The power of programming languages! Or, specifically in this case: the power of the Very High-Speed Integrated Circuits (VHSIC) Hardware Description Language-Analog and Mixed-signal (VHDL-AMS) language, developed in the early '90s in response to the need for a hardware description language supporting analog and mixed-signal modeling. This language was further developed under the auspices of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and adopted in the form of the IEEE Standard 1076 -- Standard VHDL Language Reference Manual -- in 1987. But, to use a language such as VHDL-AMS, you have to know how to interpret it and you have to understand its idiosyncrasies. That's the purpose of this book by Peter J. Ashenden, Gregory D. Peterson, and Darrell A. Teegarden: to give the reader the comprehension and skills required to make the best use of this language in designing hardware and software systems.
The authors begin by introducing the idea of a hardware description language and outline the reasons for its use and the benefits that ensue. Chapter 2 explains the basic type system of the language and introduces the scalar data types. Chapter 3 describes the sequential control structures, and Chapter 4 covers composite data structures used to represent collections of data elements. Chapters 5 to 8 explain how the main facilities of VHDL-AMS are used for modeling digital hardware. The next group of chapters (9 to 14) extends the basic set of facilities with language features that make modeling of large systems more tractable, and the third group (15 to 18) covers advanced modeling features in VHDL-AMS. Then, Chapters 19 to 23 discuss language facilities generally used for system-level modeling. Drawing on the tour of VHDL-AMS, the authors conclude with Chapters 24 to 26, which cover the remaining language facilities and addressing system design issues. In addition, the exercises and case studies throughout the book provide complete coverage of the language for classroom use.
Nevertheless, the future still holds out hope that this technology will evolve to allow for fully complete, integrated systems consisting of analog, mixed-signal, and mixed-technology modeling. But for now, it's just a "mixed bag" of incompatible technologies. Hopefully, this book will help enhance your skills to allow you to use what's available in that "bag." John Vacca
John Vacca, the former computer security official (CSO) for NASA's space station program (Freedom), has written 38 books about advanced storage, computer security, and aerospace technology.