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System level hardware module generation

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2 Author(s)
Srivastava, M.B. ; AT&T Bell Labs., Murray Hill, NJ, USA ; Brodersen, R.W.

In complex modern day electronic systems, far more time is spent in designing the boards, writing the software to drive and integrate the hardware, and other such system level issues, than is spent in designing any application-specific ICs that may be needed. Unfortunately, most of the research in computer-aided design has been focussed on the more glamorous ASIC design problem, as a result of which the design methodologies and tools at the system level are much more primitive than at the chip level. We have developed a design framework for application-specific systems, called SIERA, that addresses the higher level aspects of system design, including multichip design issues at the board-level, and hardware-software codesign and integration, in addition to the design of individual ASICs. SIERA allows rapid-prototyping of multiboard systems where the functionality is implemented using a mix of dedicated hardware modules and ASICs, as well as software running on programmable hardware modules. A key step in the design methodology provided by SIERA is that of generating the physical implementation of the system hardware from a description of the system architecture. The analogue of this problem at the chip level is referred to as silicon assembly or silicon compilation. In this paper we address this problem at the system level, and describe how the generation and interfacing of board-level modules, board-level physical design, simulation of custom boards, and the overall management of board design are handled in SIERA. While some of the problems could be solved by adapting or extending techniques from the existing ASIC design tools, others required new approaches. Case-studies of several real-life applications are also presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the board-level physical design methodology embodied in SIERA compared to the traditional PCB design systems.<>

Published in:

Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:3 ,  Issue: 1 )