Definitions

Verilog

Verilog

In the semiconductor and electronic design industry, Verilog is a hardware description language (HDL) used to model electronic systems. Verilog HDL, not to be confused with VHDL, is most commonly used in the design, verification, and implementation of digital logic chips at the Register transfer level (RTL) level of abstraction. It is also used in the verification of analog and mixed-signal circuits.

About Verilog

Hardware description languages, such as Verilog, differ from software programming language in several fundamental ways. HDLs add the concept of concurrency, which is parallel execution of multiple statements in explicitly specified threads, propagation of time, and signal dependency (sensitivity). There are two assignment operators, a blocking assignment (=), and a non-blocking (<=) assignment. The non-blocking assignment allows designers to describe a state-machine update without needing to declare and use temporary storage variables. Since these concepts are part of the Verilog's language semantics, designers could quickly write descriptions of large circuits, in a relatively compact and concise form. At the time of Verilog's introduction (1984), Verilog represented a tremendous productivity improvement for circuit designers who were already using graphical schematic-capture, and specially-written software programs to document and simulate electronic circuits.

The designers of Verilog wanted a language with syntax similar to the C programming language, which was already widely used in engineering software development. Verilog is case-sensitive, has a basic preprocessor (though less sophisticated than ANSI C/C++), and equivalent control flow keywords (if/else, for, while, case, etc.), and compatible language operators precedence. Syntactic differences include variable declaration (Verilog requires bit-widths on net/reg types), demarcation of procedural-blocks (begin/end instead of curly braces {}), though there are many other minor differences.

A Verilog design consists of a hierarchy of modules. Modules encapsulate design hierarchy, and communicate with other modules through a set of declared input, output, and bidirectional ports. Internally, a module can contain any combination of the following: net/variable declarations (wire, reg, integer, etc.), concurrent and sequential statement blocks, instances of other modules (sub-hierarchy.) Sequential statements are placed inside a begin/end block and executed in sequential order within the block. But the blocks themselves are executed concurrently, qualifying Verilog as a Dataflow language.

Verilog's concept of 'wire' consists of both signal values (4-state: "1, 0, floating, undefined"), and strengths (strong, weak, etc.) This system allows abstract modeling of shared signal-lines, where multiple sources drive a common net. When a wire has multiple drivers, the wire's (readable) value is resolved by a function of the source drivers and their strengths.

A subset of statements in the Verilog language is synthesizable. Verilog modules that conform to a synthsizeable coding-style, known as RTL (register transfer level), can be physically realized by synthesis software. Synthesis-software algorithmically transforms the (abstract) Verilog source into a netlist, a logically-equivalent description consisting only of elmentary logic primitives (AND, OR, NOT, flipflops, etc.) Further manipulations to the netlist ultimately lead to a circuit fabrication blueprint (such as a photo mask-set for a ASIC), or a bitstream-file for an FPGA)

History

Beginning

Verilog was invented by Phil Moorby and Prabhu Goel during the winter of 1983/1984 at Automated Integrated Design Systems (later renamed to Gateway Design Automation) in 1985 as a hardware modeling language. Gateway Design Automation was later purchased by Cadence Design Systems in 1990. Cadence now has full proprietary rights to Gateway's Verilog and the Verilog-XL simulator logic simulators.

Verilog-95

With the increasing success of VHDL at the time, Cadence decided to make the language available for open standardization. Cadence transferred Verilog into the public domain under the Open Verilog International (OVI) (now known as Accellera) organization. Verilog was later submitted to IEEE and became IEEE Standard 1364-1995, commonly referred to as Verilog-95.

In the same time frame Cadence initiated the creation of Verilog-A to put standards support behind its analog simulator Spectre. Verilog-A was never intended to be a standalone language and is a subset of Verilog-AMS which encompassed Verilog-95.

Verilog 2001

Extensions to Verilog-95 were submitted back to IEEE to cover the deficiencies that users had found in the original Verilog standard. These extensions became IEEE Standard 1364-2001 known as Verilog-2001.

