Get rid of upwards propagation of clock domains


Upwards propagation of clock domains is removed, local=True effectively becomes the default.


Currently, a clock domain created anywhere in the hierarchy is, by default, propagated everywhere within that hierarchy. The other option is marking a clock domain with local=True, which restricts propagation to only downwards from the point of definition.

The default behavior constitutes the ultimate implicit spooky action at a distance, making it hard to reason about clock domain origins in complex Amaranth design. It is also rarely used. This dangerous default should be changed to something more reasonable.

Guide and reference-level explanation

In version 0.5, upwards domain propagation becomes deprecated. Any use of a domain that wouldn't be valid without upwards propagation (ie. wouldn't be valid if the domain were local=True) triggers a deprecation warning.

In version 0.6, upwards domain propagation is removed entirely. The local argument to ClockDomain constructor becomes redundant and is deprecated.

In version 0.7, the local argument is removed.


A little bit of churn for designs with clock generator modules.

When propagating a domain upwards is actually desired (eg. for clock generator modules), a workaround is now necessary to route the domain to the toplevel. The simplest way is to set an eg. cd_sync attribute on the module in the constructor, then do = clkgen.cd_sync in the top-level. This has the slight disadvantage that the clock generator module cannot decide on the attributes of the clock domain (clock polarity, reset asyncness) based on the platform.

Rationale and alternatives

The core proposal is straightforward. The main question is how to handle the usecases currently served by purposeful use of upwards domain propagation. There are three alternatives:

  1. None. Clock generator modules must export their domains through some other existing Amaranth functionality. This is the option proposed above.

  2. Keep the current mechanism as-is, but make it opt-in, such by requiring ClockDomain(global=True).

  3. Add a mechanism to explicitly import a domain from a submodule. A draft is proposed here, for discussion purposes:

    m.submodules.clkgen = ClockGenerator(...) = ImportedDomain("clkgen", "sync") # Imports a domain defined in the submodule "clkgen" named "sync".

We feel that 1. is the best option to take, as introducing a new mechanism when a full redesign of the system is pending is likely to just result in another thing that will have to be deprecated later.

Prior art


Unresolved questions


Future possibilities

The concept of "private" clock domains has been proposed: clock domains that don't propagate at all, including downwards.

It's clear that clock domain overhaul with a larger scope needs to be done. This RFC is (among other things) intended to enable such overhaul, by removing a feature likely to make it infeasible.