Comparison of VHDL to Other Hardware Description Languages


VHDL Disadvantages
  • VHDL is verbose, complicated and confusing
  • Many different ways of saying the same thing
  • Constructs that have similar purpose have very different syntax (case vs. select)
  • Constructs that have similar syntax have very different semantics (variables vs signals)
  • Hardware that is synthesized is not always obvious (when is a signal a flip-flop vs latch vs combinational)
VHDL Advantages
  • VHDL supports unsynthesizable constructs that are useful in writing high-level models, testbenches and other non-hardware or non-synthesizable artifacts that we need in hardware design.
  • VHDL can be used throughout a large portion of the design process in different capacities, from specification to implementation to verification.
  • VHDL has static typechecking—many errors can be caught before synthesis and/or simulation.
  • VHDL has a rich collection of datatypes
  • VHDL is a full-featured language with a good module system (libraries and packages).
  • VHDL has a well-defined standard.
VHDL and Other Languages
  • VHDL vs Verilog
    • Verilog is a "simpler" language: smaller language, simple circuits are easier to write
    • VHDL has more features than Verilog
      • richer set of data types and strong type checking
      • VHDL offers more flexibility and expressivity for constructing large systems.
    • The VHDL Standard is more standard than the Verilog Standard
      • VHDL and Verilog have simulation-based semantics
      • Simulation vendors generally conform to VHDL standard
      • Some Verilog constructs don't simulate the same in different tools
    • VHDL is used more than Verilog in Europe and Japan
    • Verilog is used more than VHDL in North America
    • South-East Asia, India, South America - More Democratic
  • VHDL vs SystemC
    • System C looks like C —familiar syntax
    • C is often used in algorithmic descriptions of circuits, so why not try to use it for synthesizable code as well?
    • If you think VHDL is hard to synthesize, try C....
    • SystemC simulation is slower than advertised
  • VHDL vs Other Hardware Description Languages
    • Superlog: A proposed language that was based on Verilog and C. Basic core comes from Verilog. C-like extensions included to make language more expressive and powerful. Developed by the Co-Design company, but no longer under active development. Superlog has been superseded by SystemVerilog, see below.
    • SystemVerilog: A language originally proposed by Co-Design and now standardized by Accellera, an organization aimed at standardizing EDA languages. SystemVerilog is inspired by Verilog, Superlog, and System-C. SystemVerilog is a superset of Verilog aimed to support both high-level design and verification.
    • Esterelle: A language evolving from academia to commercial viability. Very clean semantics. Aimed at state machines, limited support for datapath operations.

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