The relationship and difference between latches, D flip-flops and registers

The relationship and difference between latches, D flip-flops and registers


In digital IC design, latches, D flip-flops and registers often appear. Many people (such as me) are confused and can’t figure out the difference between them. This blog mainly explains the working principles of latches, D flip-flops and registers and their relationships and differences.

1. Latch and D flip-flop

Latch is a kind of memory cell circuit that is sensitive to pulse level. They can change state under the action of specific input pulse level [1]. In other words, if a module will update the input information to its output pin only under the influence of a specific level, otherwise the output of the module will remain unchanged, then this module can be regarded as a Latches.

for example:

As shown in the figure, when CLK = 0, Q = D; when CLK = 1, Q remains unchanged; then this module is a latch;

2. Latch construction D flip-flop

As shown in the figure is a schematic diagram of a D flip-flop. When CLK inputs a rising edge, the input of the D terminal is transmitted to Q. When CLK does not input a rising edge, Q remains unchanged.

As shown in the figure, when CLK = 0, Q1 = D; when CLK = 1, Q = Q1; that is, when the rising edge of CLK comes, the D signal is transmitted to the Q terminal, so thisTwo latches form a D flip-flop

3. What is a register?

Register is a very important storage unit in integrated circuits, usually composed of flip-flops. Registers are high-speed storage components with limited storage capacity. They can be used to temporarily store instructions, data and addresses [2]. In other words, anything with the function of caching data can be called a register, and registers are often used in CPUs, so they are edge signal sensitive devices.

The D flip-flop has the function of buffering data. When the CLK input rises, D is transferred to Q, and then Q will remain unchanged until the next rising edge of CLK.Therefore, the D flip-flop can be used as a register, that is (D flip-flop ∈ register), the change of the latch state is related to a specific level (high level and low level), while the state change of the register often requires an edge signal (rising edge and falling edge), soLatch $\notin$ register, since two latches can build an edge-sensitive flip-flop (as shown in the previous section), soLatches can build registers

4. Summary

    1. Latches are level sensitive devices, while D flip-flops and registers are edge signal sensitive devices;
    1. Two latches can build a D flip-flop;
    1. D flip-flops belong to registers;

5. Reference materials

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