From Python to silicon

Conversion of Attribute Signal Containers

MEP: 107
Author: Christopher Felton
Status: Draft
Created: 19-Jan-2012
MyHDL-Version: 0.9


The following is a proposal to add conversion support for attribute Signal containers. Attributes are anything to the right of the “dot” in an expression. This proposal is to add the feature of unique name creation in the converted code when an attribute is a convertible type. It is important to state that using attributes is fully supported in MyHDL 0.7 for modeling and simulation., except for “containers as sensitivity lists” as discussed in the mailing-list.

For more information on Python classes and attributes see the following: [1].

The rest of this enhancement proposal will outline the addition of attributes to the MyHDL convertible subset of the Python programming language. Through the rest of this document the term “container(s)” will be used to refer to attributes of a convertible type.

The desired approach is to generate a unique name for a Signal that is part of a container. If an expression includes a “container” a unique net name will be generated for the Signal, example: = yourObject.y + silly.sams.object.z

The conversion utilities would determine if the type referenced is a Signal and then create a unique name for the Signal. The following is an example of the name mangling.

myObject_x = yourObject_y + silly_sams_object_z

The converter will simply use the container's reference name as part of the net name. The same rules that apply to hierarchy naming will be included. The above might be converted to something like the following to avoid name collisions.

mod1_mod2_myObject_x = mod1_mod2_yourObject_y + mod1_mod2_silly_sams_object_z

In other cases a data structure might not contain a Signal but a constant (literals). In this case the conversion methods will dig down to find the constant and use the constant value.

Required support:

  • Expansion of Signal container names
  • Containers as ports
  • Containers as sensitivity lists
  • Resolution of data in data structures

In general, containers can be used, as long as the final referenced object is a convertible type (Signal, int, long, bool, intbv). All of the above is supported for modeling in MyHDL 0.7, except for “containers as sensitivity lists” as discussed in the mailing-list.

This feature is similar to the VHDL record and SystemVerilog struct. The idea is that signals can be logically grouped. This can be very useful to a designer to logically group signals in large complex designs.


Classes that contain Signals or a hierarchy of classes that eventually contain a Signal should be converted. Classes should be converted according to the following rules:

  1. The attribute referenced is a convertible type
    1. Left hand side : Signal of type intbv or bool
    2. Right hand side : int, long, bool, intbv or a Signal of type int, long, bool, intbv
  2. The object being referenced will be represented in the converted code as a long-net-name. Long-net-names are derived by
    1. Hierarchy name rules (which are?)
    2. Class path name, example :
  class.refObj <converted to> class_refObj
  class1.class2.refObj <converted to> class1_class2_refObj

Example 1

  class MyObj(object):
     def __init__(self):
        self.x = Signal(intbv(0)[8:])
        self.y = Signal(intbv(0)[4:])
        self.z = Signal(intbv(0)[9:])
  def ex1(clk, srst, xyz):
     def hdl(): = xyz.x + xyz.y
     return hdl
  if __name__ == '__main__':
     clk = Signal(False)
     xyz = MyObj()
     toVerilog(foo, clk, xyz)

Verilog example conversion for the above.

   module ex1
     input  wire  clk,
     input  wire  [7:0] MyObj_x,
     input  wire  [3:0] MyObj_y,
     output wire  [8:0] MyObj_z
     always @(posedge clk) begin
        MyObj_z <= MyObj_x + MyObj_y

VHDL conversion example.

    entity ex1 is
         port (
             clk: in std_logic;
             MyObj_x: in unsigned(7 downto 0);
             MyObj_y: in unsigned(3 downto 0);
             MyObj_z: out unsigned(8 downto 0)
    end entity ex1;
    architecture MyHDL of ex1 is
         RTL: process(clk) is
             if rising_edge(clk) then
                 MyObj_z<= MyObj_x + MyObj_y
             end if;
         end process RTL;
    end architecture MyHDL;

Example 2

Another common example would be the use of an embedded bus in a design. The Wishbone bus definition is one such bus that could be contained in a class definition.

class WishboneBus(object):
     def __init__(self, DataWidth=8, AddressWidth=16):
         self.DataWidth = DataWidth
         self.AddressWidth = AddressWidth
         self.clk = Signal(False)
	 self.rst = Signal(False)
	 self.cyc = Signal(False)
         self.stb = Signal(False)
         self.adr = Signal(intbv(0)[AddressWeidth:])
         self.we = Signal(False)
         self.sel = Signal(intbv(0)[int(DataWidth/8)])
         self.ack = Signal(False)
         # The data buses are a slightly special case.  The
         # dat_o is broadcast to a the device (peripherals) 
         # and dat_i is an or of all the device buses.  This 
         # class will have a generator that will or all the buses
         # together.
         self.dat_i = Signal(intbv(0)[DataWidth:])
         self.dat_o = Signal(intbv(0)[DataWidth:])
         self.dev_dats = []
    def DeviceBusses(self):
        def hdl_or_combine():
            for bus in self.dev_datas:
       = self.dat_i or bus
        return hdl_or_combine
def WbGpio(wb_bus, outs, ints, BaseAddress=0x0000):
    gpio_dat_i = Signal(intbv(0)[wb_bus.DataWidth:])
    def hdl_write():
        if not wb_bus.rst:
   = 0
            if wb_bus.cyc and wb_bus.stb and wb_bus.we:
       = wb_bus.dat_o
     wb_bus = WishboneBus()
     outs = Signal(intbv(0)[8:])
     ints = Signal(intbv(0)[8:])
iCtlr = WbCtlr(wb_bus)
iBusOr = iCtlr.DeviceBusses()
iGpio = WbGpio(wb_bus, outs, ins)


The Signal Containers provides a powerful tool to abstract signals and to group signals that are associated. The straight-forward net-name extraction creates a unique net in the lower-level HDLs that can be mapped back to the Signal in a data structure. This MEP only addresses using the structures mentioned to “contain” signals.

meps/mep-107.txt · Last modified: 2013/07/14 03:43 by cfelton
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