A new symbolic layout methodology for large-scale data paths is proposed. Gate-level symbolic expression is adopted as a layout entry. A mask layout is automatically generated from the symbolic expression. A hierarchical design method is used in combination with a bit-slice regular structure and a performance-determining irregular structure. A 1-b field of the bit-slice structure is designed symbolically, then compacted, and finally the entire data path is generated. Performance-determining irregular macrocells, such as adders with CLA circuits, are handcrafted independently and combined with the entire data path at the final step. To achieve high density and high performance, effort is focused on optimizing the layout of the 1-b field. Iteration of the editing and compaction can be executed in a short turnaround time (TAT). By the proposed methodology, a data path containing 21K transistors in a 32-b microprocessor has been successfully produced. Design productivity has been increased tenfold, achieving a layout density equivalent to that of the handcrafted design.
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