I'm trying to learn basics of hardware design process to get a better understanding of how CPUs, microcontrollers etc work and how are they made.
My googleing gave me many articles with info like "HDLs are now used to design CPUs", but every manual for dummies I've found talks about Verilog usage with FPGA, which is absolutely not what I need, 'cause there is no transistor-level (CMOS, for example) circuit involved in the process (FPGA itself is an already designed and producted device), so it's not "hardware design" in terms of my understanding of the word.
The question is: are HDLs really used to design digital devices from scratch? If so, what exactly happens between the HDL code and a transistor-level circuit implementation? Are the logical gates (as a result of synthesis) translated to circuit diagram (for some tech process usage) with some other tools? What are those tools?
Or, maybe, am I taking a wrong direction in my study?