How to start (newbie)

Discussion in 'VHDL' started by e7, Aug 1, 2004.

  1. e7

    e7 Guest

    Hi,

    Complete newbie to VHDL.
    I am electronics engineer and want to
    start learning and doing VHDL.

    I can learn from googling but to cut out
    the noise, just wondered if anyone can
    give me some clues.

    I'm on the GNU/Linux platform.
    Cheapest way to buy a chip and
    program it with something like
    the free 6502 CPU. Then edit the
    VHDL and program it again and again
    to see how VHDL works.
     
    e7, Aug 1, 2004
    #1
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  2. e7 <> wrote in message news:<nn4Pc.17502$>...

    > I'm on the GNU/Linux platform.
    > Cheapest way to buy a chip and
    > program it with something like
    > the free 6502 CPU. Then edit the
    > VHDL and program it again and again
    > to see how VHDL works.


    Unless you just want to just run the canned demos
    and flash some LEDs, consider deferring the hardware
    purchase until you learn some vhdl language for synthesis
    and simulation.

    Once you have a synthesis design that sims,
    doing the place and route and loading an FPGA
    image on a board is pretty cut and dry.

    Work with the free sonata linux download
    to design some synth code
    and a working simulation testbench.

    -- Mike Treseler
     
    Mike Treseler, Aug 2, 2004
    #2
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  3. e7

    e7 Guest

    Mike Treseler wrote:

    > e7 <> wrote in message
    > news:<nn4Pc.17502$>...
    >
    >> I'm on the GNU/Linux platform.
    >> Cheapest way to buy a chip and
    >> program it with something like
    >> the free 6502 CPU. Then edit the
    >> VHDL and program it again and again
    >> to see how VHDL works.

    >
    > Unless you just want to just run the canned demos
    > and flash some LEDs, consider deferring the hardware
    > purchase until you learn some vhdl language for synthesis
    > and simulation.


    Mike, my experience of VHDL is nil.
    So even canned demos are going to sound great.
    Even just to buy a chip, and flash an LED on/off
    will be a great start for a newbie like me.
    But I haven't the foggiest which makers are best
    place to start. I googled for all the major vendors,
    but I am a loss with the bewildering array of information.

    I just want a cheap skate DIP chip something commonly used
    that I can solder up some sockets pretty quick, and
    some way of programming it,
    and then Linux based software that can convert
    VHDL into schematics / vice versa and then program it
    so that I can see it working.
    I think the free 6502 uses 15,000 cells or something, so I need
    something big enough to cope with that.


    > Once you have a synthesis design that sims,
    > doing the place and route and loading an FPGA
    > image on a board is pretty cut and dry.
    >
    > Work with the free sonata linux download
    > to design some synth code
    > and a working simulation testbench.


    I will give that a try - thank you.

    > -- Mike Treseler
     
    e7, Aug 2, 2004
    #3
  4. e7 wrote:


    > Mike, my experience of VHDL is nil.


    > I think the free 6502 uses 15,000 cells or something, so I need
    > something big enough to cope with that.


    Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    get confused.

    I would recommend to start with a book, like HDL chip design
    http://www.doone.com/hdl_chip_des.html Turn your computer off and just
    read. This books wasn't that heavy, but very helpful.


    Ralf
     
    Ralf Hildebrandt, Aug 2, 2004
    #4
  5. e7

    e7 Guest

    Ralf Hildebrandt wrote:

    > e7 wrote:
    >
    >
    >> Mike, my experience of VHDL is nil.

    >
    >> I think the free 6502 uses 15,000 cells or something, so I need
    >> something big enough to cope with that.

    >
    > Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    > get confused.


    I do a lot of coding in assembler and C - so learning VHDL is
    easy enough having looked at the syntax - but need to link
    it with the real world by programming chips and try to
    understand the practical side of using VHDL, programming up
    the chips and then debugging it when it all goes horrible.


    > I would recommend to start with a book, like HDL chip design
    > http://www.doone.com/hdl_chip_des.html Turn your computer off and just
    > read. This books wasn't that heavy, but very helpful.
    >
    >
    > Ralf


    Thanks - but didn't want to spend money like that.
    If there are good on-line books, I'll take it.
     
    e7, Aug 2, 2004
    #5
  6. e7 <> wrote:
    > Ralf Hildebrandt wrote:
    >
    >> e7 wrote:
    >>
    >>
    >>> Mike, my experience of VHDL is nil.

