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Caltech Intermediate Format (CIF)

CIF is mostly used at universities for mask drawing and layout design. LinkCAD is the only program to import and export all known variations of CIF.

LinkCAD supports an extension to the CIF format, called Cle CIF2.0+. These are special instructions that add donuts and symbol scaling to CIF. Cle CIF2.0+ is only used by the CLE layout editor on the DOS and Windows platforms (WieWeb Software, Borne, The Netherlands).

File Structure

CIF provides a limited set of graphics primitives that are useful for describing the two-dimensional shapes on the different layers of a chip. The format allows hierarchical description, which makes the representation concise. In addition, it is a terse but human-readable text format. CIF is therefore a concise and powerful descriptive form for VLSI geometry.


  • Introduction to VLSI Systems, Carver A. Mead and Lynn A. Conway, Addison-Wesley, 1980.
  • Computer Aids for VLSI Design, Appendix B[link].

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