Reference

MyHDL is implemented as a Python package called myhdl. This chapter describes the objects that are exported by this package.

Simulation

The Simulation class

class Simulation(arg[, arg ...])

Class to construct a new simulation. Each argument should be a MyHDL instance. In MyHDL, an instance is recursively defined as being either a sequence of instances, or a MyHDL generator, or a Cosimulation object. See section MyHDL generators and trigger objects for the definition of MyHDL generators and their interaction with a Simulation object. See Section Co-simulation for the Cosimulation object. At most one Cosimulation object can be passed to a Simulation constructor.

A Simulation object has the following method:

Simulation.run([duration])

Run the simulation forever (by default) or for a specified duration.

Simulation.quit()

Quit the simulation after it has run for a specified duration. The method should be called (the simulation instance must be quit) before another simulation instance is created. The method is called by default when the simulation is run forever.

Simulation support functions

now()

Returns the current simulation time.

exception StopSimulation

Base exception that is caught by the Simulation.run() method to stop a simulation.

Waveform tracing

traceSignals(func [, *args] [, **kwargs])

Enables signal tracing to a VCD file for waveform viewing. func is a function that returns an instance. traceSignals calls func under its control and passes *args and **kwargs to the call. In this way, it finds the hierarchy and the signals to be traced.

The return value is the same as would be returned by the call func(*args, **kwargs). The top-level instance name and the basename of the VCD output filename is func.func_name by default. If the VCD file exists already, it will be moved to a backup file by attaching a timestamp to it, before creating the new file.

The traceSignals callable has the following attribute:

name

This attribute is used to overwrite the default top-level instance name and the basename of the VCD output filename.

directory

This attribute is used to set the directory to which VCD files are written. By default, the current working directory is used.

filename

This attribute is used to set the filename to which VCD files are written. By default, the name attribbute is used.

timescale

This attribute is used to set the timescale corresponding to unit steps, according to the VCD format. The assigned value should be a string. The default timescale is “1ns”.

Modeling

Signals

The SignalType type

class SignalType

This type is the abstract base type of all signals. It is not used to construct signals, but it can be used to check whether an object is a signal.

Regular signals

class Signal([val=None] [, delay=0])

This class is used to construct a new signal and to initialize its value to val. Optionally, a delay can be specified.

A Signal object has the following attributes:

posedge

Attribute that represents the positive edge of a signal, to be used in sensitivity lists.

negedge

Attribute that represents the negative edge of a signal, to be used in sensitivity lists.

next

Read-write attribute that represents the next value of the signal.

val

Read-only attribute that represents the current value of the signal.

This attribute is always available to access the current value; however in many practical case it will not be needed. Whenever there is no ambiguity, the Signal object’s current value is used implicitly. In particular, all Python’s standard numeric, bit-wise, logical and comparison operators are implemented on a Signal object by delegating to its current value. The exception is augmented assignment. These operators are not implemented as they would break the rule that the current value should be a read-only attribute. In addition, when a Signal object is assigned to the next attribute of another Signal object, its current value is assigned instead.

min

Read-only attribute that is the minimum value (inclusive) of a numeric signal, or None for no minimum.

max

Read-only attribute that is the maximum value (exclusive) of a numeric signal, or None for no maximum.

driven

Writable attribute that can be used to indicate that the signal is supposed to be driven from the MyHDL code, and possibly how it should be declared in Verilog after conversion. The allowed values are 'reg', 'wire', True and False.

This attribute is useful when the converter cannot infer automatically whether and how a signal is driven. This occurs when the signal is driven from user-defined code. 'reg' and 'wire' are “true” values that permit finer control for the Verilog case.

read

Writable boolean attribute that can be used to indicate that the signal is read.

This attribute is useful when the converter cannot infer automatically whether a signal is read. This occurs when the signal is read from user-defined code.

A Signal object also has a call interface:

__call__(left[, right=None])

This method returns a _SliceSignal shadow signal.

class ResetSignal(val, active, async)

This Signal subclass defines reset signals. val, active, and async are mandatory arguments. val is a boolean value that specifies the intial value, active is a boolean value that specifies the active level. async is a boolean value that specifies the reset style: asynchronous (True) or synchronous (False).

