Simulation with the NativeLink Feature in Quartus II Software

You can use the NativeLink feature in Quartus® II software to facilitate the seamless transfer of information between Quartus II software and third-party simulators. This design example shows how to use the NativeLink feature in Quartus II software to perform functional or gate-level timing simulation of your design with third-party simulators. The Quartus II NativeLink feature allows you to launch your third-party simulator from within the Quartus II software and run the simulation with just a few clicks of your mouse. All the library preparation and run commands are generated automatically by Quartus II software without requiring your input. All these actions are also stored in a script. The Quartus II NativeLink feature is supported by all the popular third-party simulators. This example demonstrates the use of the Quartus II NativeLink feature for the ModelSim®-Altera® simulator. In this example, you will:

  • Load an existing project in Quartus II software
  • Set up the Quartus II project for the NativeLink feature and ModelSim-Altera tools
  • Perform the functional (RTL) and gate-level timing simulations using the NativeLink feature

Note: This example was developed in Verilog HDL using Quartus II software version 9.0 and
ModelSim-Altera software version 6.4a running on a host with Windows XP SP2.

Using the Design Example

  1. Download this NativeLink_Modelsim.zip file to your desired location.
  2. Extract the NativeLink_Modelsim.qar file from the zip file.
  3. Double click on the NativeLink_Modelsim.qar file, and the Quartus II software will open.
  4. The Restore Archived Project dialog box will pops up with the Quartus II software. The Archive Name and Destination folder will be prefill for you.
  5. Click OK to start the QAR archive extraction.
  6. On the Assignments menu, click Settings to open the Settings dialog box and then under EDA Tool Settings, click Simulation. Verify that ModelSim-Altera is selected in the Tool name field and click OK.
  7. To use the Quartus II NativeLink feature, you must also provide the absolute path for the ModelSim-Altera software:
    1. On the Tools menu, click Options, then General, then EDA Tool Options.
    2. In the EDA Tool Options pane specify the path to the ModelSim-Altera executable (for example, c:\altera\90\modelsim_ae\win32aloem).
  8. Set up NativeLink for your testbench:
    1. On the Assignments menu, click EDA Tool Settings, and then select Simulation.
    2. In the Simulation settings dialog box, under NativeLink settings, select Compile test bench, then click Test Benches. The Test Bench dialog box appears.
    3. Select the testbench TB1 and click Edit. (The settings shown are similar to the ones shown in Figure 1.) Click OK.
  9. Start RTL simulation:
    1. From the Processing menu, select Start and then click Start Analysis and Elaboration.
    2. From the Tools menu, select EDA Simulation Tool and then click Run EDA RTL Simulation.
  10. Start post-fit gate-level timing simulation:
    1. Compile your project by clicking Compile in the Quartus II toolbar.
    2. From the Tools menu, select EDA Simulation Tool and click Run EDA Gate Level Simulation.
Figure 1. Test Bench Dialog Box

Note: All the commands used to run the simulation are stored in scripts. In this example, a ModelSim Macro File (*.do) is generated in the <project_directory>\simulation\modelsim directory while running the NativeLink feature. You can perform a simulation with this *.do file if you are invoking ModelSim-Altera separately, that is, without using the NativeLink feature.

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