User Guide

OpenROAD is divided into a number of tools that are orchestrated together to achieve RTL-to-GDS. As of the current implementation, the flow is divided into four stages:

  1. Logic Synthesis: is performed by yosys.
  2. Floorplanning through Detailed Routing: are performed by OpenROAD App.
  3. KLayout: GDS merge, DRC and LVS (public PDKs)

To Run OpenROAD flow, we provide scripts to automate the RTL-to-GDS stages. Alternatively, you can run the individual steps manually.

[OPTION 1] RTL-to-GDS Flow

GitHub: OpenROAD-flow

Code Organization

This repository serves as an example RTL-to-GDS flow using the OpenROAD tools.

The two main components are:

  1. tools: This directory contains the source code for the entire openroad app (via submodules) as well as other tools required for the flow. The script in this repository will automatically build the OpenROAD toolchain.
  2. flow: This directory contains reference recipes and scripts to run | designs through the flow. It also contains platforms and test designs.


The flow has the following dependencies:

  • OpenROAD
  • KLayout
  • Yosys

The dependencies can either be obtained from a pre-compiled build export or built manually. See the KLayout website for installation instructions.

Option 1: Installing build exports**

  1. Clone the OpenROAD-flow repository

    git clone --recursive
  2. Navigate to the “Releases” tab and download the latest release

  3. Extract the tar to OpenROAD-flow/tools/OpenROAD

  4. Update your shell environment


Option 2: Building the tools using docker

This build option leverages a multi-step docker flow to install the tools and dependencies to a runner image. To follow these instructions, you must have docker installed, permissions to run docker, and docker container network access enabled. This step will create a runner image tagged as openroad/flow.

  1. Clone the OpenROAD-flow repository

    git clone --recursive
  2. Ensure your docker daemon is running and docker is in your PATH, then run the docker build.

  3. Start an interactive shell in a docker container using your user credentials

    docker run -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) openroad/flow bash

Option 3: Building the tools locally**

  1. Reference the Dockerfiles and READMEs for the separate tools on the build steps and dependencies.


See the KLayout instructions for installing KLayout from source.

  1. Run the build script

  2. Update your shell environment


    klayout must be added to the path manually.

Using the flow

See the flow README for details about the flow and how to run designs through the flow.

[OPTION 2] Individual Flow Steps

Logic Synthesis




  • C++ compiler with C++11 support (up-to-date CLANG or GCC is recommended)
  • GNU Flex, GNU Bison, and GNU Make.
  • TCL, readline and libffi.

On Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential clang bison flex \
        libreadline-dev gawk tcl-dev libffi-dev git \
        graphviz xdot pkg-config python3 libboost-system-dev \
        libboost-python-dev libboost-filesystem-dev zlib1g-dev

On Mac OS X Homebrew can be used to install dependencies (from within cloned yosys repository):

$ brew tap Homebrew/bundle && brew bundle

To configure the build system to use a specific compiler, use one of

$ make config-clang
$ make config-gcc


To build Yosys simply type ‘make’ in this directory.

$ make
$ sudo make install

Synthesis Script

yosys -import

if {[info exist ::env(DC_NETLIST)]} {
exec cp $::env(DC_NETLIST) $::env(RESULTS_DIR)/1_1_yosys.v

# Don't change these unless you know what you are doing
set stat_ext    "_stat.rep"
set gl_ext      "_gl.v"
set abc_script  "+read_constr,$::env(SDC_FILE);strash;ifraig;retime,-D,{D},-M,6;strash;dch,-f;map,-p-M,1,{D},-f;topo;dnsize;buffer,-p;upsize;"

# Setup verilog include directories
set vIdirsArgs ""
if {[info exist ::env(VERILOG_INCLUDE_DIRS)]} {
    foreach dir $::env(VERILOG_INCLUDE_DIRS) {
        lappend vIdirsArgs "-I$dir"
    set vIdirsArgs [join $vIdirsArgs]

# read verilog files
foreach file $::env(VERILOG_FILES) {
    read_verilog -sv {*}$vIdirsArgs $file

# Read blackbox stubs of standard cells. This allows for standard cell (or
# structural netlist) support in the input verilog
read_verilog $::env(BLACKBOX_V_FILE)

# Apply toplevel parameters (if exist)
if {[info exist ::env(VERILOG_TOP_PARAMS)]} {
    dict for {key value} $::env(VERILOG_TOP_PARAMS) {
        chparam -set $key $value $::env(DESIGN_NAME)

