(V)HDL Toolsets

Chris Hanson cmhanson at eschatologist.net
Fri May 22 16:45:16 CDT 2020

On May 21, 2020, at 8:46 AM, Jay Jaeger via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> Helpful tips - I agree with avoiding vendor extensions.  Thanks.

I’d strongly suggest that the situation with FPGAs & HDLs requires a bit more nuance than that. You *should* probably avoid or carefully isolate vendor *language extensions*. However, you *should not* avoid vendor *IP blocks*.

As an example, let’s say you have a design that needs a RAM controller. Do you:

(1) Write your own DDR controller as part of your design; or,

(2) Interface your design to your FPGA vendor’s DDR controller IP block?

In general you *should* do the latter—as long as you can do so via a sane abstraction—rather than the former, unless you have an extremely compelling case for doing the former.

And “portability” isn’t actually that compelling of a case: Virtually every set of tools and chips you might want to work with will have a similar variety of IP blocks available, many implemented via dedicated on-device logic (rather than consuming general-purpose logic cells), so as long as you can isolate their use you can still keep your overall design portable.

This is particularly important for things that have strict timing requirements and that might otherwise soak up a lot of your device’s bandwidth, e.g. HDMI input/output, RAM control, Ethernet, and so on.

  -- Chris

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