Hardware description language

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In computer engineering, a hardware description language (HDL) is a specialized computer language used to describe the structure and behavior of electronic circuits, and most commonly, digital logic circuits.

Computer engineering discipline integrating computer science and electrical engineering to develop computer hardware and software

Computer engineering is a branch of engineering that integrates several fields of computer science and electronic engineering required to develop computer hardware and software. Computer engineers usually have training in electronic engineering, software design, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronic engineering. Computer engineers are involved in many hardware and software aspects of computing, from the design of individual microcontrollers, microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers, to circuit design. This field of engineering not only focuses on how computer systems themselves work but also how they integrate into the larger picture.

A 'computer language' is a system of communication with a computer.

Electronic circuit electrical circuit with active components such as transistors, valves and integrated circuits; electrical network that contains active electronic components, generally nonlinear and require complex design and analysis tools

An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. To be referred to as electronic, rather than electrical, generally at least one active component must be present. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.

Contents

A hardware description language enables a precise, formal description of an electronic circuit that allows for the automated analysis and simulation of an electronic circuit. It also allows for the synthesis of a HDL description into a netlist (a specification of physical electronic components and how they are connected together), which can then be placed and routed to produce the set of masks used to create an integrated circuit.

Formal language set of strings of symbols that may be constrained by rules that are specific to it; words whose letters are taken from an alphabet and are well-formed according to a specific set of rules

In mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of words whose letters are taken from an alphabet and are well-formed according to a specific set of rules.

Electronic circuit simulation circuit behavior replication; uses mathematical models to replicate the behavior of an actual electronic device or circuit

Electronic circuit simulation uses mathematical models to replicate the behavior of an actual electronic device or circuit. Simulation software allows for modeling of circuit operation and is an invaluable analysis tool. Due to its highly accurate modeling capability, many colleges and universities use this type of software for the teaching of electronics technician and electronics engineering programs. Electronics simulation software engages the user by integrating him or her into the learning experience. These kinds of interactions actively engage learners to analyze, synthesize, organize, and evaluate content and result in learners constructing their own knowledge.

In electronics, logic synthesis is a process by which an abstract specification of desired circuit behavior, typically at register transfer level (RTL), is turned into a design implementation in terms of logic gates, typically by a computer program called a synthesis tool. Common examples of this process include synthesis of designs specified in hardware description languages, including VHDL and Verilog. Some synthesis tools generate bitstreams for programmable logic devices such as PALs or FPGAs, while others target the creation of ASICs. Logic synthesis is one aspect of electronic design automation.

A hardware description language looks much like a programming language such as C; it is a textual description consisting of expressions, statements and control structures. One important difference between most programming languages and HDLs is that HDLs explicitly include the notion of time.

Programming language Language designed to communicate instructions to a machine

A programming language is a formal language, which comprises a set of instructions that produce various kinds of output. Programming languages are used in computer programming to implement algorithms.

C (programming language) general-purpose programming language

C is a general-purpose, procedural computer programming language supporting structured programming, lexical variable scope, and recursion, while a static type system prevents unintended operations. By design, C provides constructs that map efficiently to typical machine instructions and has found lasting use in applications previously coded in assembly language. Such applications include operating systems and various application software for computers, from supercomputers to embedded systems.

HDLs form an integral part of electronic design automation (EDA) systems, especially for complex circuits, such as application-specific integrated circuits, microprocessors, and programmable logic devices.

Electronic design automation (EDA), also referred to as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD), is a category of software tools for designing electronic systems such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The tools work together in a design flow that chip designers use to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips. Since a modern semiconductor chip can have billions of components, EDA tools are essential for their design.

Application-specific integrated circuit Integrated circuit customized (typically optimized) for a specific task

An application-specific integrated circuit is an integrated circuit (IC) customized for a particular use, rather than intended for general-purpose use. For example, a chip designed to run in a digital voice recorder or a high-efficiency bitcoin miner is an ASIC. Application-specific standard products (ASSPs) are intermediate between ASICs and industry standard integrated circuits like the 7400 series or the 4000 series.

Microprocessor Computer processor contained on an integrated-circuit chip

A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock driven, register based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory and provides results as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system.

