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Publication date:
16 September 2020

Software system of distributed design of complex VHDLobjects

Date of submission article: 2014-11-11
UDC: 004.8.681.3.06
The article was published in issue no. № 1, 2015 [ pp. 38-42 ]
Abstract:The authors propose the architecture and describe the technologies of a distributed design system of complex VHDL objects. They also present the main functional modulesof subsystems and their interrelationships. A multi-agent approach is a basis for system organization, eight types of role agents are developed. The proposed description of existing agents which allows us to understand the role and place of each agent in the work of the whole system as well as the formation of a full design solution. A methodological basis of the design includes structural-functional linguistic models which are formed from the designed device VHDL description. The paper describes the program structure peculiarities on VHDL language to create a library of objects, solve design tasks by several designers in parallel, use objects from other projects and test projects with the same methodology. The article represents a design process in the system from development of designed devices specifications to saving design decisions in the knowledge base. It also describes the concept of MVC template in the form of sequence diagrams to represent functional authorization and broadcasting code on VHDL hardware description language in the structural and functionallinguistic model. The proposed system provides the development and filling of VHDL programs library which allows reusing design decisions with data modification according to requirements for new tasks. Implementation of this system allows making design more efficient due to the transfer of routine operations (search and synthesis of the design solutions) to agents as well as improving the quality of process control of collective design and reducing development costs.
Аннотация:В данной статье рассмотрены архитектура системы распределенного проектирования сложных VHDL-объектов и технологии ее работы. Представлены основные функциональныемодули, являющиеся подсистемами, и их взаимосвязи. В основу организации системы положен многоагентый подход, разработано восемь типов ролевых агентов. Представлено описание действующих агентов, которое позволяет понять роль и место каждого агента как в работе всей системы, так и при формировании полноценного проектного решения. Методологической базой проектирования служат структурно-функциональные лингвистические модели, которые формируются из VHDL-описания проектируемого устройства. Описаны особенности структуры программы на языке VHDL для создания библиотеки объектов, параллельного решения проектных задач несколькими проектировщиками, использования объектов из других проектов и тестирования проектов по одинаковой методике. Представлен процесс работы проектировщиков с системой – от формирования спецификаций на проектируемые устройства до сохранения проектных решений в базе знаний. Описано применение концепции MVC в виде диаграммы последовательности для описания функционала авторизации и трансляции кода на языке описания аппаратуры VHDL в структурно-функциональную лингвистическую модель. Предложенная система обеспечивает создание и наполнение библиотеки VHDL-программ, которая позволит многократно использовать проектные решения путем модификации данных с учетом требований к новым задачам. Внедрение системы позволяет сделать проектирование более эффективным за счет передачи агентам части рутинных операций (поиск и синтез проектных решений), а также повысить качество управления процессом коллективного проектирования и сократить затраты на разработку.
Authors: Afanasev A.N. ( - Ulyanovsk State Technical University, Ulyanovsk, Russia, Ph.D, (,) - , Khorodov V.S. ( - Ulyanovsk State Technical University, Ulyanovsk, Russia
Keywords: структурно-функциональные лингвистические модели, многоагентная система, распределенное проектирование, vhdl
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The developers create more and more complex devices because the requirements to functional qua- lities are increasing. The complexity of a design process and a program code amount significantly increase because of using high-level hardware description languages (HDL) [1, 2] in development of devices on a chip (VLSI). A Source Lines of Code (the number of lines in the program) is used to estimate program code complexity. The indicator is used to predict the amount of efforts required to develop devices using HDL and to estimate programming productivity or maintainability.


In practice one of the popular HDL languages is VHDL (VHSIC (Very high speed integrated circuits) Hardware Description Language)). The basis of its structure and use is an object-oriented approach. VHDL language is used to develop hardware of any complexity: chips, circuit boards, blocks, devices and systems. The language is convenient for using in projects design as well as their verification.

Multiple CAD Systems [3] designed for individual work are used for schematic design. They do not contain means for collective development of complex projects.

Wizard-technologies RUP [4], ARIS [5] etc. are used to design complex software in industrial practice. The technologies have proven themselves in the development of complex computer-aided systems. They ensure the success growth of their creation. However, the use of such technologies as the subject domain tools is difficult from a methodological point of view in design object development (VLSI). These technologies do not support distributed work on the basis of modern Internet technologies.

The paper proposes distribution of calculations for solving design tasks of radio-electronic equipment on a multiprocessor system in order to reduce execution time in [6]. However, the distributed design technologies themselves are not considered.

The authors propose distributed system architecture for complex VHDL programs design. Its methodological basis is creation and reuse of structural-functional linguistic models (SFLM) [7]. The system is organized on a multi-agent role approach. The collaboration technology of the team of designers who are on a remote operation includes a web-based interface.

System Architecture Overview

Fig. 1 shows a general architecture of a distributed design system including software components and their interaction.

