Verilog needs to represent individual bits as well as groups of bits. For example, a single bit sequential element is a flip-flop. However a 16-bit sequential element is a register that can hold 16 bits. For this purpose, Verilog has scalar and vector nets and variables.

Scalar and Vector

A net or reg declaration without a range specification is considered 1-bit wide and is a scalar. If a range is specified, then the net or reg becomes a multibit entity known as a vector.

scalar and vector in verilog

	wire 	    o_nor;           // single bit scalar net
	wire [7:0]  o_flop;          // 8-bit vector net
	reg         parity;          // single bit scalar variable
	reg  [31:0] addr;            // 32 bit vector variable to store address

The range gives the ability to address individual bits in a vector. The most significant bit of the vector should be specified as the left hand value in the range while the least significant bit of the vector should be specified on the right.

	wire  [msb:lsb]   name;
	integer           my_msb;
	wire [15:0]        priority;      // msb = 15, lsb = 0
	wire [my_msb: 2]   prior;         // illegal

A 16 bit wide net called priority will be created in the example above. Note that the msb and lsb should be a constant expression and cannot be substituted by a variable. But they can be any integer value - positive, negative or zero; and the lsb value can be greater than, equal to or less than msb value.


Any bit in a vectored variable can be individually selected and assigned a new value as shown below. This is called as a bit-select. If the bit-select is out of bounds or the bit-select is x or z, then the value returned will be x.

bit-select in verilog

	reg [7:0]      addr;         // 8-bit reg variable [7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0]
	addr [0] = 1;                // assign 1 to bit 0 of addr
	addr [3] = 0;                // assign 0 to bit 3 of addr
	addr [8] = 1;                // illegal : bit8  does not exist in addr


part-select in verilog

A range of contiguous bits can be selected and is known as a part-select. There are two types of part-selects, one with a constant part-select and another with an indexed part-select.

	reg [31:0]    addr;
	addr [23:16] = 8'h23;         // bits 23 to 16 will be replaced by the new value 'h23 -> constant part-select

Having a variable part-select allows it to be used effectively in loops to select parts of the vector. Although the starting bit can be varied, the width has to be constant.

[<start_bit> +: <width>]     // part-select increments from start-bit
[<start_bit> -: <width>]     // part-select decrements from start-bit

module des;
  reg [31:0]  data;
  int         i;
  initial begin
    data = 32'hFACE_CAFE;
    for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) begin
      $display ("data[8*%0d +: 8] = 0x%0h", i, data[8*i +: 8]);
    $display ("data[7:0]   = 0x%0h", data[7:0]);
    $display ("data[15:8]  = 0x%0h", data[15:8]);
    $display ("data[23:16] = 0x%0h", data[23:16]);
    $display ("data[31:24] = 0x%0h", data[31:24]);
 Simulation Log
ncsim> run
data[8*0 +: 8] = 0xfe              // ~ data [8*0+8 : 8*0]
data[8*1 +: 8] = 0xca              // ~ data [8*1+8 : 8*1]
data[8*2 +: 8] = 0xce              // ~ data [8*2+8 : 8*2]
data[8*3 +: 8] = 0xfa              // ~ data [8*3+8 : 8*3]

data[7:0]   = 0xfe
data[15:8]  = 0xca
data[23:16] = 0xce
data[31:24] = 0xfa
ncsim: *W,RNQUIE: Simulation is complete.

Common Errors

module tb;
   reg [15:0]    data;
   initial begin
      $display ("data[0:9] = 0x%0h", data[0:9]);   // Error : Reversed part-select index expression ordering