Motivation

Due to the exploding complexity of digital electronic circuits since the 1970s (see Moore's law), circuit designers needed digital logic descriptions to be performed at a high level without being tied to a specific electronic technology, such as CMOS or BJT. HDLs were created to implement register-transfer level abstraction, a model of the data flow and timing of a circuit. [1]

Moores law Heuristic law stating that the number of transistors on a circuit doubles every two years

Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and CEO of Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.4%.

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-Ali metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuits (ICs), including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for several analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

In digital circuit design, register-transfer level (RTL) is a design abstraction which models a synchronous digital circuit in terms of the flow of digital signals (data) between hardware registers, and the logical operations performed on those signals.

There are two major hardware description languages: VHDL and Verilog. There are different types of description in them "dataflow, behavioral and structural". Example of dataflow of VHDL:

VHDL hardware description language

VHDL (VHSIC-HDL) is a hardware description language used in electronic design automation to describe digital and mixed-signal systems such as field-programmable gate arrays and integrated circuits. VHDL can also be used as a general purpose parallel programming language.

Verilog, standardized as IEEE 1364, is a hardware description language (HDL) used to model electronic systems. It is most commonly used in the design and verification of digital circuits at the register-transfer level of abstraction. It is also used in the verification of analog circuits and mixed-signal circuits, as well as in the design of genetic circuits. In 2009, the Verilog standard was merged into the SystemVerilog standard, creating IEEE Standard 1800-2009. Since then, Verilog is officially part of the SystemVerilog language. The current version is IEEE standard 1800-2017.

LIBRARYIEEE;USEIEEE.STD_LOGIC_1164.ALL;ENTITYnot1ISPORT(a:INSTD_LOGIC;b:OUTSTD_LOGIC;);ENDnot1;ARCHITECTUREbehavioralOFnot1ISBEGINb<=NOTa;ENDbehavioral;

Structure of HDL

HDLs are standard text-based expressions of the structure of electronic systems and their behaviour over time. Like concurrent programming languages, HDL syntax and semantics include explicit notations for expressing concurrency. However, in contrast to most software programming languages, HDLs also include an explicit notion of time, which is a primary attribute of hardware. Languages whose only characteristic is to express circuit connectivity between a hierarchy of blocks are properly classified as netlist languages used in electric computer-aided design (CAD). HDL can be used to express designs in structural, behavioral or register-transfer-level architectures for the same circuit functionality; in the latter two cases the synthesizer decides the architecture and logic gate layout.

HDLs are used to write executable specifications for hardware. A program designed to implement the underlying semantics of the language statements and simulate the progress of time provides the hardware designer with the ability to model a piece of hardware before it is created physically. It is this executability that gives HDLs the illusion of being programming languages, when they are more precisely classified as specification languages or modeling languages. Simulators capable of supporting discrete-event (digital) and continuous-time (analog) modeling exist, and HDLs targeted for each are available.

Comparison with control-flow languages

It is certainly possible to represent hardware semantics using traditional programming languages such as C++, which operate on control flow semantics as opposed to data flow, although to function as such, programs must be augmented with extensive and unwieldy class libraries. Generally, however, software programming languages do not include any capability for explicitly expressing time, and thus cannot function as hardware description languages. Before the introduction of System Verilog in 2002, C++ integration with a logic simulator was one of the few ways to use object-oriented programming in hardware verification. System Verilog is the first major HDL to offer object orientation and garbage collection.

Using the proper subset of hardware description language, a program called a synthesizer, or logic synthesis tool, can infer hardware logic operations from the language statements and produce an equivalent netlist of generic hardware primitives[ jargon ] to implement the specified behaviour.[ citation needed ] Synthesizers generally ignore the expression of any timing constructs in the text. Digital logic synthesizers, for example, generally use clock edges as the way to time the circuit, ignoring any timing constructs. The ability to have a synthesizable subset of the language does not itself make a hardware description language.

