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Hardware description language

Hardware description language

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In electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, a hardware description language or HDL is any language from a class of computer languages, specification language
Specification language
A specification language is a formal language used in computer science.Unlike most programming languages, which are directly executable formal languages used to implement a system, specification languages are used during systems analysis, requirements analysis and systems design.Specification...

s, or modeling language
Modeling language
A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules...

s for formal description and design of electronic circuit
Electronic circuit
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...

s, and most-commonly, digital logic. It can describe the circuit's operation, its design and organization, and tests to verify its operation by means of simulation
Simulation
Simulation is the imitation of some real thing available, state of affairs, or process. The act of simulating something generally entails representing certain key characteristics or behaviours of a selected physical or abstract system....

.

HDLs are standard text-based expressions of the spatial and temporal structure and behaviour of electronic systems. Like concurrent programming languages, HDL syntax and semantics includes explicit notations for expressing concurrency
Concurrency (computer science)
In computer science, concurrency is a property of systems in which several computations are executing simultaneously, and potentially interacting with each other...

. However, in contrast to most software programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

s, 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
Netlist
The word netlist can be used in several different contexts, but perhaps the most popular is in the field of electronic design. In this context, a "netlist" describes the connectivity of an electronic design....

 languages used on electric computer-aided design (CAD).

HDLs are used to write executable specifications of some piece of hardware. A simulation program, designed to implement the underlying semantics of the language statements, coupled with simulating 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 classed as specification language
Specification language
A specification language is a formal language used in computer science.Unlike most programming languages, which are directly executable formal languages used to implement a system, specification languages are used during systems analysis, requirements analysis and systems design.Specification...

s or modeling language
Modeling language
A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules...

s. Simulators capable of supporting discrete-event (digital) and continuous-time (analog) modeling exist, and HDLs targeted for each are available.

It is certainly possible to represent hardware semantics using traditional programming languages such as C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

, although to function such programs must be augmented with extensive and unwieldy class libraries. Primarily, however, software programming languages do not include any capability for explicitly expressing time, and this is why they do not function as a hardware description language. Before the recent introduction of SystemVerilog
SystemVerilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, SystemVerilog is a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog.-History:...

, C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

 integration with a logic simulator
Logic simulation
Logic simulation is the use of a computer program to simulate the operation of a digital circuit. Logic simulation is the primary tool used for verifying the logical correctness of a hardware design. In many cases logic simulation is the first activity performed in the process of taking a hardware...

 was one of the few ways to use OOP
Object-oriented programming
Object-oriented programming is a programming paradigm using "objects" – data structures consisting of data fields and methods together with their interactions – to design applications and computer programs. Programming techniques may include features such as data abstraction,...

 in hardware verification. SystemVerilog is the first major HDL to offer object orientation and garbage collection.

Using the proper subset of virtually any (hardware description or software programming) language, a software program called a synthesizer (or synthesis
Logic synthesis
In electronics, logic synthesis is a process by which an abstract form of desired circuit behavior, typically register transfer level , is turned into a design implementation in terms of logic gates. Common examples of this process include synthesis of HDLs, including VHDL and Verilog...

 tool) can infer hardware logic operations from the language statements and produce an equivalent netlist of generic hardware primitives to implement the specified behaviour. 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 were ISP (Instruction Set Processor), developed at Carnegie Mellon University, and KARL, developed at University of Kaiserslautern, both around 1977. ISP was, however, more like a software programming language used to describe relations between the inputs and the outputs of the design. Therefore, it could be used to simulate the design, but not to synthesize it. KARL included design calculus language features supporting VLSI chip floorplanning and structured hardware design, which was also the basis of KARL's interactive graphic sister language ABL, implemented in the early 1980s as the ABLED graphic VLSI design editor, by the telecommunication research center CSELT at Torino, Italy. In the mid 80's, a VLSI design framework was implemented around KARL and ABL by an international consortium funded by the commission of the European Union (chapter in ). In 1983 Data-I/O introduced ABEL. It was targeted for describing programmable logical devices and was basically used to design finite state machines.

The first modern HDL, Verilog
Verilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, Verilog is a hardware description language used to model electronic systems. Verilog HDL, not to be confused with VHDL , is most commonly used in the design, verification, and implementation of digital logic chips at the register-transfer level...

, was introduced by Gateway Design Automation
Gateway Design Automation
"Verilog HDL originated at Automated Integrated Design Systems in 1985. The company was privately held at that time by Dr. Prabhu Goel, the inventor of the PODEM test generation algorithm. Verilog HDL was designed by Phil Moorby, who was later to become the Chief Designer for Verilog-XL and the...

 in 1985. Cadence Design Systems
Cadence Design Systems
Cadence Design Systems, Inc is an electronic design automation software and engineering services company, founded in 1988 by the merger of SDA Systems and ECAD, Inc...

