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Building blocks for digital filters are discussed. They require 0.7 mm/SUP 2/ or 3 mm/SUP 2/ per pole-zero for a dedicated and a partly programmable realization, respectively. They are realized in 6 μm NMOS technology, with 16-bit words and working at bit rates up to 10 Mbit/s. With the exclusion of data conversion, scaling will make them competitive with switched capacitor realizations for 3 μm technology, in terms of silicon area and speed. These compact results are achieved due to proper minimization in the design. The experience with the above designs is then generalized into a methodology for custom digital filters. An important concern is a hardware-minimization scheme over all design levels (algorithm, bit-serial architecture, and layout style) with efficient IC implementation and performance in mind. It leads to the possibility of an automated design. The design is supported by computer aided design tools for design verification on all levels, and for file management as well as layout. A formal design of a third-order elliptical wave digital filter demonstrates the concept. The resulting chip area is 1.8 mm/SUP 2/ in 6 μm NMOS. The simulated maximum bit rate is 5 MHz (corresponding to 312 kHz sampling rate), with a power consumption of 18 mW.