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VHDL Tutorial

VHDL tutorial provides basic and advanced concepts of VHDL. Our VHDL tutorial is designed for beginners and professionals.


What is HDL?

HDL stands for Hardware Description Language. It is a programming language that is used to describe, simulate, and create hardware like digital circuits (ICS). HDL is mainly used to discover the faults in the design before implementing it in the hardware.

The main advantage of HDLs is that it provides flexible modeling capabilities and can express the large complex designs (>107 gates).

Today, there are many HDLs available in the market, but VHDL and Verilog are the most popular HDLs.


What is VHDL?

VHDL stands for Very High-Speed Integration Circuit HDL (Hardware Description Language). It is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard hardware description language that is used to describe and simulate the behavior of complex digital circuits.

The most popular examples of VHDL are Odd Parity Generator, Pulse Generator, Priority Encoder, Behavioral Model for 16 words, 8bit RAM, etc.

VHDL supports the following features:

  • Design methodologies and their features.
  • Sequential and concurrent activities.
  • Design exchange
  • Standardization
  • Documentation
  • Readability
  • Large-scale design
  • A wide range of descriptive capability

What is Verilog?

Verilog is also a HDL (Hardware Description Languages) for describing electronic circuits and systems. It is used in both hardware simulation and synthesis.

The most popular examples of Verilog are network switch, a microprocessor, a memory, a simple flip-flop, etc.


Difference between VHDL and Verilog

VHDL Verilog
It allows the user to define data types. It does not allow the user to define data types.
It supports the Multi-Dimensional array. It does not support the Multi-Dimensional array.
It allows concurrent procedure calls. It does not allow concurrent calls.
A mod operator is present. A mod operator is not present.
Unary reduction operator is not present. Unary reduction operator is present.
It is more difficult to learn. It is easy to learn.

History of VHDL

VHDL was developed by the Department of Defence (DOD) in 1980.

  • 1980: The Department of Defence wanted to make circuit design self-documenting.
  • 1983: The development of VHDL began with a joint effort by IBM, Inter-metrics, and Texas Instruments.
  • 1985 (VHDL Version 7.2): The final version of the language under the government contract was released.
  • 1987: DOD permitted for commercial purpose, and VHDL became IEEE Standard 1076-1987.
  • 1993: VHDL was re-standardized to enhance the language
  • 1996: A VHDL package used with synthesis tools and became a part of the IEEE 1076 standard.
  • 1999: Analog Mixed Signal extension (VHDL-AMS)
  • 2008: IEEE Standard 1076-2008 (New features) was released.

Why VHDL?

VHDL is used for the following purposes:

  • For Describing hardware
  • As a modeling language
  • For a simulation of hardware
  • For early performance estimation of system architecture
  • For the synthesis of hardware

Advantages of VHDL

A list of advantages of VHDL is given below:

  • It supports various design methodologies like Top-down approach and Bottom-up approach.
  • It provides a flexible design language.
  • It allows better design management.
  • It allows detailed implementations.
  • It supports a multi-level abstraction.
  • It provides tight coupling to lower levels of design.
  • It supports all CAD tools.
  • It strongly supports code reusability and code sharing.

Disadvantages of VHDL

A list of disadvantages of VHDL is given below:

  • It requires specific knowledge of the structure and syntax of the language.
  • It is more difficult to visualize and troubleshoot a design.
  • Some VHDL programs cannot be synthesized.
  • VHDL is more difficult to learn.

Basic Elements of VHDL

There are the following three basic elements of VHDL:

1. Entity

The Entity is used to specify the input and output ports of the circuit. An Entity usually has one or more ports that can be inputs (in), outputs (out), input-outputs (inout), or buffer.

An Entity may also include a set of generic values that are used to declare properties of the circuit.

Entity Declaration

You can declare an entity using the following syntax:

  • Simplified syntax

Example:

  • Using generic

If an entity is generic, then it must be declared before the ports. Generic does not have a mode, so it can only pass information into the entity.