 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, where VHSIC is Very High Speed Integrated Circuit). VHDL was based on the Ada programming language
Ada (programming language)
Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages...

. Initially, Verilog and VHDL were used to document and simulate circuit-designs already captured and described in another form (such as a schematic file.) 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.

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
Register transfer level
In integrated circuit design, register-transfer level is a level of abstraction used in describing the operation of a synchronous digital circuit...

) into a manufacturable gate/transistor-level netlist description. Writing synthesizeable 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. Circuit design by a skilled engineer, using labor-intensive schematic-capture/hand-layout, would almost always outperform its logically-synthesized equivalent, but synthesis's productivity advantage soon displaced digital schematic-capture to exactly those areas that were problematic for RTL-synthesis: extremely high-speed, low-power, or asynchronous circuitry. In short, logic synthesis propelled HDL technology into a central role for digital design.

Within a few years, both VHDL and Verilog emerged as the dominant HDLs in the electronics industry, while older and less-capable HDLs gradually disappeared from use. But VHDL and Verilog share many of the same limitations: neither HDL is suitable for analog/mixed-signal circuit
Mixed-signal integrated circuit
A mixed-signal integrated circuit is any integrated circuit that has both analog circuits and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die.- Examples :...

 simulation. Neither possesses language constructs to describe recursively-generated logic structures. Specialized HDLs (such as Confluence) were introduced with the explicit goal of fixing a specific Verilog/VHDL limitation, though none were ever intended to replace VHDL/Verilog.

Over the years, a lot of effort has gone into 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 testbench randomization, design hierarchy, and reuse. A future revision of VHDL is also in development, and is expected to match SystemVerilog's improvements.

Design using HDL


Efficiency gains realized using HDL means 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
Perl
Perl is a high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming language. Perl was originally developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a general-purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions and become widely popular...

) 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 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 dangling 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, this netlist is passed off to the back-end stage. Depending on the physical technology (FPGA
Field-programmable gate array
A field-programmable gate array is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by the customer or designer after manufacturing—hence "field-programmable"...

, ASIC
Application-specific integrated circuit
An application-specific integrated circuit is an integrated circuit customized for a particular use, rather than intended for general-purpose use. For example, a chip designed solely to run a cell phone is an ASIC...

 gate array
Gate array
A gate array or uncommitted logic array is an approach to the design and manufacture of application-specific integrated circuits...

, ASIC standard cell
Standard cell
In semiconductor design, standard cell methodology is a method of designing application-specific integrated circuits with mostly digital-logic features. Standard cell methodology is an example of design abstraction, whereby a low-level very-large-scale integration layout is encapsulated into an...

), 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
Functional verification
Functional verification, in electronic design automation, is the task of verifying that the logic design conforms to specification. In everyday terms, functional verification attempts to answer the question "Does this proposed design do what is intended?" This is a complex task, and takes the...

, 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 testbench). 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 a full-featured graphical user interface
Graphical user interface
In computing, a graphical user interface is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices with images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and...

s, 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
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

/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
Functional specification
A functional specification in systems engineering and software development is the documentation that describes the requested behavior of an engineering system...

, the designer's interpretation of the specification, and the imprecision 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 device
Programmable logic device
A programmable logic device or PLD is an electronic component used to build reconfigurable digital circuits. Unlike a logic gate, which has a fixed function, a PLD has an undefined function at the time of manufacture...

s 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 faster simulation times than pure HDL simulation.

Design Verification with HDLs


Historically, design verification was a laborious, repetitive loop of writing and running simulation test case
Test case
A test case in software engineering is a set of conditions or variables under which a tester will determine whether an application or software system is working correctly or not. The mechanism for determining whether a software program or system has passed or failed such a test is known as a test...

s 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 EDA
Electronic design automation
Electronic design automation is a category of software tools for designing electronic systems such as printed circuit boards and integrated circuits...

 industry developed the Property Specification Language
Property Specification Language
Property Specification Language is a language developed by Accellera for specifying properties or assertions about hardware designs. The properties can then be simulated or formally verified. Since September 2004 the standardization on the language has been done in IEEE 1850 working group...

.

In formal verification
Formal verification
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics .- Usage :Formal verification can be...

