8.3  The Halfgate ASIC

This section illustrates FPGA design using a very simple ASIC—a single inverter. The hidden details of the design and construction of this “halfgate FPGA” are quite complicated. Fortunately, most of the inner workings of the design software are normally hidden from the designer. However, when software breaks, as it sometimes does, it is important to know how things work in order to fix the problem. The formats, filenames, and flow will change, but the information needed at each stage and the order in which it is conveyed will stay much the same.

8.3.1 Xilinx

Table 8.5 shows an FPGA design flow using Compass and Xilinx software. On the left of Table 8.5 is a script for the Compass programs—scripts for Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys software are similar, but not all design software has the capability to be run on autopilot using scripts and a command language. The diagrams in Table 8.5 illustrate what is happening at each of the design steps. The following numbered comments, corresponding to the labels in Table 8.5 , highlight the important steps:

TABLE 8.5  Design flow for the Xilinx implementation of the halfgate ASIC.

Script

Design flow

 

# halfgate.xilinx.inp

shell setdef

path working xc4000d xblox cmosch000x

quit

asic

open [v]halfgate

synthesize

save [nls]halfgate_p

quit

fpga

set tag xc4000

set opt area

optimize [nls]halfgate_p

quit

qtv

open [nls]halfgate_p

trace critical

print trace [txt]halfgate_p

quit

shell vuterm

exec xnfmerge -p 4003PC84 halfgate_p > /dev/null

exec xnfprep halfgate_p > /dev/null

exec ppr halfgate_p > /dev/null

exec makebits -w halfgate_p > /dev/null

exec lca2xnf -g -v halfgate_p halfgate_b > /dev/null

quit

manager notice

utility netlist

open [xnf]halfgate_b

save [nls]halfgate_b

save [edf]halfgate_b

quit

qtv

open [nls]halfgate_b

trace critical

print trace [txt]halfgate_b

quit

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 8.6  The Xilinx files for the halfgate ASIC.

Verilog file (halfgate.v)

Preroute XNF file (halfgate_p.xnf)

LCA file (halfgate_p.lca)

Postroute XNF file (halfgate_b.xnf)

  1. The Verilog code, in halfgate.v , describes a single inverter.
  2. The script runs the logic synthesizer that converts the Verilog description to an inverter (using elements from the Xilinx XC4000 library) and saves the result in a netlist, halfgate_p.nls (a Compass internal format).
  3. The script next runs the logic optimizer for FPGAs. This program also adds the I/O pads. In this case, logic optimization implements the inverter by using an inverting output pad. The software writes out the netlist as halfgate_p.xnf .
  4. A timing simulation is run on the netlist halfgate_p.nls (the Compass format netlist). This netlist uses the default delays—every gate has a delay of 1 ns.
  5. At this point the script has run all of the Xilinx programs required to complete the place-and-route step. The Xilinx programs have created several files, the most important of which is halfgate_p.lca , which describes the FPGA layout. This postroute netlist is converted to halfgate_b.nls (the added suffix 'b' stands for back-annotation). Next a timing simulation is performed on the postroute netlist, which now includes delays, to find the delay from the input ( myInput ) to the output ( myOutput ). This is the critical—and only—path. The simulation (not shown) reveals that the delay is 2.8 ns (for the input buffer) plus 11.6 ns (for the output buffer), for a total delay of 14.4 ns (this is for a XC4003 in a PC84 package, and default speed grade '4').

Table 8.6 shows the key Xilinx files that are created. The preroute file, halfgate_p.xnf , describes the IBUF and OBUF library cells but does not contain any delays. The LCA file, halfgate_p.lca , contains all the physical design information, including the locations of the pads and I/O cells on the FPGA ( PAD61 for myInput and PAD1 for myOutput ), as well as the details of the programmable connections between these I/O Cells. The postroute file, halfgate_b.xnf , is similar to the preroute version except that now the delays are included. Xilinx assigns delays to a pin (connector or terminal of a cell). In this case 2.8 ns is assigned to the output of the input buffer, 8.6 ns is assigned to the input of the output buffer, and finally 3.0 ns is assigned to the output of the output buffer.