Syntax:

Example:

Rules for writing Port name:

- Port name consist of letters, digits, and underscores.
- It always begins with a letter.
- Port name is case insensitive.

Modes of Port

in         Input port
out         Output port
inout         Bidirectional port
buffer         Buffered output port

2. Architecture

Architecture is the actual description of the design, which is used to describe how the circuit operates. It can contain both concurrent and sequential statements.

Architecture Declaration

An architecture can be declared using the following syntax:

Example:

3. Configuration

A configuration defines how the design hierarchy is linked together. It is also used to associate architecture with an entity.

Configuration Declaration

Example:


Types of Modeling styles in VHDL

There are 4 types of modeling styles in VHDL:

1. Data flow modeling (Design Equations)

Data flow modeling can be described based on the Boolean expression. It shows how the data flows from input to output. It works on Concurrent execution.

2. Behavioral modeling (Explains Behaviour)

Behavioral modeling is used to execute statements sequentially. It shows that how the system performs according to the current statement.

Behavioral modeling may contain Process statements, Sequential statements, Signal assignment statements, and wait statements.

3. Structural modeling (Connection of sub modules)

Structural modeling is used to specify the functionality and structure of the circuit.

Structural modeling contain signal declarations, component instances, and port maps in component instance.


VHDL objects

VHDL uses the following three types of objects:

1. Constants

Constant is an object which can only hold a single value that cannot be changed during the whole code.

Example: constant number_of_bytes integer:=8;

2. Variables

A variable also holds a single value of a given type. The value of the variable may be changed during the simulation by using variable assignment operator.

Variables are used in the processes and subprograms.

Variables are assigned by the assignment operator ":=".

Example:

variable index: integer :=0;

3. Signals

Signals can be declared in architecture and used anywhere within the architecture. Signals are assigned by the assignment operator "<=".

Example:

Signal sig1: std_logic;
Sig1 <= '1'


Data Types in VHDL

Data Types are the abstract representation of stored data.

There are the following data types in VHDL -

1. Scalar Types

  • Integer
    Integer data types are the set of positive and negative whole numbers.
  • Floating point
    Floating point data types are the set of positive and negative numbers that contain a decimal point.
  • Enumeration
    Enumeration data type is used to increase the readability of the code.
  • Physical
    Physical data type describes objects in terms of a base unit, multiples of base unit, and a specified range.

2. Composite Types

  • Arrays
    Arrays are used to hold multiple values of the same types under a single identifier
  • Record
    Records are used to specify one or more elements, and each element has a different name and different type.

VHDL Operators

VHDL Operators are used for constructing the expressions.

There are the following types of operators in VHDL:

1. Logical Operators

Logical Operators are used to control the program flow. When the logical operators combined with signals or variables, then it is used to create combinational logic.

VHDL supports the following logical operators:

  • and
  • or
  • nand
  • nor
  • xor
  • xnor
  • not

2. Relational Operators

In VHDL, relational operators are used to compare two operands of the same data type, and the received result is always of the Boolean type.

VHDL supports the following Relational Operators:

  • = Equal to
  • /= Not Equal to
  • < Less than
  • > Greater than
  • <= Less than or equal to
  • >= Greater than or equal to

3. Arithmetic Operators

Arithmetic Operators are used to perform arithmetic operations. These operators are numeric types, such as integer and real.

VHDL uses the following Arithmetic Operators:

  • + Addition
  • - Subtraction
  • * Multiplication
  • / Division
  • & Concatenation
  • mod Modulus
  • rem Remainder
  • abs Absolute Value
  • ** Exponentiation

4. Shift Operators

In VHDL, shift operator is used to perform the bit manipulation on the data by shifting and rotating the bits of its first operand right or left.

