How do intel/amd design their processors ?

Discussion in 'VHDL' started by keith, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. keith

    keith Guest

    On Tue, 02 Aug 2005 05:48:01 +0200, Skybuck Flying wrote:

    > Hi,
    >
    > Seeing all this stuff about how hardware can be programmed with languages...
    > it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?
    >
    > Do they also uses hardware design/programming languages ? for some part of
    > their chips or everything ?


    Dunno about Intel nor AMD, but the third choice does(VHDL). ;-) Some of
    the circuits are fully custom (schematics), but there is also a VHDL model
    of these circuits used for simulation.

    > Do they also still use cad/cam etc ?


    Of course. One doesn't design and lay out chips with half a billion
    transistors by hand.

    > What hardware languages do they use if any ? :D


    Verilog is the other big one. Verilog is big in the US, while VHDL is
    bigger in Europe and for FPGAs (for some reason). Some software types
    think hardware design *is* just programming, so they're pushing "System-C"
    or some such nonsense.

    --
    Keith
    keith, Aug 2, 2005
    #1
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  2. Hi,

    Seeing all this stuff about how hardware can be programmed with languages...
    it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?

    Do they also uses hardware design/programming languages ? for some part of
    their chips or everything ?

    Do they also still use cad/cam etc ?

    What hardware languages do they use if any ? :D

    Bye,
    Skybuck =D
    Skybuck Flying, Aug 2, 2005
    #2
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  3. "keith" <> wrote in message
    news:p...
    > On Tue, 02 Aug 2005 05:48:01 +0200, Skybuck Flying wrote:
    >
    > > Hi,
    > >
    > > Seeing all this stuff about how hardware can be programmed with

    languages...
    > > it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?
    > >
    > > Do they also uses hardware design/programming languages ? for some part

    of
    > > their chips or everything ?

    >
    > Dunno about Intel nor AMD, but the third choice does(VHDL). ;-) Some of
    > the circuits are fully custom (schematics), but there is also a VHDL model
    > of these circuits used for simulation.


    What would be the third choice ? IBM ? ;)

    >
    > > Do they also still use cad/cam etc ?

    >
    > Of course. One doesn't design and lay out chips with half a billion
    > transistors by hand.


    Can a processor be produced with VHDL alone ? or is Cad/Cam still needed ?

    Hmm... VHDL probably needs to produce a Cad/Cam model ? so that it can be
    produced/manufactured ;)
    (since the code is just text ;) )

    So I do see the stupidity of my question ;) :)

    But euhm... Does VHDL produce Cam/Cam output directly or are/can there be
    multiple stages ?

    Maybe like an intermediate language ? Probably ;)

    > > What hardware languages do they use if any ? :D

    >
    > Verilog is the other big one. Verilog is big in the US, while VHDL is
    > bigger in Europe and for FPGAs (for some reason). Some software types
    > think hardware design *is* just programming, so they're pushing "System-C"
    > or some such nonsense.


    Cool, both languages seem a little bit familiar.

    Though I am more a pascal/delphi programmer so I'll probably feel more at
    home with VHDL... though Verilog seems to be a little bit shorter just like
    C :)

    Can both compilers generate output which is compatible with each other or
    cad/cam programs ? probably ? ;)

    Cad/Cam programs can probably handle output of both languages ?

    Bye and Thanks,
    Skybuck ;)
    Skybuck Flying, Aug 2, 2005
    #3
  4. keith

    Guest

    I suspect you're a student of some sort, starting out in dealing with
    the world of engineering. So here's a bit of a lesson in engineering.

    There's a bit of a hierarchy of design when dealing with things as
    complex as CPUs. It looks a little something like this (note, there is
    considerable hand waving and generalization in the statements below):

    - A company like Intel or AMD has some really low level group that
    deals with a simple question like "how do we make a transistor that
    works at 4GHz?"
    - When they've figured it out, they translate that knowledge to some
    kind of CAD tool that automatically designs the right kind of
    transistor and lays it out in the right place.
    - That software is used by a group that deals with a slightly more high
    level question like "how do we make a 4GHz logic gate using our 4GHz
    transistor technology?"
    - They then translate that into a CAD tool for higher level use.
    - That is then in turn used by a group that deals with something like
    "How do I make an adder using our 4GHz logic gate technology?"
    - That is worked into a high level CAD tool like VHDL/Verliog/various
    proprietary languages.
    - There's a few more levels of abstraction here.
    - So now, some architect at Intel/AMD can say "I want a CPU that
    executes an ADD instruction in 5 clock cycles at 4GHz, is fully
    pipelined and has a few bells and whistles", that can then get
    translated down the chain of engineers and CAD tools so that in the
    end, you come out with a CPU with billions of transistors without
    having to lay out each transistor individually.