Verilog-2001 is a significant upgrade from Verilog-95. First, it adds explicit support for (2's complement) signed nets and variables. Previously, code authors had to perform signed-operations using awkward bit-level manipulations (for example, the carry-out bit of a simple 8-bit addition required an explicit description of the boolean-algebra to determine its correct value.) The same function under Verilog-2001 can be more succinctly described by one of the built-in operators: +, -, /, *, >>>. A generate/endgenerate construct (similar to VHDL's generate/endgenerate) allows Verilog-2001 to control instance and statement instantiation through normal decision-operators (case/if/else). Using generate/endgenerate, Verilog-2001 can instantiate an array of instances, with control over the connectivity of the individual instances. File I/O has been improved by several new system-tasks. And finally, a few syntax additions were introduced to improve code-readability (eg. always @*, named-parameter override, C-style function/task/module header declaration.)

Verilog-2001 is the dominant flavor of Verilog supported by the majority of commercial EDA software packages.

Verilog 2005

Not to be confused with SystemVerilog, Verilog 2005 (IEEE Standard 1364-2005) consists of minor corrections, spec clarifications, and a few new language features (such as the uwire keyword.)

A separate part of the Verilog standard , Verilog-AMS, attempts to integrate analog and mixed signal modelling with traditional Verilog.

SystemVerilog

Systemverilog is a superset of Verilog-2005, with many new features and capabilities to aid design-verification and design-modeling.

The advent of High Level Verification languages such as OpenVera, and Verisity's E language encouraged the development of Superlog by Co-Design Automation Inc. Co-Design Automation Inc was later purchased by Synopsys. The foundations of Superlog and Vera were donated to Accellera, which later became the IEEE standard P1800-2005: SystemVerilog.

Example

A hello world program looks like this:
module main;
 initial
   begin
     $display("Hello world!");
     $finish;
   end
endmodule

A simple example of two flip-flops follows:

module toplevel(clock,reset);
input clock;
input reset;

reg flop1;
reg flop2;

always @ (posedge reset or posedge clock)
if (reset)
  begin
    flop1 <= 0;
    flop2 <= 1;
  end
else
  begin
    flop1 <= flop2;
    flop2 <= flop1;
  end
endmodule

The "<=" operator in verilog is another aspect of its being a hardware description language as opposed to a normal procedural language. This is known as a "non-blocking" assignment. When the simulation runs, all of the signals assigned with a "<=" operator have their assignment scheduled to occur after all statements occurring during the same point in time have executed. After all the statements have been executed for one event, the scheduled assignments are performed. This makes it easier to code behaviours that happen simultaneously.

In the above example, flop1 is assigned flop2, and flop2 is assigned flop1. These statements are executed during the same time event. Since the assignments are coded with the "<=" non-blocking operator, the assignments are scheduled to occur at the end of the event. Until then, all reads to flop1 and flop2 will use the values they had at the beginning of the time event.

This means that the order of the assignments are irrelevant and will produce the same result. flop1 and flop2 will swap values every clock.

The other choice for assignment is an "=" operator and this is known as a blocking assignment. When the "=" operator is used, things occur in the sequence they occur much like a procedural language.

In the above example, if the statements had used the "=" blocking operator instead of "<=", the order of the statements would affect the behaviour: the reset would set flop2 to a 1, and flop1 to a 0. A clock event would then set flop1 to flop2, which is a 1 after the reset. The next statement would be executed subsequently and would set flop2 to flop1, which is now a 1. Rather than swap values every clock, flop1 and flop2 would both become 1 and remain that way.

