Because silicon-based technologies have matured so much in performance, yield and size, the design of highly integrated systems containing microprocessors, memory, DSP, customized logic, and RF sections — even on the same chip — has become a real possibility. This level of integration is leading to a proliferation of microcomputer-based designs in computing and non-computing applications. These systems are increasingly used in the automotive industry, medical instrumentation, networking, process control, multimedia processing, and consumer information appliances.

This new technology will make it possible for an IC designer to build complete systems on a single chip. Tools and methodologies are needed for design and validation. This paper presents important issues in regard to design tools for SoCs, addressing four aspects of SoC design technology: system modeling, system simulation and synthesis, mixed-signal design issues, and software for SoCs.