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Non-Blocking Assignment Systemcare

Blocking vs. Nonblocking in Verilog

The concept of Blocking vs. Nonblocking signal assignments is a unique one to hardware description languages. The main reason to use either Blocking or Nonblocking assignments is to generate either combinational or sequential logic. In software, all assignments work one at a time. So for example in the C code below:

LED_on = 0; count = count + 1; LED_on = 1;

The second line is only allowed to be executed once the first line is complete. Although you probably didn't know it, this is an example of a blocking assignment. One assignment blocks the next from executing until it is done. In a hardware description language such as Verilog there is logic that can execute concurrently or at the same time as opposed to one-line-at-a-time and there needs to be a way to tell which logic is which.

<=     Nonblocking Assignment

=      Blocking Assignment   


always @(posedge i_clock) begin r_Test_1 <= 1'b1; r_Test_2 <= r_Test_1; r_Test_3 <= r_Test_2; end

The always block in the Verilog code above uses the Nonblocking Assignment, which means that it will take 3 clock cycles for the value 1 to propagate from r_Test_1 to r_Test_3. Now consider this code:

always @(posedge i_clock) begin r_Test_1 = 1'b1; r_Test_2 = r_Test_1; r_Test_3 = r_Test_2; end

See the difference? In the always block above, the Blocking Assignment is used. In this example, the value 1 will immediately propagate to r_Test_3. The Blocking assignment immediately takes the value in the right-hand-side and assigns it to the left hand side. Here's a good rule of thumb for Verilog:

In Verilog, if you want to create sequential logic use a clocked always block with Nonblocking assignments. If you want to create combinational logic use an always block with Blocking assignments. Try not to mix the two in the same always block.

Nonblocking and Blocking Assignments can be mixed in the same always block. However you must be careful when doing this! It's actually up to the synthesis tools to determine whether a blocking assignment within a clocked always block will infer a Flip-Flop or not. If it is possible that the signal will be read before being assigned, the tools will infer sequential logic. If not, then the tools will generate combinational logic. For this reason it's best just to separate your combinational and sequential code as much as possible.

One last point: you should also understand the semantics of Verilog. When talking about Blocking and Nonblocking Assignments we are referring to Assignments that are exclusively used in Procedures (always, initial, task, function). You are only allowed to assign the reg data type in procedures. This is different from a Continuous Assignment. Continuous Assignments are everything that's not a Procedure, and only allow for updating the wire data type.



The term Blocking assignment confuses people because the word blocking would seem to suggest time-sequential logic. But in synthesized logic it does not mean this, because everything operates in parallel.

Perhaps a less confusing term would be immediate assignment, which would still differentiate the intermediate results of combinational logic from the inputs to non-transparent memory elements (for example clocked registers), which can have delayed assignment.

From a legalistic standpoint, it all works out very nicely. You can, in fact, consider the to be a blocking (time-sequential) operation even within sequences. However, the distinction between time-sequential and parallel makes absolutely no difference in this case because the block is defined to repeat until the instruction sequence converges on a stable state -- which is exactly what the hardware circuitry will do (if it meets the timing requirements).

The synthesizable subset of Verilog (and especially SystemVerilog) is extremely simple and easy to use -- once you know the necessary idioms. You just have to get past the clever use of terminology associated with the so-called behavioral elements in the language.

answered Jan 10 '15 at 19:49

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