An example counter circuit follows:

module Div20x (rst, clk, cet, cep, count,tc);
// TITLE 'Divide-by-20 Counter with enables'
// enable CEP is a clock enable only
// enable CET is a clock enable and
// enables the TC output
// a counter using the Verilog language

parameter size = 5; parameter length = 20;

input rst; // These inputs/outputs represent input clk; // connections to the module. input cet; input cep;

output [size-1:0] count; output tc;

reg [size-1:0] count; // Signals assigned

                     // within an always
                     // (or initial)block
                     // must be of type reg


wire tc; // Other signals are of type wire

// The always statement below is a parallel // execution statement that // executes any time the signals // rst or clk transition from low to high

always @ (posedge clk or posedge rst)

 if (rst) // This causes reset of the cntr
   count <= 5'b0;
 else
 if (cet && cep) // Enables both  true
   begin
     if (count == length-1)
       count <= 5'b0;
     else
       count <= count + 5'b1; // 5'b1 is 5 bits
   end                        // wide and equal
                              // to the value 1.

// the value of tc is continuously assigned // the value of the expression assign tc = (cet && (count == length-1));

endmodule

An example of delays:

...
reg a, b, c, d;
wire e;
...
always @(b or e)
begin
  a = b & e;
  b = a | b;
  #5 c = b;
  d = #6 c ^ e;
end

The always clause above illustrates the other type of method of use, i.e. the always clause executes any time any of the entities in the list change, i.e. the b or e change. When one of these changes, immediately a and b are assigned new values. After a delay of 5 time units, c is assigned the value of b and the value of c ^ e is tucked away in an invisible store. Then after 6 more time units, d is assigned the value that was tucked away.

Signals that are driven from within a process (an initial or always block) must be of type reg. Signals that are driven from outside a process must be of type wire. The keyword reg does not necessarily imply a hardware register.

Definition of Constants

The definition of constants in Verilog supports the addition of a width parameter. The basic syntax is:

<Width in bits>'<base letter><number>

Examples:

  • 12'h123 - Hexadecimal 123 (using 12 bits)
  • 20'd44 - Decimal 44 (using 20 bits - 0 extension is automatic)
  • 4'b1010 - Binary 1010 (using 4 bits)
  • 6'o77 - Octal 77 (using 6 bits)

Synthesizeable constructs

As mentioned previously, there are several basic templates that can be used to represent hardware.

// Mux examples - Three ways to do the same thing.

// The first example uses continuous assignment wire out ; assign out = sel ? a : b;

// the second example uses a procedure // to accomplish the same thing.

reg out; always @(a or b or sel)

begin
 case(sel)
  1'b0: out = b;
  1'b1: out = a;
 endcase
end
// Finally - you can use if/else in a // procedural structure. reg out; always @(a or b or sel)
 if (sel)
   out = a;
 else
   out = b;

The next interesting structure is a transparent latch; it will pass the input to the output when the gate signal is set for "pass-through", and captures the input and store it upon transition of the gate signal to "hold". The output will remain stable regardless of the input signal while the gate is set to "hold". In the example below the "pass-through" level of the gate would be when the value of the if clause is true, i.e. gate = 1. This is read "if gate is true, the din is fed to latch_out continuously." Once the if clause is false, the last value at latch_out will remain and is independent of the value of din.

// Transparent latch example

reg out; always @(gate or din)

if(gate)
  out = din; // Pass through state
  // Note that the else isn't required here. The variable
  // out will follow the value of din while gate is high.
  // When gate goes low, out will remain constant.

The flip-flop is the next significant template; in verilog, the D-flop is the simplest, and it can be modeled as:

reg q;
always @(posedge clk)
 q <= d;

The significant thing to notice in the example is the use of the non-blocking assignment. A basic rule of thumb is to use <= when there is a posedge or negedge statement within the always clause.

A variant of the D-flop is one with an asynchronous reset; there is a convention that the reset state will be the first if clause within the statement.

reg q;
always @(posedge clk or posedge reset)
 if(reset)
   q <= 0;
 else
   q <= d;

The next variant is including both an asynchronous reset and asynchronous set condition; again the convention comes into play, i.e. the reset term is followed by the set term.

reg q;
always @(posedge clk or posedge reset or posedge set)
if(reset)
  q <= 0;
else if(set)
  q <= 1;
else
  q <= d;

The final basic variant is one that implements a D-flop with a mux feeding its input. The mux has a d-input and feedback from the flop itself. This allows a gated load function.