 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) more properties, over the narrowed 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 analogous to a software programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

, but with major differences. Many 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 flipflops, adders, etc.) 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 (usually called a synthesizer in the HDL case), but with different goals. For HDLs, 'compiler' refers to synthesis, a 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 place and route
Place and route
Place and route is a stage in the design of printed circuit boards, integrated circuits, and field-programmable gate arrays. As implied by the name, it is composed of two steps, placement and routing. The first step, placement, involves deciding where to place all electronic components, circuitry,...

, or a generic industry-standard EDIF
EDIF
EDIF is a vendor-neutral format in which to store Electronic netlists and schematics. It was one of the first attempts to establish a neutral data exchange format for the electronic design automation industry. The goal was to establish a common format from which the proprietary formats of the EDA...

 format (for subsequent conversion to a JEDEC
JEDEC
The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, formerly known as the Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council , is an independent semiconductor engineering trade organization and standardization body...

-format file).

On the other hand, a software compiler converts the source-code listing into a microprocessor
Microprocessor
A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...

-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 software application development, just as general-purpose programming languages are undesirable for modeling hardware. Yet as electronic systems grow increasingly complex, and reconfigurable systems become increasingly mainstream, there is growing desire in the industry for a single language that can perform some tasks of both hardware design and software programming. SystemC
SystemC
SystemC is a set of C++ classes and macros which provide an event-driven simulation kernel in C++ . These facilities enable a designer to simulate concurrent processes, each described using plain C++ syntax...

 is an example of such—embedded system hardware can be modeled as non-detailed architectural blocks (blackboxes with modeled signal inputs and output drivers). The target application is written in C/C++, and natively compiled for the host-development system (as opposed to targeting the embedded CPU, which requires host-simulation of the embedded 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 and its reliance on shared memory mean that it does not handle parallel execution or lower level models well.

In an attempt to reduce the complexity of designing in HDLs, which have been compared to the equivalent of assembly language
Assembly language
An assembly language is a low-level programming language for computers, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and other programmable devices. It implements a symbolic representation of the machine codes and other constants needed to program a given CPU architecture...

s, there are moves to raise the abstraction level of the design. Companies such as Cadence
Cadence Design Systems
Cadence Design Systems, Inc is an electronic design automation software and engineering services company, founded in 1988 by the merger of SDA Systems and ECAD, Inc...

, Synopsys
Synopsys
Synopsys, Inc. is one of the largest companies in the Electronic Design Automation industry. Synopsys' first and best-known product is Design Compiler, a logic-synthesis tool. Synopsys offers a wide range of other products used in the design of an application-specific integrated circuit...

 and Agility Design Solutions are promoting SystemC
SystemC
SystemC is a set of C++ classes and macros which provide an event-driven simulation kernel in C++ . These facilities enable a designer to simulate concurrent processes, each described using plain C++ syntax...

 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
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

 or C++
C++
C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell...

 (with libraries or other extensions allowing parallel programming) are found in the Catapult C
Catapult C
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...

 tools from Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics, Inc is a US-based multinational corporation dealing in electronic design automation for electrical engineering and electronics, as of 2004, ranked third in the EDA industry it helped create...

, the Impulse C
Impulse C
Impulse C is a subset of the C programming language combined with a C-compatible function library supporting parallel programming, in particular for programming of applications targeting FPGA devices...

 tools from Impulse Accelerated Technologies, and the free and open-source ROCCC 2.0 tools from Jacquard Computing Inc. Annapolis Micro Systems, Inc.'s CoreFire Design Suite and National Instruments
National Instruments
National Instruments Corporation, or NI , is an American company with over 5,000 employees and direct operations in 41 countries. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it is a producer of automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software...

 LabVIEW FPGA provide a graphical dataflow
Dataflow
Dataflow is a term used in computing, and may have various shades of meaning. It is closely related to message passing.-Software architecture:...

 approach to high-level design entry. Languages such as SystemVerilog
SystemVerilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, SystemVerilog is a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog.-History:...

, SystemVHDL, and Handel-C
Handel-C
Handel-C is a high level programming language which targets low-level hardware, most commonly used in the programming of FPGAs. It is a rich subset of C, with non-standard extensions to control hardware instantiation with an emphasis on parallelism. Handel-C is to hardware design what the first...

 seek to accomplish the same goal, but are aimed at making existing hardware engineers more productive versus making FPGAs more accessible to existing software engineers. There is more information on C to HDL
C to HDL
C to HDL tools convert C or C-like computer program code into a hardware description language such as VHDL or Verilog. The converted code can then be synthesized and translated into a hardware device such as a field-programmable gate array...

 and Flow to HDL
Flow to HDL
Flow to HDL tools and methods convert flow-based system design into a hardware description language such as VHDL or Verilog. Typically this is a method of creating designs for field-programmable gate array, application-specific integrated circuit prototyping and DSP design...

 in their respective articles.