    >>
    >>> I think the free 6502 uses 15,000 cells or something, so I need
    >>> something big enough to cope with that.

    >>
    >> Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    >> get confused.

    >
    > I do a lot of coding in assembler and C - so learning VHDL is
    > easy enough having looked at the syntax - but need to link
    > it with the real world by programming chips and try to
    > understand the practical side of using VHDL, programming up
    > the chips and then debugging it when it all goes horrible.


    Just one thing to remember with VHDL, the key is the HDL part, thats
    H=Hardware D=Descriptor L=Language.

    Just FYI the V in VHDL stands for VLSI which stands for very large scale
    intergration.

    Avoid thinking of VHDL as code but more as a picture of the hardware you
    are trying to implement. Otherwise, you'll run into all sorts of timing
    problems.

    One more thing, you can actually decribe hardware in C. But as with VHDL,
    don't think of it as code but a description of the hardware you are trying
    to implement. Personally for simple designs, I perfer to use a graphical
    layout program, that way the temptations of looking at the problem like
    a programmer is reduced.
    --

    Wing Wong.
    Webpage: http://wing.ucc.asn.au
     
    Wing Fong Wong, Aug 3, 2004
    #6
  7. e7 wrote:

    > Mike, my experience of VHDL is nil.
    > So even canned demos are going to sound great.
    > Even just to buy a chip, and flash an LED on/off
    > will be a great start for a newbie like me.


    If your objective is to program a circuit board
    to do your bidding, consider buying a CPU board
    that boots right out of the box.

    If you objective is to learn vhdl, start with
    just a simulator.

    > But I haven't the foggiest which makers are best
    > place to start. I googled for all the major vendors,
    > but I am a loss with the bewildering array of information.


    FPGAs are a medium-to-big bag of gates and flops.
    You have to connect the dots, either
    with a schematic or an text description.

    > I just want a cheap skate DIP chip something commonly used
    > that I can solder up some sockets pretty quick,


    DIP components are rare and cheap sockets are intermittent.

    > and some way of programming it,
    > and then Linux based software that can convert
    > VHDL into schematics / vice versa and then program it
    > so that I can see it working.


    Without an hdl design and working simulation testbench,
    the odds are you will see it not working.

    > I think the free 6502 uses 15,000 cells or something, so I need
    > something big enough to cope with that.


    Consider either a real cpu board or a much simpler
    hardware objective. Good luck.

    -- Mike Treseler
     
    Mike Treseler, Aug 3, 2004
    #7
  8. e7 wrote:


    >>Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    >>get confused.


    > I do a lot of coding in assembler and C - so learning VHDL is
    > easy enough having looked at the syntax

    ....

    NACK. VHDL is not a programming language. It is a tool for modelling
    digital circuits. Do not program you circuits - model them!

    Software is a strictly sequential task, while a HDL is more a parallel
    task. A HDL is similar to a CAD program with the difference, that it is
    text-based and not graphically.


    O.k. - VHDL and especially synthesizable VHDL is simple and you can do a
    lot with only the modelling template for a flipflop, latch and
    combinational logic, but especially this has nothing in common with
    software.

    Sometimes, when I have to write a program (C or ASM), then I first think
    of a HDL-like solution and then have to throw it completely away,
    because software is really different.


    Ralf
     
    Ralf Hildebrandt, Aug 3, 2004
    #8
  9. Ralf Hildebrandt <> wrote:
    > e7 wrote:
    >
    >
    >>>Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    >>>get confused.

    >
    >> I do a lot of coding in assembler and C - so learning VHDL is
    >> easy enough having looked at the syntax

    > ...
    >
    > NACK. VHDL is not a programming language. It is a tool for modelling
    > digital circuits. Do not program you circuits - model them!


    As I said in an earlier post remember the HDL in VHDL stands for hardware
    DESCRIPTOR language, meaning its a language used to describe hardware. As
    Ralf implied, if you think of VHDL as code you'll bound to run into problems.

    --

    Wing Wong.
    Webpage: http://wing.ucc.asn.au
     
    Wing Fong Wong, Aug 3, 2004
    #9
  10. e7

    e7 Guest

    Wing Fong Wong wrote:

    > Ralf Hildebrandt <> wrote:
    >> e7 wrote:
    >>
    >>
    >>>>Do you think, that such a big project will help you? I personally would
    >>>>get confused.

