The Synthesis Approach to Digital System Design
Over the past decade there has been a dramatic change in the role played by design automation for electronic systems. Ten years ago, integrated circuit (IC) designers were content to use the computer for circuit, logic, and limited amounts of high-level simulation, as well as for capturing the digitized mask layouts used for IC manufacture. The tools were only aids to design-the designer could always find a way to implement the chip or board manually if the tools failed or if they did not give acceptable results. Today, however, design technology plays an indispensable role in the design ofelectronic systems and is critical to achieving time-to-market, cost, and performance targets. In less than ten years, designers have come to rely on automatic or semi automatic CAD systems for the physical design ofcomplex ICs containing over a million transistors. In the past three years, practical logic synthesis systems that take into account both cost and performance have become a commercial reality and many designers have already relinquished control ofthe logic netlist level of design to automatic computer aids. To date, only in certain well-defined areas, especially digital signal process ing and telecommunications. have higher-level design methods and tools found significant success. However, the forces of time-to-market and growing system complexity will demand the broad-based adoption of high-level, automated methods and tools over the next few years.