This class should be used in conjunction with the always_seq decorator.

Shadow signals

class _SliceSignal(sig, left[, right=None])

This class implements read-only structural slicing and indexing. It creates a new shadow signal of the slice or index of the parent signal sig. If the right parameter is omitted, you get indexing instead of slicing. Parameters left and right have the usual meaning for slice indices: in particular, left is non-inclusive but right is inclusive. sig should be appropriate for slicing and indexing, which means it should be based on intbv in practice.

The class constructor is not intended to be used explicitly. Instead, use the call interface of a regular signal.The following calls are equivalent:

sl = _SliceSignal(sig, left, right)

sl = sig(left, right)
class ConcatSignal(*args)

This class creates a new shadow signal of the concatenation of its arguments.

You can pass an arbitrary number of arguments to the constructor. The arguments should be bit-oriented with a defined number of bits. The following argument types are supported: intbv objects with a defined bit width, bool objects, signals of the previous objects, and bit strings.

The new signal follows the value changes of the signal arguments. The non-signal arguments are used to define constant values in the concatenation.

class TristateSignal(val)

This class is used to construct a new tristate signal. The underlying type is specified by the val parameter. It is a Signal subclass and has the usual attributes, with one exception: it doesn’t support the next attribute. Consequently, direct signal assignment to a tristate signal is not supported. The initial value is the tristate value None. The current value of a tristate is determined by resolving the values from its drivers. When exactly one driver value is different from None, that is the resolved value; otherwise it is None. When more than one driver value is different from None, a contention warning is issued.

This class has the following method:

driver()

Returns a new driver to the tristate signal. It is initialized to None. A driver object is an instance of a special SignalType subclass. In particular, its next attribute can be used to assign a new value to it.

MyHDL generators and trigger objects

MyHDL generators are standard Python generators with specialized yield statements. In hardware description languages, the equivalent statements are called sensitivity lists. The general format of yield statements in in MyHDL generators is:

yield clause [, clause ...]

When a generator executes a yield statement, its execution is suspended at that point. At the same time, each clause is a trigger object which defines the condition upon which the generator should be resumed. However, per invocation of a yield statement, the generator resumes exactly once, regardless of the number of clauses. This happens on the first trigger that occurs.

In this section, the trigger objects and their functionality will be described.

Some MyHDL objects that are described elsewhere can directly be used as trigger objects. In particular, a Signal can be used as a trigger object. Whenever a signal changes value, the generator resumes. Likewise, the objects referred to by the signal attributes posedge and negedge are trigger objects. The generator resumes on the occurrence of a positive or a negative edge on the signal, respectively. An edge occurs when there is a change from false to true (positive) or vice versa (negative). For the full description of the Signal class and its attributes, see section Signals.

Furthermore, MyHDL generators can be used as clauses in yield statements. Such a generator is forked, and starts operating immediately, while the original generator waits for it to complete. The original generator resumes when the forked generator returns.

In addition, the following functions return trigger objects:

delay(t)

Return a trigger object that specifies that the generator should resume after a delay t.

join(arg[, arg ...])

Join a number of trigger objects together and return a joined trigger object. The effect is that the joined trigger object will trigger when all of its arguments have triggered.

Finally, as a special case, the Python None object can be present in a yield statement. It is the do-nothing trigger object. The generator immediately resumes, as if no yield statement were present. This can be useful if the yield statement also has generator clauses: those generators are forked, while the original generator resumes immediately.

Decorator functions

MyHDL defines a number of decorator functions, that make it easier to create generators from local generator functions.

instance()

The instance decorator is the most general decorator. It automatically creates a generator by calling the decorated generator function.

It is used as follows:

def top(...):
    ...
    @instance
    def inst():
        <generator body>
    ...
    return inst, ...