    This higherarchy can work both forwards and somewhat in reverse, that
    is a high level design concept drives a change in low level technology
    or a new low level technology can drive a change in thinking at a
    higher level. In a nutshell, that is engineering.

    For specific commercial tools, look at the web sites of Synopsis,
    Cadence and similar companies. Needless to say, this software is
    insanely expensive because it's very specialized. You may note that
    someone like Synopsis has a lot of high level tools and some low level
    tools like Hspice that let you deal with individual transistors.

    The moral of the story is that a hierarchy of abstraction makes
    engineering possible. The thing that allows an Intel engineer to design
    a CPU without having to lay out each individual transistor is the same
    as what allows someone to design a bridge without knowing how to pour
    concrete and to design a car without knowing how to grind metal gears
    (more or less, see below)

    That said, there's always some leakyness in these abstractions and
    that's why you're taught a bit of everything as an engineer. Your high
    level design decisions may affect what choices are made at a lower
    level, and you are expected to be somewhat aware of what these are. The
    high level guy at Intel has to be somewhat aware of the fact that he
    can't just say "I wan't an processor that executes an ADD instruction
    in 1 clock cycle at 100GHz" simply because the low level guy will say
    it can't be done.

    Cheers,

    Chris
    , Aug 2, 2005
    #4
  5. keith

    Ken Smith Guest

    In article <dcmunm$f0f$1.ov.home.nl>,
    Skybuck Flying <> wrote:
    [...]
    >Can a processor be produced with VHDL alone ? or is Cad/Cam still needed ?


    In FPGA design:

    As far as the user of VHDL is concerned, the VHDL made the processor.
    The VHDL discribes what is to be done. There is a bunch more information
    going into the tools discribing how various things can be done. This
    information is mostly inside what is called the "fitter". The "fitter" is
    usually specific to the family of FPGA you are using.

    The software tools break the VHDL down into a simpler form and then tries
    to match each thing that needs to happen to a method to do it. Obviously
    there is always a huge number of ways that each small part of the design
    can be done. The real trick in the tools is finding a way to get the
    whole design to fit into the available silicon. This is a bit like doing
    a PCB layout. You need to move the parts around so you can get the
    signals between them. It is very different in that you can only place
    parts in certain places and route signals through certain places.


    >Maybe like an intermediate language ? Probably ;)


    Yes, the input to the fitter is a simpler language. At that point
    everything has been reduced to simpler logic.


    [...]
    >Though I am more a pascal/delphi programmer so I'll probably feel more at
    >home with VHDL... though Verilog seems to be a little bit shorter just like
    >C :)


    As a person who also does Pascal and VHDL: VHDL has keywords like Pascal
    but it is a very different language.

    Unlike Pascal, VHDL has a lot of silliness in its syntax. The big one of
    these is the word "is". You just have to memorize where it is needed.

    Unlike Pascal, VDHL has the connections and the logic defined to two
    parts. It claimed that this is to allow changes to the implementation of
    sections to be made more easily. As far as I can tell, the autors just
    never heard of editors with cut and paste.

    --
    --
    forging knowledge
    Ken Smith, Aug 2, 2005
    #5
  6. In article <dcmunm$f0f$1.ov.home.nl>,
    says...
    >
    > "keith" <> wrote in message
    > news:p...
    > > On Tue, 02 Aug 2005 05:48:01 +0200, Skybuck Flying wrote:
    > >
    > > > Hi,
    > > >
    > > > Seeing all this stuff about how hardware can be programmed with

    > languages...
    > > > it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?
    > > >
    > > > Do they also uses hardware design/programming languages ? for some part

    > of
    > > > their chips or everything ?

