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Open-source tool links Verilog with TCL

Posted: 18 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:acculent? tool command language? verilog code conversion? tcl script conversion? veritcl?

An open-source tool developed by Acculent Corp. promises to convert tool command language (TCL) scripts into Verilog code, making it easier for designers to understand what the scripts are doing, the company said.

Sam Gladstone, CTO at Acculent, said the VeriTCL tool was developed to rapidly configure HDL code for customers who wanted to explore alternative architectures. A customer might want to try three or four different implementations of a Viterbi decoder, for example, and "we did not want to spend a lot of time building multiple versions," said Gladstone. "So we needed a fast, quick way to build clean Verilog that the customer could synthesize."

The concept behind VeriTCL is simple. Users enclose TCL scripts with comment commands, then VeriTCL interprets the comments and sends the scripts to a standard TCL interpreter. The Verilog output of the interpreter is then substituted for the TCL.

This capability is important because it is difficult to maintain separate code bases for the Verilog and the TCL, Gladstone said. "It is hard to read the Verilog, because at a certain point it will call a script," he said. "VeriTCL makes it easy for our design engineers to look at the code and see exactly what is going on."

TCL scripting is useful when a need exists for mathematical pre-calculation, as often occurs with DSP designs, Gladstone said. It also helps with multiple instantiations, he said.

Designers use TCL scripting with Verilog today with "varying amounts of success," Gladstone said. "I have seen TCL used in verification, but I have not seen it as much on the structural side."

At Acculent, VeriTCL is "integral to our whole design, especially with major components we have to generate with a lot of instantiation, or with very heavy pre-calculation," Gladstone said.

'Continue the strategy'

Acculent decided to offer the tool on an open-source basis because it felt it would benefit HDL designers, Gladstone said. "We use TCL and we decided that since that is open source, we would release our tool in a similar manner to continue the open-source strategy out there.

Acculent uses the Berkeley Source Distribution (BSD) license, which Gladstone said is less restrictive than the GNU Public License. BSD has no restrictions on how the code is used, as long as the Acculent credit is maintained if the code is released as part of another package, Gladstone said.

"We are hoping that if [VeriTCL] is used in many places, the industry might see that it is an interesting feature to add to simulation tools," he said.

VeriTCL can be downloaded from the Acculent website.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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