VHDL supports the following Miscellaneous Operators:

  • Sll shift logical left
  • Srl shift logical right
  • Sla shift arithmetic left
  • Sra shift arithmetic right
  • Rol rotate left
  • Ror rotate right

Note: Operators are evaluated in order to their precedence. (i.e., highest to lowest)

Highest Precedence Order Lowest
Arithmetic Operator Shift Operator Relational Operator Logical Operator

The Operator of equal precedence is evaluated from left to right.


Install the Xilinx ISE Tool

There are the following steps to install the Xilinx ISE Tool -

Step1: Click on the below link to download the Xilinx ISE tool.

https://www.xilinx.com/support/download/index.html/content/xilinx/en/downloadNav/design-tools/v2012_4---14_7.html

Step2: Now go to ISE Design suite - 14.7 Full Product Installation and select Full Installer for Windows 7/XP server (TAR/GRIP - 6.18 GB) as shown in the below screenshot.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 3: Once you click on the "Full Installer for windows 7/XP/Server", you will see that a Xilinx sign in page appears. If you do not have an account of Xilinx, then click on the Create your account.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 4: Fill the information in the registration page then click on the Create Account.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 5: After clicking on the Create Account, the following window appears.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 6: Now, you will receive a mail on your registered e-mail id which contains an activation link. Click on the link to activate your account.

Step 7: Once you click on the link, a sign in to activate account window appears in the window, in which enter your Username and Password, then click on the Sign In.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 8: Now click on the below link for the Name and Address Verification.

https://www.xilinx.com/member/forms/download/xef.html?filename=Xilinx_ISE_DS_Win_14.7_1015_1.tar

Step 9: After completing the verification form, click on the Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 10: Now, you can see that the Xilinx_ISE tar file is started to download.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 11: Double click on the downloaded file and extract the file to run xsetup.exe.

Step 12: Once you run the Application, the following Welcome window appears on the screen.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 13: Tick on the I accept and agree to the terms and conditions above and also tick on the I also accept and agree to the following terms and conditions then click on the Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool
Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 14: Now, select the listed product to install. For VHDL, select the ISE WebPACK, which is the free version of the software. After selecting the ISE WebPACK, click on the Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 15: The Installation options window appears. In this window, click on Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 16: Select the Destination Directory, then click on the Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 17: You can see the summary of the Installation in the below screenshot. Click on the Install to install the Xilinx.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 18: You can see that installation is in progress.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 19: Once the installation is completed, click on the Finish.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 20: Fixing Project Navigator, iMPACT, and License Manager

There are the following steps to Fixing Project Navigator, iMPACT, and Licence Manager.

  1. Go to the C:\Xilinx\14.7\ISE_DS\ISE\lib\nt64 and rename libPortability.dll to lib.Portability.dll.orig.
  2. Copy and paste libPortabilityNOSH.dll in the same directory, and rename it to libPortability.dll.
  3. Copy libPortabilityNOSH.dll and paste it into the C:\Xilinx\14.7\ISE_DS\common\lib\nt64
  4. In C:\Xilinx\14.7\ISE_DS\common\lib\nt64 rename libPortability.dll to libPortability.dll.orig.
  5. In C:\Xilinx\14.7\ISE_DS\common\lib\nt64 rename libPortabilityNOSH.dll to libPortability.dll.

After completing the above steps, you can close the directory.

Step 21: Now, you can see IDE Design Suite appears on the screen. Double click on the IDE Design Suite, you can see the following pop up:

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 22: Now, the following window appears with a pop-up, click on the OK in the pop-up window.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 23: When you click on the Licence, the following window will open in which select Get My Purchased Licence (s) then click on the Next.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 24: To connect with the default browser, click on the Connect Now.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 25: It opens a new XILINX page in the browse. On this page, enter Username and password then click on the Sign in.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 26: After clicking on the Sign In, the following window appears.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 27: Once you select the file, an e-mail is received in your registered e-mail id, which consists of a Xilinx.lic file. You need to download this file.