// Basic structure with an EXPLICIT feedback path
always @(posedge clk)
 if(gate)
   q <= d;
 else
   q <= q; // explicit feedback path

// The more common structure ASSUMES the feedback is present // This is a safe assumption since this is how the // hardware compiler will interpret it. This structure // looks much like a Latch. The differences are the // @(posedge clk) and the non-blocking <= // always @(posedge clk)

 if(gate)
   q <= d; // the "else" mux is "implied"

Looking at the original counter example you can see a combination of the basic asynchronous reset flop and Gated input flop used. The register variable count is set to zero on the rising edge or rst. When rst is 0, the variable count will load new data when cet && cep is true.

Initial and Always

There are two separate ways of declaring a verilog process. These are the always and the initial keywords. The always keyword indicates a free-running process that triggers on the accompanying event-control (@) clause. The initial keyword indicates a process executes exactly once. Both constructs begin execution at simulator time 0, and both execute until the end of the block. Once an always block has reached its end, it is rescheduled (again). It is a common misconception to believe that an initial block will execute before an always block. In fact, it is better to think of the initial-block as a special-case of the always-block, one which terminates after it completes for the first time.

//Examples:
initial
 begin
   a = 1; // Assign a value to reg a at time 0
   #1; // Wait 1 time unit
   b = a; // Assign the value of reg a to reg b
 end

always @(a or b) // Anytime a or b CHANGE, run the process begin

 if (a)
   c = b;
 else
   d = ~b;
end // Done with this block, now return to the top (i.e. the @ event-control)

always @(posedge a)// Run whenever reg a has a low to high change

 a <= b;

These are the classic uses for these two keywords, but there are two significant additional uses. The most common of these is an always keyword without the @() sensitivity list. It is possible to use always as shown below:

always
begin // Always begins executing at time 0 and NEVER stops
  clk = 0; // Set clk to 0
  #1; // Wait for 1 time unit
  clk = 1; // Set clk to 1
  #1; // Wait 1 time unit
end // Keeps executing - so continue back at the top of the begin

The always keyword acts similar to the "C" construct while(1) {..} in the sense that it will execute forever.

The other interesting exception is the use of the initial keyword with the addition of the forever keyword.

The example below is functionally identical to the always example above.

initial forever // Start at time 0 and repeat the begin/end forever
begin
  clk = 0; // Set clk to 0
  #1; // Wait for 1 time unit
  clk = 1; // Set clk to 1
  #1; // Wait 1 time unit
end

Fork/Join

The fork/join pair are used by Verilog to create parallel processes. All statements (or blocks) between a fork/join pair begin execution simultaneously upon execution flow hitting the fork. Execution continues after the join upon completion of the longest running statement or block between the fork and join.

initial
fork
  $write("A"); // Print Char A
  $write("B"); // Print Char B
  begin
    #1; // Wait 1 time unit
    $write("C");// Print Char C
  end
join
The way the above is written, it is possible to have either the sequences "ABC" or "BAC" print out. The order of simulation between the first $write and the second $write depends on the simulator implementation. This illustrates one of the biggest issues with Verilog. You can have race conditions where the language execution order doesn't guarantee the results.

Race Conditions

The order of execution isn't always guaranteed within verilog. This can best be illustrated by a classic example. Consider the code snippet below:

initial
 a = 0;

initial

 b = a;
initial
 begin
   #1;
   $display("Value a=%b Value of b=%b",a,b);
 end

What will be printed out for the values of a and b? Well - it could be 0 and 0, or perhaps 0 and X! This all depends on the order of execution of the initial blocks. If the simulators scheduler works from the top of the file to the bottom, then you would get 0 and 0. If it begins from the bottom of the module and works up, then b will receive the initial value of a at the beginning of the simulation before it has been initialized to 0 (the value of any variable not set explicitily is set to X.) This is the way you can experience a race condition in a simulation. So be careful! Note that the 3rd initial block will execute as you expect because of the #1 there. That is a different point on the time wheel beyond time 0, consequently both of the earlier initial blocks have completed execution.

