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Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
1,241 Views

Poll: Do you want the internal simulator back?

One of the changes in Quartus 10.0 is the missing of the internal simulator. As some people here wanted a poll: Here we go... 

 

BTW: I have started a similar poll regarding the lpm-functions in the MegaWizard PlugIn-Manager at: http://www.alteraforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24291 (http://www.alteraforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24291)
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58 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

i'd be interested to know whether the bigger loss is the ability to draw test benches, or the actual simulator itself

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

It surely is the ease of waveform editing that we want back. How the simulator does it is anyway beyond us. I imagine Altera could have kept the waveform editor/viewer, generate a testbench from that, run any simulator in the background, read the results and display it. I guess this is what our friends with Xilinx do?

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I understand that the old simulation environment was easier for teaching purposes. You start with something 'simple' and don't need to explain test bench during the first lesson. 

 

Unfortunately simple in this case can also mean unsafe. 

 

The students need to understand, from the beginning, that spending some time to set a propoer simulation environment (test bench) is at lease as important as designing the circuit. 

 

Using a proper simulation environment prevents from taking bad designing habits that are difficult to remove.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

I understand that the old simulation environment was easier for teaching purposes. You start with something 'simple' and don't need to explain test bench during the first lesson. 

 

Unfortunately simple in this case can also mean unsafe. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

Only a testbench where the output of the simulation is also checked by the testbench's VHDL code could be called safe. The other case, where the designer 'visually' checks the result of the testbench simulation, is not any safer than the waveform stimulated one. I guess that most testbenches fall in the unsafe category (the checking ones are a lot of work ...), why not make life easy by using a wave editor to create the stimuli and peruse the results? 

 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Using a proper simulation environment prevents from taking bad designing habits that are difficult to remove. 

--- Quote End ---  

One could rather say that there are no 'bad' design habits, just 'less' or 'more' efficient ones.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I welcome any reducion of the number of tools we use and focus on the most practical ones. In particular the mini simulators of altera or xilinx are useless. They may help quick debug of code but are no good for proper testing in an industrial environment. 

For example, tests like DSP functions or entire systems, one needs reading/writing to files, speed of simulation, visual conversion to analogue. Forcing values during run time ...etc. I favor automated result but visual reading is equally important at least in the initial stages before automation. How on earth can you test say carrier tracking in a QAM receiver trying to lock to incoming signal ! I certainly needed to eyeball how the feedback error was converging...or not by looking at its analogue display. Or look at the input and output for derotation of the constellations with help of Matlab reading Modelsim output files. There are endless examples like that.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

In particular the mini simulators of altera or xilinx are useless. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

Not everybody is 'programming in the large'. If you develop small building blocks, which you then later combine in to somewhat larger projects those 'mini simulators' are perfectly usable.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I was taught VHDL at university (BCU Birmingham City Uni) England using Quartus 9.1 last year; I have managed to get a job in the electronics industry at a company that uses Lattice - and model sim. I have been trying to get the company to convert to Altera as it HAD easier / superior simulation interface for expedient proof of concept software design entry, now I have come back to Altera after using lattice, and I can’t find any advantage to using Altera over Lattice, your simulation software was the major trump card - it allowed me to simulate quickly and get stuff done, now I’m going to have to learn some new stuff, this is really disappointing Altera, and as such, we are not going to be using your products. Please can you email me if you decide to put the internal simulator back into your software?  

 

Thanks, 

Dave.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I agree with josyb that at a minimum the waveform viewer/editor should remain. 

 

I frequently use the viewer to check timing waveforms from the example projects when coding my HDL. Sometimes a simple waveform capture can be better than pages of poor documentation.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I think everyone here would agree that anything larger than a "small" design requires a more advanced simulator (i.e. ModelSim). There is no doubt there. But why then does a small design have to suffer the same rigors of a larger design when it comes to simulation/verification. I happen to like the old internal simulator for easy and quick verification.  

 

Furthermore, I have always enjoyed the duality of the process. Pounding out code is fine, but then "sneaking away" to play with a waveform editor broke the monotony up.  

 

As some have previously suggested, I am too completely satisfied if the waveform editor remained as the front end to ModelSim. Furthermore, if the Internal Simulator was to come back, I would remain happy if it was limited to only a functional simulation (I rarely used full timing simulation for such small designs anyhow).
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I use Quartus for an introductory digital logic course I teach. I had to go back to 9.1 after realizing that the simple simulator was missing. I understand that a real testbench is the "safest" way to go, but it is really beyond students who are just learning the fundamentals of logic design. After we breadboard a few discrete logic designs, I have my students work through Altera's Quartus tutorial, and that uses the built-in simulator. Then they simulate everything and use an Altera DE2 FPGA board for all subsequent labs (again, nothing more complicated than adders, multipliers, counters and FSMs). BTW, the removal of the LPM functions breaks some of my course content as well. 

 

In my former engineering job, I have also used the built-in simulator since Quartus 4.0 for quick tests of small modules. Certainly, for the larger commercial designs I do (control systems, etc.), the built-in simulator is not useful, but there are many smaller designs for Altera CPLDs and such that are small enough that the full simulator is not necessary. Altera still sells CPLDs, and I would think that many people still use Quartus for them, right? (I even have a few old 7128 designs I still support). 