History

The first hardware description languages appeared in the late 1960s, looking like more traditional languages. [2] The first that had a lasting effect was described in 1971 in C. Gordon Bell and Allen Newell's text Computer Structures. [3] This text introduced the concept of register transfer level, first used in the ISP language to describe the behavior of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-8. [4]

The language became more widespread with the introduction of DEC's PDP-16 RT-Level Modules (RTMs) and a book describing their use. [5] At least two implementations of the basic ISP language (ISPL and ISPS) followed. [6] [7] ISPS was well suited to describe relations between the inputs and the outputs of the design and was quickly adopted by commercial teams at DEC, as well as by a number of research teams both in the USA and among its NATO allies.

The RTM products never took off commercially and DEC stopped marketing them in the mid-1980s, as new techniques and in particular very-large-scale integration (VLSI) became more popular.

Separate work done about 1979 at the University of Kaiserslautern produced a language called KARL ("KAiserslautern Register Transfer Language"), which included design calculus language features supporting VLSI chip floorplanning[ jargon ] and structured hardware design. This work was also the basis of KARL's interactive graphic sister language ABL, whose name was an initialism for "A Block diagram Language". [8] ABL was implemented in the early 1980s by the Centro Studi e Laboratori Telecomunicazioni (CSELT) in Torino, Italy, producing the ABLED graphic VLSI design editor. In the mid-1980s, a VLSI design framework was implemented around KARL and ABL by an international consortium funded by the Commission of the European Union. [9]

By the late 1970s, design using programmable logic devices (PLDs) became popular, although these designs were primarily limited to designing finite state machines. The work at Data General in 1980 used these same devices to design the Data General Eclipse MV/8000, and commercial need began to grow for a language that could map well to them. By 1983 Data I/O introduced ABEL to fill that need.

As design shifted to VLSI, the first modern HDL, Verilog, was introduced by Gateway Design Automation in 1985. Cadence Design Systems later acquired the rights to Verilog-XL, the HDL simulator that would become the de facto standard of Verilog simulators for the next decade. In 1987, a request from the U.S. Department of Defense led to the development of VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language). VHDL was based on the Ada programming language, as well as on the experience gained with the earlier development of ISPS. [10] Initially, Verilog and VHDL were used to document and simulate circuit designs already captured and described in another form (such as schematic files). HDL simulation enabled engineers to work at a higher level of abstraction than simulation at the schematic level, and thus increased design capacity from hundreds of transistors to thousands.[ citation needed ]

The introduction of logic synthesis for HDLs pushed HDLs from the background into the foreground of digital design. Synthesis tools compiled HDL source files (written in a constrained format called RTL) into a manufacturable netlist description in terms of gates and transistors. Writing synthesizable RTL files required practice and discipline on the part of the designer; compared to a traditional schematic layout, synthesized RTL netlists were almost always larger in area and slower in performance[ citation needed ]. A circuit design from a skilled engineer, using labor-intensive schematic-capture/hand-layout, would almost always outperform its logically-synthesized equivalent, but the productivity advantage held by synthesis soon displaced digital schematic capture to exactly those areas that were problematic for RTL synthesis: extremely high-speed, low-power, or asynchronous circuitry.

Within a few years, VHDL and Verilog emerged as the dominant HDLs in the electronics industry, while older and less capable HDLs gradually disappeared from use. However, VHDL and Verilog share many of the same limitations: neither is suitable for analog or mixed-signal circuit simulation; neither possesses language constructs to describe recursively-generated logic structures. Specialized HDLs (such as Confluence) were introduced with the explicit goal of fixing specific limitations of Verilog and VHDL, though none were ever intended to replace them.

Over the years, much effort has been invested in improving HDLs. The latest iteration of Verilog, formally known as IEEE 1800-2005 SystemVerilog, introduces many new features (classes, random variables, and properties/assertions) to address the growing need for better test bench randomization, design hierarchy, and reuse. A future revision of VHDL is also in development[ when? ], and is expected to match SystemVerilog's improvements.

