An interactive testbench is a simulator setup where input to the device under test (DUT) is provided by an operator while the testbench is running. Most often, this would mean you entering commands in the simulator console to provide the DUT with stimulus.

While you should always create a self-checking testbench, an interactive testbench can be a nice supplement. It’s easier to perform ad-hoc testing with an interactive testbench at hand, than it is to change the code of the self-checking testbench.

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A self-checking testbench is a VHDL program that verifies the correctness of the device under test (DUT) without relying on an operator to manually inspect the output. The self-checking testbench runs entirely on its own, and prints an “OK” or “Failed” message in the end.

Every VHDL module should have an associated self-checking testbench. It’s important to be able to verify that all modules have the intended behavior at any time. For example,

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The linked list is a dynamic data structure. A linked list can be used when the total number of elements is not known in advance. It grows and shrinks in memory, relative to the number of items it contains.

Linked lists are most conveniently implemented using classes in an object-oriented programming language. VHDL has some object-oriented features which can be used for abstracting away the complexity of the implementation from the user.

In this article we are going to use access types,

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It is possible to drive external signals from a procedure. As long as the signal is within the scope of the procedure, it can be accessed for reading or writing, even if it isn’t listed in the parameter list.

Procedures that are declared in the declarative region of the architecture, cannot drive any external signals. This is simply because there are no signals in its scope at compile time. A procedure declared within a process,

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An impure function can read or write any signal within its scope, also those that are not on the parameter list. We say that the function has side effects.

What we mean by side effects is that it is not guaranteed that the function will return the same value every time it is called with the same parameters. If the function can read signals that are not on the parameter list,

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Functions are subprograms in VHDL which can be used for implementing frequently used algorithms. A function takes zero or more input values, and it always returns a value. In addition to the return value, what sets a function apart from a procedure, is that it cannot contain Wait-statements. This means that functions always consume zero simulation time.

If you are familiar with functions or methods from other programming languages, VHDL functions should be easy to grasp.

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A finite-state machine (FSM) is a mechanism whose output is dependent not only on the current state of the input, but also on past input and output values.

Whenever you need to create some sort of time-dependent algorithm in VHDL, or if you are faced with the problem of implementing a computer program in an FPGA, it can usually be solved by using an FSM.

State-machines in VHDL are clocked processes whose outputs are controlled by the value of a state signal.

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A procedure is a type of subprogram in VHDL which can help us avoid repeating code. Sometimes the need arises to perform identical operations several places throughout the design. While creating a module might be overkill for minor operations, a procedure is often what you want.

Procedures can be declared within any declarative region. The scope of the procedure will be limited to wherever it’s declared, architecture, package, or process. Whenever you call the procedure,

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In earlier tutorials we have used the wait for statement to delay time in simulation. But what about production modules? The wait for statement cannot be used for that. That only works in simulation because we can’t just tell the electrons in a circuit to pause for a given time. So how can we keep track of time in a design module?

The answer is simply counting clock cycles. Every digital design has access to a clock signal which oscillates at a fixed,

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