Showing posts with label Models. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Models. Show all posts

VITAL and its Origins!

Verilog started out as a proprietary simulator in 1984 and enjoyed considerable success due to its C like syntax. In 1990, Cadence Design Systems made the language public. It became an IEEE standard in 1995. VHDL was developed under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense. It became an IEEE standard in 1987. VHDL has its roots in Ada.

For many years there was intense competition between Verilog and VHDL for mind share and market share. Both languages have their strong points. In the end, most EDA companies came out with simulators that work with both. Early in the language wars it was noted that Verilog had a number of built-in, gate-level primitives. Over the years these had been optimized for performance by Cadence and later by other Verilog vendors. Verilog also had a single defined method of reading timing into a simulation from an external file. VHDL, on the other hand, was designed for a higher level of abstraction. Although it could model almost anything Verilog could, and without primitives, it allowed things to be modeled in a multitude of ways. This made performance optimization or acceleration impractical. VHDL was not successfully competing with Verilog as a sign-off ASIC language. The EDA companies backing VHDL saw they had to do something. The something was named VITAL, the VHDL Initiative toward ASIC Libraries.

The intent of VITAL was to provide a set of standard practices for modeling ASIC primitives, or macrocells, in VHDL and in the process make acceleration possible. Two VHDL packages were written: a primitives package and a timing package. The primitives package modeled all the gate-level primitives found in Verilog.

Because these primitives were now in a standard package known to the simulator writers, they could be optimized by the VHDL compilers for faster simulation. The timing package provided a standard, acceleratable set of procedures for checking timing constraints, such as setup and hold, as well as pin-to-pin propagation delays. The committee writing the VITAL packages had the wisdom to avoid reinventing the wheel. They chose the same SDF file format as Verilog for storing and annotating timing values.

SDF is the Standard Delay Format, IEEE Standard 1497. It is a textual file format for timing and delay information for digital electronic designs. It is used to convey timing and delay values into both VHDL and Verilog simulations. Another stated goal of VITAL is model maintainability. It restricts the writer to a subset of the VHDL language and demands consistent use of provided libraries. This encourages uniformity among models, making them easily readable by anyone familiar with VITAL. Readability and having the difficult code placed in a provided library greatly facilitate the maintenance of models by engineers who are not the original authors.

VITAL became IEEE Standard 1076.4 in 1995. It was reballoted in 2000. The 2000 revision offers several enhancements. These include support for multisource interconnect timing, fast path delay disable, and skew constraint timing checks. However, the most important new feature is the addition of a new package to support the modeling of static RAMs and ROMs.

Author: Keshav K, MindTree, Bangalore, India

ASIC and FPGA Verification: A Guide to Component Modeling (Systems on Silicon)

ASIC and FPGA Verification: A Guide to Component Modeling (Systems on Silicon)

by Richard Munden
"As large and complex as today's FPGAs are, they always end up on a board..." ( more)

Key Phrases: path delay section, negative timing constraints, skew violation, Free Model Foundry, Output Glitch Detection Variables, Vital Memo (more...)

Today it is still very difficult to verify board or larger system designs through simulation or any other technique. This important book addresses the largest ingredient needed to make simulation possible the availability of integrated circuit component models. Addressed inside is how to use VITAL extensions and other conventions with VHDL to develop inter operable, reusable models. Only by adopting the standards and practices described in this book can the industry benefit and make system simulation feasible.

Randy Harr, Sevni Technology

This book provides not only an excellent reference for those who write component models for board level verification, but also a much needed introduction to SDF and VITAL for timing simulation.

Hardy Pottinger, University of Missouri-Rolla

Book Description
Richard Munden demonstrates how to create and use simulation models for verifying ASIC and FPGA designs and board-level designs that use off-the-shelf digital components. Based on the VHDL/VITAL standard, these models include timing constraints and propagation delays that are required for accurate verification of todays digital designs.

ASIC and FPGA Verification: A Guide to Component Modeling expertly illustrates how ASICs and FPGAs can be verified in the larger context of a board or a system. It is a valuable resource for any designer who simulates multi-chip digital designs.
  • Provides numerous models and a clearly defined methodology for performing board-level simulation.
  • Covers the details of modeling for verification of both logic and timing.
  • First book to collect and teach techniques for using VHDL to model "off-the-shelf" or "IP" digital components for use in FPGA and board-level design verification.

Algorithms and High level models

For designs with significant control flow, algorithms can be described in software languages, flowcharts, abstract state machines, algorithmic state machines, etc.
For designs with trivial control flow (e.g. every parcel of input data undergoes the same computation), data-dependency graphs are a good way to describe the algorithm.
For designs with a small amount of control flow (e.g. a microprocessor, where a single decision is made based upon the opcode) a set of data-dependency graphs is often a good choice.
  1. When creating an algorithmic description of your hardware design, think about how you can represent parallelism in the algorithmic notation that you are using, and how you can exploit parallelism to improve the performance of your design.
  2. Flow charts and various flavors of state machines, everything that you might 've learned about these forms of description are also applicable in hardware design. In addition, you can exploit parallelism in state machine design to create communicating finite state machines. A single complex state machine can be factored into multiple simple state machines that operate in parallel and communicate with each other.
  3. In software, the expression: (((((a + b) + c) + d) + e) + f) takes the same amount of time to execute as: (a + b) + (c + d) + (e + f). But, remember: hardware runs in parallel. In algorithmic descriptions, parentheses can guide parallel vs serial execution.
  4. Data dependency graphs capture algorithms of datapath-centric designs.Datapath-centric designs have few, if any, control decisions: every parcel of input data undergroes the same computation.
There are many different types of high-level models, depending upon the purpose of the model and the characteristics of the design that the model describes. Some models may capture power
consumption, others performance, others data functionality. High-level models are used to estimate the most important design metrics very early in the design cycle. If power consumption is more important than performance, then you might write highlevel models that can predict the power consumption of different design choices, but which has no information about the number of clock cycles that a computation takes, or which predicts the latency inaccurately. Conversely, if performance is important, you might write clock-cycle accurate high-level models that do not contain any information about power consumption.

Conventionally, performance has been the primary design metric. Hence, high-level models that predict performance are more prevalent and more well understood than other types of high-level models. There are many research and entrepreneurial opportunities for people who can develop tools and/or languages for high-level models for estimating power, area, maximum clock speed, etc.