Hardware Description Language vs Programming Language

Those who only start being interested in programming find it complicated to choose the right programming language. They read lots of reviews on languages, their main benefits and pitfalls. Beyond that, they care about potential wages that they can get by choosing, for example, either Python or JavaScript. Another concern among novice students is the difference between hardware description language and software language. Is it all the same as with foreign languages like English vs Spanish? If you know several foreign languages, the approach to studying computer languages is partially the same. All you need is dedication and passion.

Let’s review the key differences between the two, and understand what to pay attention to in computer science to be successful.

Hardware Description Language

We start with the hardware description language or shortly HDL. To make it as short as possible, HDL works by describing the behavior of digital systems. While software language provides a number of instructions for the CPU to accomplish specific tasks. HDL helps users and computers describe the main functionalities of digital systems. And, software language is used to write different programs, applications for mobile and web.

Now, let’s go into detail. HDL is often linked to digital circuits which are circuits operating within two discrete levels like – true and false. The language consists of expressions, statements, and control structures for programming. It can be found as a vital part of electronic design automation systems – microprocessors, logic devices, as well as complex circuits. As for the key HDL languages, you should know two Verilog and VHDL.

Verilog may resemble one C. Its last update is traced back to 2005. Verilog is often described as a case-sensitive language that allows programmers to access real-time simulations. 

VHDL is the base for Pascal and Ada, and it is not sensitive. It is a more complex language that may require huge expertise and experience. 

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Software Language

Now, a more commonly used – software language. It is used for the development of software applications. You can come across two types of software language – high level and low level. High-level languages involve syntax which is similar to the English language, no jokes. It is much easier for mastering, reading, understanding, and just writing with it. The best examples of high-level languages are Java, Python, Ruby, C, C++, PHP and Perl. With them, you can also convert programs into machine language just by using the designated compilers and interpreters.

By choosing C and C++, you can develop drivers, databases, language utilities as well as operating systems. With Python, you can be involved in machine learning, the development of algorithms, and various web applications. Java will allow you to create mobile and web applications. PHP and RUBY are fully fit for web applications. 

As for the low-level languages, they are much closer to hardware level than high-level known languages. For instance, the example is Assembly, which is used to write operating systems.

Read also :Start from basics: Beginner tips to learn Python language

Distinctions Between the Two

What about the main distinctions between hardware description and software languages.

#1 Complexity

HDL is way more complex than a software language. You are most likely to study it with other disciplines by applying it to education establishments. You need to possess much knowledge of digital systems, their uses, and their potential pitfalls. While software languages can be mastered in months. No actual need is in colleges and universities. You can sign up for online courses. 

#2 Main Uses

As was said above, they serve two different purposes. HDL is applied to describing the digital circuits behaviors only. While programming/software languages help you to design and develop web and mobile applications. Beyond that, with the software languages, you have a huge choice for the selection. Python, JavaScript, C++, Ruby among others. Everything depends on your future goals in terms of careers. 

#3 Prospects

With the HDL, you can work as a Hardware Engineer, Electronic Hardware engineer, Embedded engineer among others. With software languages, you can work as a web developer, web designer, data science specialist, QA manager, and so on. Instead of talking about potential salaries, it is worth saying that both can earn a lot of money. The wage will be dictated by expertise and experience. For instance, by knowing only JavaScript, you will need to work for years to achieve a decent salary because there is much competition on the market. 

#4 More Materials

HDL is linked to having fewer online materials to mastering it compared to software languages. You are most likely to need to be enrolled in a college or university to boost your skills and knowledge. With software languages, you first have the ability to sign up for online courses, accessing free libraries, or just hiring tutors. 

#5 Popularity

Finally, the difference is the demand and popularity. Both are on-demand languages that are required in companies. Yet, when it comes to networks, you can rest assured knowing that there are millions and millions of software language developers you can turn to for advice and tips. For instance, you can find like-minded people or specialists on social media, in messengers or platforms for programmers. It would be fair to say that thanks to such a vast network, there are lots of programmers who unfairly occupy the vacancies.

They just copy-paste ready codes, scripts, and solutions, and basically do nothing to develop a program with their own brain. With HDL, you will find like-minded people, but it is not so big a specialization that has many networks for communication. You can just hope to join programmers groups and ask for HDL specialists separately. 

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