8.3.2 Actel

The key Actel files for the halfgate design are the netlist file, halfgate_io.adl, and the STF delay file for back-annotation, halfgate_io.stf. Both of these files are shown in Table 8.7 (the STF file is large and only the last few lines, which contain the delay information, are shown in the table).

TABLE 8.7  The Actel files for the halfgate ASIC.

ADL file

STF file

; HEADER

; FILEID ADL ./halfgate_io.adl 85e8053b

; CHECKSUM 85e8053b

; PROGRAM certify

; VERSION 23/1

; ALSMAJORREV 2

; ALSMINORREV 3

; ALSPATCHREV .1

; NODEID 72705192

; VAR FAMILY 1400

; ENDHEADER

DEF halfgate_io; myInput, myOutput.

USE ADLIB:INBUF; INBUF_2.

USE ADLIB:OUTBUF; OUTBUF_3.

USE ADLIB:INV; u2.

NET DEF_NET_8; u2:A, INBUF_2:Y.

NET DEF_NET_9; myInput, INBUF_2:PAD.

NET DEF_NET_11; OUTBUF_3:D, u2:Y.

NET DEF_NET_12; myOutput, OUTBUF_3:PAD.

END.

; HEADER

; FILEID STF ./halfgate_io.stf c96ef4d8

 

... lines omitted ... (126 lines total)

 

DEF halfgate_io.

USE ; INBUF_2/U0;

TPADH:'11:26:37',

TPADL:'13:30:41',

TPADE:'12:29:41',

TPADD:'20:48:70',

TYH:'8:20:27',

TYL:'12:28:39'.

PIN u2:A;

RDEL:'13:31:42',

FDEL:'11:26:37'.

USE ; OUTBUF_3/U0;

TPADH:'11:26:37',

TPADL:'13:30:41',

TPADE:'12:29:41',

TPADD:'20:48:70',

TYH:'8:20:27',

TYL:'12:28:39'.

PIN OUTBUF_3/U0:D;

RDEL:'14:32:45',

FDEL:'11:26:37'.

END.

8.3.3 Altera

Because Altera complex PLDs use a deterministic routing structure, they can be designed more easily using a self-contained software package—an “all-in-one” software package using a single interface. We shall assume that we can generate a netlist that the Altera software can accept using Cadence, Mentor, or Compass software with an Altera design kit (the most convenient format is EDIF).

Table 8.8 shows the EDIF preroute netlist in a format that the Altera software can accept. This netlist file describes a single inverter (the line 'cellRef not'). The majority of the EDIF code in Table 8.8 is a standard template to pass information about how the VDD and VSS nodes are named, which libraries are used, the name of the design, and so on. We shall cover EDIF in Chapter  9 .

TABLE 8.8  EDIF netlist in Altera format for the halfgate ASIC.

 

Table 8.9 shows a small part of the reports generated by the Altera software after completion of the place-and-route step. This report tells us how the software has used the basic logic cells, interconnect, and I/O cells to implement our design. With practice it is possible to read the information from reports such as Table 8.9 directly, but it is a little easier if we also look at the netlist. The EDIF version of postroute netlist for this example is large. Fortunately, the Altera software can also generate a Verilog version of the postroute netlist. Here is the generated Verilog postroute netlist, halfgate_p.vo (not '.v' ), for the halfgate design:

TABLE 8.9  Report for the halfgate ASIC fitted to an Altera MAX 7000 complex PLD.

** INPUTS **

Shareable

Expanders Fan-In Fan-Out

Pin LC LAB Primitive Code Total Shared n/a INP FBK OUT FBK Name

43 - - INPUT 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 myInput

** OUTPUTS **

Shareable

Expanders Fan-In Fan-Out

Pin LC LAB Primitive Code Total Shared n/a INP FBK OUT FBK Name

41 17 B OUTPUT t 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 myOutput

** LOGIC CELL INTERCONNECTIONS **

Logic Array Block 'B':

+- LC17 myOutput

|

LC | | A B | Name

 

Pin

43 -> * | - * | myInput

 

* = The logic cell or pin is an input to the logic cell (or LAB) through the PIA.