Analogue circuit design

Abbreviation Name Use
AHDL  Analog Hardware Descriptive Language (HDL) an open analog hardware description language
SpectreHDL SpectreHDL a proprietary analogue hardware description language
Verilog-AMS
Verilog-AMS
Verilog-AMS is a derivative of the Verilog hardware description language. It includes analog and mixed-signal extensions 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,...

 
Verilog for Analog and Mixed-Signal an open standard extending Verilog for analog and mixed analog/digital simulation
HDL-ATM HDL-A a proprietary analogue hardware description language

Digital circuit design


The two most widely-used and well-supported HDL varieties used in industry are Verilog
Verilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, Verilog is a hardware description language used to model electronic systems. Verilog HDL, not to be confused with VHDL , is most commonly used in the design, verification, and implementation of digital logic chips at the register-transfer level...

 and VHDL.
Abbreviation Name Notice
ABEL Advanced Boolean Expression Language 
AHDL  Altera HDL a proprietary language from Altera
Altera
Altera Corporation is a Silicon Valley manufacturer of PLDs . The company offered its first programmable logic device in 1984. PLDs can be reprogrammed during the design cycle as well as in the field to perform multiple functions, and they support a fairly fast design process...

AHPL  A Hardware Programing language
Bluespec  high-level HDL originally based on Haskell
Haskell (programming language)
Haskell is a standardized, general-purpose purely functional programming language, with non-strict semantics and strong static typing. It is named after logician Haskell Curry. In Haskell, "a function is a first-class citizen" of the programming language. As a functional programming language, the...

, now with a SystemVerilog
SystemVerilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, SystemVerilog is a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog.-History:...

 syntax
C-to-Verilog Converter from C to Verilog
Confluence a functional HDL; has been discontinued
CoWareC a C-based HDL by CoWare
Coware
CoWare, now part of Synopsys, was a supplier of platform-driven electronic system level design software and services.CoWare was headquartered in San Jose, California, and had offices around the world, major R&D offices in Belgium, Germany and India....

. Now discontinued in favor of SystemC
CUPL Universal Compiler for Programmable Logic a proprietary language from Logical Devices, Inc.
ELLA
ELLA (programming language)
ELLA is a Hardware description language and support toolset. Developed by the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment during the 1980s and 90s.Includes tools to perform:* design transformation* symbolic simulations* formal verification...

 
no longer in common use
ESys.net
ESys.net
ESys.net is a hardware system design library for the .net/Mono frameworks that is basically a port of the SystemC framework for C++. Entirely rewritten in C#, the framework allows "most of the concepts found in the SystemC environment [...] and all the operating system primitives planned in SystemC...

 
.net framework written in C#
Handel-C
Handel-C
Handel-C is a high level programming language which targets low-level hardware, most commonly used in the programming of FPGAs. It is a rich subset of C, with non-standard extensions to control hardware instantiation with an emphasis on parallelism. Handel-C is to hardware design what the first...

 
a C-like design language
HJJ Hardware Join Java based on Join Java
Join Java
Join Java is a programming language that extends the standard Java programming language with the join semantics of the join-calculus. It was written at the University of South Australia within the Reconfigurable Computing Lab by Dr...

HML based on SML
Standard ML
Standard ML is a general-purpose, modular, functional programming language with compile-time type checking and type inference. It is popular among compiler writers and programming language researchers, as well as in the development of theorem provers.SML is a modern descendant of the ML...

Hydra based on Haskell
Haskell (programming language)
Haskell is a standardized, general-purpose purely functional programming language, with non-strict semantics and strong static typing. It is named after logician Haskell Curry. In Haskell, "a function is a first-class citizen" of the programming language. As a functional programming language, the...

Impulse C
Impulse C
Impulse C is a subset of the C programming language combined with a C-compatible function library supporting parallel programming, in particular for programming of applications targeting FPGA devices...

 
another C-like HDL
ParC Parallel C++ C++ extended with HDL style threading and communication for task-parallel programming
JHDL
JHDL
JHDL is a low-level structural hardware description language, focused primarily on building circuits via an Object Oriented approach that bundles collections of gates into Java objects...

 
based on Java
Java (programming language)
Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities...

Lava based on Haskell
Haskell (programming language)
Haskell is a standardized, general-purpose purely functional programming language, with non-strict semantics and strong static typing. It is named after logician Haskell Curry. In Haskell, "a function is a first-class citizen" of the programming language. As a functional programming language, the...