Design using HDL

As a result of the efficiency gains realized using HDL, a majority of modern digital circuit design revolves around it. Most designs begin as a set of requirements or a high-level architectural diagram. Control and decision structures are often prototyped in flowchart applications, or entered in a state diagram editor. The process of writing the HDL description is highly dependent on the nature of the circuit and the designer's preference for coding style. The HDL is merely the 'capture language', often beginning with a high-level algorithmic description such as a C++ mathematical model. Designers often use scripting languages such as Perl to automatically generate repetitive circuit structures in the HDL language. Special text editors offer features for automatic indentation, syntax-dependent coloration, and macro-based expansion of the entity/architecture/signal declaration.

The HDL code then undergoes a code review, or auditing. In preparation for synthesis, the HDL description is subject to an array of automated checkers. The checkers report deviations from standardized code guidelines, identify potential ambiguous code constructs before they can cause misinterpretation, and check for common logical coding errors, such as floating ports or shorted outputs. This process aids in resolving errors before the code is synthesized.

In industry parlance, HDL design generally ends at the synthesis stage. Once the synthesis tool has mapped the HDL description into a gate netlist, the netlist is passed off to the back-end stage. Depending on the physical technology (FPGA, ASIC gate array, ASIC standard cell), HDLs may or may not play a significant role in the back-end flow. In general, as the design flow progresses toward a physically realizable form, the design database becomes progressively more laden with technology-specific information, which cannot be stored in a generic HDL description. Finally, an integrated circuit is manufactured or programmed for use.

Simulating and debugging HDL code

Essential to HDL design is the ability to simulate HDL programs. Simulation allows an HDL description of a design (called a model) to pass design verification, an important milestone that validates the design's intended function (specification) against the code implementation in the HDL description. It also permits architectural exploration. The engineer can experiment with design choices by writing multiple variations of a base design, then comparing their behavior in simulation. Thus, simulation is critical for successful HDL design.

To simulate an HDL model, an engineer writes a top-level simulation environment (called a test bench). At minimum, a testbench contains an instantiation of the model (called the device under test or DUT), pin/signal declarations for the model's I/O, and a clock waveform. The testbench code is event driven: the engineer writes HDL statements to implement the (testbench-generated) reset-signal, to model interface transactions (such as a host–bus read/write), and to monitor the DUT's output. An HDL simulator — the program that executes the testbench — maintains the simulator clock, which is the master reference for all events in the testbench simulation. Events occur only at the instants dictated by the testbench HDL (such as a reset-toggle coded into the testbench), or in reaction (by the model) to stimulus and triggering events. Modern HDL simulators have full-featured graphical user interfaces, complete with a suite of debug tools. These allow the user to stop and restart the simulation at any time, insert simulator breakpoints (independent of the HDL code), and monitor or modify any element in the HDL model hierarchy. Modern simulators can also link the HDL environment to user-compiled libraries, through a defined PLI/VHPI interface. Linking is system-dependent (Win32/Linux/SPARC), as the HDL simulator and user libraries are compiled and linked outside the HDL environment.

Design verification is often the most time-consuming portion of the design process, due to the disconnect between a device's functional specification, the designer's interpretation of the specification, and the imprecision[ citation needed ] of the HDL language. The majority of the initial test/debug cycle is conducted in the HDL simulator environment, as the early stage of the design is subject to frequent and major circuit changes. An HDL description can also be prototyped and tested in hardware — programmable logic devices are often used for this purpose. Hardware prototyping is comparatively more expensive than HDL simulation, but offers a real-world view of the design. Prototyping is the best way to check interfacing against other hardware devices and hardware prototypes. Even those running on slow FPGAs offer much shorter simulation times than pure HDL simulation.

Design verification with HDLs

Historically, design verification was a laborious, repetitive loop of writing and running simulation test cases against the design under test. As chip designs have grown larger and more complex, the task of design verification has grown to the point where it now dominates the schedule of a design team. Looking for ways to improve design productivity, the electronic design automation industry developed the Property Specification Language.

In formal verification terms, a property is a factual statement about the expected or assumed behavior of another object. Ideally, for a given HDL description, a property or properties can be proven true or false using formal mathematical methods. In practical terms, many properties cannot be proven because they occupy an unbounded solution space. However, if provided a set of operating assumptions or constraints, a property checker can prove (or disprove) certain properties by narrowing the solution space.

