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A Brief Introduction to SystemC

The SystemC Class Library has been developed to support system level design. It runs on both PC and UNIX platforms, and is freely downloadable from the web.

The class library is being released in stages. The first stage, release 1.0 (presently at version 1.0.2) provides all the necessary modelling facilities to describe systems similar to those which can be described using a hardware description language, such as VHDL. Version 1.0 provides a simulation kernel, data types appropriate for fixed point arithmetic, communication channels which behave like pieces of wire (signals), and modules to break down a design into smaller parts.

In Release 2.0 (presently at version 2.0.1), the class library has been extensively re-written to provide an upgrade path into true system level design. Features that were “built-in” to version 1.0, such as signals, are now built upon an underlying structure of channels, interfaces, and ports. Events have been provided as a primitive means of triggering behaviour, together with a set of primitive channels such as FIFO and mutex. Version 2.0 allows much more powerful modelling to be achieved by modelling at the level of transactions.

Version 2.1 added a number of features including the ability to spawn processes after simulation has started, and extra callbacks into the operation of the simulation kernel.

In 2005 the language was standardised as IEEE 1666-2005. Version 2.2 of the reference implementation of the class library is currently available and has been updated to comply with the IEEE standard.

In future, Version 3.0 of the class library will be extended to cover modelling of operating systems, to support the development of models of embedded software.

It is also possible to provide additional libraries to support a particular design methodology. Examples of this include the SystemC Verification Library (SCV).