    >>
    >>> I do a lot of coding in assembler and C - so learning VHDL is
    >>> easy enough having looked at the syntax

    >> ...
    >>
    >> NACK. VHDL is not a programming language. It is a tool for modelling
    >> digital circuits. Do not program you circuits - model them!

    >
    > As I said in an earlier post remember the HDL in VHDL stands for hardware
    > DESCRIPTOR language, meaning its a language used to describe hardware. As
    > Ralf implied, if you think of VHDL as code you'll bound to run into
    > problems.


    I have enough understanding to follow VHDL modelling.
    What I now want to do is make something with it.
    Something readily available off the shelf to start
    programming a chip and test things.
     
    e7, Aug 3, 2004
    #10
  11. e7

    Ken Smith Guest

    In article <>,
    Ralf Hildebrandt <> wrote:
    [...]
    >NACK. VHDL is not a programming language. It is a tool for modelling
    >digital circuits. Do not program you circuits - model them!


    No, it is a way of discribing logic. The descibed logic can then be
    simulated and/or turned into real hardware.


    >Software is a strictly sequential task,

    The above is only true for software that will run in a sequential machine.
    Lots of software these days is run in parallel.

    --
    --
    forging knowledge
     
    Ken Smith, Aug 3, 2004
    #11
  12. (Ken Smith) writes:

    > In article <>,
    > Ralf Hildebrandt <> wrote:
    > [...]
    >>NACK. VHDL is not a programming language. It is a tool for modelling
    >>digital circuits. Do not program you circuits - model them!

    >
    > No, it is a way of discribing logic. The descibed logic can then be
    > simulated and/or turned into real hardware.
    >
    >
    >>Software is a strictly sequential task,

    > The above is only true for software that will run in a sequential machine.
    > Lots of software these days is run in parallel.


    While you are right in the most rigorous sense, Ralf's points still
    stands. HDL's are primarily parallel languages, while (most)
    (software) programs are primarily sequential. There is quite a
    distance between the two.

    I have witnessed several software people being "converted" into ASIC
    designers. It usually takes them about 6 months beating their brows
    flat on Synopsys Design Compiler, before they give up on their old
    thinking and start thinking in hardware when designing. The
    "SW-in-HW" code was very well-structured and beautiful to read, but it
    couldn't synthesize anywhere near the timing goals (the concept of
    having to explicitly insert sequencing of operations hadn't sunk in
    yet).

    At one point, one the these converted software guys came into my
    office complaining about DC taking an disproportionate amount of time
    elaborating a block (essentially a CAM block). My office mate and I
    looked at him at said in unison: "rewrite your code". He lamented. We
    insisted on the rewrite explaining that the code was too complex for
    DC to understand. After a restructuring, the block elaborated approx
    10x faster.


    Regards,

    Kai
     
    Kai Harrekilde-Petersen, Aug 3, 2004
    #12
  13. e7

    Ken Smith Guest

    In article <>,
    Kai Harrekilde-Petersen <> wrote:
    > (Ken Smith) writes:

    [...]
    >>>Software is a strictly sequential task,

    >> The above is only true for software that will run in a sequential machine.
    >> Lots of software these days is run in parallel.

    >
    >While you are right in the most rigorous sense, Ralf's points still
    >stands. HDL's are primarily parallel languages, while (most)
    >(software) programs are primarily sequential. There is quite a
    >distance between the two.


    I do hardware design, software design, write VHDL and do mechanical
    design. I don't see a large difference between any of them really. It is
    all about subdividing the bigger problem into small enough chunks to
    implement. On a deep level, all engineering is the same in this regard.

    >I have witnessed several software people being "converted" into ASIC
    >designers. It usually takes them about 6 months beating their brows
    >flat on Synopsys Design Compiler, before they give up on their old
    >thinking and start thinking in hardware when designing. The
    >"SW-in-HW" code was very well-structured and beautiful to read, but it
    >couldn't synthesize anywhere near the timing goals (the concept of
    >having to explicitly insert sequencing of operations hadn't sunk in
    >yet).


    But ask your self:

    Where these software folks really good at software or where they just
    getting by? A lot of schools teach coding and not programming resulting
    in people that can write correct code once someone else breaks the problem
    down.

    Did these people work in more than one language? If the person only codes
    in, lets say C, their perspective is very narrow compared to someone who
    also does assembly.


    --
    --
    forging knowledge
     
    Ken Smith, Aug 4, 2004
    #13
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