Silicon compiler

A silicon compiler is a electronic design automation software tool that is used for high-level synthesis of integrated circuits. Such tool takes a user's specification of a IC design as input and automatically generates an integrated circuit (IC) design files as output for further fabrication by the seminconductor fabrication plant or manually from discrete components. The process is sometimes referred to as hardware compilation. The silicon compiler may use vendor's Process Design Kit for the production. Silicon compilation takes place in three major steps: Use high level C to HDL converter Convert a hardware-description language such as Verilog or VHDL into logic (typically in the form of a "netlist"). Place equivalent logic gates on the IC. Silicon compilers typically use standard-cell libraries provided by manufacturers so that they do not have to worry about the actual integrated-circuit layout and can focus on the placement. Routing the standard cells together to form the desired logic. Silicon compilation was first described in 1979 by David L. Johannsen, under the guidance of his thesis adviser, Carver Mead. Johannsen, Mead, and Edmund K. Cheng subsequently founded Silicon Compilers Inc. (SCI) in 1981. Edmund Cheng designed an Ethernet Data Link Controller chip in 1981–82 using structured design methodology, in order to drive the software and circuit-library development at SCI. The project went from concept to chip specification in 3 months, and from chip specification to tape-out in 5 months. Fabricated using a 3-micron NMOS process, the chip measured 50,600 square mils in die area, and was being marketed and manufactured in volume-production by 1983 under license from SCI. John Wawrzynek at Caltech used some of the earliest silicon compilers in 1982 as part of the "Yet Another Processor Project" (YAPP), akin to YACC. In 1983–84, the SCI team designed and implemented the data-path chip used in the MicroVAX in seven months. MicroVAX's data-path chip contains the entire 32-bit processor, except its microcode store and control-store sequencer, and contains 37,000 transistors.
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