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flip flop metastability

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Zerang Shah, May 25, 2006.

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  1. Zerang Shah

    Zerang Shah Guest


    I've been doing some reading on metastability of flip flops when you
    have inputs that are asynchronous or coming from a different clock

    My question pertains to flip flops on the same clock domain. Suppose I
    have a pair of rising edge D flip flops with the D line of one going
    to the Q line of another. On the rising edge of the clock, the first
    flip flop changes its state and output goes from low to high. At the
    same rising edge, the second flip flop's input seems to violate the
    hold time, right? We were low for nearly an entire cycle, then at right
    after the rising edge the input changed.

    Why do a pair of flip flops on the same clock domain not run into
    metastability issues? Obviously I'm missing something here because
    stuff like this is used all the time without problems.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. w2aew

    w2aew Guest

    It's usually OK because the propagation delay of the first DFF will
    cause the rising edge of the D input of the 2nd FF to be delayed far
    enough behind the clock edge that it satisfies the hold-time on the 2nd
    FF - i.e. the 2nd FF latches a zero during the first clock edge, then
    latches a one for the next clock edge.
  3. Zerang Shah

    Zerang Shah Guest

    I see, thanks for the help.

    One more question about metastability. Suppose I have an asynchronous D
    input to a DFF. Right at the rising edge my input goes from low to
    high. This violates hold time and the DFF goes metastable. After the
    metastable period ends (but before the next rising edge of the clock),
    where does the DFF end up? Will the output be high, low or possibly
  4. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    If you are violating _both_ the setup and hold times, then you will
    have a "race condition", and the output is not defined, i.e, it's
    guaranteed to be either 1 or 0, but there's no way to predict which.

    Hope This Helps!
  5. Zerang Shah

    Zerang Shah Guest

    Thanks for the reply Rich.

    Two cases I'm concerned about:

    During setup, the async input changes from low to high. What will the
    output settle as after metastable period?

    During hold, the async input changes from low to high. What will the
    output settle as after metastable period?

    BTW can anyone recommend an "EE 101" type of book that covers issues
    like this? I'm another "coder turned embedded guy".
  6. w2aew

    w2aew Guest

    There's no way to predict it. It could settle at either state. You
    can't predict which state, or even how long it takes.
    Same answer as above. If it was a predictable phenomenon, it wouldn't
    be much of a problem.
    There are techniques, but in the FF design, as well as implementation,
    that can help to minimize the occurance of metastability in
    asynchronous designs. However, being mainly an analog guy myself, I
    can't give you a recommendation for a reference/text/etc. I'm sure
    some of the digital experts here can recommend something for you.
  7. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    I learned a lot from Don Lancaster's TTL Cookbook, but I don't remember
    if he covered these types of cases. It might be worth looking at, if it's
    still available anywhere.

    Interestingly, just today, an ad for some website showed up on the NG,
    which _might_ cover that - it seems fairly thorough, although I haven't
    looked all that deeply into it:

    Good Luck!
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