This section demonstrates the basic nMigen workflow to provide a cursory overview of the language and the toolchain. See the tutorial for a step-by-step introduction to the language, and the language guide for a detailed explanation of every language construct.
As a first example, consider a counter with a fixed limit, enable, and overflow. The code for this example is shown below.
Download and run it:
$ python3 up_counter.py
Implementing a counter
A 16-bit up counter with enable input, overflow output, and a limit fixed at design time can be implemented in nMigen as follows:
1from nmigen import * 2 3 4class UpCounter(Elaboratable): 5 """ 6 A 16-bit up counter with a fixed limit. 7 8 Parameters 9 ---------- 10 limit : int 11 The value at which the counter overflows. 12 13 Attributes 14 ---------- 15 en : Signal, in 16 The counter is incremented if ``en`` is asserted, and retains 17 its value otherwise. 18 ovf : Signal, out 19 ``ovf`` is asserted when the counter reaches its limit. 20 """ 21 def __init__(self, limit): 22 self.limit = limit 23 24 # Ports 25 self.en = Signal() 26 self.ovf = Signal() 27 28 # State 29 self.count = Signal(16) 30 31 def elaborate(self, platform): 32 m = Module() 33 34 m.d.comb += self.ovf.eq(self.count == self.limit) 35 36 with m.If(self.en): 37 with m.If(self.ovf): 38 m.d.sync += self.count.eq(0) 39 with m.Else(): 40 m.d.sync += self.count.eq(self.count + 1) 41 42 return m
The reusable building block of nMigen designs is an
Elaboratable: a Python class that includes HDL signals (
ovf, in this case) as a part of its interface, and provides the
elaborate method that defines its behavior.
elaborate implementations use a
Module helper to describe combinatorial (
m.d.comb) and synchronous (
m.d.sync) logic controlled with conditional syntax (
m.Else) similar to Python’s. They can also instantiate vendor-defined black boxes or modules written in other HDLs.
Testing a counter
To verify its functionality, the counter can be simulated for a small amount of time, with a test bench driving it and checking a few simple conditions:
44from nmigen.sim import Simulator 45 46 47dut = UpCounter(25) 48def bench(): 49 # Disabled counter should not overflow. 50 yield dut.en.eq(0) 51 for _ in range(30): 52 yield 53 assert not (yield dut.ovf) 54 55 # Once enabled, the counter should overflow in 25 cycles. 56 yield dut.en.eq(1) 57 for _ in range(25): 58 yield 59 assert not (yield dut.ovf) 60 yield 61 assert (yield dut.ovf) 62 63 # The overflow should clear in one cycle. 64 yield 65 assert not (yield dut.ovf) 66 67 68sim = Simulator(dut) 69sim.add_clock(1e-6) # 1 MHz 70sim.add_sync_process(bench) 71with sim.write_vcd("up_counter.vcd"): 72 sim.run()
The test bench is implemented as a Python generator function that is co-simulated with the counter itself. The test bench can inspect the simulated signals with
yield sig, update them with
yield sig.eq(val), and advance the simulation by one clock cycle with
When run, the test bench finishes successfully, since all of the assertions hold, and produces a VCD file with waveforms recorded for every
Signal as well as the clock of the
Converting a counter
Although some nMigen workflows do not include Verilog at all, it is still the de facto standard for HDL interoperability. Any nMigen design can be converted to synthesizable Verilog using the corresponding backend:
74from nmigen.back import verilog 75 76 77top = UpCounter(25) 78with open("up_counter.v", "w") as f: 79 f.write(verilog.convert(top, ports=[top.en, top.ovf]))
The signals that will be connected to the ports of the top-level Verilog module should be specified explicitly. The rising edge clock and synchronous reset signals of the
sync domain are added automatically; if necessary, the control signals can be configured explicitly. The result is the following Verilog code (lightly edited for clarity):
1(* generator = "nMigen" *) 2module top(clk, rst, en, ovf); 3 (* src = "<nmigen-root>/nmigen/hdl/ir.py:526" *) 4 input clk; 5 (* src = "<nmigen-root>/nmigen/hdl/ir.py:526" *) 6 input rst; 7 (* src = "up_counter.py:26" *) 8 input en; 9 (* src = "up_counter.py:27" *) 10 output ovf; 11 (* src = "up_counter.py:30" *) 12 reg [15:0] count = 16'h0000; 13 (* src = "up_counter.py:30" *) 14 reg [15:0] \count$next ; 15 (* src = "up_counter.py:35" *) 16 wire \$1 ; 17 (* src = "up_counter.py:41" *) 18 wire [16:0] \$3 ; 19 (* src = "up_counter.py:41" *) 20 wire [16:0] \$4 ; 21 assign \$1 = count == (* src = "up_counter.py:35" *) 5'h19; 22 assign \$4 = count + (* src = "up_counter.py:41" *) 1'h1; 23 always @(posedge clk) 24 count <= \count$next ; 25 always @* begin 26 \count$next = count; 27 (* src = "up_counter.py:37" *) 28 casez (en) 29 /* src = "up_counter.py:37" */ 30 1'h1: 31 (* src = "up_counter.py:38" *) 32 casez (ovf) 33 /* src = "up_counter.py:38" */ 34 1'h1: 35 \count$next = 16'h0000; 36 /* src = "up_counter.py:40" */ 37 default: 38 \count$next = \$3 [15:0]; 39 endcase 40 endcase 41 (* src = "<nmigen-root>/nmigen/hdl/xfrm.py:518" *) 42 casez (rst) 43 1'h1: 44 \count$next = 16'h0000; 45 endcase 46 end 47 assign \$3 = \$4 ; 48 assign ovf = \$1 ; 49endmodule
To aid debugging, the generated Verilog code has the same general structure as the nMigen source code (although more verbose), and contains extensive source location information.
Unfortunately, at the moment none of the supported toolchains will use the source location information in diagnostic messages.
A blinking LED
Although nMigen works well as a standalone HDL, it also includes a build system that integrates with FPGA toolchains, and many board definition files for common developer boards that include pinouts and programming adapter invocations. The following code will blink a LED with a frequency of 1 Hz on any board that has a LED and an oscillator:
1from nmigen import * 2 3 4class LEDBlinker(Elaboratable): 5 def elaborate(self, platform): 6 m = Module() 7 8 led = platform.request("led") 9 10 half_freq = int(platform.default_clk_frequency // 2) 11 timer = Signal(range(half_freq + 1)) 12 13 with m.If(timer == half_freq): 14 m.d.sync += led.eq(~led) 15 m.d.sync += timer.eq(0) 16 with m.Else(): 17 m.d.sync += timer.eq(timer + 1) 18 19 return m
LEDBlinker module will use the first LED available on the board, and derive the clock divisor from the oscillator frequency specified in the clock constraint. It can be used, for example, with the Lattice iCEStick evaluation board, one of the many boards already supported by nMigen:
Link to the installation instructions for the FOSS iCE40 toolchain, probably as a part of board documentation.
21from nmigen_boards.icestick import * 22 23 24ICEStickPlatform().build(LEDBlinker(), do_program=True)
With only a single line of code, the design is synthesized, placed, routed, and programmed to the on-board Flash memory. Although not all applications will use the nMigen build system, the designs that choose it can benefit from the “turnkey” built-in workflows; if necessary, the built-in workflows can be customized to include user-specified options, commands, and files.
The ability to check with minimal effort whether the entire toolchain functions correctly is so important that it is built into every board definition file. To use it with the iCEStick board, run:
$ python3 -m nmigen_boards.icestick
This command will build and program a test bitstream similar to the example above.