Design space exploration
(DSE) refers to the activity of exploring design alternatives prior to implementation. The power to operate on the space of potential design candidates renders DSE useful for many engineering tasks, including rapid prototyping, optimization, and system integration. The main challenge in DSE arises from the sheer size of the design space that must be explored. Typically, a large system has millions, if not billions, of possibilities, and so enumerating every point in the design space is prohibitive. In this paper, we present a method for systematically exploring the design space in a cost-effective manner. The key idea is that many of the design candidates may be considered equivalent as far as the user is concerned, and so only a small subset of the space needs to be explored. Our approach takes the user-defined notion of equivalence, and generates
symmetry breaking predicates
to ensure that the underlying exploration engine does not sample multiple equivalent design candidates. We describe how the method is integrated into our DSE framework,
, which uses an SMT solver to solve a set of global design constraints and search for valid design instances.