The architecture is based on Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) technology. It allows organizing unified information environment. Its elements can interact with each other regardless of their particular implementation, i.e. ‘registration’ in the distributed system. Software applications from different servers are connected on the basis of the middleware development. Bridging between applications is implemented using Object Request Broker which is responsible for client-server interaction between objects [8].

The following subsystems are identified as functional modules: a subsystem of project tasks management, a routing subsystem, a subsystem of design solution, a subsystem of SFLM template search, a subsystem of testing and optimization [2].

Technologies of system activity

One of the system activity technologies is the use of a private cloud as a mean for organizing a distributed design process with centralized storage of project decisions. A private cloud is an infrastructure for using by a single organization which includes several units [9].

We suggest to use a multi-agent approach as an organizational framework of SFLM distributed design system. The types of agents are the following:

–      an interface agent that provides agents binding;

–      a design tasks management agent that provides development of parallel network circuit of tasks (PNCT) and design tasks distribution between designers;

–      an agent of design solution development that provides activities related to creation of design solutions using VHDL, i.e. development of SFLM, SFLM template and lexical and semantic analysis of the code;

–      an agent of a design solutions synthesis that provides the search of design solutions ready to unite and created by designers and their synthesis into a single design solution;

–      a routing agent that provides a binding role between local or distributed agents located on other servers which act as a storage or developer of design solutions;

–      a search agent that provides of a search request formation for design decision and clustering data in order to reduce data search time;

–      a knowledge base agent that provides the operations connected with the knowledge base;

–      a working memory agent that controls a system status and distributes a load for agents and the entire system [10].

The server part of the system is based on a MVC template (model-view-controller) which allows dividing the system into three easily modifiable and practically independent components that are responsible for various tasks [11].

The controller presents GET and POST user requests management. The main functions are activation and coordination of actions, necessary resources and objects. The controller activates the model for system task and selects an appropriate view to display.

The model is a set of rules for system functioning. Representation provides various methods for displaying data obtained from the model. The system uses representations in the form of a template which is filled with data. Fig. 2 shows the process of system operation according to the MVC template.

Fig. 3 presents a sequence diagram as the MVC template demonstration on the operations of authorization and analysis of VHDL code.

The basis of the developed distributed design system is a methodology for top-down design: from specifications on the part of a designed device to generation of a design solution that describes the device operation.

VHDL program can include of one or more files. The object – architecture couple is an integral part of each program file. An object is an interface part indicating how to include the object inside another one located at higher level in the hierarchy. The architecture defines the algorithm of the object operation. One object can correspond to several architectures that describe different operation algorithms. Thus, taking into account VHDL program structure, it is possible to create the libraries of objects, procedures, types, etc., carry out the decision of project tasks in parallel by several designers, use objects from other projects, test projects with the same methodology.

The authors propose to use associative-oriented model of parallel job management – PNCT [12] to organize design workflow management in the system.

Fig. 4 shows the process of system operation. The numbers represent the design procedure from developing specifications to filling the knowledge base by design decisions. (A) represents the formation of VHDL code of program memory (PRAM) in the web editor with syntax highlighting. (B) is a schematic presentation of (DRAM) VHDL code data memory formation in the web editor with syntax highlighting. (C) represents the editing of program memory specifications (PRAM) [13].

The main synthesis operations are merge of designed device parts on various stages of development:

–      VHDL programs code merge is produced by combining of development branches in a distributed GIT versions control system;

–      SFLM merge is produced by combining blocks into a design solution which solves the task;

–      identification of connection between the components due to the card ports formation on the basis of the specification and its integration into a parent element.

Formed SFLM allows organizing a convenient search of design decisions by different criteria such as a designed device type, ports and others. SFLM is a set of functional blocks of designed device. It means that the process of creating a new design solution may be presented as writing a new code or as constructing from various blocks.

The principle of SFLM templates reuse is a central in the system, i.e. structural-functional models created by some designers can be used by others to create a new design solution which is also stored in the knowledge base.

The described web-oriented system structure is stored as PHP scripts and single files which are called templates. The data base is used to store the system content and PNCT data; the knowledge base is used to store design solutions. The agents described above process data obtained from the knowledge base (design decisions) and the database (PNCT controllers). The implementation of web interface allowed minimizing the requirements for hardware and software of users’ workstations, eliminate binding to the specific operating system (OS) and use open OS (Linux) because the developed system is cross-platform.

The proposed system for VHDL objects design provides development and filling of VHDL programs library. It allows reusing the design decisions with data modification taking into account requirements of the new tasks. Commercial introduction of the system will allow making the design more efficient due to the transfer of the part of routine operations to the agents, such as design solutions search and synthesis, as well as improving the quality of process control of collective design and reducing development costs.

Commercial introduction of the system will allow making design more efficient due to transferring a part of routine operations to agents including search and synthesis of design solutions. It can also improve the quality of process control of collective design and reduce costs for project development (according to SLOC metrics) by 5–7 %.


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The article was published in issue no. № 1, 2015 [ pp. 38-42 ]

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