This document has been prepared to serve as an introduction to design frames, a new system integration methodology for custom VLSI circuits. Design frames give an applications designer the ability to rapidly embed a prototype custom chip into an actual computer system for debugging and evaluation. They are the hardware equivalent of an operating system, giving a custom chip access to the other components of a computer system.

The report is broken up into three principal sections. The first is a reprint of a paper presented at the 1985 Chapel Hill Conference on VLSI that describes the design frame concepts and the experiments conducted to validate the ideas. The second section of the report is a detailed user's guide to a specific instance of a design frame, the Multibus Design Frame. The last section contains some details of how a Multibus Design Frame chip can be placed in Multibus-based SUN workstation running UNIX 4.2BSD. A designer wishing to use the Multibus Design Frame should find all the information required in these last two sections.

While we have chosen the Multibus due to its versatility and wide availability, the design frame concept can be applied to any system architecture. Therefore, another function of this report is to serve as a description of what is required in generating such a system building infrastructure.




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