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Coming from a computer science background I wonder what is the waveform viewer used for in a VHDL simulator? From Wikipedia:

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.

But I'm still not sure I get it?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A waveform dump file used by a waveform viewer conveys time - sequence and order fore signal transactions and signal value. It's uses include visual (manual) validiation, regression testing - when there is a way to compare dump files and troubleshooting when the design model behavior doesn't match the designer's anticipated behavior. Archiving waveform dump files with enough detail can allow relating source code changes to model behavior changes. A waveform viewer can be used in describing the design model behavior for design review or images from it in documentation. Visual interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – user8352 Aug 28 '13 at 20:59
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Typically, VHDL simulators like ModelSim have an interface similar to the IDE used in most software development. This includes a text editing window, a console window, some log windows, variable "watch" windows, and one of those is a waveform display window.

For the waveform, you can typically select which signals to watch and how to display them. A simple digital signal is obvious, but a bus can be displayed in various radix or as an analog value. You also get the usual functions like zooming in/out and placing markers or cursors to more easily measure time.

That's it. Nothing more complex than that.

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