 

Anyway, hopefully there will be some usable simulator tool (or front-end) put back into later versions of Quartus 10. 

 

Thanks, 

Fred
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I would vote if I could... I really want the simulator back. 

 

I usually build small modules and simulate them as I go. It all works when the large system is put together. Its such a pain to have to try and simulate in ModelSim for a simple little building block. 

 

PLEASE bring it back! :-)
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

Nope, I never found it useful. I wrote myself a simple tool which translates the port section of any VHDL entity to a pro-forma test bench. It reduces the time and mental barrier of creating a proper test bench for ModelSim

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

You might have saved you the trouble (or throw it away now): QuartusII has a built-in function for this. 

I tried Modelsim lately (as I will have to prettry soon anyway) and didn't find it very intuitive to use, but then I have been using the wrong tool for 10 years now;)
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

For me it was really usefull to test simple block (at least in a functional way). 

At the moment I keep quartus II v9.1 sp2 installed expecially for the simulator and all people that ask me what to install I tell them to keep 9.1sp2 and then the last version available (for example for the HW PCIe of Stratix IV there is a bug in 9.1sp2.. it do not check some fitting that is solved in qII v10sp1) 

 

So definetly YES I WANNA IT BACK :)
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I want it back ! I agree to improve every day all that we can but it was perferct for functional simulation of easy design, you can also show easily to your customers how the design works. Due to this decision I'm now looking with more interest to different silicon vendors for my next design.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

The elimination of the internal waveform editor/simulator is a tragedy. Of course, I don't have the big picture of whether the economic resources now freed for other things is more or less beneficial.  

 

To test simple designs in terms of their logical validity, this internal tool was all you needed. It was expedient to use it in 99% of the cases. For the complex bigger designs, and for more realistic results, I find that the only way to go is some type of hardware in the loop using the signal tap together with matlab for example. It's always good to run all your code on the chip anyway. The timing based simulations are pretty much useless anyway. Don't waste your time on them. Try to test directly on the hardware platform.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

Hi, 

 

I have used the internal simulator way back at university when deisgns were small and simple, but nowadays definitely prefer Modelsim and a proper test bench above the tedious drawing of waveforms. With designs getting more and more complex, I cannot see how you can properly test (simulate) you designs (or design blocks) by just drawing and looking at waveforms. With a few clicks of the mouse you have a default test bench and with a little typing you have a flexible method to not only produce stimulus, but also to automatically check results. Try testing a video processing pipeline with waveforms... 

 

I definitely won't miss it, but please do NOT take away the "free" Altera Modelsim! 

 

Regards, 

Niki
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

I can certainly tell you the impact the decision to remove the simulator is having in our college: people are learning to dread using Quartus. Not one student I've met has anything nice to say about Quartus, and the headaches surrounding going back to the older version to access the simulator has not improved anyone's attitude. Our department chair tells us that we have no choice, as we cannot afford to license another simulator. 

 

Since it looked like it was the way "professionals do it", myself and a couple of other students decided to buck the trend and acquire the starter version of ModelSim and learn it alone. The result: we're now three labs behind and losing ground fast, without having produced a successful simulation of anything more complex than a single gate. The requirement that everything be in VHDL (which we could easily spend a whole quarter on before producing anything useful), the bizarre inability of Quartus to consistently produce valid VHDL for Block Diagram Files, the inexplicable difference between LPM components and everything else (which we still haven't figured out), the utter lack of feedback from ModelSim when you've done something wrong, the crazy mishmash of GUI and command line functionality in ModelSim, and the near-total lack of quality tutorials available has made our life over the past few weeks just miserable. 

 

This is the very first piece of software I have ever encountered in twenty years as a hobbyist and professional that I have not been able to coax basic functionality out of on my own. The simulator included in the older version of Quartus made the experience tolerable, if not enjoyable. The components we're creating in both graphical and VHDL formats are extremely simple. There should be a way to simulate them for testing purposes that doesn't take more time to set up than the component does!
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
52 Views

Not everything is lost ... 

 

Apparently Altera still supports (or repackaged?) a 'native' simulator under the University Program : quartus ii simulator tools for education (http://www.altera.com/education/univ/software/qsim/unv-qsim.html?gsa_pos=1&wt.oss_r=1&wt.oss=qsim

I downloaded the .pdf and the images look very promising. I didn't install the University Program Installer yet, as I'm not sure whether it is appropriate for an engineering professional to do so. I'd suggest the university professors to give it a try ... I did install the UP (the actual license didn't exclude me from doing so) and ran a small test. It recognised an existing project, and even opened the existing waveform. But unfortunately it was a Cyclone IV E project -> 

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Error: Current device family is not supported by simulation. 

--- Quote End ---  

Looks like I have to stick with Cyclone III or II to simulate my building blocks. 

I did the same exercise for a .bdf project with Cyclone II, and everything worked fine! The presentation is different like Q10.1 is, but adapting will go quick.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
4 Views

I miss the old simulator dearly.  

Rather than going with an addon patch like modelsim, Altera should integrate a simulator / waveform viewer / oscilloscope to view waveforms right form the floor plan editor or RTL viewers.
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