I don’t understand how so many people have so many weird ideas about timescale. I think it stems from some simulators not allowing modules to have a timescale declaration if it already parsed modules without one. So, for example, if you have module1 without a timescale and module2 with a timescale, and you then compile module1 followed by module2, you get an error. If you compile module2 followed by module1, then all is well, and module1 just uses the timescale from module2. Now, I agree that this is weird. There should just be a default timescale that applies at the beginning of the simulation. Let’s look at some examples that I have seen that attempt to overcome this problem.

The Special-Timescale-File-Goes-First Method

In this solution, everyone agrees that the very first file the compiler ever sees is a special timescale file with only a default timescale directive. I suppose that this solution is an attempt to enforce the way all the tools should probably work. The problem with this approach is that it relies on everyone to use the same simulation tool flow. In some environments this can be possible, but I’ve seen this approach backfire when bringing up a new tool or flow, or even when just changing the rules in a makefile.

The Include-a-Special-File Method

In this scheme, everyone agrees to include a special timescale file with a default timescale– unless they need their own custom timescale declaration. This approach removes the requirement that any particular file needs to go first. However, it now builds a special requirement of your flow into the RTL. This leads to portability issues if you move the RTL into another flow.

The Correct Method– always specify a timescale

I think that the correct approach is to specify a timescale before the first module in every source file which contains a module. Use this method even (and I want to make this absolutely clear) if you don’t make any reference to time in the module. Using this technique, your file will always be correct. If it is, then first, it will declare some timescale for everyone else. If not, then no harm done. And if some further module specifies time without specifying a timescale, then there’s some fault with that module.

Of course, it’s possible to use this method in combination with the first if you have some code that can’t be changed, and thus can’t have a timescale added. The include file approach is just wrong-headed. I don’t know why it would ever be a good idea– especially if your module actually cares about what the timescale is.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.