This is equivalent to:

def top(...):
    ...
    def _gen_func():
        <generator body>
    ...
    inst = _gen_func()
    ...
    return inst, ...
always(arg[, *args])

The always decorator is a specialized decorator that targets a widely used coding pattern. It is used as follows:

def top(...):
    ...
    @always(event1, event2, ...)
    def inst()
        <body>
    ...
    return inst, ...

This is equivalent to the following:

def top(...):
    ...
    def _func():
        <body>

    def _gen_func()
        while True:
            yield event1, event2, ...
            _func()
    ...
    inst = _gen_func()
    ...
    return inst, ...

The argument list of the decorator corresponds to the sensitivity list. Only signals, edge specifiers, or delay objects are allowed. The decorated function should be a classic function.

always_comb()

The always_comb decorator is used to describe combinatorial logic.

def top(...):
    ...
    @always_comb
    def comb_inst():
        <combinatorial body>
    ...
    return comb_inst, ...

The always_comb decorator infers the inputs of the combinatorial logic and the corresponding sensitivity list automatically. The decorated function should be a classic function.

always_seq(edge, reset)

The always_seq decorator is used to describe sequential (clocked) logic.

The edge parameter should be a clock edge (clock.posedge or clock.negedge). The reset parameter should a ResetSignal object.

MyHDL data types

MyHDL defines a number of data types that are useful for hardware description.

The intbv class

class intbv([val=0] [, min=None] [, max=None])

This class represents int-like objects with some additional features that make it suitable for hardware design.

The val argument can be an int, a long, an intbv or a bit string (a string with only ‘0’s or ‘1’s). For a bit string argument, the value is calculated as in int(bitstring, 2). The optional min and max arguments can be used to specify the minimum and maximum value of the intbv object. As in standard Python practice for ranges, the minimum value is inclusive and the maximum value is exclusive.

The minimum and maximum values of an intbv object are available as attributes:

min

Read-only attribute that is the minimum value (inclusive) of an intbv, or None for no minimum.

max

Read-only attribute that is the maximum value (exclusive) of an intbv, or None for no maximum.

signed()

Interpretes the msb bit as as sign bit and extends it into the higher-order bits of the underlying object value. The msb bit is the highest-order bit within the object’s bit width.

Return type:integer

Unlike int objects, intbv objects are mutable; this is also the reason for their existence. Mutability is needed to support assignment to indexes and slices, as is common in hardware design. For the same reason, intbv is not a subclass from int, even though int provides most of the desired functionality. (It is not possible to derive a mutable subtype from an immutable base type.)

An intbv object supports the same comparison, numeric, bitwise, logical, and conversion operations as int objects. See http://www.python.org/doc/current/lib/typesnumeric.html for more information on such operations. In all binary operations, intbv objects can work together with int objects. For mixed-type numeric operations, the result type is an int or a long. For mixed-type bitwise operations, the result type is an intbv.

In addition, intbv supports a number of sequence operators. In particular, the len function returns the object’s bit width. Furthermore, intbv objects support indexing and slicing operations:

Operation Result Notes
bv[i] item i of bv (1)
bv[i] = x item i of bv is replaced by x (1)
bv[i:j] slice of bv from i downto j (2)(3)
bv[i:j] = t slice of bv from i downto j is replaced by t (2)(4)
  1. Indexing follows the most common hardware design conventions: the lsb bit is the rightmost bit, and it has index 0. This has the following desirable property: if the intbv value is decomposed as a sum of powers of 2, the bit with index i corresponds to the term 2**i.
  2. In contrast to standard Python sequencing conventions, slicing range are downward. This is a consequence of the indexing convention, combined with the common convention that the most significant digits of a number are the leftmost ones. The Python convention of half-open ranges is followed: the bit with the highest index is not included. However, it is the leftmost bit in this case. As in standard Python, this takes care of one-off issues in many practical cases: in particular, bv[i:] returns i bits; bv[i:j] has i-j bits. When the low index j is omitted, it defaults to 0. When the high index i is omitted, it means “all” higher order bits.
  3. The object returned from a slicing access operation is always a positive intbv; higher order bits are implicitly assumed to be zero. The bit width is implicitly stored in the return object, so that it can be used in concatenations and as an iterator. In addition, for a bit width w, the min and max attributes are implicitly set to 0 and 2**w, respectively.
  4. When setting a slice to a value, it is checked whether the slice is wide enough.

