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The Science of Synthesis

Comments(0)Filed under: Logic Design, Synthesis, RTL compiler, cadence, optimization, synopsys, rc

I am passionate about synthesis. Almost 20 years ago I began using Synopsys "Logic Compiler" to do combinational synthesis and optimization from Verilog RTL. At that time it did not support sequential constructs so Flip-Flops had to be manually instantiated in the netlist.

Synthesis has matured and advanced considerably in the past couple of decades to the point where even hardcore custom designers are migrating more and more logic to automated tools.

Until recently, synthesis tools relied on algorithms developed at Berkeley labs in the late 80's. High level Boolean optimization (remember Karnaugh maps?) was done to reduce the number of logic levels, equation terms, etc. This works well for reducing area, however, it is not done in a timing-aware context and therefore may not give the best starting point for timing optimization. Some synthesis tools still rely on this today.

Cadence Encounter RTL Compiler (RC), however, uses a different approach to high level optimization called "Global Synthesis". High level optimization (before mapping to technology gates) is done in a timing, power, area and physically-aware context. RC pre-analyzes the technology and physical libraries to determine typical gate and wiring delays for the target technology of the device. Global Synthesis does high-level optimization such as structuring, resource sharing, speculation, etc. fully aware of timing and physical properties, with power, area, and yield as cost functions. This gives a much better starting point for technology mapping and optimization, which results in a better netlist for place and route.

So, next time you execute the "synthesize" command in RC, remember, its not just synthesis as usual, its science!

For more information, we have a white paper..

http://www.cadence.com/rl/Resources/white_papers/global_synthesis_WP.pdf

Also, you can check out our global synthesis patents, they are 6,470,486 and 6,516,453

(http://www.uspto.gov/).

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