Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design is based on a design flow that uses hardware description language (HDL). Most electronic design automation (EDA) tools used for ASIC flow are compatible with both Verilog and very high speed integrated circuit hardware description language (VHDL).
In this flow, the design and implementation of a logic circuit are coded in either Verilog or VHDL. Simulation is performed to check its functionality. This is followed by synthesis. Synthesis is a process of converting HDL to logic gates. After synthesis, the next step is APR (auto-place-route). APR is explained in more detail in Section 2.6.
Figure 2.1 shows a diagram of an ASIC design flow, beginning with specification of an ASIC design to register transfer level (RTL) coding and, finally, to tapeout.
Figure 2.2 indicates the beginning of the ASIC flow: the specification of a design. This is Step 1 of an ASIC design flow. The design of an ASIC chip begins here.
Specification is the most important portion of an ASIC design flow. In this step, the features and functionalities of an ASIC chip are defined. Chip planning is also performed in this step.
During this process, architecture and microarchitecture are derived from the required features and functionalities. This derivation is especially important, as the architecture of a design plays an important role in determining the performance capabilities and silicon area utilization.