The Modern Digital Design Flow
The purpose of a hardware description languages is to describe digital circuitry using a text-based language. HDLs provide a means to describe large digital systems without the need for schematics, which can become impractical in very large designs. HDLs have evolved to support logic simulation at different levels of abstraction. This provides designers the ability to begin designing and verifying functionality of large systems at a high level of abstraction and postpone the details of the circuit implementation until later in the design cycle. This enables a top-down design approach that is scalable across different logic families. HDLs have also evolved to support automated synthesis, which allows the CAD tools to take a functional description of a system (e.g., a truth table) and automatically create the gate-level circuitry to be implemented in real hardware. This allows designers to focus their attention on designing the behavior of a system and not spend as much time performing the formal logic synthesis steps as in the classical digital design approach. The goal of this chapter is to provide the background and context of the modern digital design flow using an HDL-based approach.