Summary
In digital circuit design, register-transfer level (RTL) is a design abstraction which models a synchronous digital circuit in terms of the flow of digital signals (data) between hardware registers, and the logical operations performed on those signals. Register-transfer-level abstraction is used in hardware description languages (HDLs) like Verilog and VHDL to create high-level representations of a circuit, from which lower-level representations and ultimately actual wiring can be derived. Design at the RTL level is typical practice in modern digital design. Unlike in software compiler design, where the register-transfer level is an intermediate representation and at the lowest level, the RTL level is the usual input that circuit designers operate on. In fact, in circuit synthesis, an intermediate language between the input register transfer level representation and the target netlist is sometimes used. Unlike in netlist, constructs such as cells, functions, and multi-bit registers are available. Examples include FIRRTL and RTLIL. Transaction-level modeling is a higher level of electronic system design. A synchronous circuit consists of two kinds of elements: registers (Sequential logic) and combinational logic. Registers (usually implemented as D flip-flops) synchronize the circuit's operation to the edges of the clock signal, and are the only elements in the circuit that have memory properties. Combinational logic performs all the logical functions in the circuit and it typically consists of logic gates. For example, a very simple synchronous circuit is shown in the figure. The inverter is connected from the output, Q, of a register to the register's input, D, to create a circuit that changes its state on each rising edge of the clock, clk. In this circuit, the combinational logic consists of the inverter. When designing digital integrated circuits with a hardware description language (HDL), the designs are usually engineered at a higher level of abstraction than transistor level (logic families) or logic gate level.
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Related concepts (27)
Register-transfer level
In digital circuit design, register-transfer level (RTL) is a design abstraction which models a synchronous digital circuit in terms of the flow of digital signals (data) between hardware registers, and the logical operations performed on those signals. Register-transfer-level abstraction is used in hardware description languages (HDLs) like Verilog and VHDL to create high-level representations of a circuit, from which lower-level representations and ultimately actual wiring can be derived.
Logic synthesis
In computer engineering, logic synthesis is a process by which an abstract specification of desired circuit behavior, typically at register transfer level (RTL), is turned into a design implementation in terms of logic gates, typically by a computer program called a synthesis tool. Common examples of this process include synthesis of designs specified in hardware description languages, including VHDL and Verilog. Some synthesis tools generate bitstreams for programmable logic devices such as PALs or FPGAs, while others target the creation of ASICs.
Logic simulation
Logic simulation is the use of simulation software to predict the behavior of digital circuits and hardware description languages. Simulation can be performed at varying degrees of physical abstraction, such as at the transistor level, gate level, register-transfer level (RTL), electronic system-level (ESL), or behavioral level. Logic simulation may be used as part of the verification process in designing hardware. Simulations have the advantage of providing a familiar look and feel to the user in that it is constructed from the same language and symbols used in design.
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