VUnit projects in Sigasi Studio

Posted on 2021-01-12 by Wim Meeus
Tagged as: VUnit

VUnit is an open source unit testing framework for VHDL/SystemVerilog that helps to write, and automatically run, tests. The VUnit project was started by Lars Asplund from Synective Labs and Olof Kraigher. The source code is hosted at GitHub. VUnit automatically scans your projects for unit tests (aka test benches), runs them with your favorite simulator and reports the results. This automation helps to run tests frequently and iterate faster.

Installing VUnit

VUnit scripts are written in Python, so first make sure Python is installed on your system. A recent version of Python 3 is recommended. Windows users must install a full version of Python, not from the Windows Store.

The recommended way to install the latest stable release of VUnit is via pip or pip3. On most systems running the following command should do the trick:

pip install vunit_hdl

Make sure you use vunit_hdl and not vunit. The latter is a completely different Python library.

You can check that VUnit is installed correctly by for example running:

pip freeze

In the list of installed Python packages you will find a vunit-hdl entry and its version number.

Using VUnit

Running VUnit tests requires two elements: VHDL or SystemVerilog testbenches and a Python script which controls the execution.

VUnit will recognize a VHDL entity or a SystemVerilog module as a testbench if it has a runner_cfg generic (VHDL) or parameter (SV). Testbench entity and module names should have either a tb_ prefix or a _tb suffix. VUnit will warn if that is not the case.

A VHDL VUnit test bench has the following structure. Note that VHDL 2008 is required, a.o. for support of a VHDL context. The main process has function calls to set up and terminate the simulation. Between these function calls, one or more tests may be run.

library vunit_lib;                             -- VUnit library and context (VHDL2008 required!)
context vunit_lib.vunit_context;

entity tb_example is                           -- Entity name with tb_ prefix
  generic (runner_cfg : string);               -- Generic indicates that this is a VUnit testbench
end entity;

architecture tb of tb_example is
  main : process
    test_runner_setup(runner, runner_cfg);     -- Set up and start simulation
    report "This test will pass!";             -- Single, trivial test in this example
    test_runner_cleanup(runner);               -- Simulation ends
  end process;
end architecture;

In SystemVerilog it looks a bit different. The runner_cfg parameter, which marks the module as a VUnit testbench, is defined in TEST_SUITE.

`include "vunit_defines.svh"                   // Include VUnit definitions

module tb_sv_example;
  `TEST_SUITE begin                            // Includes the definition of parameter runner_cfg
                                               // which makes this module a VUnit testbench
     // Note: Do not place any code here.

      $display("Running test suite setup code");
      // Start clocks, assert resets etc. here

    `TEST_CASE_SETUP begin
      $display("Running test case setup code");
      // Leave empty for simple cases

    `TEST_CASE("Test that a successful test case passes") begin
      $display("This test case is expected to pass");
      `CHECK_EQUAL(1, 1);

    `TEST_CASE("Test that a failing test case actually fails") begin
      $display("This test case is expected to fail");
      `CHECK_EQUAL(0, 1, "You may also optionally add a diagnostic message to CHECK_EQUAL");

      $display("Cleaning up after a test case");
      // Leave empty for simple cases

      $display("Cleaning up after running the complete test suite");
      // Leave empty for simple cases

  // Optional, but recommended.

Note the presence of the watchdog near the end of the above example. The watchdog ensures that hanging tests terminate as failed rather than keep on running forever.

Finally, a Python script is required to control the VUnit tests. In it simplest form, for a VHDL project could look like this. The script creates a VUnit instance, adds libraries and design files to it, and runs the tests.

# The following line works for VHDL
from vunit import VUnit
# If your project is SystemVerilog, use the following one instead:
# from vunit.verilog import VUnit

# Create VUnit instance by parsing command line arguments
vu = VUnit.from_argv()

# Create library 'lib'
lib = vu.add_library("lib")

# Add all files ending in .vhd in current working directory to library

# Run vunit tests

Note that VUnit does not support a library named work. In VHDL, work is a keyword which means the same library where this element is defined. While in many VHDL projects, the work library is called work, a different name must be chosen in VUnit. In the above example, the work library is named lib. Given the special meaning of work, this won’t break any references to work in the VHDL code.

VUnit’s user guide offers further details on how to use VUnit.

If your project has multiple source code directories and/or libraries, will need to reflect that. is meant to be stored in revision control. For that reason, generating (e.g. from other scripts) is discouraged. However, the full power of Python is available to configure VUnit’s libraries and source files from within We’ll give a few examples later.

Using VUnit in Sigasi Studio

Sigasi Studio can help you manage VUnit projects and enables you to run and inspect test results straight from the IDE. VUnit support in Sigasi Studio requires an XPRT license.

Details of how to run VUnit tests in Sigasi Studio can be found in the Sigasi manual. Once your tests are running, Sigasi Studio opens the VUnit view from where you can see test results and inspect the details.


Complex VUnit projects: Python to the rescue

VUnit makes use of a single script which configures libraries and controls the execution. It is not desirable to duplicate the library configuration from other tools in First of all, the library configuration would need regular updates as the project evolves, which means additional work for the designers and a possible source of errors. Generating from other scripts or tools is not recommended either, because is meant to be kept in revision control.

Fortunately, the full strength of the Python programming language is available to help manage VUnit’s configuration. We present a few examples of how Python can be used to automate the VUnit setup.

Determine libraries from folder names

In this example, we have a VHDL project with one level of subfolders. Each subfolder is mapped to a library with the same name. Over the course of the project, subfolders may be added or renamed.


The following script extracts the libraries from the folder names. The designer doesn’t need to change anything to the script when the folder / library structure is changed.

from vunit import VUnit
import os

# Create VUnit instance by parsing command line arguments
vu = VUnit.from_argv()

# For each folder, create a library with the same name as the folder.
# Map all VHDL files in the folder into the library.
for fpath in os.scandir('.'):
    if fpath.is_dir() and not'.'):
        vu.add_library(, "*.vhd"))

# Add all files ending in .vhd in the top level directory to library "libwork"

# Run vunit function

Find all SystemVerilog files in a folder hierarchy

In this example, libraries are not the problem because SystemVerilog uses one single library. The difficulty here is that design files are present at various depths in the file hierarchy.


Again, Python proves to be a powerful tool to find the design files and configure VUnit tests.

from vunit.verilog import VUnit
import glob

# Create VUnit instance by parsing command line arguments
vu = VUnit.from_argv()

# Create library 'lib'
lib = vu.add_library("lib")

# Hierarchically add all files ending in .v and .sv in current working directory to library
for file in glob.glob("**/*.v",  recursive=True):
for file in glob.glob("**/*.sv", recursive=True):

# Run vunit function

Obviously, the example could be extended. For example, one could read a list with files to exclude from a file, and not add those files to the library.

Read VUnit configuration from Sigasi Studio project files

Oftentimes, information about design files, libraries, excludes etc. is available in other design tools, e.g. Sigasi Studio. With some clever use of Python, can retrieve this information from Sigasi Studio’s project files, making the configuration of VUnit tests entirely automatic. Just use this vunit…logo in your project, sit back and run your tests.

comments powered by Disqus