# Read platform specific mapfile for OPENROAD_CLKGATE cells
if {[info exist ::env(CLKGATE_MAP_FILE)]} {
    read_verilog $::env(CLKGATE_MAP_FILE)

# Use hierarchy to automatically generate blackboxes for known memory macro.
# Pins are enumerated for proper mapping
if {[info exist ::env(BLACKBOX_MAP_TCL)]} {
    source $::env(BLACKBOX_MAP_TCL)

# generic synthesis
synth  -top $::env(DESIGN_NAME) -flatten

# Optimize the design
opt -purge

# technology mapping of latches
if {[info exist ::env(LATCH_MAP_FILE)]} {
    techmap -map $::env(LATCH_MAP_FILE)

# technology mapping of flip-flops
dfflibmap -liberty $::env(OBJECTS_DIR)/merged.lib

# Technology mapping for cells
abc -D [expr $::env(CLOCK_PERIOD) * 1000] \
    -constr "$::env(SDC_FILE)" \
    -liberty $::env(OBJECTS_DIR)/merged.lib \
    -script $abc_script \

# technology mapping of constant hi- and/or lo-drivers
hilomap -singleton \
        -hicell {*}$::env(TIEHI_CELL_AND_PORT) \
        -locell {*}$::env(TIELO_CELL_AND_PORT)

# replace undef values with defined constants
setundef -zero

# Splitting nets resolves unwanted compound assign statements in netlist (assign {..} = {..})

# insert buffer cells for pass through wires
insbuf -buf {*}$::env(MIN_BUF_CELL_AND_PORTS)

# remove unused cells and wires
opt_clean -purge

# reports
tee -o $::env(REPORTS_DIR)/synth_check.txt check
tee -o $::env(REPORTS_DIR)/synth_stat.txt stat -liberty $::env(OBJECTS_DIR)/merged.lib

# write synthesized design
write_verilog -noattr -noexpr -nohex -nodec $::env(RESULTS_DIR)/1_1_yosys.v

Initialize Floorplan

[-site site_name]          LEF site name for ROWS
[-tracks tracks_file]      routing track specification
-die_area "lx ly ux uy"    die area in microns
[-core_area "lx ly ux uy"] core area in microns
-utilization util          utilization (0-100 percent)
[-aspect_ratio ratio]      height / width, default 1.0
[-core_space space]        space around core, default 0.0 (microns)

The die area and core size used to write ROWs can be specified explicitly with the -die_area and -core_area arguments. Alternatively, the die and core area can be computed from the design size and utilization as show below:

If no -tracks file is used the routing layers from the LEF are used.

core_area = design_area / (utilization / 100)
core_width = sqrt(core_area / aspect_ratio)
core_height = core_width * aspect_ratio
core = ( core_space, core_space ) ( core_space + core_width, core_space + core_height )
die = ( 0, 0 ) ( core_width + core_space * 2, core_height + core_space * 2 )

Place pins around core boundary.

auto_place_pins pin_layer

Gate Resizer

Gate resizer commands are described below. The resizer commands stop when the design area is -max_utilization util percent of the core area. util is between 0 and 100.

set_wire_rc [-layer layer_name]
            [-resistance res ]
        [-capacitance cap]
        [-corner corner_name]

The set_wire_rc command sets the resistance and capacitance used to estimate delay of routing wires. Use -layer or -resistance and -capacitance. If -layer is used, the LEF technology resistance and area/edge capacitance values for the layer are used. The units for -resistance and -capacitance are from the first liberty file read, resistance_unit/distance_unit and liberty capacitance_unit/distance_unit. RC parasitics are added based on placed component pin locations. If there are no component locations no parasitics are added. The resistance and capacitance are per distance unit of a routing wire. Use the set_units command to check units or set_cmd_units to change units. They should represent “average” routing layer resistance and capacitance. If the set_wire_rc command is not called before resizing, the default_wireload model specified in the first liberty file or with the SDC set_wire_load command is used to make parasitics.

buffer_ports [-inputs]
        -buffer_cell buffer_cell

The buffer_ports -inputs command adds a buffer between the input and its loads. The buffer_ports -outputs adds a buffer between the port driver and the output port. If The default behavior is -inputs and -outputs if neither is specified.

resize [-libraries resize_libraries]
    [-dont_use cells]
    [-max_utilization util]

The resize command resizes gates to normalize slews.

