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Published August 12, 2002 | Submitted
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Silicon Compilation


Modern integrated circuits are among the most complex systems designed by man. Although we have seen a rapid increase in fabrication technology, traditional design methodologies have not evolved at a rate commensurate with the increasing design complexity potential. These circuit design methodologies fail when applied to Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuit design. This thesis proposes a new design methodology which manages the complexity VLSI design, allowing economical generation of correctly functioning circuits. Cost is one measurement of a design methodology's value. A good design methodology rapidly and efficiently translates high level system specifications into working parts. Traditional techniques partition the translation process into many steps: each design tool is focused upon one of these design steps. This partitioning precludes the consideration of global constraints, and introduces a literal explosion of data being transfered between design steps. The design process becomes error-prone and time consuming. The technique of silicon compilation presented in this thesis automatically translates from high level specifications into correct geometric descriptions. In this approach, the designer interacts at a high level of abstraction, and need not be concerned with lower levels of detail, facilitating exploration of alternate system architectures. Furthermore, since the implementation is algorithmically generated, chip descriptions can be made correct by construction. Finally, the user is given technology independence, because the high level specification need not require knowledge of fabrication details. This flexibility allows the user to take advantage of technology advances. This thesis explores various aspects of silicon compilation, and presents a prototype compiler, Bristle Blocks. The methodology is demonstrated through the design of several chips. The practicality of the methodology results from the concern for efficiency of the design process and of the chip designs produced by the system.

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