The assertions do not model circuit activity, but capture and document the designer's intent in the HDL code. In a simulation environment, the simulator evaluates all specified assertions, reporting the location and severity of any violations. In a synthesis environment, the synthesis tool usually operates with the policy of halting synthesis upon any violation. Assertion based verification is still in its infancy, but is expected to become an integral part of the HDL design toolset.

HDL and programming languages

A HDL is grossly similar to a software programming language, but there are major differences. Most programming languages are inherently procedural (single-threaded), with limited syntactical and semantic support to handle concurrency. HDLs, on the other hand, resemble concurrent programming languages in their ability to model multiple parallel processes (such as flip-flops and adders) that automatically execute independently of one another. Any change to the process's input automatically triggers an update in the simulator's process stack.

Both programming languages and HDLs are processed by a compiler (often called a synthesizer in the HDL case), but with different goals. For HDLs, "compiling" refers to logic synthesis; the process of transforming the HDL code listing into a physically realizable gate netlist. The netlist output can take any of many forms: a "simulation" netlist with gate-delay information, a "handoff" netlist for post-synthesis placement and routing on a semiconductor die, or a generic industry-standard Electronic Design Interchange Format (EDIF) (for subsequent conversion to a JEDEC-format file).

On the other hand, a software compiler converts the source-code listing into a microprocessor-specific object code for execution on the target microprocessor. As HDLs and programming languages borrow concepts and features from each other, the boundary between them is becoming less distinct. However, pure HDLs are unsuitable for general purpose application software development,[ why? ] just as general-purpose programming languages are undesirable for modeling hardware.

Yet as electronic systems grow increasingly complex, and reconfigurable systems become increasingly common, there is growing desire in the industry for a single language that can perform some tasks of both hardware design and software programming. SystemC is an example of such—embedded system hardware can be modeled as non-detailed architectural blocks (black boxes with modeled signal inputs and output drivers). The target application is written in C or C++ and natively compiled for the host-development system; as opposed to targeting the embedded CPU, which requires host-simulation of the embedded CPU or an emulated CPU.

The high level of abstraction of SystemC models is well suited to early architecture exploration, as architectural modifications can be easily evaluated with little concern for signal-level implementation issues. However, the threading model used in SystemC relies on shared memory, causing the language not to handle parallel execution or low-level models well.

High-level synthesis

In their level of abstraction, HDLs have been compared to assembly languages.[ citation needed ] There are attempts to raise the abstraction level of hardware design in order to reduce the complexity of programming in HDLs, creating a sub-field called high-level synthesis .

Companies such as Cadence, Synopsys and Agility Design Solutions are promoting SystemC as a way to combine high-level languages with concurrency models to allow faster design cycles for FPGAs than is possible using traditional HDLs. Approaches based on standard C or C++ (with libraries or other extensions allowing parallel programming) are found in the Catapult C tools from Mentor Graphics, and the Impulse C tools from Impulse Accelerated Technologies.

Annapolis Micro Systems, Inc.'s CoreFire Design Suite [11] and National Instruments LabVIEW FPGA provide a graphical dataflow approach to high-level design entry and languages such as SystemVerilog, SystemVHDL, and Handel-C seek to accomplish the same goal, but are aimed at making existing hardware engineers more productive, rather than making FPGAs more accessible to existing software engineers.

It is also possible to design hardware modules using MATLAB and Simulink using the MathWorks HDL Coder tool [12] or Xilinx System Generator (XSG) (formerly Accel DSP) from Xilinx. [13]

Examples of HDLs

HDLs for analog circuit design

NameDescription
Analog Hardware Descriptive Languagean open analog hardware description language
SpectreHDLa proprietary analog hardware description language
Verilog-AMS (Verilog for Analog and Mixed-Signal)an open standard extending Verilog for analog and mixed analog/digital simulation
VHDL-AMS (VHDL with Analog/Mixed-Signal extension)a standardised language for mixed analog/digital simulation
HDL-A a proprietary analog hardware description language

HDLs for digital circuit design

The two most widely used and well-supported HDL varieties used in industry are Verilog and VHDL.

