Free Programming Books

3 Excellent Free Books to Learn about VHDL

VHDL (VHSIC-HDL, Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language) is a hardware description language used in electronic design automation to describe digital and mixed-signal systems such as field-programmable gate arrays and integrated circuits. VHDL can also be used as a general-purpose parallel programming language.

VHDL is an extremely powerful tool. The more you understand as you work and study with VHDL, the more it will enhance your learning experience independently of your particular area of interest. The concept of using software to design hardware that is controlled by software will definitely provide you with endless hours of contemplation.

VHDL is designed to fill a number of needs in the design process. Firstly, it allows description of the structure of a design, that is how it is decomposed into sub-designs, and how those sub-designs are interconnected. Secondly, it allows the specification of the function of designs using familiar programming language forms. Thirdly, as a result, it allows a design to be simulated before being manufactured, so that designers can quickly compare alternatives and test for correctness without the delay and expense of hardware prototyping.


1. Free Range VHDL by Bryan Mealy, Fabrizio Tappero

Free Range VHDLThe purpose of this book is to provide students and young engineers with a guide to help them develop the skills necessary to be able to use VHDL for introductory and intermediate level digital design. These skills will also give them the ability and the confidence to continue on with VHDL-based digital design.

The book presents topics to someone familiar with digital logic design and with some skills in algorithmic programming languages such as Java or C. The information is focused on giving a solid knowledge of the approach and function of VHDL.

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2. Introducing the Spartan-3E FPGA and VHDL by Mike Field

Spartan-3E FPGA and VHDL

This is a book on using the Spartan 3E FPGA with VHDL, using the Papilio One or Digilent Basys2 boards. This book provides you with:

  • A working knowledge of a subset of VHDL — enough to complete most projects.
  • Familiarity with the ISIM simulator, and have used it to debug an issue or two.
  • Familiarity with all the major components of the Spartan-3E FPGA.
  • Used nearly all the interfaces on your chosen FPGA development board.
  • Transferred data to an FPGA over the USB host port (which is often overlooked in other books!)
  • You may have even built a few custom interfaces that are not on the board.

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3. The VHDL Cookbook by Peter Ashenden

VHDL CookbookVHDL Cookbook begins with the basics of VHDL, which, like any software language, has keywords, operators, flow control statements, and programming conventions.

Next, the author introduces his first case study – a “pipelined multiplier accumulator,” which simulates a CPU register. He then moves on to more complicated models, such as a design for a complete CPU (the DLX processor, which is used as a model for educating future CPU designers).

More advanced aspects of VHDL follow, including guard signals, abstract data types, and even file I/O. A final case study (for a “queuing network”) puts these components into practice. The book closes with a discussion of “synthesizers” – additional software tools that convert a VHDL specification into silicon–and how these tools impose design limits.

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All books in this series:

Free Programming Books
JavaGeneral-purpose, concurrent, class-based, object-oriented, high-level language
CGeneral-purpose, procedural, portable, high-level language
PythonGeneral-purpose, structured, powerful language
C++General-purpose, portable, free-form, multi-paradigm language
C#Combines the power and flexibility of C++ with the simplicity of Visual Basic
JavaScriptInterpreted, prototype-based, scripting language
PHPPHP has been at the helm of the web for many years
HTMLHyperText Markup Language
SQLAccess and manipulate data held in a relational database management system
RubyGeneral purpose, scripting, structured, flexible, fully object-oriented language
AssemblyAs close to writing machine code without writing in pure hexadecimal
SwiftPowerful and intuitive general-purpose programming language
GroovyPowerful, optionally typed and dynamic language
GoCompiled, statically typed programming language
PascalImperative and procedural language designed in the late 1960s
PerlHigh-level, general-purpose, interpreted, scripting, dynamic language
RDe facto standard among statisticians and data analysts
COBOLCommon Business-Oriented Language
ScalaModern, object-functional, multi-paradigm, Java-based language
FortranThe first high-level language, using the first compiler
ScratchVisual programming language designed for 8-16 year-old children
LuaDesigned as an embeddable scripting language
LogoDialect of Lisp that features interactivity, modularity, extensibility
RustIdeal for systems, embedded, and other performance critical code
LispUnique features - excellent to study programming constructs
AdaALGOL-like programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages
HaskellStandardized, general-purpose, polymorphically, statically typed language
SchemeA general-purpose, functional language descended from Lisp and Algol
PrologA general purpose, declarative, logic programming language
ForthImperative stack-based programming language
ClojureDialect of the Lisp programming language
JuliaHigh-level, high-performance language for technical computing
AwkVersatile language designed for pattern scanning and processing language
CoffeeScriptTranscompiles into JavaScript inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell
BASICBeginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
ErlangGeneral-purpose, concurrent, declarative, functional language
VimLPowerful scripting language of the Vim editor
OCamlThe main implementation of the Caml language
ECMAScriptBest known as the language embedded in web browsers
BashShell and command language; popular both as a shell and a scripting language
LaTeXProfessional document preparation system and document markup language
TeXMarkup and programming language - create professional quality typeset text
ArduinoInexpensive, flexible, open source microcontroller platform
TypeScriptStrict syntactical superset of JavaScript adding optional static typing
ElixirRelatively new functional language running on the Erlang virtual machine
F#Uses functional, imperative, and object-oriented programming methods
TclDynamic language based on concepts of Lisp, C, and Unix shells
FactorDynamic stack-based programming language
EiffelObject-oriented language designed by Bertrand Meyer
AgdaDependently typed functional language based on intuitionistic Type Theory
IconWide variety of features for processing and presenting symbolic data
XMLRules for defining semantic tags describing structure ad meaning
ValaObject-oriented language, syntactically similar to C#
Standard MLGeneral-purpose functional language characterized as "Lisp with types"
DGeneral-purpose systems programming language with a C-like syntax
DartClient-optimized language for fast apps on multiple platforms
MarkdownPlain text formatting syntax designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write
KotlinMore modern version of Java
Objective-CObject-oriented language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to C
PureScriptSmall strongly, statically typed language compiling to JavaScript
ClojureScriptCompiler for Clojure that targets JavaScript
VHDLHardware description language used in electronic design automation
JArray programming language based primarily on APL
LabVIEWDesigned to enable domain experts to build power systems quickly
PostScriptInterpreted, stack-based and Turing complete language
RakuMember of the Perl family of programming languages
DylanMulti-paradigm language supporting functional and object-oriented coding
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