Computational Support for Multiplicity in Hierarchical Electronics Design.

Symposium on Computational Fabrication (SCF)(2022)

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While hierarchical design promises design process improvements through structures that better enable computational design, the basic model of blocks, ports, and connections lacks support for multiplicity – dealing with repeated instances of objects. In this work, we explore two extensions of that basic model to support two types of multiplicity, specifically in the context of board-level electronics where this is a common pattern. First, to support blocks that can be arbitrarily scalable across number of devices – e.g., an n-element LED array generator – we extend the existing fixed port interfaces for blocks with port arrays that can have dynamic width with automatic propagation through connections. Second, to support mapping abstract blocks in a design onto physical multipack devices – e.g., combining resistors across the design into a single quad-pack resistor device to optimize for fabrication – we introduce cross-hierarchy packing including support for shared pins. For both of these constructs, we describe the user-facing abstractions, internal representations, and compiler implementation, then demonstrate their end-to-end use through three example designs that we have fabricated and tested.
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