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Does anyone knows what different between systemC and systemC TLM?

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SystemC TLM is a part of the SystemC standard (both parts TLM1 and TLM2). True, it is an newer addition, but it is never-the-less part of the standard.


TLM1 was the first attempt to standardize an API, which worked, but it didn't address the needs of the SystemC community as well as had been hoped. TLM2 standardizes a methodology to model address mapped bus communications and the associated API. It allows for easier exchange of IP blocks for simulation.


TLM emphasizes that "ports" are not just wiring connection points, but rather a nexus for higher levels of communication. TLM2 has "sockets", which are really just glorified SystemC port combinations (sc_port & sc_export). TLM2 also standardizes some concepts (even if not stringently) of different styles of transaction level modeling (sometimes called coding styles). For instance, "loosely-timed" (LT) represents "execute as fast as possible while maintaining register functional accuracy"; whereas, "approximately-timed" (AT) means "provide sufficient timing detail to allow bus-level timing analysis[1]". AT does not simulate as quickly as LT because it has to provide extra details and timing behavior.


Note 1: Not necessarily the same as clock cycle accuracy.


On the other hand, the SystemC core provides the fundamental mechanisms that allow for design encapsulation (sc_module), event-driven simulation (sc_event and wait()), processes (SC_THREAD, SC_METHOD), a notion of simulated time (sc_time) and channels (sc_interface, sc_prim_channel, sc_channel). Channels are one of the most important features and enable abstraction of safe interprocess communications. SystemC also provides the minor addition of hardware datatypes (sc_logic<>, sc_int<>, sc_fixed<>, etc). It also provides primitive communications channels such as sc_signal<> and sc_fifo<>. Thus, the SystemC core provides the foundation needed to implement TLM.


Sadly in some sense, SystemC provides a number of simplifications for writing RTL even though it is fundamentally not the strong point of the simulator. To some degree these simplifications are an holdover from SystemC 1.0 for backwards compatibility. I said sad because the simplifications have encouraged many to think of SystemC as an appropriate vehicle for writing RTL code, but then get frustrated at the lack of performance (for RTL). SystemVerilog and VHDL are much better suited for that task. The RTL aspect of SystemC is good in making it easier to interface SystemC to the other languages for co-simulation.

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