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The designer's guide to VHDL

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VHDL may sound like a new Internet language, but it really stands for VHSIC (Very High Speed Integrated Circuit) Hardware Definition Language. VHDL borrows ideas from software engineering (architectural, behavior, and formal models, as well as modular design) and is used to design today's custom integrated circuits, from cell phones to microwave ovens and even CPUs. Peter Ashenden's The Designer's Guide to VHDL shows you how to use this language to write a hardware design, which you can then test in a simulator before "synthesizing" it into an actual hardware design in silicon. The book begins with the basics of VHDL, which, like any software language, has keywords, operators, flow control statements, and programming conventions. Next, the author introduces his first case study--a "pipelined multiplier accumulator," which simulates a CPU register. He then moves on to more complicated models, such as a design for a complete CPU (the DLX processor, which is used as a model for educating future CPU designers). More advanced aspects of VHDL follow, including guard signals, abstract data types, and even file I/O. A final case study (for a "queuing network") puts these components into practice. The book closes with a discussion of "synthesizers"--additional software tools that convert a VHDL specification into silicon--and how these tools impose design limits. The appendices include Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) enhancements to VHDL, which have increased the design language's power. Although most of us won't ever need to design our own integrated circuit, this book shows how it's done. Engineering students who need to master VHDL during a semester-length course, will find Ashenden's guide to be indispensable--and written in an accessible style rarely found in engineering texts.

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