
where α is a constant less than 1 and very close to this stage. A compensation capacitor is necessary for stability.
value. The index k indicates the iteration step. The process The analytical equations that describe the behavior of
ends when the temperature achieves a minimum value or this circuit are well-known [1]. In this example, we want
the variation in the cost function does not suffer relevant to size the transistors in order to achieve the design
modification related to the perturbation in the variables. specifications given in Table 1. The design objective (fc) is
The temperature schedule can be configured through the to minimize the relative area, low-frequency gain and
choice of the α parameter in order to achieve the best total DC current in the following way:
relation between time response and solution refinement.
A I DD Av0
fc = + + (4)
A0 I DD 0 Av

The drain current for these transistors can be
calculated with the information about the
transconductance-to-current ratio, which is an
independent variable:

I D1 = 



So, the aspect ratio for the input transistors is:

W I D1

L 1 I1

Fig. 4 – Cost function evolution W

W1 = ⋅ L1

L 1

Tab. 2 – Transistor sizes obtained by the optimization

procedure where I 1 is the normalized current given by the gm/ID x
I curve.
The same approach is done for the remaining
transistors. For example, the size of the transistors in the
current mirror load is:

W I D1

L 3 I 3 

W3 = ⋅ L3

L 3

The design characteristics calculation is

straightforward. The low-frequency gain is given by
% %

⋅ (VA1 + VA3 ) ⋅ ⋅ (VA5 + VA6 ) (11)

gm gm
Av =
&'( # &'( #

& # & #

$ $

1 5

The Early voltage VA is estimated using the ACM

model according to the transistor length. In this example,
the technology used is 0.35 m CMOS, the power supply
voltage is ±1.65V and the load capacitance is 10pF. The
Fig. 5 – Probability function independent variables subjected to perturbations by the
simulated annealing algorithm are: L1 = L2, L3 = L4, L5,
+ 1 7 1

Here, A is the silicon area occupied by all transistors, ,-.

gm ) 234

gm / 89:

gm 5 234

gm /

L6, L7, = , = ,
, ) 2 / 8 5 2 /

including drain and source regions (estimated), A0 is a * 0 6 0

reference area for normalization, IDD is the total consumed

ID 1 ID 2
ID 3
ID 4
7 1 1

current and Av is the low-frequency gain. The gate 89:

gm 5 234

gm / 234

gm /

, , , and the dependent

8 5 2 / 2 /

transconductance of the input differential pair is given by: 6 0 0

ID 5
ID 6
ID 7
gm1 = GBW ⋅ C f (5) parameters are W1 = W2, W3 = W4, W5, W6, W7 = W8, Cf
and bias current. The conditions L > Lmin, W > Wmin and

= = =

tool for analog CMOS circuits. IEEE Journal of Solid-State

gm gm gm
≤ ≤
>?@ ; >?@ ; >?@ ;

avoid infeasible Circuits, SC-22(6):1106–1116, December 1987.

> ; > ; > ;

< < <

ID min
ID ID max
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