    > >
    > > Dunno about Intel nor AMD, but the third choice does(VHDL). ;-) Some of
    > > the circuits are fully custom (schematics), but there is also a VHDL model
    > > of these circuits used for simulation.

    >
    > What would be the third choice ? IBM ? ;)


    Works for me. ...and verse visa. ;-)

    > > > Do they also still use cad/cam etc ?

    > >
    > > Of course. One doesn't design and lay out chips with half a billion
    > > transistors by hand.

    >
    > Can a processor be produced with VHDL alone ? or is Cad/Cam still needed ?


    VHDL is only a description of the function. It's really not *that*
    much different than a schematic, or a blueprint for an airplane. The
    logical representation of the widget still has to make it into the real
    world. CAD (Computer Aided Design) is used to change the logical
    description into a physical description. CAM (Computer Aided
    Manufacturing) takes that physical description and turns it into
    reality.

    > Hmm... VHDL probably needs to produce a Cad/Cam model ? so that it can be
    > produced/manufactured ;)
    > (since the code is just text ;) )
    >
    > So I do see the stupidity of my question ;) :)


    Not stupid at all. You got there.

    > But euhm... Does VHDL produce Cam/Cam output directly or are/can there be
    > multiple stages ?


    Think of an onion. The designer's job is usually to peel only one
    layer of the onion and pass it off to the next station. In this case A
    high-level designer may use VHDL to simulate the deign and them pass it
    off to another who will synthesize it into a netlist with lower level
    components. Another will take that netlist and create a physical
    representation of the design. Another will take the physical
    representation and make the masks for the photocopier. ...and so it
    goes until the onion is peeled.

    > Maybe like an intermediate language ? Probably ;)


    VHDL is the human interface. It gets compiled or "synthesized" into a
    netlist. The netlist gets "placed and routed" into a physical design
    (GL/1). That gets sent off to make masks, which in turn are used to
    make the device.

    > > > What hardware languages do they use if any ? :D

    > >
    > > Verilog is the other big one. Verilog is big in the US, while VHDL is
    > > bigger in Europe and for FPGAs (for some reason). Some software types
    > > think hardware design *is* just programming, so they're pushing "System-C"
    > > or some such nonsense.

    >
    > Cool, both languages seem a little bit familiar.


    Two sides of the same coin. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.
    They've come much closer together over the years, each stealing from
    the other. It's much a religious war these days (but Verilog sucks!;).

    > Though I am more a pascal/delphi programmer so I'll probably feel more at
    > home with VHDL... though Verilog seems to be a little bit shorter just like
    > C :)


    C sucks too. ;-)

    > Can both compilers generate output which is compatible with each other or
    > cad/cam programs ? probably ? ;)


    Yes. In fact it's not too difficult to do one part of a design in
    Verlion and another in VHDL, and still a third part with schematic
    entry.

    > Cad/Cam programs can probably handle output of both languages ?


    Sure. The synthesis outputs will look the same. The difference is in
    the front end language processor.

    --
    Keith
    Keith Williams, Aug 2, 2005
    #6
  7. keith

    Chris Carlen Guest

    Skybuck Flying wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > Seeing all this stuff about how hardware can be programmed with languages...
    > it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?
    >
    > Do they also uses hardware design/programming languages ? for some part of
    > their chips or everything ?
    >
    > Do they also still use cad/cam etc ?
    >
    > What hardware languages do they use if any ? :D
    >
    > Bye,
    > Skybuck =D



    Pencil & paper schematics, then discrete transistor breadboards. Same
    old same old.


    ;-)



    Just joking, of course.


    Good day!

    --
    _____________________
    Christopher R. Carlen

    SuSE 9.1 Linux 2.6.5
    Chris Carlen, Aug 3, 2005
    #7
  8. Skybuck Flying wrote:
    > it makes me wonder how intel/amd design their modern processors ?


    Dunno about AMD, but I've heard that Intel get Indians to do it.
    :)

    In case anyone thinks I mean disrespect, not at all! I'm constantly
    amazed at the way Intel continues to surmount unnecessarily difficult
    challenges...
    Clifford Heath, Aug 4, 2005
    #8
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