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VHDL (VHSIC-HDL, Very High-Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language) is a hardware description language used in electronic des...

Tuesday 18 December 2012


Formal Definition

A type together with a constraint.

A value belongs to a subtype of a given type if it belongs to the type and satisfies the constraint; the given type is called the base type of the subtype. A type is a subtype of itself. Such a subtype is said to be unconstrained because it corresponds to a condition that imposes no restriction.

Simplified Syntax

subtype subtype_name is base_type range range_constraint;


Subtype distinguishes a subset of values of some type.

The part of the subtype declaration is the subtype indication, which denotes some other type or subtype. The type_mark in a subtype_indication must refer to a type or a subtype that was declared earlier (Example 1).

The constraints given in the subtype indication must correspond to the subtype. For scalar types - range constrains can be applied, for arrays - index constraints are applicable. Records cannot have any constraints. Access type may have index type constraints only when their type_mark denotes an array type. If the subtype declaration does not contain any constraints then the subtype is the same as the (sub)type denoted by the type_mark.

A special form of the subtype indication may include a resolution function name (Example 2). This form is not allowed for declarations of access and file subtypes.

There are two predefined subtypes specified in the package STANDARD: natural and positive. Both are subtypes of the type INTEGER. The package Std_Logic_1164 also contains declarations of subtypes, which are constrained subtypes of the Std_Logic: X01, X01Z, UX01, and UX01Z.


Example 1

subtype DIGITS is INTEGER range 0 to 9;

INTEGER is a predefined type and the subtype DIGITS will constrain the type to ten values only, reducing the size of registers if the specification is synthesized.

Example 2

function RESOLVE_VALUE (anonymous: BIT_VECTOR) return BIT;

The subtype BIT_NEW is a resolved version of the type BIT due to the reference to a resolution function RESOLVE_VALUE specified earlier.

Important Notes

· A subtype declaration does not define a new type.

· A subtype is the same type as its base type; thus, no type conversion is needed when objects of a subtype and its base type are assigned (in either direction). Also, the set of operations allowed on operands of a subtype is the same as the set of operations on its base type.

· Using subtypes of enumerated and integer types for synthesis is strongly recommended as synthesis tools infer an appropriate number of bits in synthesized registers, depending on the range.

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