(V)HDL Toolsets

Peter Corlett abuse at cabal.org.uk
Thu May 21 07:41:34 CDT 2020

On Thu, May 21, 2020 at 01:34:09PM +0200, Sytse van Slooten via cctalk wrote:
> 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.

My understanding from when I was looing at FPGAs in ~2013 is that Xilinx make
better FPGAs than Altera (now Intel), but Altera's tools are better. Having had
the "joy" of using Altera's Quartus, I dread to think how terrible ISE must be.
>From a cursory check, Vivado appears to be just an rebranded newer version of
ISE rather than a fundamental change.

Quartus puts me in mind of the dark days of the 1980s with its expensive,
closed-source, and generally shoddy software development environments before
GNU came along and wiped them out. Good riddance do the lot of them.

Even the HDLs themselves are stuck in the 1980s. Verilog is described as being
C-like, but that's not exactly a compliment. VHDL is Ada-like or Pascal-like,
i.e. designed by a committee and/or academics who have definite opinions about
how other people should write code, but don't do much of it themselves.

There are at least finally some open-source HDLs banging about which have
incorporated useful ideas from the last four decades of language design and
thus be easier to create correct code. (Thich is a crucial difference from
"easier to create something which runs", which is C/Verilog's schtick.)
Unfortunately, because of the lack of documententation on the FPGA bitstreams,
the best they can do is be a source-to-source translator piped into the
proprietary tooling.

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