Operators

Operator type Operator symbols Operation performed
Bitwise ~ 1's complement
& Bitwise AND
| Bitwise OR
^ Bitwise XOR
~^ or ^~ Bitwise XNOR
Logical ! NOT
&& AND
|| OR
Reduction & Reduction AND
~& Reduction NAND
| Reduction OR
~| Reduction NOR
^ Reduction XOR
~^ or ^~ Reduction XNOR
Arithmetic + Addition
- Subtraction
- 2's complement
* Multiplication
/ Division
** exponent (*Verilog-2001)
Relational > Greater than
< Less than
>= Greater than or equal to
<= Less than or equal to
== logical equality (bit-value 1'bX is removed from comparison)
!= Logical inequality (bit-value 1'bX is removed from comparison)
=== 4-state logical equality (bit-value 1'bX is taken as literal)
!== 4-state Logical inequality (bit-value 1'bX is taken as literal)
Shift >> Logical Right shift
<< Logical Left shift
>>> Arithmetic Right shift (*Verilog-2001)
<<< Arithmetic Left shift (*Verilog-2001)
Concatenation { , } Concatenation
Replication Replication
Conditional ? : Conditional

System tasks

System tasks are available to handle simple I/O, and various design measurement functions. All system tasks are prefixed with $ to distinguish them from user tasks and functions. This section presents a short list of the most often used tasks. It is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • $display - Print to screen a line followed by an automatic newline.
  • $write - Print to screen a line without the newline.
  • $swrite - Print to variable a line without the newline.
  • $sscanf - Read from variable a format-specified string. (*Verilog-2001)
  • $fopen - Open a handle to a file (read or write)
  • $fdisplay - Write to file a line followed by an automatic newline.
  • $fwrite - Write to file a line without the newline.
  • $fscanf - Read from file a format-specified string. (*Verilog-2001)
  • $fclose - Close and release an open file-handle.
  • $readmemh - Read hex file content into a memory array.
  • $readmemb - Read binary file content into a memory array.
  • $monitor - Print out all the listed variables when any change value.
  • $time - Value of current simulation time.
  • $dumpfile - Declare the VCD (Value Change Dump) format output file name.
  • $dumpvars - Turn on and dump the variables.
  • $dumpports - Turn on and dump the variables in Extended-VCD format.
  • $random - Return a random value.

Program Language Interface (PLI)

Program Language Interface provides a programmer with transferring control from Verilog to a program function written in C language. It is officially deprecated by IEEE Std 1364-2005 in favor of the newer Verilog Procedural Interface, which completely replaces the PLI.

The PLI enables Verilog to cooperate with other programs written in the C language such as test harness, Instruction Set Simulator of microcontroller, debugger, and so on. For example, it provides C functions named tf_putlongp() and tf_getlongp() which are used to write and read the argument of the current Verilog task or function, respectively.

Simulation software

For information on Verilog simulators, see List of Verilog Simulators.

See also

Additional material

Related languages

External links

Verilog Resources

Standards Development

Verilog Tools

  • NCSim
  • VCS - A fast Verilog simulator, mainly UNIX-based.
  • ModelSim - A mixed-languages simulator, supporting Verilog-2001 and SystemVerilog.
  • Active HDL - A mixed-languages simulator, supporting Verilog-2001 and SystemVerilog.
  • LogicSim - A low-cost Windows-only Verilog simulator.
  • VeriLogger Extreme - Verilog 2001 simulator for Windows and Unix

Open Source Verilog Tools

References

  • Thomas, Donald, Moorby, Phillip "The Verilog Hardware Description Language" Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA. ISBN 0-7923-8166-1
  • Cornell ECE576 Course illustrating synthesis constructs
  • Janick Bergerdon, "Writing Testbenches: Functional Verification of HDL Models", 2000, ISBN 0-7923-7766-4. (The HDL Testbench Bible)

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