Multi-objective evolutionary algorithms (MOEAs) have received increasing interest in industry because they have proved to be powerful optimizers. Despite the great success achieved, however, MOEAs have also encountered many challenges in real-world applications. One of the main difficulties in applying MOEAs is the large number of fitness evaluations (objective calculations) that are often needed before an acceptable solution can be found. There are, in fact, several industrial situations in which fitness evaluations are computationally expensive and the time available is very short. In these applications efficient strategies to approximate the fitness function have to be adopted, looking for a trade-off between optimization performance and efficiency. This is the case in designing a complex embedded system, where it is necessary to define an optimal architecture in relation to certain performance indexes while respecting strict time-to-market constraints. This activity, known as design space exploration (DSE), is still a great challenge for the EDA (electronic design automation) community. One of the most important bottlenecks in the overall design flow of an embedded system is due to simulation. Simulation occurs at every phase of the design flow and is used to evaluate a system which is a candidate for implementation. In this paper we focus on system level design, proposing an extensive comparison of the state-of-the-art of MOEA approaches with an approach based on fuzzy approximation to speed up the evaluation of a candidate system configuration. The comparison is performed in a real case study: optimization of the performance and power dissipation of embedded architectures based on a Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) microprocessor in a mobile multimedia application domain. The results of the comparison demonstrate that the fuzzy approach outperforms in terms of both performance and efficiency the state of the art in MOEA strategies applied to DSE of a parameterized embedded system.