I suspect most of our customers will know FirstEDA primarily as an EDA distributor
We’re the guys that provide you with your Aldec, Sigasi and OneSpin tools and support. But did you know that we are also a VHDL training provider? This isn’t something new either because we have been providing VHDL training since 2013, and our course leaders for many years before that.
With other established training providers already prominent in this market, you may find yourself asking ‘why does FirstEDA bother to offer VHDL training?’; and the answer is simple… because our customers asked us to! We knew that if we were to be successful in adding another string to our bow, we’d have to offer something that differentiates us from the competition.
This started with our decision to focus purely on VHDL. We are a European company, supporting European customers, of whom 70%+ use VHDL as their primary language for FPGA design and verification. We are not averse to Verilog and SystemVerilog (and support with all our tools), we simply do not see enough demand in our market to justify developing specific training. Initially our offer was simple: an introductory VHDL for FPGA Designers course, developed and delivered by our very own Applications Specialist David Clift (Yes, that David Clift! – The one that picks up the pieces and gets you back up and running when you break your Aldec or Sigasi tools!). This leads me to another area in which we differentiate…
FirstEDA’s Applications Engineers are in daily contact with our tools customers and are directly supporting their engineering teams. Not only that but we also enjoy very close relationships with our suppliers and their R&D teams. This means that our fingers are very much ‘on the pulse’ when it comes to FPGA design, which we feel puts us at somewhat of an advantage when compared to other training providers out there. What we learn through these relationships and interactions continuously builds our knowledge of best practices for design and verification. We can then pass on this knowledge by guiding on tool flows, the latest design and verification methodologies and standards, as well as agile ways of working.
A short time after launching our VHDL for FPGA Designers training course, we partnered with Jim Lewis, owner of US based training company SynthWorks and IEEE 1076 VHDL Working Group Chair. Alongside Aldec, Jim co-founded the Open Source VHDL Verification methodology (OSVVM) and is the architect behind its packages and methodology. This new partnership allowed us to broaden our training offer to include Intermediate VHDL language training and more significantly, our Advanced VHDL Verification training.
OSVVM, is a world leading VHDL, FPGA and PLD verification methodology, initially developed as part of Jim’s training courses. VHDL based verification methodologies have significantly grown in popularity in recent years and OSVVM is leading the charge. For the average FPGA project, VHDL-based methodologies are much easier to deploy and a far more cost-effective alternative to adopting ASIC derived verification methodologies such as UVM. The reason for this is twofold: you don’t have to learn a new language and you don’t need anything more than a VHDL simulator to make it work.
Other training providers have finally started to recognise that VHDL still has a place in the FPGA verification world and have retro fitted some OSVVM modules into their existing courses but FirstEDA’s courses are the only ones that will provide you with deep insight into the methodology. Insight that is only available directly from the developers, such as Jim Lewis. If you’re wanting to learn about VHDL verification, I’m certain you won’t find a more qualified instructor anywhere else. We don’t want to just teach whatever the FPGA vendors and big EDA companies are pushing (usually in order to sell more tools), we want to teach what we know FPGA designers need in order to be more efficient and productive.
This approach seems to be working and our training business has gone from strength to strength. Over the past seven years we have trained hundreds of engineers, from individual consultants to large engineering organisations and we are proud to have become the trusted training partner to many who appreciate our unique proposition. Looking ahead, our 2020 training schedule has recently been published on the FirstEDA website and I encourage you to visit to see what we have on offer. Here you will find full details of what we cover in each of our courses, along with data sheets. Please take a look and feel welcome to contact me directly with any questions you may have.