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A VLSI design system called VIVID is the heart of a newly developed, vertically integrated design environment. This environment provides support for all phases of design from high-level system specification through on-site fabrication to construction of prototype systems. Key features already implemented include: the use of a circuit description language at the level of a silicon assembler; a fast, highly interactive combination floor planner and layout editor; fast interactive timing simulation; and layout made free from design-rule constraints by the use of virtual-grid compaction. Functional specification and verification, automated routing, standard cell layout, and semi-automated layout from schematics are being built upon the foundation formed by VIVID.