From HDLBits


Vectors are used to group related signals using one name to make it more convenient to manipulate. For example, wire [7:0] w; declares an 8-bit vector named w that is equivalent to having 8 separate wires.

Declaring Vectors

Vectors must be declared:

type [upper:lower] vector_name;

type specifies the datatype of the vector. This is usually wire or reg. If you are declaring a input or output port, the type can additionally include the port type (e.g., input or output) as well. Some examples:

wire [7:0] w;         // 8-bit wire
reg  [4:1] x;         // 4-bit reg
output reg [0:0] y;   // 1-bit reg that is also an output port (this is still a vector)
input wire [3:-2] z;  // 6-bit wire input (negative ranges are allowed)
output [3:0] a;       // 4-bit output wire. Type is 'wire' unless specified otherwise.
wire [0:7] b;         // 8-bit wire where b[0] is the most-significant bit.

The endianness (or, informally, "direction") of a vector is whether the the least significant bit has a lower index (little-endian, e.g., [3:0]) or a higher index (big-endian, e.g., [0:3]). In Verilog, once a vector is declared with a particular endianness, it must always be used the same way. e.g., writing vec[0:3] when vec is declared wire [3:0] vec; is illegal. Being consistent with endianness is good practice, as weird bugs occur if vectors of different endianness are assigned or used together.

Implicit nets

Implicit nets are often a source of hard-to-detect bugs. In Verilog, net-type signals can be implicitly created by an assign statement or by attaching something undeclared to a module port. Implicit nets are always one-bit wires and causes bugs if you had intended to use a vector. Disabling creation of implicit nets can be done using the `default_nettype none directive.

wire [2:0] a, c; // Two vectors assign a = 3'b101; // a = 101 assign b = a; // b = 1 implicitly-created wire assign c = b; // c = 001 <-- bug my_module i1 (d,e); // d and e are implicitly one-bit wide if not declared.
// This could be a bug if the port was intended to be a vector.

Adding `default_nettype none would make the second line of code an error, which makes the bug more visible.

Unpacked vs. Packed Arrays

You may have noticed that in declarations, the vector indices are written before the vector name. This declares the "packed" dimensions of the array, where the bits are "packed" together into a blob (this is relevant in a simulator, but not in hardware). The unpacked dimensions are declared after the name. They are generally used to declare memory arrays. Since ECE253 didn't cover memory arrays, we have not used packed arrays in this course. See for more details.

reg [7:0] mem [255:0];   // 256 unpacked elements, each of which is a 8-bit packed vector of reg.
reg mem2 [28:0];         // 29 unpacked elements, each of which is a 1-bit reg.

Accessing Vector Elements: Part-Select

Accessing an entire vector is done using the vector name. For example:

assign w = a;
takes the entire 4-bit vector a and assigns it to the entire 8-bit vector w (declarations are taken from above). If the lengths of the right and left sides don't match, it is zero-extended or truncated as appropriate.

The part-select operator can be used to access a portion of a vector:

w[3:0]      // Only the lower 4 bits of w
x[1]        // The lowest bit of x
x[1:1]      // ...also the lowest bit of x
z[-1:-2]    // Two lowest bits of z
b[3:0]      // Illegal. Vector part-select must match the direction of the declaration.
b[0:3]      // The *upper* 4 bits of b.
assign w[3:0] = b[0:3];    // Assign upper 4 bits of b to lower 4 bits of w. w[3]=b[0], w[2]=b[1], etc.

A Bit of Practice

Build a combinational circuit that splits an input half-word (16 bits, [15:0] ) into lower [7:0] and upper [15:8] bytes.

Module Declaration

`default_nettype none     // Disable implicit nets. Reduces some types of bugs.
module top_module( 
    input wire [15:0] in,
    output wire [7:0] out_hi,
    output wire [7:0] out_lo );

Write your solution here

Upload a source file...