Click on the load Licence to upload the downloaded license file then click on the close.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 28: Once the file is uploaded, a pop occurs with the message Licence installation was successful, click on the OK in the pop-up and then click on the close.

The below screenshot shows the licence is uploaded.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Step 29: Now, you can create the projects in the Xilinx tool.

Install Xilinx ISE Tool

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

There are the following steps for creating a project in Xilinx -

Step1: Creating a new project

To create the new project, Select File -> New Project. It will open a new project window on the desktop.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

In the new project window, give the Project Name that you want to create and specify the location (directory path) where you want to save the project, then click on the Next.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Note: Make sure that Top-level source type is selected as the HDL, rather than Schematic, EDIF, or other stuff.

After clicking on the Next button, the following window appears, which shows the project properties. Fill the properties according to your requirements then click on the Next.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

After clicking on the Next button, the following window appears, which shows the Project Summary. If the project summary matches with your requirement, then click on the Finish. Otherwise, click on the Back and fill property according to your requirement.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Step2: Create VHDL Source

To add the VHDL source in VHDL, click on New Source in the project Wizard, or click on the Project ->New Source.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Type your file name, specify the location, and select VHDL Module as the source type. Make sure that the Add to Project check box is selected, then click on the Next.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Step 3: Assign the ports for VHDL source

To design the Half Adder, you can assign a port name as a, b, sum, and cout. Where for a and b are treated as the input ports, so select in from the drop-down menu. sum and cout are treated as the output ports, so select out from the drop-down menu.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

The following screenshot shows a summary of the project.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Step 4: Enter and edit VHDL code

The following screenshot shows the automatically generated Half_Adder code.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

To design the Half_Adder, enter the following code in the working area.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Step 5: Synthesize the Code

When your source file is completed, you need to check the syntax of the design. To check the syntax, Click on the Synthesize-XST process to expand the hierarchy. Now, double click on the Check syntax.

You can see that an ISE compilation process is started. If the ISE process completed successfully, a green checkmark appears. Otherwise, a red X appears which show that there were errors and process failed.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

To see the basic design of half adder double click on the View RTL Schematic.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Now you will see the following pop up in which click on the OK.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

In the create RTL Schematic, select the project from the Available list, and then click on the Add button to move the selected project to the Selected Elements and click on the Create Schematic.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Now, you can see the external design of half Adder on the screen.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

When you double click on the above rectangle, you can see the internal diagram using the logical gates.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool
Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Step 6: Simulating Behavioral Model (ISE Simulator)

To check the behavioral model, select the Implementation-> Half_Adder- Behavioral (Half_Adder.vhd) and double click on the Simulate Behavioral Model.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

If the simulation is successful, the following window opens.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

To assign the value, right-click on the given values(U) then select Force Constant. Consider the below image:

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

The following pop up will occur in which you can assign the value of a, then click on the Apply and OK.

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Case 1: If input is:

a = 0
b = 0

Output:

sum = 0
cout = 0

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Case2: If input is -

a = 0
b = 1

Output:

sum = 1
cout = 0

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Case 3: Input is -

a = 1
b = 0

Output:

sum = 1
cout = 0

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

Case 4: Input is -

a = 1
b = 1

Output:

sum = 0
cout = 1

Creating a project in VHDL using Xilinx IDE Tool

VHDL vs. C Language

VHDL C Language
VHDL is a Hardware description language. C language is a mixture of High-Level language and Assembly language.
VHDL is synthesizable. C is not synthesizable.
VHDL handles both Sequential & concurrent instructions. C handles only Sequential instructions.

Prerequisite

Before learning VHDL, you must have the basic knowledge of electronic circuits.

Audience

Our VHDL tutorial is designed to help beginners and professionals.

Problem

We assure you that will not find any problem in this VHDL tutorial. But if there is any mistake or error, please post the error in the contact form.




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