HDTLib: an efficient implementation of SystemC data types for fast simulation at different abstraction levels

Research paper by Nicola Bombieri, Franco Fummi, Valerio Guarnieri, Francesco Stefanni, Sara Vinco

Indexed on: 18 Jul '12Published on: 18 Jul '12Published in: Design Automation for Embedded Systems


SystemC is the de-facto standard language for system-level modeling, architectural exploration, performance analysis, software development, and functional verification of embedded systems. Nevertheless, it has been proved that the performance of the SystemC implementation is typically less optimal than commercial VHDL/Verilog simulators when used for register transfer level (RTL) simulation. This is mainly due to the “slow” implementation of bit-accurate data types provided by the standard library. Such a problem limits the simulation performance even when SystemC designs are implemented at higher levels of abstraction (i.e., transaction-level modeling—TLM) and still make use of bit-accurate data types (e.g., for a more accurate verification, or in TLM descriptions automatically generated from RTL). This article presents HDTLib, a new bit-accurate data type library that increases the simulation speed up to 3.45× at RTL and up to 10× at TLM. In addition, when the level of abstraction rises from RTL and better simulation performance is required, accuracy of HW-dependent behaviors is no longer necessary. Thus, the article presents a type abstraction methodology to get rid of low level behaviors and how such a methodology can be combined with HDTLib for guaranteeing a sound tradeoff between accuracy and simulation speed. Finally, more recent works have proposed efficient and promising techniques to boost SystemC simulation through general purpose graphics processing unit (GP-GPU) architectures. In such parallel frameworks, the standard SystemC library for bit-accurate data types is not supported, with a consequent limitation of their application to actual designs. This article shows how HDTLib has been implemented for applying also to these today many-core architectures.