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We present new algorithms and provide an overall framework for the interaction of the classically separate steps of logic synthesis and physical layout in the design of VLSI circuits. Due to the continuous development of smaller sized fabrication processes and the subsequent domination of interconnect delays, the traditional separation of logical and physical design results in increasingly inaccurate cost functions and aggravates the design closure problem. Consequently, the interaction of physical and logical domains has become one of the greatest challenges in the design of VLSI circuits. To address this challenge, we propose different solutions for the control and datapath logic of a design, and show how to combine them to reach design closure.

As the sustained trend towards integrating more and more functionality into systems on a chip can be observed in all fields, their economic realization is a challenge for the chip making industry. This is, however, barely possible today, as the ability to design and verify such complex systems could not keep up with the rapid technological development. Owing to this productivity gap, a design methodology, mainly using pre designed and pre verifying blocks, is mandatory. The availability of such blocks, meeting the highest possible quality standards, is decisive for its success. Cost-effective, this can only be achieved by formal verification on the block-level, namely by checking properties, ranging over finite intervals of time. As this verification approach is based on constructing and solving Boolean equivalence problems, it allows for using backtrack search procedures, such as SAT. Recent improvements of the latter are responsible for its high capacity. Still, the verification of some classes of hardware designs, enjoying regular substructures or complex arithmetic data paths, is difficult and often intractable. For regular designs, this is mainly due to individual treatment of symmetrical parts of the search space by backtrack search procedures used. One approach to tackle these deficiencies, is to exploit the regular structure for problem reduction on the register transfer level (RTL). This work describes a new approach for property checking on the RTL, preserving the problem inherent structure for subsequent reduction. The reduction is based on eliminating symmetrical parts from bitvector functions, and hence, from the search space. Several approaches for symmetry reduction in search problems, based on invariance of a function under permutation of variables, have been previously proposed. Unfortunately, our investigations did not reveal this kind of symmetry in relevant cases. Instead, we propose a reduction based on symmetrical values, as we encounter them much more frequently in our industrial examples. Let \(f\) be a Boolean function. The values \(0\) and \(1\) are symmetrical values for a variable \(x\) in \(f\) iff there is a variable permutation \(\pi\) of the variables of \(f\), fixing \(x\), such that \(f|_{x=0} = \pi(f|_{x=1})\). Then the question whether \(f=1\) holds is independent from this variable, and it can be removed. By iterative application of this approach to all variables of \(f\), they are either all removed, leaving \(f=1\) or \(f=0\) trivially, or there is a variable \(x'\) with no such \(\pi\). The latter leads to the conclusion that \(f=1\) does not hold, as we found a counter-example either with \(x'=0\), or \(x'=1\). Extending this basic idea to vectors of variables, allows to elevate it to the RTL. There, self similarities in the function representation, resulting from the regular structure preserved, can be exploited, and as a consequence, symmetrical bitvector values can be found syntactically. In particular, bitvector term-rewriting techniques, isomorphism procedures for specially manipulated term graphs, and combinations thereof, are proposed. This approach dramatically reduces the computational effort needed for functional verification on the block-level and, in particular, for the important problem class of regular designs. It allows the verification of industrial designs previously intractable. The main contributions of this work are in providing a framework for dealing with bitvector functions algebraically, a concise description of bounded model checking on the register transfer level, as well as new reduction techniques and new approaches for finding and exploiting symmetrical values in bitvector functions.