Sequential Verulog Topics part 9

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Sequential Verulog Topics part 9

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PLI Interface provides a set of C interface routines to read, write, and extract information about the internal data structures of the design. Designers can write their own system tasks

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  1. 13.5 Summary In this chapter, we described the Programming Language Interface (PLI) for Verilog. The following aspects were discussed: • PLI Interface provides a set of C interface routines to read, write, and extract information about the internal data structures of the design. Designers can write their own system tasks to do various useful functions. • PLI Interface can be used for monitors, debuggers, translators, delay calculators, automatic stimulus generators, dump file generators, and other useful utilities. • A user-defined system task is implemented with a corresponding user- defined C routine. The C routine uses PLI library calls. • The process of informing the simulator that a new user-defined system task is attached to a corresponding user C routine is called linking. Different simulators handle the linking process differently. • User-defined system tasks are invoked like standard Verilog system tasks, e.g., $hello_verilog(); . The corresponding user C routine hello_verilog is executed whenever the task is invoked. • A design is represented internally in a Verilog simulator as a big data structure with sets for objects. PLI library routines allow access to the internal data structures. • Access (acc) routines and utility (tf) routines are two types of PLI library routines. • Utility routines represent the first generation of Verilog PLI. Utility routines are used to pass data back and forth across the boundary of user C routines and the original Verilog design. Utility routines start with the prefix tf_. Utility routines do not interact with object handles. • Access routines represent the second generation of Verilog PLI. Access routines can read and write information about a particular object from/to the design. Access routines start with the prefix acc_. Access routines are used primarily across the boundary of user C routines and internal data representation. Access routines interact with object handles. • Value change link (VCL) is a special category of access routines that allow monitoring of objects in a design. A consumer routine is executed whenever the monitored object value changes. • Verilog Procedural Interface (VPI) routines represent the third generation of Verilog PLI. VPI routines provide a superset of the functionality of acc_ and tf_ routines. VPI routines are not covered in this book.
  2. Programming Language Interface is a very broad area of study. Thus, only the basics of Verilog PLI are covered in this chapter. Designers should consult the IEEE Standard Verilog Hardware Description Language document for details of PLI. [ Team LiB ] [ Team LiB ] 13.6 Exercises Refer to Appendix B, List of PLI Routines and IEEE Standard Verilog Hardware Description Language document, for a list of PLI access and utility routines, their function, and usage. You will need to use some PLI library calls that were not discussed in this chapter. 1: Write a user-defined system task, $get_in_ports, that gets full hierarchical names of only the input ports of a module instance. Hierarchical module instance name is the input to the task (Hint: Use the C routine in Example 13-2 as a reference). Link the task into the Verilog simulator. Find the input ports of the 1-bit full adder defined in Example 5-7 on page 75. 2: Write a user-defined system task, $count_and_gates, which counts the number of and gate primitives in a module instance. Hierarchical module instance name is the input to the task. Use this task to count the number of and gates in the 4-to-1 multiplexer in Example 5-5. 3: Create a user-defined system task, $monitor_mod_output, that finds out all the output signals of a module instance and adds them to a monitoring list. The line "Output signal has changed" should appear whenever any output signal of the module changes value. (Hint: Use VCL routines.) Use the 2- to-1 multiplexer in Example 13-1. Add output signals to the monitoring list by using $monitor_mod_output. Check results by applying stimulus. [ Team LiB ] [ Team LiB ] 14.1 What Is Logic Synthesis? Simply speaking, logic synthesis is the process of converting a high-level
  3. description of the design into an optimized gate-level representation, given a standard cell library and certain design constraints. A standard cell library can have simple cells, such as basic logic gates like and, or, and nor, or macro cells, such as adders, muxes, and special flip-flops. A standard cell library is also known as the technology library. It is discussed in detail later in this chapter. Logic synthesis always existed even in the days of schematic gate-level design, but it was always done inside the designer's mind. The designer would first understand the architectural description. Then he would consider design constraints such as timing, area, testability, and power. The designer would partition the design into high-level blocks, draw them on a piece of paper or a computer terminal, and describe the functionality of the circuit. This was the high-level description. Finally, each block would be implemented on a hand-drawn schematic, using the cells available in the standard cell library. The last step was the most complex process in the design flow and required several time-consuming design iterations before an optimized gate-level representation that met all design