Conference paper

System-Level Design Tools: Who Needs Them, Who has Them, and How Much Should They Cost?

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CAD vendors are always faced with the question of what tools to develop and how much can they charge for them. Designers on the other hand have real problems to solve and before investing in tools they have to assess how much a given tool will actually save them. CAD vendors and designers have to estimate the savings in design time and cost that a tool may provide and compare that with the existing way of doing things, to determine if the investment in tool creation is justified. For example, if a misguided architectural decision causes weeks of delay because of missing performance targets, then a tool for early architectural analysis may be very valuable. System-level design poses exactly these types of questions because it involves optimizations and analyses across many domains, from software, to architecture, to cycle-time, and is done very early in the design cycle where it has a profound impact. How much improvement in productivity and overall design quality (e.g., timing, area, and power) can be attained by current and future generations of system-level tools? If designers believe such improvements can be obtained, are they prepared to pay the appropriate price for the tools? Or do system-level CAD vendors still need to make believers out of designers? This panel will bring together industry experts to review the current and future industry needs for system-level design technologies as well as discuss how much saving in design time and cost such tools can hope to achieve and whether the designers believe the price is right for the return they can get.