Lola
Lola (hardware description language)
Lola is designed to be a simple hardware description language for describing synchronous, digital circuits. Niklaus Wirth developed the language to teach digital design on field-programmable gate arrays to computer science students while a professor at ETH Zürich.The purpose of Lola is to...

 
a simple language used for teaching
M
M (disambiguation)
M is the thirteenth letter of the modern Latin alphabetM may also refer to- Film :* M , a German film directed by Fritz Lang* M , a remake of the previous, shifting the action from Berlin to Los Angeles...

 
A HDL from Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics, Inc is a US-based multinational corporation dealing in electronic design automation for electrical engineering and electronics, as of 2004, ranked third in the EDA industry it helped create...

MyHDL
MyHDL
MyHDL is a Python based hardware description language .Features of MyHDL include:* The ability to generate VHDL and Verilog code from a MyHDL design....

 
based on Python
Python (programming language)
Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language whose design philosophy emphasizes code readability. Python claims to "[combine] remarkable power with very clear syntax", and its standard library is large and comprehensive...

PALASM
PALASM
PALASM is an early hardware description language, used to translate Boolean functions and state transition tables into a fuse map for use with Programmable Array Logic devices introduced by Monolithic Memories, Inc. The language was developed by John Birkner in the early 1980s. It is not...

 
for Programmable Array Logic
Programmable Array Logic
The term Programmable Array Logic is used to describe a family of programmable logic device semiconductors used to implement logic functions in digital circuits introduced by Monolithic Memories, Inc. in March 1978. MMI obtained a registered trademark on the term PAL for use in "Programmable...

 (PAL) devices
ROCCC 2.0 Riverside Optimizing Compiler for Configurable Computing Free and open-source C to HDL tool
RHDL based on the Ruby programming language
Ruby (programming language)
Ruby is a dynamic, reflective, general-purpose object-oriented programming language that combines syntax inspired by Perl with Smalltalk-like features. Ruby originated in Japan during the mid-1990s and was first developed and designed by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto...

Ruby (hardware description language)
Ruby (hardware description language)
Ruby is a hardware description language created around 1990 intended to facilitate the notation and development of integrated circuits....

 
SystemC
SystemC
SystemC is a set of C++ classes and macros which provide an event-driven simulation kernel in C++ . These facilities enable a designer to simulate concurrent processes, each described using plain C++ syntax...

 
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
SystemVerilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, SystemVerilog is a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog.-History:...

 
a superset of Verilog, with enhancements to address system-level design and verification
SystemTCL  SDL based on Tcl.
THDL++ Templated HDL inspired by C++ An extension of VHDL with inheritance, advanced templates and policy classes
Verilog
Verilog
In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, Verilog is a hardware description language used to model electronic systems. Verilog HDL, not to be confused with VHDL , is most commonly used in the design, verification, and implementation of digital logic chips at the register-transfer level...

 
most widely-used and well-supported HDL
VHDL  VHSIC
VHSIC
VHSIC was a 1980s U.S. government program to develop very-high-speed integrated circuits.The United States Department of Defense launched the VHSIC project in 1980 as a joint tri-service project. The project led to advances in integrated circuit materials, lithography, packaging, testing, and...

 HDL
most widely-used and well-supported HDL

See also

  • Specification language
    Specification language
    A specification language is a formal language used in computer science.Unlike most programming languages, which are directly executable formal languages used to implement a system, specification languages are used during systems analysis, requirements analysis and systems design.Specification...

  • Modeling language
    Modeling language
    A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules...

  • Hardware Verification Language
    Hardware verification language
    A Hardware Verification Language, or HVL, is a programming language used to verify the designs of electronic circuits written in a hardware description language. HVLs typically include features of a high-level programming language like C++ or Java as well as features for easy bit-level...

  • SystemC
    SystemC
    SystemC is a set of C++ classes and macros which provide an event-driven simulation kernel in C++ . These facilities enable a designer to simulate concurrent processes, each described using plain C++ syntax...

  • SystemVerilog
    SystemVerilog
    In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, SystemVerilog is a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog.-History:...

  • Property Specification Language
    Property Specification Language
    Property Specification Language is a language developed by Accellera for specifying properties or assertions about hardware designs. The properties can then be simulated or formally verified. Since September 2004 the standardization on the language has been done in IEEE 1850 working group...

  • OpenVera
    OpenVera
    OpenVera is a dead Hardware Verification Language developed, and managed by Synopsys.OpenVera is an interoperable, open hardware verification language for testbench creation. The OpenVera language was used as the basis for the advanced verification features in the IEEE Std...

  • Bluespec

External links