- = The logic cell or pin is not an input to the logic cell (or LAB).

// halfgate_p (EPM7032LC44) MAX+plus II Version 5.1 RC6 10/03/94

// Wed Jul 17 04:07:10 1996

`timescale 100 ps / 100 ps

module TRI_halfgate_p( IN, OE, OUT ); input IN; input OE; output OUT;

bufif1 ( OUT, IN, OE );

specify

specparam TTRI = 40; specparam TTXZ = 60; specparam TTZX = 60;

(IN => OUT) = (TTRI,TTRI);

(OE => OUT) = (0,0, TTXZ, TTZX, TTXZ, TTZX);

endspecify

endmodule

module halfgate_p (myInput, myOutput);

input myInput; output myOutput; supply0 gnd; supply1 vcc;

wire B1_i1, myInput, myOutput, N_8, N_10, N_11, N_12, N_14;

TRI_halfgate_p tri_2 ( .OUT(myOutput), .IN(N_8), .OE(vcc) );

TRANSPORT transport_3 ( N_8, N_8_A );

defparam transport_3.DELAY = 10;

and delay_3 ( N_8_A, B1_i1 );

xor xor2_4 ( B1_i1, N_10, N_14 );

or or1_5 ( N_10, N_11 );

TRANSPORT transport_6 ( N_11, N_11_A );

defparam transport_6.DELAY = 60;

and and1_6 ( N_11_A, N_12 );

TRANSPORT transport_7 ( N_12, N_12_A );

defparam transport_7.DELAY = 40;

not not_7 ( N_12_A, myInput );

TRANSPORT transport_8 ( N_14, N_14_A );

defparam transport_8.DELAY = 60;

and and1_8 ( N_14_A, gnd );

endmodule

The Verilog model for our ASIC, halfgate_p , is written in terms of other models: and , xor , or , not , TRI_halfgate_p , TRANSPORT . The first four of these are primitive models for basic logic cells and are built into the Verilog simulator. The model for TRI_halfgate_p is generated together with the rest of the code. We also need the following model for TRANSPORT, which contains the delay information for the Altera MAX complex PLD. This code is part of a file ( alt_max2.vo ) that is generated automatically.

// MAX+plus II Version 5.1 RC6 10/03/94 Wed Jul 17 04:07:10 1996

`timescale 100 ps / 100 ps

module TRANSPORT( OUT, IN ); input IN; output OUT; reg OUTR;

wire OUT = OUTR; parameter DELAY = 0;

`ifdef ZeroDelaySim

always @IN OUTR <= IN;

`else

always @IN OUTR <= #DELAY IN;

`endif

`ifdef Silos

initial #0 OUTR = IN;

`endif

endmodule

The Altera software can also write the following VHDL postroute netlist:

-- halfgate_p (EPM7032LC44) MAX+plus II Version 5.1 RC6 10/03/94

-- Wed Jul 17 04:07:10 1996

LIBRARY IEEE; USE IEEE.std_logic_1164.all;

ENTITY n_tri_halfgate_p IS

GENERIC (ttri: TIME := 1 ns; ttxz: TIME := 1 ns; ttzx: TIME := 1 ns);

PORT (in0 : IN X01Z; oe : IN X01Z; out0: OUT X01Z);

END n_tri_halfgate_p;

ARCHITECTURE behavior OF n_tri_halfgate_p IS

BEGIN

PROCESS (in0, oe) BEGIN

IF oe'EVENT THEN

IF oe = '0' THEN out0 <= TRANSPORT 'Z' AFTER ttxz;

ELSIF oe = '1' THEN out0 <= TRANSPORT in0 AFTER ttzx;

