Gabe Moretti, EE Times(02/09/2009 12:00 AM EST)
Electronic System Level (ESL) design is a 21st century phenomenon. Although other disciplines that have used computer-aided-design methods have done system-level design for years, electronic designers have begun to employ this method only recently. From the very beginning of the industrial semiconductor era, now over fifty years old, engineers have paid more attention to structures in silicon than to system architecture. Methods have grown bottom-up, from mylar strips to gates, to registers, to functional blocks. EDA tools have naturally followed the same evolution.
The phenomenal progress of semiconductor fabrication processes that in general allowed engineers to double the number of transistors on the same silicon area every other year or so, known popularly as Moore's Law, made it possible to increase the complexity of designs that could be implemented on the same die. The size of designs first outgrew what a single human brain could comprehend when considering only logic gates, and finally what could be described using register transfer level (RTL) methods. What is not often remembered is that it took approximately 25 years for engineers to begin using hardware description languages to design ICs, and approximately another 25 years before the first use of system-level languages.
Click here to read more ...