An Information-centric Design Server

Ole Bentz Graduate Student, EECS
UC Berkeley

Thursday, February 27th, 1997
Hogan Room, 531 Cory Hall
5:00-6:00 p.m.


Advances in fabrication technologies will soon enable the integration of billions of transistors on a single chip. This high level of integration allows designers to create extremely powerful and complex systems on a single die. However, the development of system design tools and methodologies is not keeping pace with the rapid advances in integration.

Systems consist of complex heterogeneous components, each of which may require significant expertise to design and optimize. Heterogeneity is found everywhere: the tools used to design each component may differ, the design methodologies vary, the optimization techniques are different, etc. In order to sustain increasing levels of productivity and lower design times, it is clear that a system design framework has to manage the heterogeneity.

One of the key system design tasks is to explore design alternatives, evaluate trade-offs, and refine the system specifications. It is desirable to explore options very early in the design process, since very little has been invested in any one particular solution. Also, the potential impact of design decisions is greatest at the early stages of design. However, there is little or no CAD support at the early, pre-specification stages of design. Consequently, designers use their own ad-hoc ways to gather results to support design decisions. If significant exploration is to take place, it is imperative that design tools, methodologies, data, etc., be organized in a manner that allows designers to ask exploratory "what if ...?" questions.

In this talk I will discuss a concept called "Information-based Design." This concept provides a model for a system design environment, specifically models for user interaction and for organizing encapsulated design expertise. I will also describe a prototype called the "Design Server" that implements this concept. The Design Server provides support for conceptual design and manages heterogeneous, design-related information.