TAU Contest 2016

TAU 2016 would like to invite students to participate in this year's contest on timing macro-modeling.

The increase in the size of modern chip designs is forcing a paradigm shift from a traditional "flat timing" model to a "hierarchical timing" model. In the new paradigm, designs may be hierarchically partitioned into sub-blocks (or macros) that are timed in isolation (out-of-context), followed by a generation of a simplified timing macro-model that is plugged at the parent level of hierarchy. This additionally enables re-use of macros and a parallel chip design and optimization environment.

The TAU 2016 contest will introduce contestants to the concept of hierarchical timing via timing macro-models. Challenges during timing macro-modeling will be highlighted. The goals of this year's TAU contest are:

  • increase awareness of timing analysis and need for timing macro-modeling;

  • encourage parallel (multithreaded, distributed) approaches;

  • introduce different macro-models and formats, including black-box and gray-box models, encapsulated in industry-standard formats;

  • create an evaluation environment to measure the performance of macro-modeling generation and usage in terms of memory, runtime, and accuracy; and

  • facilitate a unified academic timing engine in which macro-models are generated and its quality is automatically compared to the original flat-timed design.


Top performers will receive monetary prizes as well as plaques commemorating their achievements.


If you are interested in participating, please fill out the registration form by November 25th, 2015. Alternatively, you may send an email to tau <dot> contest <at> gmail <dot> com with the following information:

  • Name(s)

  • School/University

  • Contact email(s)

  • Advisor name [if applicable]

  • Team Name [optional]

Registration is now closed. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to tau.contest.

To get started and learn more about the contest topic, start by reading over contest_rules.pdf under Resources. This document will give the high-level idea of the contest topic. For in-depth details about the technical and syntax aspects, refer to contest_education.pdf and contest_file_formats.pdf.

Important Dates

All dates below are tentative. The contest is now closed. See you at TAU 2016!


Contest Winner:

Team LibAbs from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign

Members: Tin-Yin Lai, Tsung-Wei Huang, and Martin D. F. Wong

Honorable Mention:

Team iTimerM from National Chiao Tung University

Members: Pei-Yu Lee, Ting-You Yang, Wei-Chun Chang, Ya-Chu Chang, and Iris Hui-Ru Jiang

Updates and Announcements

  • March 29, 2016 [Resources]: Uploaded evaluation timing files.

  • March 24, 2016 [Resources]: Uploaded post-contest documents, including results. Congratulations to the winners!

  • February 17, 2016 [Resources]: Updated evaluation (v2) script to fix a clock pin input and added additional testing.

  • February 15, 2016 [Resources]: Updated 3 benchmarks to fix the .tau2016 files.

  • February 12, 2016 [Resources]: Updated OpenTimer to 1.0.4 to fix a bug. Please download and use the new version.

  • February 12, 2016 [Main Page]: Extended final binary submissions to February 21.

  • February 08, 2016 [Resources]: Updated OpenTimer to 1.03 to fix a bug. Please download and use the new version.

  • February 05, 2016 [Resources]: Updated netcard_iccad.tar.gz with the missing verilog file.

  • February 02, 2016 [Resources]: Clarify that evaluation thresholds for accuracy are subject to change.

  • January 29, 2016 [Resources]: Uploaded early evaluation script, sample output, and clarified that clock PI will not be queried.

  • January 29, 2016 [Resources]: Uploaded OpenTimer v1.0.2 binary. This is the official version that will be used to evaluate .libs.

  • January 25, 2016 [Resources]: Updated contest_file_formats.pdf to reflect report_slew command.

  • January 25, 2016 [Resources]: Updated contest_rules.pdf to reflect measuring slack at the PIs, and removing model size from evaluation.

  • January 22, 2016 [Resources]: Uploaded a new set of benchmarks for further testing. Warning - they are large.

  • December 17, 2015 [Resources]: Updated contest_rules.pdf to reflect querying output slews at POs in addition to slacks.

  • December 15, 2015 [Resources]: Posted a second new set of benchmarks for testing.

  • December 10, 2015 [Resources]: Posted a new set of benchmarks for testing.

  • November 25, 2015 [Main Page]: Registration is now closed. If you are still interested in participating, please send an email to tau.contest@gmail.com.

  • November 19, 2015 [Resources]: Uploaded three new benchmarks for testing.

  • November 9, 2015 [Main Page]: Extended registration for the TAU 2016 Contest to November 25. Please register!

  • October 1, 2015 [Main Page]: Official release of the TAU 2016 Contest. Please register!

  • September 25th, 2015 [Resources]: Uploaded contest documents and simple benchmark.

  • September 16th, 2015 [Main Page]: Created registration form.

  • September 9th, 2015 [Main Page]: Contest topic has been announced. Source code from previous years has been posted.

Contest Organizers

TAU logo

Jin Hu [IBM Corp.]


Contest Chair

Song Chen [Synopsys]


Xin Zhao [IBM Corp.]


Xi Chen [Synopsys]


TAU 2016 Committee (TAU 2016)

Debjit Sinha [IBM Corp.]


General Chair

Qiuyang Wu [Synopsys]


Technical Chair


For any questions, concerns, or feedback regarding the contest, please email tau <dot> contest <at> gmail <dot> com.


  • Winners of the PATMOS 2011 Contest (from NTU) for providing their source NTUTimer

  • Jobin Jacob Kavalam, Neel Gala and Nitin Chandrachoodan for providing the source code of IITimer (winner of the TAU 2013 Contest)

  • Billy Lee for providing the binary of iTimerC 2.0 (winner of the TAU 2015 Contest)

  • Tsung-Wei Huang for providing the source code of UI-Timer (winner of the TAU 2014 Contest) and the use of OpenTimer