Icfb setup

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This tutorial is designed to help students set up their accounts in order to run Cadence 6 with the NCSU cadence design kit.


Once you have successfully logged into your account on a Linux machine, you need to take a few steps before you can start using the IC design tools. The following steps will only need to be performed once.

  • Set Bash Shell for the account
    • Login to http://www.asw.iastate.edu
    • Click on: Manage user <your net-id>
    • Click on: Set your login shell
    • Select: “/bin/bash”
    • Click on: Update Shell
    • Click on: logout
    • Note: These changes take overnight to take effect. Until that time you will need to set your shell manually by typing bash at the command promt.
  • For bash to work properly, the ~/.bashrc file should contain the following 3 lines:
if [ -f /etc/bashrc ]; then
   . /etc/bashrc
  • After making sure that these lines are present in the ~/.bashrc, type bash on the prompt, this will set your shell to bash.
  • Create a ~/.software file
    • The computer support group (CSG) has made a variety of software available for student use on the system. To enable the use of different software tools, every user needs to have a special file, .software (the “.” is required!) in their home directory customized for their use. Using a text editor of your choice, create a new file by that name in your home directory and enter the following lines in that file:
These three entries enable the use of the IC design tools with analog and digital design flow capability. You will need to log out and log in for the new file to take effect. If other tools are needed for a future lab, you may have to edit this file and add appropriate entries as directed by your TA
  • Create a ~/.bash_profile file
    • Create a file named ~/.bash_profile and enter the following lines into that file:</b>
if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then
. ~/.bashrc

  • Create a ~/cds.lib file
    • The Library Manager (to be discussed in the next section) keeps information about system-wide libraries as well as your design libraries in a special file called cds.lib (the contents of cds.lib file are case-sensitive). For better organization purposes, you will create a cds.lib in your home directory. This file will include definitions of system wide libraries as well as any library that you would like to be available for all of your projects and classes. For starters, create the file with the following contents (remember to press enter at the end of second line):
INCLUDE $CDS_SITE/cdssetup/cds.lib
DEFINE analogLib $IC/tools/dfII/etc/cdslib/artist/analogLib
The first line includes a cds.lib file created by the system administrators from another location on the system. The second line defines a library “analogLib” supplied by Cadence which includes the basic circuit elements. Except for transistors, most of your schematic components will be instantiated from this library. Cadence library names are case sensitive and spaces are not allowed. Avoid starting a library name with a number. Use underscores or mixed capitalization (e.g., analogLib is more readable than analoglib).

IMPORTANT: The following steps should be taken for every new project.

  • Create a project directory and a cds.lib file
    • It is best to organize your work into multiple directories with each directory being dedicated to a specific class or research project. We will create a new directory where all of our libraries will be stored. At the command line (in your home directory):
mkdir ee330
cd ee30
Now create a cds.lib file in the newly created directory with the following line as its contents (remember to press enter at the end of the line).
INCLUDE ~/cds.lib
This line will include the contents of our ~/cds.lib file giving you access to the common libraries defined there. Whenever you launch Cadence IC tool from ~/ee330 and create any new libraries, this file will be automatically updated to include the definitions of the new libraries. The basic setup for running the Cadence Custom IC design tools is now complete. Refer to this section whenever you start a new project and need to set up a new directory. Please log off and log in again now.
  • If it has not been overnight since you set bash as your default shell (step 1 above) then type the command bash. After making sure that you are in the correct directory (i.e., ee330 for this example) type the command icfb as shown below:

icfb &
This will start the Cadence custom IC design tool in the background. After a brief delay, Cadence should open and you can proceed to tutorials on using Cadence.