What Is Data Type in VHDL?


Larry Thompson

What Is Data Type in VHDL?

VHDL (Very High-Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language) is a hardware description language used for designing digital systems. One of the fundamental concepts in VHDL is data type.

Data types define the kind of data that can be stored in a variable or signal and determine the operations that can be performed on that data. In this article, we will explore various data types available in VHDL and their usage.

Standard Data Types

VHDL provides several standard data types that are commonly used in digital design:

  • Boolean: The Boolean data type represents a logical value, either true or false. It is often used to express conditions or control signals.
  • Integer: The Integer data type represents whole numbers within a specified range. It is commonly used for counting or indexing purposes.
  • Natural: The Natural data type represents non-negative integers. It is useful when only positive values are required.
  • Real: The Real data type represents floating-point numbers with decimal places.

    It is suitable for representing real-world quantities and calculations.

  • Time: The Time data type represents time intervals or delays. It allows accurate modeling of system timing.
  • Character: The Character data type represents individual characters from an ASCII character set. It is often used for text processing.
  • String: The String data type represents a sequence of characters. It is useful for storing and manipulating text strings.

User-Defined Data Types

In addition to the standard data types, VHDL allows users to define their own custom data types. This flexibility enables designers to create data structures that suit their specific needs. User-defined data types can be derived from the standard types or composed using arrays, records, and enumerations.


An array is a collection of elements of the same type. It allows storing multiple values under a single variable name.

Arrays can be one-dimensional or multi-dimensional. One-dimensional arrays are commonly used for vectors or lookup tables, while multi-dimensional arrays are useful for representing matrices or grids.


A record is a composite data type that can hold multiple elements of different types. It is similar to a struct in C programming language. Records enable grouping related data together and accessing them as a single entity.


An enumeration is an enumerated data type that consists of a set of named values called literals. It allows defining a list of symbolic values that represent different states or options. Enumerations provide clarity and readability to the code by avoiding magic numbers or arbitrary constants.

Choosing the Right Data Type

When selecting a data type in VHDL, it is essential to consider the requirements of the design and the resources available on the Target hardware. Choosing an appropriate data type can optimize resource usage and improve simulation and synthesis results.

Boolean: Use when dealing with logical conditions or control signals with only two states.

Integer: Use when working with whole numbers within a specific range.

Natural: Use when non-negative values are required.

Real: Use when dealing with floating-point calculations or real-world quantities.

Time: Use when modeling time intervals or delays accurately.

Character: Use when handling individual characters or ASCII values.

String: Use when manipulating text strings.

User-defined types: Create custom data types to represent complex data structures and improve code organization and readability.


Data types are an integral part of VHDL and play a crucial role in digital design. They define the characteristics of variables or signals, enabling efficient storage and manipulation of data. By using the appropriate data types, designers can ensure accurate representation of their design and optimize resource utilization.

In this article, we explored the standard data types provided by VHDL and learned about user-defined data types such as arrays, records, and enumerations. We also discussed the importance of selecting the right data type based on design requirements. Armed with this knowledge, you are now better equipped to utilize VHDL’s powerful data typing system in your digital designs.

Discord Server - Web Server - Private Server - DNS Server - Object-Oriented Programming - Scripting - Data Types - Data Structures

Privacy Policy