Waveform viewer

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A waveform viewer is a software tool for viewing the signal levels of either a digital or analog circuit design.[1]

Waveform viewers comes in two varieties:

  1. simulation waveform viewers for displaying signal levels of simulated design models, and
  2. in-circuit waveform viewers for displaying signal levels captured in-circuit while debugging or testing hardware boards (Also, See Waveform monitor)

Simulation waveform viewers[edit]

In integrated circuit design, waveform viewers are typically used in conjunction with a simulation. A waveform view allows an IC designer to see the signal transitions over time and the relation of those signals with other signals in an IC design, which is typically written in a hardware description language. Simulators can be used to interactively capture wave data for immediate viewing on a waveform viewer; however, for integrated circuit design the usage model is typically to save the output of simulation runs by running batch jobs and to view the waveforms off-line as a static database.[1]

Waveform viewers allow you to zoom in and out over a time sequence, and take measurements between two cursor points. In addition, the waveform view has many ways of displaying signal information, such as in hexadecimal, binary, or a symbolic value.[1]

Most waveform viewers can read an industrial standard waveform database known as Value Change Dump (VCD) or a proprietary wave format. The proprietary wave formats usually have faster record and playback speeds or require smaller memory store space, or save additional signal information for viewing, such as bus transactions.[1]

List of the best-known viewers[edit]

