(V)HDL Toolsets

Sytse van Slooten cclist at sytse.net
Thu May 21 06:34:09 CDT 2020

If you’re targeting FPGA hardware (opposed to a design for a foundry, or a design you want to run exclusively in a simulator), it is kind of inevitable that you work with the toolchains that the hardware vendor supplies. Would be nice if you could choose freely from competing toolchains, but the hardware isn’t exactly open, so that’s not going to happen.

So basically what it comes down to is Quartus or Vivado. I’ve kind of implicitly chosen Quartus, because the Altera based development boards tend to be a lot nicer and cheaper than the Xilinx based stuff. I haven’t even followed the upgrades from ISE to Vivado.

Not sure if the level of doggyness is any different between those, it’s more like getting to know the specific bugs and working around them. Can be pretty annoying at times though. For instance, one of the things Quartus doesn’t get is that if source files are changed, it might make sense to recompile - it only gets that if you change sources through its own editor. Not really a big problem maybe, but it shows that the tools are far from friendly.

One of the things I’ve done with my pdp11 vhdl from the start is that I’ve not used any vendor specific constructs or language extensions. That’s probably the only design decision that I’m still really happy about - it allows me to change to another vendor and another tool chain at will. 


> On 21 May 2020, at 04:22, Jay Jaeger via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> As I wrote in my last post, but write here for use as a separate thread:
> I'd be interesting in hearing from folks what toolsets they have used
> for HDL (VHDL in particular).  I started with Xilinx ISE and then
> graduated to Vivado for later chipsets - unfortunately, Vivado seems to
> be something of a dog, in terms of time to compile HDL and synthesize logic.

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