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Multimedia systems play a central part in many human activities. Due to the significant advances in the VLSI technology, there is an increasing demand for portable multimedia appliances capable of handling advanced algorithms required in all forms of communication. Over the years, we have witnessed a steady move from standalone (or desktop) multimedia to deeply distributed multimedia systems. Whereas desktop-based systems are mainly optimized based on the performance constraints, power consumption is the key design constraint for multimedia devices that draw their energy from batteries. The overall goal of successful design is then to find the best mapping of the target multimedia application onto the architectural resources, while satisfying an imposed set of design constraints (e.g. minimum power dissipation, maximum performance) and specified QoS metrics (e.g. end-to-end latency, jitter, loss rate) which directly impact the media quality. This paper addresses a few fundamental issues that make the design process particularly challenging and offers a holistic perspective towards a coherent design methodology.