Waveform Viewer Tool Suite Developer Platform Features Wave Formats Screenshot
VcdView NA Ted Rossin Windows digital *.vcd
EZwave Questa ADMS Mentor Graphics Linux, Solaris, Windows analog, RF, digital and mixed-signal *.wdb, *.tab, *.cou, *.sti, *.tr%, *.ac%, *.sw%, *.vcd, *.fsdb, *.csv, *.swd, *.dofile, *.dof, *.do, *.tcl
Simvision NCSim Cadence Design Systems Linux, Solaris, Windows digital, analog, transactions *.trn, *.shm, *.vcd
vsim Modelsim Mentor Graphics Linux, Solaris digital, analog *.wlf, *.vcd (using vcd2wlf converter utility) Mentorgraphics-modelsim-wave.png
finewave/PowerView FineSim Magma Design Automation Linux, Solaris digital, analog *.fsdb, *.vcd
WaveViewer works with: VeriLogger SynaptiCAD Linux, Solaris, Windows digital, analog, test equipment, free, high capacity, requires email verification to download *.btim, *.csdf, *.tdml, *.vcd, 20+ other formats
Wave VCD works with: CVer Interconnect Systems Solutions Windows digital, free, 32-bit internal time causes problems if the simulated run-time exceeds (2**32) × (VCD timescale). *.vcd
WaveProbe LogicSim Zeemz Windows digital, analog *.wave
vwave Undertow Veritools Linux, Solaris, Windows digital, analog, transactions *.vcd
nWave Verdi SpringSoft Linux, Solaris digital, analog, transactions, assertions fsdb, *.vcd
Scansion NA Logic Poet Mac OS digital, analog, TLM transaction viewer, native Mac application *.vcd, *.scnx
GTKWave NA Tony Bybell Linux, Windows, Mac OS, Unix digital, free/open source *.lxt (Icarus Verilog), *.lxt2 (Icarus Verilog), *.vzt, *.ghw (GHDL), *.vcd, *.evcd *.fst (Icarus Verilog, CVC, CVER_FST), *.fsdb, *.vpd (VCS), *.wlf (ModelSim) Gtkwave analog.jpeg
Styx Hades Norman Hendrich Unix digital, free/open source  ?
Dinotrace Veripool Wilson Snyder, Allen Gallotta Linux, Solaris, Windows digital, free/open source *.vcd, *.ascii
Waveform Window DVE Synopsys Inc Linux, Solaris digital,analog VCD,eVCD,VPD
Electric Electric Static Free Software (staticfreesoft.com) All (Java) Integration of schematics and layout with waveform viewer. tr0, pa0, sw0, ac0, mt0 (Hspice), out (Nanosim), spo (Spice/GNUCap), txt (PSpice), raw (SmartSpice, LTSpice), dump (Verilog).
M1 Waveform Viewer N/A ASA Corp (m1ot.com) Windows acquire live data from scopes and digitizers, analog and digital, view multiple waveforms at once, 22 parameter measurements, simple collaboration tr0, txt, csv, wfm (Tek), isf (Tek), bin (Agilent)
iWave Waveform Viewer Aether-Aeolus-iWave Empyrean Inc. linux Analog, RF, digital and mixed-signal, A->D and D->A conversion, analog/mix-signal waveform comparisons, commonly used calculation, commonly used measurement, Eye-diagram, histogram, TCL support session save/load, Aether-iWave cross probable support Synopsys: HSPICE tr0, sw0, ac0, mt0, hb0, nw0, lis (Binary/ASCII); Novas fsdb files (binary, v4.1); Verilog VCD (ASCII);
Custom WaveView Discovery AMS Synopsys Linux, Solaris, HP, Windows Analog, RF, digital and mixed-signal, scripting/batch mode, jitter measurements, DAC toolbox, FFT/iFFT, A->D and D->A conversion, Synopsys/Cadence/Mentor Graphics/JEDAT/Silicon Canvas integration into schematic capture, re-usable measurement templates, HSPICE .measure GUI, digital waveform comparisons, parametric analysis, 3D plots, extremely fast. Synopsys: HSPICE tr0, sw0, ac0, mt0, hb0, nw0, lis (Binary/ASCII); StarSim wdb, wv, xp (binary); HSIM/NanoSim/XA wdb (binary); HSIM/NanoSim/TimeMill/Powermill out, vector, .mt file (ASCII); Saber AI/PL (binary/ASCII); VCS/Magellan/DVE VPD (binary); WDF format (binary). Cadence: Spectre PSF, WSF (binary/ASCII); runObjFile; PSPICE DAT (binary), Allegro SIM (ASCII); Verilog VCD (ASCII); ModelSim WLF (binary). Mentor Graphics: ELDO/ADMS COU, WDB (binary), AdiT TR0/TB0. SPICE3/SmartSpice raw format (binary/ASCII). Agilent ADS .ds format (binary), TouchStone S-parameters (ASCII). CSDF (Common Simulation Data Format) (ASCII). Novas fsdb files (binary, v4.1). Text file, CSV (comma separated values) format. Other in-house simulator formats: SDIF, MICS, TI-punch (binary). Data from oscilloscopes.
ICD SMASH Dolphin Integration Linux, Windows analog, digital and mixed-signal Dolphin: SMASH .tmf, .bwf, .amf, .dmf, .mmf, .nmf; Synopsys: HSpice .sw0, .tr0; Verilog VCD (ASCII, compressed); SPICE3/SmartSpice raw format (binary/ASCII); CSDF (Common Simulation Data Format) (ASCII); Tabulated text file format;
impulse Eclipse toem Linux, Windows, Mac OS, Unix digital, analog, mixed, transactions, logs, charts, scripting, online data, team support, diff, free, Eclipse plug-in, recMl/recMZ (Generic Signal Record Formats),recTr Trace Record Format, recJs Script Record Format, VCD (Value Change Dump), TABULAR (Analog tabular format AMS), SCV (Transaction database), FST (Fast Signal Trace), eVCD (Extended Value Change Dump), LXT2 (interLaced eXtensible Trace), VZT (VZT Format), HSpice (tr0 format), NanoSim (Nsout format), Spice3 (Spice3 raw format), OPC (Process data), Sigrok (Logic Analysers, Oscilloscopes, sr-Format),Log4j (), Free pattern log formats (regular expressions),IMP (ukos kernel log format),Amalthea HTF, CSV (Comma-separated values) see file format details
Impulse Screenshot
EPWave EDA Playground Victor EDA All (Web-browser based) digital, free, web-browser based *.vcd
EPWave Screenshot
SignalConstructor NA mkn Linux, Windows analog, digital and mixed-signal *.csv, *.tdml
BeSpice Wave BeSpice Analog Flavor Linux, Windows analog, technology available as widget for many frameworks, conversion tools, free evaluation version, parser library available for C/C++, Python, Matlab, Octave, Tcl psf, psfxl, tr0, ac0, cou, vcd, csv, tabulated data, Touchstone s-parameter files, spi3 raw files, tdms files, csdf files, PSpice dat files, spice pwl sources, tmf, amf, mmf, nmf, dmf files (Dolphin Integration Smash)

In-circuit waveform viewers[edit]

These are built into most logic analyzer, data acquisition cards, and automatic test equipment. In-circuit waveform viewers are included with products from:


  1. ^ a b c d Janick Bergeron, Writing Testbenches: Functional verification of HDL Models, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000

See also[edit]