I did not find a tag for asking questions related to Digital design - Frontend / Backend(Physical) on StackExchange. So I proposed one there on area51. So for time being asking my question here -

1]I am looking for a book on Physical Design/Backend design for beginners. I am basically a software developer,having overview(no hands-on) of Digital design process(both frontend and backend). But now as part of job, I have to start contributing by doing "real work" on Physical design for a SoC. What book would explain in detail, almost all aspects of Physical Design, in a step by step kind of manner.

If you point of any other reading material like blogs/IEEE-papers/websites/forums which talk about physical design would also help me.

Thank You.


  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "Frontend", "Backend"? Never heard those particular terms. With Circuit board design, there is the schematic and PCB stage. With embedded logic/ASIC work, there is HDL, layout, and routing. Can you be more specific? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2010 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ 'Backend' usually refers to the synthesis, place & route etc of the RTL for an ASIC. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marty
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


Books that I recommend:

       Address = {New York, {NY}},
       Author = {Kahng, Andrew B. and Lienig, Jens and Markov, Igor L. and Hu, Jin},
       Publisher = {Springer Science+Business Media, {B.V.}},
       Title = {{VLSI} Physical Design: From Graph Partitioning to Timing Closure},
       Year = {2011}}

       Address = {Boca Raton, {FL}},
       Author = {Alpert, Charles J. and Mehta, Dinesh P. and Sapatnekar, Sachin S.},
       Publisher = {{CRC} Press},
       Title = {Handbook of Algorithms for Physical Design Automation},
       Year = {2009}}

"Alpert2009" (LaTeX reference key) is an awesome book. However, it may be too advance for beginners, especially if they have no adequate experiences in digital VLSI design (from RTL to layout) or appropriate background in computer science and mathematics for EE majors/graduates.

Here are general EDA books that also covers topics in physical design.

       Address = {Burlington, {MA}},
       Author = {Wang, Laung-Terng and Chang, Yao-Wen and Cheng, Kwang-Ting (Tim)},
       Publisher = {Morgan Kaufmann},
       Series = {Morgan Kaufmann Series in Systems on Silicon},
       Title = {Electronic Design Automation: Synthesis, Verification, and Test},
       Year = {2009}}

       Address = {Boca Raton, {FL}},
       Author = {Scheffer, Louis and Lavagno, Luciano and Martin, Grant},
       Publisher = {{CRC} Press},
       Series = {Electronic Design Automation for Integrated Circuits Handbook},
       Title = {{EDA} for {IC} Implementation, Circuit Design, and Process Technology},
       Volume = {2},
       Year = {2006}}

Some classic old books.

       Address = {Chichester, West Sussex, England, {UK}},
       Author = {Gerez, Sabih H.},
       Publisher = {John Wiley {\rm \&} Sons},
       Title = {Algorithms for {VLSI} Design Automation},
       Year = {1999}}

       Address = {Singapore},
       Author = {Sait, Sadiq M. and Youssef, Habib},
       Publisher = {World Scientific Publishing},
       Series = {Lecture Notes Series on Computing},
       Title = {{VLSI} Physical Design Automation: Theory and Practice},
       Volume = {6},
       Year = {1999}}

       Address = {New York, {NY}},
       Author = {Sarrafzadeh, Majid and Wong, C. K.},
       Publisher = {McGraw-Hill},
       Series = {McGraw-Hill Series in Computer Science},
       Title = {An Introduction to {VLSI} Physical Design},
       Year = {1996}}

       Address = {Norwell, {MA}},
       Author = {Sherwani, Naveed A.},
       Edition = {Third},
       Publisher = {Kluwer Academic Publishers},
       Title = {Algorithms for {VLSI} Physical Design Automation},
       Year = {2003}}

P/S: Ask any Ph.D. student working on physical design for recommendations, especially those who are close to defending their thesis, or about to take or just took their Ph.D. qualifying exam.


Any standard academic book on verilog/vhdl should give you an introduction (and more) into the frontend(RTL) design.But in my opinion the backend(VLSI CAD) is too specialized an area (and EDA tool/vendor specific) to study from a book and then go on to do "real work".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Then how do you study it? What are the resources on "backend design" that will allow you to do "real work"? \$\endgroup\$
    – bjarkef
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not too sure; I'm into software side of electronics myself.I would imagine having a look at the curriculum of graduate course on VLSI would be a good starting point. \$\endgroup\$
    – itisravi
    Sep 3, 2010 at 3:55

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