The -libraries option specifies which libraries to use when resizing. resize_libraries defaults to all of the liberty libraries that have been read. Some designs have multiple libraries with different transistor thresholds (Vt) and are used to trade off power and speed. Chosing a low Vt library uses more power but results in a faster design after the resizing step. Use the -dont_use option to specify a list of patterns of cells to not use. For example, */DLY* says do not use cells with names that begin with DLY in all libraries.

repair_max_cap -buffer_cell buffer_cell
            [-max_utilization util]
repair_max_slew -buffer_cell buffer_cell
                [-max_utilization util]

The repair_max_cap and repair_max_slew commands repair nets with maximum capacitance or slew violations by inserting buffers in the net.

repair_max_fanout -max_fanout fanout
                -buffer_cell buffer_cell
                [-max_utilization util]

The repair_max_fanout command repairs nets with a fanout greater than fanout by inserting buffers between the driver and the loads. Buffers are located at the center of each group of loads.

repair_tie_fanout [-max_fanout fanout]

The repair_tie_fanout command repairs tie high/low nets with fanout greater than fanout by cloning the tie high/low driver. lib_port is the tie high/low port, which can be a library/cell/port name or object returned by get_lib_pins. Clones are located at the center of each group of loads.

repair_hold_violations -buffer_cell buffer_cell
                    [-max_utilization util]

The repair_hold_violations command inserts buffers to repair hold check violations.


The report_design_area command reports the area of the design’s components and the utilization.

report_floating_nets [-verbose]

The report_floating_nets command reports nets with only one pin connection. Use the -verbose flag to see the net names.

A typical resizer command file is shown below.

read_lef nlc18.lef
read_liberty nlc18.lib
read_def mea.def
read_sdc mea.sdc
set_wire_rc -layer metal2
set buffer_cell [get_lib_cell nlc18_worst/snl_bufx4]
set max_util 90
buffer_ports -buffer_cell $buffer_cell
resize -resize
repair_max_cap -buffer_cell $buffer_cell -max_utilization $max_util
repair_max_slew -buffer_cell $buffer_cell -max_utilization $max_util
# repair tie hi/low before max fanout so they don't get buffered
repair_tie_fanout -max_fanout 100 Nangate/LOGIC1_X1/Z
repair_max_fanout -max_fanout 100 -buffer_cell $buffer_cell -max_utilization $max_util
repair_hold_violations -buffer_cell $buffer_cell -max_utilization $max_util

Note that OpenSTA commands can be used to report timing metrics before or after resizing the design.

set_wire_rc -layer metal2



Timing Analysis

Timing analysis commands are documented in src/OpenSTA/doc/OpenSTA.pdf.

After the database has been read from LEF/DEF, Verilog or an OpenDB database, use the read_liberty command to read Liberty library files used by the design.

The example script below timing analyzes a database.

read_liberty liberty1.lib
read_db reg1.db
create_clock -name clk -period 10 {clk1 clk2 clk3}
set_input_delay -clock clk 0 {in1 in2}
set_output_delay -clock clk 0 out



macro_placement -global_config <global_config_file>
  • global_config : Set global config file loction. [string]

Global Config Example

set ::HALO_WIDTH_V 1
set ::HALO_WIDTH_H 1
  • HALO_WIDTH_V : Set macro’s vertical halo. [float; unit: micron]
  • HALO_WIDTH_H : Set macro’s horizontal halo. [float; unit: micron]
  • CHANNEL_WIDTH_V : Set macro’s vertical channel width. [float; unit: micron]
  • CHANNEL_WIDTH_H : Set macro’s horizontal channel width. [float; unit: micron]


Tapcell and endcap insertion.

tapcell -tapcell_master <tapcell_master>
        -endcap_master <endcap_master>
        -endcap_cpp <endcap_cpp>
        -distance <dist>
        -halo_width_x <halo_x>
        -halo_width_y <halo_y>
        -tap_nwin2_master <tap_nwin2_master>
        -tap_nwin3_master <tap_nwin3_master>
        -tap_nwout2_master <tap_nwout2_master>
        -tap_nwout3_master <tap_nwout3_master>
        -tap_nwintie_master <tap_nwintie_master>
        -tap_nwouttie_master <tap_nwouttie_master>
        -cnrcap_nwin_master <cnrcap_nwin_master>
        -cnrcap_nwout_master <cnrcap_nwout_master>
        -incnrcap_nwin_master <incnrcap_nwin_master>
        -incnrcap_nwout_master <incnrcap_nwout_master>
        -tbtie_cpp <tbtie_cpp>