NameDescription
Advanced Boolean Expression Language (ABEL)
Altera Hardware Description Language (AHDL)a proprietary language from Altera
AHPL A Hardware Programming language
Bluespec high-level HDL based on Haskell (not embedded DSL) [14]
Bluespec SystemVerilog (BSV)based on Bluespec, with Verilog HDL like syntax, by Bluespec, Inc.
C-to-Verilog Converter from C to Verilog
Chisel (Constructing Hardware in a Scala Embedded Language)based on Scala (embedded DSL)
COLAMO (Common Oriented Language for Architecture of Multi Objects) [15] a proprietary language from “Supercomputers and Neurocomputers Research Center” Co Ltd.
Confluence a functional HDL; has been discontinued
CoWareCa C-based HDL by CoWare. Now discontinued in favor of SystemC
CUPL (Compiler for Universal Programmable Logic) [16] a proprietary language from Logical Devices, Inc.
ELLA no longer in common use
ESys.net .NET framework written in C#
Handel-C a C-like design language
Hardcaml (Constructing Hardware in an Ocaml Embedded Language)based on OCaml (embedded DSL). Try it online.
HHDL based on Haskell (embedded DSL).
Hardware Join Java (HJJ)based on Join Java
HML (Hardware ML)based on Standard ML [17]
Hydrabased on Haskell
Impulse C another C-like HDL
ISPS Original HDL from CMU, no longer in common use
ParC (Parallel C++)kusu extended with HDL style threading and communication for task-parallel programming
JHDL based on Java
KARL KARlsruhe Language (chapter in), [18] a Pascalish hardware descriptive language, no longer in common use.
Lava based on Haskell (embedded DSL). [19] [20] [21] [22]
Lola a simple language used for teaching
M A HDL from Mentor Graphics
MyHDL based on Python (embedded DSL)
PALASM for Programmable Array Logic (PAL) devices
PyMTL based on Python, from Cornell University
ROCCC (Riverside Optimizing Compiler for Configurable Computing)Free and open-source C to HDL tool
RHDL based on the Ruby programming language
Ruby (hardware description language)
SystemC a standardized class of C++ libraries for high-level behavioral and transaction modeling of digital hardware at a high level of abstraction, i.e. system-level
SystemVerilog a superset of Verilog, with enhancements to address system-level design and verification
SpinalHDLBased on Scala (embedded DSL)
SystemTCL SDL based on Tcl.
THDL++ (Templated HDL inspired by C++)An extension of VHDL with inheritance, advanced templates and policy classes
TL-Verilog (Transaction-Level Verilog)An extension of Verilog/SystemVerilog with constructs for pipelines and transactions.
Verilog One of the most widely used and well-supported HDLs
VHDL (VHSIC HDL)One of the most widely used and well-supported HDLs

HDLs for printed circuit board design

Several projects exist for defining printed circuit board connectivity using language based, textual-entry methods.

NameDescription
PHDL (PCB HDL)A free and open source HDL for defining printed circuit board connectivity
EDAsolverAn HDL for solving schematic designs based on constraints
SKiDL Open source python module to design electronic circuits

See also

Related Research Articles

The IEEE 1164 standard is a technical standard published by the IEEE in 1993. It describes the definitions of logic values to be used in electronic design automation, for the VHDL hardware description language. It was sponsored by the Design Automation Standards Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The standardization effort was based on the donation of the Synopsys MVL-9 type declaration.

Formal equivalence checking process is a part of electronic design automation (EDA), commonly used during the development of digital integrated circuits, to formally prove that two representations of a circuit design exhibit exactly the same behavior.

Integrated circuit design Engineering process for electronic hardware

Integrated circuit design, or IC design, is a subset of electronics engineering, encompassing the particular logic and circuit design techniques required to design integrated circuits, or ICs. ICs consist of miniaturized electronic components built into an electrical network on a monolithic semiconductor substrate by photolithography.

Hardware emulation Emulating hardware devices in IC design

In integrated circuit design, hardware emulation is the process of imitating the behavior of one or more pieces of hardware with another piece of hardware, typically a special purpose emulation system. The emulation model is usually based on a hardware description language source code, which is compiled into the format used by emulation system. The goal is normally debugging and functional verification of the system being designed. Often an emulator is fast enough to be plugged into a working target system in place of a yet-to-be-built chip, so the whole system can be debugged with live data. This is a specific case of in-circuit emulation.

