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Tuesday 8 May 2012

Tips for an Error-free Functional Simulation

Getting a VHDL code to work in the functional simulation is not always an easy task.This article will cover some tips to quickly point out the errors in the code and make your life easier.

  1. Create a proper sensitivity list. Some times you may have to add other control signals too(other than clock) into you sensitivity list to get is working.
  2. Initialize the signals and variables correctly. If they are not initialized(normally they are set to '0'), then these signals will appear as "U"in the simulation waveform.
  3. If you see "X" in the waveform then that indicates concurrent writing to the same signal. A simple re-arrangement of the signal inside the process will normally take out this bug.
  4. In case you have arrays in the design make sure to check for out of bound error. This happens when you read or write a different index than the one available within the range of array.
  5. If elsif's are error prone. Always try to consider all the conditions of If elsif. If a particular condition is not considered then the value will remain unchanged. If you don’t want this to happen then make sure you reset the signal, using an else condition.
  6. Within a process, signal assignments can be written in any order. They will get executed concurrently. But for variables, the order matters. line 1 is executed first, line 2 second and so on...
  7. One way to debug the code is to force one or more signals as constants and test the design. This will help you in localizing the error.
  8. Writing a location in RAM requires a small time delay. Account for this, while reading and writing from the same location in the same clock cycle. The read data will be the one written in the last clock cycle.
  9. Try synthesizing the design. The synthesizer tool may give out some warnings or errors which will point you in the correct direction to solve the error in the functional simulation.
  10. When using components in the design, use name instantiation, so that you don't accidentally assign wrong signals to the component ports.

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