By John Sanguinetti, CTO, Forte Design Systems
Embedded.com (06/01/10, 12:20:00 AM EDT)
In high-level design, high-level code is put through a series of steps on its way to becoming register transfer level (RTL) code. The first step, algorithm design, is usually done in C or C++, where the high-level code that describes how the system will function is created. To be implemented in hardware, this high-level code must be converted to RTL code, using a synthesis tool. It's almost never the case, however, that high-level synthesis using the result of the algorithm design phase will produce a desirable RTL implementation. An architecture design phase that precedes high-level synthesis is required in order to produce RTL code with the desired characteristics.
Making a translation to SystemC for this step has become the preferred high-level design method. In this article, I'll give some examples of steps taken in the architecture design phase that can help you achieve good RTL code.
High-level design has many advantages over the more commonplace design flow that begins with RTL code. Among the most compelling advantages is the improved verification efficiency that a higher level of abstraction offers. It's apparent to the point of being self-evident that when the source code of a design is created, fewer errors occur if the source is at a higher abstraction level than if it is at a lower level. However, a process is still required to verify the transformations that are applied to the design description as it proceeds through the design flow from creation to final realization.
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