Design using HDL
The vast majority of modern digital circuit design revolves around an HDL description of the desired circuit, device, or subsystem.
Most designs begin as a written set of requirements or a high-level architectural diagram. The process of writing the HDL description is highly dependent on the designer's background and the circuit's nature. The HDL is merely the 'capture language'—often begin with a high-level algorithmic description such as MATLAB or a C++ mathematical model. Control and decision structures are often prototyped in flowchart applications, or entered in a state-diagram editor. Designers even use scripting languages (such as Perl) to automatically generate repetitive circuit structures in the HDL language. Advanced text editors (such as Emacs) offer editor templates for automatic indentation, syntax-dependent coloration, and macro-based expansion of entity/architecture/signal declaration.
As the design's implementation is fleshed out, the HDL code invariably must undergo code review, or auditing. In preparation for synthesis, the HDL description is subject to an array of automated checkers. The checkers enforce standardized code a guideline, identifying ambiguous code constructs before they can cause misinterpretation by downstream synthesis, and check for common logical coding errors, such as dangling ports or shorted outputs.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, 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, a silicon chip is manufactured in a fab.
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