Why are Graph Neural Networks Effective for EDA Problems?

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In this paper, we discuss the source of effectiveness of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) in EDA, particularly in the VLSI design automation domain. We argue that the effectiveness comes from the fact that GNNs implicitly embed the prior knowledge and inductive biases associated with given VLSI tasks, which is one of the three approaches to make a learning algorithm physics-informed. These inductive biases are different to those common used in GNNs designed for other structured data, such as social networks and citation networks. We will illustrate this principle with several recent GNN examples in the VLSI domain, including predictive tasks such as switching activity prediction, timing prediction, parasitics prediction, layout symmetry prediction, as well as optimization tasks such as gate sizing and macro and cell transistor placement. We will also discuss the challenges of applications of GNN and the opportunity of applying self-supervised learning techniques with GNN for VLSI optimization.



Siddhartha Nath (NVIDIA)
Hao Chen (University of Texas at Austin)

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