March 1, 2005 -- Is it possible for any phrase that contains the word "system" to be precisely defined? By definition, a system is a collection of interacting items that form a unified whole. If you add the inherently complex nature of a semiconductor-based system to this all-encompassing definition, you have a real challenge when trying to define one of the hottest ongoing EDA methodologies and accompanying toolsets (i.e., electronic system level or ESL).
Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of definitions for ESL. Examples range from the specific to the overly vague. After a query of all of the major players, however, one definition receives general consensus: ESL development occurs at the next level of abstraction above RTL, which includes both hardware and software design. Jeff Jussel of Celoxica further clarifies this general definition by observing, "ESL is the area where design starts to incorporate more than simply hardware. It recognizes that a system starts at the specification. The implementation-whether in software or ASIC/FPGA or components-is driven by the needs of the end product."
By John Blyler, Chip Design magazine
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.