You can find script examples for supported technologies tapcell/etc/scripts

Global Placement

RePlAce global placement.

global_placement -skip_initial_place
                 -bin_grid_count <grid_count>
                 -density <density>
                 -init_density_penalty <init_density_penalty>
                 -init_wirelength_coef <init_wirelength_coef>
                 -min_phi_coef <min_phi_coef>
                 -max_phi_coef <max_phi_coef>
                 -overflow <overflow>
                 -initial_place_max_iter <max_iter>
                 -initial_place_max_fanout <max_fanout>
                 -verbose_level <level>

Flow Control

  • skip_initial_place : Skip the initial placement (BiCGSTAB solving) before Nesterov placement. IP improves HPWL by ~5% on large designs. Equal to ‘-initial_place_max_iter 0’
  • incremental : Enable the incremental global placement. Users would need to tune other parameters (e.g. init_density_penalty) with pre-placed solutions.

Tuning Parameters

  • bin_grid_count : Set bin grid’s counts. Default: Defined by internal algorithm. [64,128,256,512,…, int]
  • density : Set target density. Default: 0.70 [0-1, float]
  • init_density_penalty : Set initial density penalty. Default: 8e-5 [1e-6 - 1e6, float]
  • __init_wire_length__coef__ : Set initial wirelength coefficient. Default: 0.25 [unlimited, float]
  • min_phi_coef : Set pcof_min(µ_k Lower Bound). Default: 0.95 [0.95-1.05, float]
  • max_phi_coef : Set pcof_max(µ_k Upper Bound). Default: 1.05 [1.00-1.20, float]
  • overflow : Set target overflow for termination condition. Default: 0.1 [0-1, float]
  • initial_place_max_iter : Set maximum iterations in initial place. Default: 20 [0-, int]
  • initial_place_max_fanout : Set net escape condition in initial place when ‘fanout >= initial_place_max_fanout’. Default: 200 [1-, int]

Other Options

  • verbose_level : Set verbose level for RePlAce. Default: 1 [0-10, int]

Detailed Placement

Legalize a design that has been globally placed.

legalize_placement [-constraints constraints_file]

Clock Tree Synthesis

Create clock tree subnets.

clock_tree_synthesis -root_buf <root_buf> \
                     -buf_list <tree_bufs> \
                    [-clk_nets <list_of_clk_nets>]
  • root_buffer is the master cell of the buffer that serves as root
  • buf_list is the list of master cells of the buffers that can be used for building the clock tree.
  • clk_nets is a string containing the names of the clock roots. If this parameter is ommitted, TritonCTS looks for the clock roots automatically.

Global Routing

FastRoute global route. Generate routing guides given a placed design.

fastroute -output_file out_file
        -capacity_adjustment <cap_adjust>
        -min_routing_layer <min_layer>
        -max_routing_layer <max_layer>
        -pitches_in_tile <pitches>
        -layers_adjustments <list_of_layers_to_adjust>
        -regions_adjustments <list_of_regions_to_adjust>
        -nets_alphas_priorities <list_of_alphas_per_net>
        -verbose <verbose>

Options description:

  • capacity_adjustment: Set global capacity adjustment (e.g.: -capacity_adjustment 0.3)
  • min_routing_layer: Set minimum routing layer (e.g.: -min_routing_layer 2)
  • max_routing_layer: Set maximum routing layer (e.g.: max_routing_layer 9)
  • pitches_in_tile: Set the number of pitches inside a GCell
  • layers_adjustments: Set capacity adjustment to specific layers (e.g.: -layers_adjustments {{ } …})
  • regions_adjustments: Set capacity adjustment to specific regions (e.g.: -regions_adjustments { } …})
  • nets_alphas_priorities: Set alphas for specific nets when using clock net routing (e.g.: -nets_alphas_priorities {{ } …})
  • verbose: Set verbose of report. 0 for less verbose, 1 for medium verbose, 2 for full verbose (e.g.: -verbose 1)
  • unidirectional_routing: Activate unidirectional routing (flag)
  • clock_net_routing: Activate clock net routing (flag)
  • NOTE 1: if you use the flag unidirectional_routing, the minimum routing layer will be assigned as “2” automatically
  • NOTE 2: the first routing layer of the design have index equal to 1
  • NOTE 3: if you use the flag clock_net_routing, only guides for clock nets will be generated

Detailed Routing


detailed_route -param <param_file>

Options description:

  • param_file: This file contains the parameters used to control the detailed router)