Quite Universal Circuit Simulator free electronics circuit simulator software

Quite Universal Circuit Simulator (Qucs) is a free-software electronics circuit simulator software released under GPL. It gives you the ability to set up a circuit with a graphical user interface and simulate the large-signal, small-signal and noise behaviour of the circuit. Pure digital simulations are also supported using VHDL and/or Verilog.

Verilog-AMS is a derivative of the Verilog hardware description language that includes analog and mixed-signal extensions (AMS) in order to define the behavior of analog and mixed-signal systems. It extends the event-based simulator loops of Verilog/SystemVerilog/VHDL, by a continuous-time simulator, which solves the differential equations in analog-domain. Both domains are coupled: analog events can trigger digital actions and vice versa.

Flow to HDL tools and methods convert flow-based system design into a hardware description language (HDL) such as VHDL or Verilog. Typically this is a method of creating designs for field-programmable gate array, application-specific integrated circuit prototyping and digital signal processing (DSP) design. Flow-based system design is well-suited to field-programmable gate array design as it is easier to specify the innate parallelism of the architecture.

Semulation is a computer science-related portmanteau of simulation and emulation, signifying the process of controlling an emulation through a simulator.

Aldec, Inc. is a privately owned electronic design automation company based in Henderson, Nevada that provides software and hardware used in creation and verification of digital designs targeting FPGA and ASIC technologies.

The Design Automation Standards Committee (DASC) is a subgroup of interested individuals members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society and Standards Association. It oversees IEEE Standards that are related to computer-aided design. It is part of the IEEE Computer Society.

ModelSim is a multi-language HDL simulation environment by Mentor Graphics, for simulation of hardware description languages such as VHDL, Verilog and SystemC, and includes a built-in C debugger. ModelSim can be used independently, or in conjunction with Intel Quartus Prime, Xilinx ISE or Xilinx Vivado. Simulation is performed using the graphical user interface (GUI), or automatically using scripts.

High-level synthesis (HLS), sometimes referred to as C synthesis, electronic system-level (ESL) synthesis, algorithmic synthesis, or behavioral synthesis, is an automated design process that interprets an algorithmic description of a desired behavior and creates digital hardware that implements that behavior. Synthesis begins with a high-level specification of the problem, where behavior is generally decoupled from e.g. clock-level timing. Early HLS explored a variety of input specification languages., although recent research and commercial applications generally accept synthesizable subsets of ANSI C/C++/SystemC/MATLAB. The code is analyzed, architecturally constrained, and scheduled to transcompile into a register-transfer level (RTL) design in a hardware description language (HDL), which is in turn commonly synthesized to the gate level by the use of a logic synthesis tool. The goal of HLS is to let hardware designers efficiently build and verify hardware, by giving them better control over optimization of their design architecture, and through the nature of allowing the designer to describe the design at a higher level of abstraction while the tool does the RTL implementation. Verification of the RTL is an important part of the process.

Intelligent Verification, including intelligent testbench automation, is a form of functional verification of electronic hardware designs used to verify that a design conforms to specification before device fabrication. Intelligent verification uses information derived from the design and specification(s) to expose bugs in and between hardware IP's. Intelligent verification tools require considerably less engineering effort and user guidance to achieve verification results that meet or exceed the standard approach of writing a testbench program.

Catapult C Synthesis, a commercial electronic design automation product of Mentor Graphics, is a high-level synthesis tool, sometimes called algorithmic synthesis or ESL synthesis. Catapult C takes ANSI C/C++ and SystemC inputs and generates register transfer level (RTL) code targeted to FPGAs and ASICs.

EVE/ZeBu

EVE/ZeBu is a provider of hardware-assisted verification tools for functional verification of Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and system on chip (SOC) designs and for validation of embedded software ahead of implementation in silicon. EVE's hardware acceleration and hardware emulation products work in conjunction with Verilog, SystemVerilog, and VHDL-based simulators from Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems and Mentor Graphics. EVE's flagship product is ZeBu.

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