In addition, an intbv object supports the iterator protocol. This makes it possible to iterate over all its bits, from the high index to index 0. This is only possible for intbv objects with a defined bit width.

The modbv class

class modbv([val=0] [, min=None] [, max=None])

The modbv class implements modular bit vector types.

It is implemented as a subclass of intbv and supports the same parameters and operators. The difference is in the handling of the min and max boundaries. Instead of throwing an exception when those constraints are exceeded, the value of modbv objects wraps around according to the following formula:

val = (val - min) % (max - min) + min

This formula is a generalization of modulo wrap-around behavior that is often useful when describing hardware system behavior.

The enum factory function

enum(arg [, arg ...] [, encoding='binary'])

Returns an enumeration type.

The arguments should be string literals that represent the desired names of the enumeration type attributes. The returned type should be assigned to a type name. For example:

t_EnumType = enum('ATTR_NAME_1', 'ATTR_NAME_2', ...)

The enumeration type identifiers are available as attributes of the type name, for example: t_EnumType.ATTR_NAME_1

The optional keyword argument encoding specifies the encoding scheme used in Verilog output. The available encodings are 'binary', 'one_hot', and 'one_cold'.

Modeling support functions

MyHDL defines a number of additional support functions that are useful for hardware description.

bin

bin(num[, width])

Returns a bit string representation. If the optional width is provided, and if it is larger than the width of the default representation, the bit string is padded with the sign bit.

This function complements the standard Python conversion functions hex and oct. A binary string representation is often useful in hardware design.

Return type:string

concat

concat(base[, arg ...])

Returns an intbv object formed by concatenating the arguments.

The following argument types are supported: intbv objects with a defined bit width, bool objects, signals of the previous objects, and bit strings. All these objects have a defined bit width.

The first argument base is special as it does not need to have a defined bit width. In addition to the previously mentioned objects, unsized intbv, int and long objects are supported, as well as signals of such objects.

Return type:intbv

downrange

downrange(high[, low=0])

Generates a downward range list of integers.

This function is modeled after the standard range function, but works in the downward direction. The returned interval is half-open, with the high index not included. low is optional and defaults to zero. This function is especially useful in conjunction with the intbv class, that also works with downward indexing.

instances

instances()

Looks up all MyHDL instances in the local name space and returns them in a list.

Return type:list

Co-simulation

MyHDL

class Cosimulation(exe, **kwargs)

Class to construct a new Cosimulation object.

The exe argument is the command to execute an HDL simulation, which can be either a string of the entire command line or a list of strings. In the latter case, the first element is the executable, and subsequent elements are program arguments. Providing a list of arguments allows Python to correctly handle spaces or other characters in program arguments.

The kwargs keyword arguments provide a named association between signals (regs & nets) in the HDL simulator and signals in the MyHDL simulator. Each keyword should be a name listed in a $to_myhdl or $from_myhdl call in the HDL code. Each argument should be a Signal declared in the MyHDL code.

Verilog

$to_myhdl(arg, [, arg ...])

Task that defines which signals (regs & nets) should be read by the MyHDL simulator. This task should be called at the start of the simulation.

$from_myhdl(arg, [, arg ...])

Task that defines which signals should be driven by the MyHDL simulator. In Verilog, only regs can be specified. This task should be called at the start of the simulation.

Conversion to Verilog and VHDL

Conversion

toVerilog(func [, *args] [, **kwargs])

Converts a MyHDL design instance to equivalent Verilog code, and also generates a test bench to verify it. func is a function that returns an instance. toVerilog calls func under its control and passes *args and **kwargs to the call.

The return value is the same as would be returned by the call func(*args, **kwargs). It should be assigned to an instance name.

The top-level instance name and the basename of the Verilog output filename is func.func_name by default.

