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Present day market demand for high-performance high-density portable hand-held applications has shifted the focus from 2-D planar system-on-a-chip-type single-chip solutions to alternatives such as tiled silicon and single-level embedded modules as well as 3-D die stacks. Among the various choices, finding an optimal solution for system implementation deals usually with cost, performance, power, thermal, and technological tradeoff analyses at the system conceptual level. It has been estimated that decisions made in the first 20% of the design cycle influence up to 80% of the final product cost. In this paper, we discuss realistic metrics appropriate for performance and cost tradeoff analyses both at the system conceptual level in the early stages of the design cycle and in the implementation phase, for verification. In order to validate the proposed metrics and methodology, two ubiquitous electronic systems are analyzed under various implementation schemes and the performance tradeoffs discussed. This case study is used to highlight the importance of a cost and performance tradeoff analysis early in the design flow.