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Design Rule Check: All You Need To Know

What is Design Rule Check (DRC)?

Design Rule Check is an automated process that verifies whether a chip layout or PCB design complies with a set of predefined design rules. These rules are established by semiconductor foundries, PCB manufacturers, and design teams to ensure that the design can be successfully manufactured and will function as intended.

DRC helps identify and prevent potential issues such as:
– Minimum feature sizes
– Spacing violations
– Antenna effects
– Electromigration
– Latchup
– Stress and strain-induced failures

By catching these issues early in the design process, DRC saves time and money by reducing the need for costly redesigns and manufacturing defects.

Types of Design Rule Checks

There are several types of design rule checks that can be performed, depending on the specific requirements of the manufacturing process and the design itself. Some common types of DRC include:

  1. Geometric DRC: Checks for minimum feature sizes, spacing, and overlap violations between different layers of the design.

  2. Electrical DRC: Verifies that the design meets electrical requirements such as current density, voltage drop, and electromigration limits.

  3. Antenna DRC: Checks for antenna effects that can cause damage to the chip during the manufacturing process.

  4. Latchup DRC: Ensures that the design is resistant to latchup, a condition where a parasitic thyristor is inadvertently created, causing a short circuit.

  5. Stress and Strain DRC: Analyzes the mechanical stress and strain on the chip or PCB caused by thermal expansion, packaging, and other factors.

Implementing DRC in Your Design Workflow

To effectively implement DRC in your design workflow, follow these best practices:

1. Understand the Design Rules

Before starting your design, thoroughly review and understand the design rules provided by your semiconductor foundry or PCB manufacturer. These rules will specify the minimum feature sizes, spacing requirements, and other constraints that your design must adhere to.

2. Use DRC-Aware Design Tools

Choose EDA tools that have built-in DRC capabilities or can integrate with standalone DRC tools. This will allow you to perform DRC checks throughout the design process, rather than waiting until the end.

3. Run DRC Early and Often

Don’t wait until your design is complete to run DRC. Instead, run DRC checks at regular intervals during the design process. This will help you catch and fix issues early on, reducing the need for time-consuming redesigns later.

4. Analyze and Fix DRC Violations

When DRC reports violations, carefully analyze each one to determine the root cause. Work with your team to develop a plan for fixing the violations, prioritizing those that have the greatest impact on manufacturability and reliability.

5. Document and Share DRC Results

Create detailed reports of your DRC results, including the specific violations found, their locations, and the steps taken to resolve them. Share these reports with your team and stakeholders to ensure everyone is aware of the design’s status and any outstanding issues.

DRC Tools and Formats

There are several popular DRC tools and formats used in the industry, including:

Tool/Format Description
Calibre A comprehensive DRC tool from Mentor Graphics that supports a wide range of design rules and formats.
Assura Cadence’s DRC tool that integrates with their Virtuoso IC design platform.
Hercules Synopsys’ DRC tool that offers fast, scalable, and customizable design rule checking.
GDSII A popular binary format for representing IC layouts, which can be used as input for DRC tools.
OASIS An open standard format for representing IC layouts, designed to be more efficient than GDSII.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What happens if I don’t run DRC on my design?

If you don’t run DRC on your design, you risk manufacturing defects, reliability issues, and potentially costly redesigns. DRC helps catch problems early in the design process, saving time and money in the long run.

2. How long does DRC take to run?

The time required for DRC depends on the complexity of your design and the number of rules being checked. Simple designs may take just a few minutes, while complex designs can take several hours or even days.

3. Can I customize the design rules for my specific project?

Yes, most DRC tools allow you to customize the design rules to fit your specific project requirements. However, it’s essential to work closely with your semiconductor foundry or PCB manufacturer to ensure that your custom rules are compatible with their manufacturing processes.

4. What should I do if DRC reports a large number of violations?

If DRC reports a large number of violations, prioritize fixing the most critical ones first. Work with your team to develop a plan for addressing the remaining violations, focusing on those that have the greatest impact on manufacturability and reliability.

5. Can DRC guarantee that my design will be manufacturable?

While DRC is an essential tool for ensuring manufacturability, it cannot guarantee that your design will be manufacturable. There may be issues that DRC cannot catch, such as process variations or unexpected interactions between different parts of the design. However, by running DRC and following best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of manufacturing defects and reliability issues.


Design Rule Check is a critical step in the electronic design automation process, helping ensure the manufacturability and reliability of integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. By understanding the different types of DRC, implementing best practices in your design workflow, and using the right tools and formats, you can catch and fix potential issues early in the design process, saving time and money in the long run.

Remember to work closely with your semiconductor foundry or PCB manufacturer, customize your design rules as needed, and run DRC early and often throughout the design process. By following these guidelines and staying up-to-date with the latest DRC techniques and tools, you can create designs that are both innovative and manufacturable.