For more information about the restrictions on convertible MyHDL code, see section The convertible subset in Chapter Conversion to Verilog and VHDL.

toVerilog has the following attribute:

name

This attribute is used to overwrite the default top-level instance name and the basename of the Verilog output filename.

directory

This attribute is used to set the directory to which converted verilog files are written. By default, the current working directory is used.

timescale

This attribute is used to set the timescale in Verilog format. The assigned value should be a string. The default timescale is “1ns/10ps”.

toVHDL(func[, *args][, **kwargs])

Converts a MyHDL design instance to equivalent VHDL code. func is a function that returns an instance. toVHDL calls func under its control and passes *args and **kwargs to the call.

The return value is the same as would be returned by the call func(*args, **kwargs). It can be assigned to an instance name. The top-level instance name and the basename of the Verilog output filename is func.func_name by default.

toVHDL has the following attributes:

name

This attribute is used to overwrite the default top-level instance name and the basename of the VHDL output.

directory

This attribute is used to set the directory to which converted VHDL files are written. By default, the current working directory is used.

component_declarations

This attribute can be used to add component declarations to the VHDL output. When a string is assigned to it, it will be copied to the appropriate place in the output file.

library

This attribute can be used to set the library in the VHDL output file. The assigned value should be a string. The default library is work.

std_logic_ports

This boolean attribute can be used to have only std_logic type ports on the top-level interface (when True) instead of the default signed/unsigned types (when False, the default).

User-defined Verilog and VHDL code

User-defined code can be inserted in the Verilog or VHDL output through the use of function attributes. Suppose a function <func> defines a hardware module. User-defined code can be specified for the function with the following function attributes:

<func>.vhdl_code

A template string for user-defined code in the VHDL output.

<func>.verilog_code

A template string for user-defined code in the Verilog output.

When such a function attribute is defined, the normal conversion process is bypassed and the user-defined code is inserted instead. The template strings should be suitable for the standard string.Template constructor. They can contain interpolation variables (indicated by a $ prefix) for all signals in the context. Note that the function attribute can be defined anywhere where <func> is visible, either outside or inside the function itself.

These function attributes cannot be used with generator functions or decorated local functions, as these are not elaborated before simulation or conversion. In other words, they can only be used with functions that define structure.

Conversion output verification

MyHDL provides an interface to verify converted designs. This is used extensively in the package itself to verify the conversion functionality. This capability is exported by the package so that users can use it also.

Verification interface

All functions related to conversion verification are implemented in the myhdl.conversion package.

verify(func[, *args][, **kwargs])

Used like toVHDL and toVerilog. It converts MyHDL code, simulates both the MyHDL code and the HDL code and reports any differences. The default HDL simulator is GHDL.

This function has the following attribute:

simulator

Used to set the name of the HDL simulator. "GHDL" is the default.

analyze(func[, *args][, **kwargs])

Used like toVHDL and toVerilog. It converts MyHDL code, and analyzes the resulting HDL. Used to verify whether the HDL output is syntactically correct.

This function has the following attribute:

simulator

Used to set the name of the HDL simulator used to analyze the code. "GHDL" is the default.

HDL simulator registration

To use a HDL simulator to verify conversions, it needs to be registered first. This is needed once per simulator.

A number of HDL simulators are preregistered in the MyHDL distribution, as follows:

Identifier Simulator
"GHDL" The GHDL VHDL simulator
"vsim" The ModelSim VHDL simulator
"icarus" The Icarus Verilog simulator
"cver" The cver Verilog simulator
"vlog" The Modelsim VHDL simulator

Of course, a simulator has to be installed before it can be used.

If another simulator is required, it has to be registered by the user. This is done with the function registerSimulation that lives in the module myhdl.conversion._verify. The same module also has the registrations for the predefined simulators.

The verification functions work by comparing the HDL simulator output with the MyHDL simulator output. Therefore, they have to deal with the specific details of each HDL simulator output, which may be somewhat tricky. This is reflected in the interface of the registerSimulation function. As registration is rarely needed, this interface is not further described here.

Please refer to the source code in myhdl.conversion._verify to learn how registration works. If you need help, please contact the MyHDL community.