Tap cell, Decap cell and end cap cells
Well Tap CellsThese library cells connect the power and ground connections to the substrate and n-wells, respectively.
By placing well taps at regular intervals throughout the design, the n-well potential is held constant for proper electrical functioning.
The placer places the cells in accordance to the specified distances and automatically snaps
them to legal positions (which are the core sites).
End Cap CellsThese library cells do not have signal connectivity. They connect only to the power and ground rails once power rails are created in the design.
They also ensure that gaps do not occur between the well and implant layers.
This prevents DRC violations by satisfying well tie-off requirements for the core rows.
Each end of the core row, left and right, can have only one end cap cell specified. However, you
can specify a list of different end caps for inserting horizontal end cap lines, which terminate the
top and bottom boundaries of objects such as macros.
A core row can be fragmented (contains gaps), since rows do not intersect objects such as power
domains. For this, the tool places end cap cells on both ends of the unfragmented segment.
Decap cells:cells are temporary capacitors added in the design between power and ground rails to counter functional failures due to dynamic IR drop.Dynamic I.R. drop happens at the active edge of the clock at which a high percentage of Sequential and Digital elements switch.Due to this simultaneous switching a high current is drawn from the power grid for a small duration.If the power source is far away from a flop the chances are that this flop can go into a metastable state due to IR Drop.To overcome this decaps are added. At an active edge of clock when the current requirement is high , these decaps discharge and provide boost to the power grid. One caveat in usage of decaps is that these add to leakage current. De caps are placed as fillers. The closer they are to the flop’s sequential elements, the better it is.
Decap cells are typically poly gate transistors where source and drain are connected to the ground rail, and the gate is connected to the power rail.
when there is an instantaneous switching activity the charge required moves from intrinsic and extrinsic local charge reservoirs as oppose to voltage sources. Extrinsic capacitances are decap cells placed in the design. Intrinsic capacitances are those present naturally in the circuit, such as the grid capacitance, the variable capacitance inside nearby logic, and the neighborhood loading capacitance exposed when the P or N channel are open.
One drawback of decap cells is that they are very leaky, so the more decap cells the more leakage. Another drawback, which many designers ignore, is the interaction of the decap cells with the package RLC network. Since the die is essentially a capacitor with very small R and L, and the package is a hug RL network, the more decap cells placed the more chance of tuning the circuit into its resonance frequency. That would be trouble, since both VDD and GND will be oscillating. I have seen designs fail because of this
Designers typically place decap cells near high activity clock buffers, but I recommend a decap optimization flow where tools study charge requirements at every moment in time and figure out how much decap to place at any node. This should be done while taking package models into account to ensure resonance frequency is not hit.