constraints was obtained. Thus, the designer's mind was used as the logic synthesis tool, as illustrated in Figure 14-1. Figure 14-1. Designer's Mind as the Logic Synthesis Tool The advent of computer-aided logic synthesis tools has automated the process of converting the high-level description to logic gates. Instead of trying to perform logic synthesis in their minds, designers can now concentrate on the architectural trade-offs, high-level description of the design, accurate design constraints, and optimization of cells in the standard cell library. These are fed to the computer- aided logic synthesis tool, which performs several iterations internally and generates the optimized gate-level description. Also, instead of drawing the high- level description on a screen or a piece of paper, designers describe the high-level design in terms of HDLs. Verilog HDL has become one of the popular HDLs for the writing of high-level descriptions. Figure 14-2 illustrates the process. Figure 14-2. Basic Computer-Aided Logic Synthesis Process Automated logic synthesis has significantly reduced time for conversion from high-level design representation to gates. This has allowed designers to spend more time on designing at a higher level of representation, because less time is required
  4. for converting the design to gates. [ Team LiB ] [ Team LiB ] 14.2 Impact of Logic Synthesis Logic synthesis has revolutionized the digital design industry by significantly improving productivity and by reducing design cycle time. Before the days of automated logic synthesis, when designs were converted to gates manually, the design process had the following limitations: • For large designs, manual conversion was prone to human error. A small gate missed somewhere could mean redesign of entire blocks. • The designer could never be sure that the design constraints were going to be met until the gate-level implementation was completed and tested. • A significant portion of the design cycle was dominated by the time taken to convert a high-level design into gates. • If the gate-level design did not meet requirements, the turnaround time for redesign of blocks was very high. • What-if scenarios were hard to verify. For example, the designer designed a block in gates that could run at a cycle time of 20 ns. If the designer wanted to find out whether the circuit could be optimized to run faster at 15 ns, the entire block had to be redesigned. Thus, redesign was needed to verify what- if scenarios. • Each designer would implement design blocks differently. There was little consistency in design styles. For large designs, this could mean that smaller blocks were optimized, but the overall design was not optimal. • If a bug was found in the final, gate-level design, this would sometimes require redesign of thousands of gates. • Timing, area, and power dissipation in library cells are fabrication- technology specific. Thus if the company changed the IC fabrication vendor after the gate-level design was complete, this would mean redesign of the entire circuit and a possible change in design methodology. • Design reuse was not possible. Designs were technology-specific, hard to port, and very difficult to reuse. Automated logic synthesis tools addressed these problems as follows:
  5. • High-level design is less prone to human error because designs are described at a higher level of abstraction. • High-level design is done without significant concern about design constraints. Logic synthesis will convert a high-level design to a gate-level netlist and ensure that all constraints have been met. If not, the designer goes back, modifies the high-level design and repeats the process until a gate- level netlist that satisfies timing, area, and power constraints is obtained. • Conversion from high-level design to gates is fast. With this improvement, design cycle times are shortened considerably. What took months before can now be done in hours or days. • Turnaround time for redesign of blocks is shorter because changes are required only at the register-transfer level; then, the design is simply resynthesized to obtain the gate-level netlist. • What-if scenarios are easy to verify. The high-level description does not change. The designer has merely to change the timing constraint from 20 ns to 15 ns and resynthesize the design to get the new gate-level netlist that is optimized to achieve a cycle time of 15 ns. • Logic synthesis tools optimize the design as a whole. This removes the problem with varied designer styles for the different blocks in the design and suboptimal designs. • If a bug is found in the gate-level design, the designer goes back and changes the high-level description to eliminate the bug. Then, the high-level description is again read into the logic synthesis tool to automatically generate a new gate-level description. • Logic synthesis tools allow technology-independent design. A high-level description may be written without the IC fabrication technology in mind. Logic synthesis tools convert the design to gates, using cells in the standard cell library provided by an IC fabrication vendor. If the technology changes or the IC fabrication vendor changes, designers simply use logic synthesis to retarget the design to gates, using the standard cell library for the new technology. • Design reuse is possible for technology-independent descriptions. For example, if the functionality of the I/O block in a microprocessor does not change, the RTL description of the I/O block can be reused in the design of derivative microprocessors. If the technology changes, the synthesis tool simply maps to the desired technology.  
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