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In digital electronics, a shift register is a cascade of flip-flops where the output pin q of one flop is connected to the data input pin (d) of the next. Because all flops work on the same clock, the bit array stored in the shift register will shift by one position. For example, if a 5-bit shift register originally has 10110 and the input to the shift register is tied to 0, then the next pattern will be 01011 and the next 00101.

5-bit shift register


This shift register design has five inputs and one n-bit output and the design is parameterized using parameter MSB to signify width of the shift register. If n is 4, then it becomes a 4-bit shift register. If n is 8, then it becomes an 8-bit shift register.

This shift register has a few key features:

  • Can be enabled or disbled by driving en pin of the design
  • Can shift to the left as well as right when dir is driven
  • If rstn is pulled low, it will reset the shift register and output will become 0
  • Input data value of the shift register can be controlled by d pin

module shift_reg  #(parameter MSB=8) (  input d,                      // Declare input for data to the first flop in the shift register
                                        input clk,                    // Declare input for clock to all flops in the shift register
                                        input en,                     // Declare input for enable to switch the shift register on/off
                                        input dir,                    // Declare input to shift in either left or right direction
                                        input rstn,                   // Declare input to reset the register to a default value
                                        output reg [MSB-1:0] out);    // Declare output to read out the current value of all flops in this register
   // This always block will "always" be triggered on the rising edge of clock
   // Once it enters the block, it will first check to see if reset is 0 and if yes then reset register
   // If no, then check to see if the shift register is enabled
   // If no => maintain previous output. If yes, then shift based on the requested direction
   always @ (posedge clk)
      if (!rstn)
         out <= 0;
      else begin
         if (en)
            case (dir)
               0 :  out <= {out[MSB-2:0], d};
               1 :  out <= {d, out[MSB-1:1]};
            out <= out;


The testbench is used to verify the functionality of this shift register. The design is instantiated into the top module and the inputs are driven with different values. The design behavior for each of the inputs can be observed at the output pin out.

n-bit shift register TB
module tb_sr;
   parameter MSB = 16;        // [Optional] Declare a parameter to represent number of bits in shift register
   reg data;                  // Declare a variable to drive d-input of design
   reg clk;                   // Declare a variable to drive clock to the design
   reg en;                    // Declare a variable to drive enable to the design
   reg dir;                   // Declare a variable to drive direction of shift registe
   reg rstn;                  // Declare a variable to drive reset to the design
   wire [MSB-1:0] out;        // Declare a wire to capture output from the design
   // Instantiate design (16-bit shift register) by passing MSB and connect with TB signals
   shift_reg  #(MSB) sr0  (  .d (data),
                             .clk (clk),
                             .en (en),
                             .dir (dir),
                             .rstn (rstn),
                             .out (out));
   // Generate clock time period = 20ns, freq => 50MHz
   always #10 clk = ~clk;
   // Initialize variables to default values at time 0
   initial begin
      clk <= 0;
      en <= 0;
      dir <= 0;
      rstn <= 0;
      data <= 'h1;
   // Drive main stimulus to the design to verify if this works
   initial begin
      // 1. Apply reset and deassert reset after some time
      rstn <= 0;
      #20 rstn <= 1;
          en <= 1;
    // 2. For 7 clocks, drive alternate values to data pin
      repeat (7) @ (posedge clk)
         data <= ~data;
     // 4. Shift direction and drive alternate value to data pin for another 7 clocks
      #10 dir <= 1;
      repeat (7) @ (posedge clk)
         data <= ~data;
      // 5. Drive nothing for next 7 clocks, allow shift register to simply shift based on dir
      repeat (7) @ (posedge clk);
      // 6. Finish the simulation
   // Monitor values of these variables and print them into the logfile for debug
      $monitor ("rstn=%0b data=%b, en=%0b, dir=%0b, out=%b", rstn, data, en, dir, out);

The time when shift register is enabled is highlighted in green in the log given below. The time when it shifts its direction is highlighted in yellow. The time when data input pin remains constant is highlighted in blue.

Simulation Log
ncsim> run
rstn=0 data=1, en=0, dir=0, out=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
rstn=0 data=1, en=0, dir=0, out=0000000000000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000000000
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000000001
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000000010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000000101
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000001010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000010101
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000000101010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=0, out=0000000001010101
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=1, out=0000000001010101
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=0000000000101010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=1, out=1000000000010101
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=0100000000001010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=1, out=1010000000000101
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=0101000000000010
rstn=1 data=0, en=1, dir=1, out=1010100000000001
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=0101010000000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1010101000000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1101010100000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1110101010000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1111010101000000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1111101010100000
rstn=1 data=1, en=1, dir=1, out=1111110101010000
Simulation complete via $finish(1) at time 430 NS + 0
n-bit shift register waveform

Click to try this example in a simulator!   

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