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Hardware Design Patterns Using the MATLAB Function Block

This example shows how to effectively use the MATLAB Function block to model commonly used hardware algorithms using HDL Coder™. An HDL design patterns library is used to show the features of MATLAB Coder supported by HDL Coder.

Quick Introduction

The MATLAB Function block supports simulation and code generation for a restricted subset of MATLAB® language. It provides a mechanism for algorithm implementation in Simulink® and Stateflow®. To get more information on how to use this block in Simulink type:

  >> docsearch('About Code Generation from MATLAB Algorithms')

Subset of Features Supported by HDL Coder

HDL Coder supports a powerful subset of MATLAB Function block features well suited for HDL implementations of various DSP and telecommunication applications such as sequence detectors, pattern generators, encoders, decoders etc., The following list briefly shows the features supported by MATLAB Function block in HDL Coder:

  • Various Numeric Classes (int,uint,logical,single,double)

  • Fixed-point arithmetic using 'fi' object

  • Arithmetic, Logical, Relational and Bitwise operator support

  • Full MATLAB expression support using above operators

  • 1-D and 2-D Matrix Operations

  • Matrix Subscripting

  • Control flow using if, switch, for statements

  • Sub functions

  • Persistent variables to model state

  • Fixed point and integer MATLAB library functions

Modeling Hardware Algorithms

The MATLAB Function block provides a mechanism to model at a high level of abstraction with a concise and textual way of expressing behavior of a hardware algorithm. HDL Coder provides an easy path to implementation from such an algorithmic level representation. The following sections show how to use this block effectively in HDL Coder.

% To illustrate the use of the above features in hardware modeling a
% sample patterns library is created that shows how to model common
% HDL problems. To open this sample library model please type
% at the command prompt


Using Blocks in this Library

To build some sample models using blocks in this model and observe the generated code please follow these steps:

  • Create a new model.

  • Copy the block of interest from the eml_hdl_design_patterns library to this model.

  • Place it in a subsystem or a device under test.

  • Run 'hdlsetup' command.

  • Run 'makehdl' to generate code for the block

  • Build valid test bench around it using Simulink sources and sinks.

  • Run 'makehdltb' command to generate testbench.

  • Use the Modelsim '.do' script file to simulate the generated code.

see tutorial example model 'eml_hdl_incrementer' for more details or type

  >> docsearch('Tutorial Example: Incrementer')

Modeling Arithmetic

This section talks about some of the design considerations that help generate efficient HDL from the MATLAB Function block. Please note that for modeling arbitrary length arithmetic operations using signed and unsigned logic vectors use of fi object is recommended. The fi objects provide a powerful mechanism to model fixed point arithmetic. Here are a couple of things to note when using fi objects in the MATLAB Function block.

The fi function helps you to define a fixed-point object with customized 'numerictype' (that defines sign, wordlength, fractionlength) and 'fimath' (that defines rounding and saturation modes)

For HDL code generation, we recommend the fimath shown below. (with 'Floor', 'Wrap' and 'FullPrecision' modes) as shown below.

However when modeling algorithms requiring more complicated rounding and saturation logic you may use other fimath modes for rounding (floor,ceil,fix,nearest) and overflow (wrap,saturate)

  'RoundMode', 'floor',...
  'OverflowMode', 'wrap',...
  'ProductMode', 'FullPrecision', 'ProductWordLength', 32,...
  'SumMode', 'FullPrecision', 'SumWordLength', 32);

Examples: The following examples show the affect of fimath properties on the generated code.


Modeling State Using Persistent Variables

To model a complex control logic, the ability to model registers is a basic requirement. In the MATLAB Coder programming model, the state-holding elements are represented as persistent variables. A variable declared persistent retains its value across function calls in software, and across steps of Simulink sample times. State holding elements in hardware like registers and flip-flops also exhibit similar behavior. The following examples how the values of persistent variables can be changed using global and local reset conditions.

Examples: open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Delays') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Delays/unit delay') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Delays/integer delay') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Delays/tap delay') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Delays/tap delay vector')

Modeling Counters and FSMs

The MATLAB Coder control-constructs such as switch/case and if-elseif-else, coupled with delay elements and fixed point arithmetic operations, let you model control logic. The examples in FSMs show how to use the switch-case and the if-elseif-end control statements. The counter show to model state and how to quantize data elements within loops.

Examples: open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/FSMs') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Counters')

Modeling Bitwise Operations

The MATLAB Function block supports a variety of bitwise operations useful for hardware bit manipulation operations like bit concatenation, bit packing and unpacking, conversions between integer and bits, and pn-sequence generation and bit-scramblers.

Here is a quick list of bitwise functions that are supported by HDL Coder:

  • bitget, bitsliceget, bitconcat, bitset, bitcmp

  • bitand, bitor, bitxor

  • bitandreduce, bitorreduce, bitxorreduce

  • bitshift, bitsll, bitsrl, bitsra, bitrol, bitror

When modeling pure logic and no math operations in the MATLAB Function block the following settings on input operands are recommended.

  • Prefer unsigned to signed input operands

  • Use non saturating fimath options to generate less hardware.

  • Prefer 'OverflowMode' to be 'wrap' and 'RoundMode' to be 'floor'

Examples: open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Bit Twiddlers/hdl_bit_ops') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Bit Twiddlers/signal_distance') open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Word Twiddlers/nibble_swap_with_slice_concat')

For an example that shows how to perform a conversion between integer and bits, open the model hdlcoder_int2bits_bits2int.


This model uses a MATLAB Function block that is implemented in the Word Twiddlers library.

open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Word Twiddlers/Bits2Int')
open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Word Twiddlers/Int2Bits')
open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Word Twiddlers/Integer to Bits')
open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Word Twiddlers/Bits to Integer')

Modeling Hardware Elements

The MATLAB Function block can be used to model various hardware elements like barrel shifters, rotators, carry save adders using simple and concise MATLAB scripts.

Examples: open_system('eml_hdl_design_patterns/Shift Registers/shift_reg_universal')


This example illustrates various opportunities that open up for hardware modeling through the use of the MATLAB Function block. A set of patterns to solve common hardware modeling problems using the MATLAB Function block are discussed. Please read the doc for more information on this library .

  >> docsearch('The eml_hdl_design_patterns Library')