IBM J. Res. Dev

High-level synthesis in an industrial environment

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The use of modern hardware-description languages in the chip design process has allowed designs to be modeled at higher abstraction levels. More powerful modeling styles, such as register-transfer and behavioral level specifications, have spurred the development of high-level synthesis techniques in both industry and academia. However, despite the many research efforts, the technology is not yet in widespread use in industry. This paper presents the IBM High-Level Synthesis System (HIS), which is the first such system to be used in production in IBM. HIS synthesizes gate-level networks from VHDL models at various levels of abstraction. The main algorithms, modeling capabilities, and methodology considerations in the HIS system are presented. Results show that HIS is capable of producing implementations comparable to or better than those of the existing methodology, while shortening the design time significantly. The HIS system is currently in production use and evaluation in several IBM sites for processors and peripheral chip designs, as well as being an external commercial product.