END IF;

ELSIF oe = '1' THEN out0 <= TRANSPORT in0 AFTER ttri;

END IF;

END PROCESS;

END behavior;

LIBRARY IEEE; USE IEEE.std_logic_1164.all; USE work.n_tri_halfgate_p;

ENTITY n_halfgate_p IS

PORT ( myInput : IN X01Z; myOutput : OUT X01Z);

END n_halfgate_p;

ARCHITECTURE EPM7032LC44 OF n_halfgate_p IS

SIGNAL gnd : X01Z := '0'; SIGNAL vcc : X01Z := '1';

SIGNAL n_8, B1_i1, n_10, n_11, n_12, n_14 : X01Z;

COMPONENT n_tri_halfgate_p

GENERIC (ttri, ttxz, ttzx: TIME);

PORT (in0, oe : IN X01Z; out0 : OUT X01Z);

END COMPONENT;

BEGIN

PROCESS(myInput) BEGIN ASSERT myInput /= 'X' OR Now = 0 ns

REPORT "Unknown value on myInput" SEVERITY Warning;

END PROCESS;

n_tri_2: n_tri_halfgate_p

GENERIC MAP (ttri => 4 ns, ttxz => 6 ns, ttzx => 6 ns)

PORT MAP (in0 => n_8, oe => vcc, out0 => myOutput);

n_delay_3: n_8 <= TRANSPORT B1_i1 AFTER 1 ns;

n_xor_4: B1_i1 <= n_10 XOR n_14;

n_or_5: n_10 <= n_11;

n_and_6: n_11 <= TRANSPORT n_12 AFTER 6 ns;

n_not_7: n_12 <= TRANSPORT NOT myInput AFTER 4 ns;

n_and_8: n_14 <= TRANSPORT gnd AFTER 6 ns;

END EPM7032LC44;

LIBRARY IEEE; USE IEEE.std_logic_1164.all; USE work.n_halfgate_p;

ENTITY halfgate_p IS

PORT ( myInput : IN std_logic; myOutput : OUT std_logic);

END halfgate_p;

ARCHITECTURE EPM7032LC44 OF halfgate_p IS

COMPONENT n_halfgate_p PORT (myInput : IN X01Z; myOutput : OUT X01Z);

END COMPONENT;

BEGIN

n_0: n_halfgate_p

PORT MAP ( myInput => TO_X01Z(myInput), myOutput => myOutput);

END EPM7032LC44;

The VHDL is a little harder to decipher than the Verilog, so the schematic for the VHDL postroute netlist is shown in Figure 8.2 . This VHDL netlist is identical in function to the Verilog netlist, but the net names and component names are different. Compare Figure 8.2 with Figure 5.15 (c) in Section 5.4 , “ Altera MAX ,” which shows the Altera basic logic cell and Figure 6.23 in Section 6.8, “Other I/O Cells,” which describes the Altera I/O cell. The software has fixed the inputs to the various elements in the Altera MAX device to implement a single inverter.

 

FIGURE 8.2  The VHDL version of the postroute Altera MAX 7000 schematic for the halfgate ASIC. Compare this with Figure 5.15(c) and Figure 6.23.

8.3.4 Comparison

The halfgate ASIC design illustrates the differences between a nondeterministic coarse-grained FPGA (Xilinx XC4000), a nondeterministic fine-grained FPGA (Actel ACT 3), and a deterministic complex PLD (Altera MAX 7000). These differences, summarized as follows, were apparent even in the halfgate design:

  1. The Xilinx LCA architecture does not permit an accurate timing analysis until after place and route. This is because of the coarse-grained nondeterministic architecture.
  2. The Actel ACT architecture is nondeterministic, but the fine-grained structure allows fairly accurate preroute timing prediction.
  3. The Altera MAX complex PLD requires logic to be fitted to the product steering and programmable array logic. The Altera MAX 7000 has an almost deterministic architecture, which allows accurate preroute timing.

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