A counter is simply a device that counts. Counters may be used to count operations, quantities, or periods of time. They may also be used for dividing frequencies, for addressing information in storage, or for temporary storage.
Counters are a series of FFs wired together to perform the type of counting desired. They will count up or down by ones, twos, or more.
In electronics, counters can be implemented quite easily using register-type circuits such as the flip-flop, and a wide variety of classifications exist:
• Asynchronous (ripple) counter – changing state bits are used as clocks to subsequent state flip-flops
• Synchronous counter – all state bits change under ...view middle of the document...
Notice that this creates a new clock with a 50%duty cycle at exactly half the frequency of the input clock. If this output is then used as the clock signal for a similarly arranged D flip-flop (remembering to invert the output to the input), one will get another 1 bit counter that counts half as fast. Putting them together yields a two-bit counter:
Cycle Q1 Q0 (Q1:Q0)dec
0 0 0 0
1 0 1 1
2 1 0 2
3 1 1 3
4 0 0 0
You can continue to add additional flip-flops, always inverting the output to its own input, and using the output from the previous flip-flop as the clock signal. The result is called a ripple counter, which can count to 2n − 1 where n is the number of bits (flip-flop stages) in the counter. Ripple counters suffer from unstable outputs as the overflows "Ripple" from stage to stage, but they do find frequent application as dividers for clock signals, where the instantaneous count is unimportant, but the division ratio overall is (to clarify this, a 1-bit counter is exactly equivalent to a divide by two circuit; the output frequency is exactly half that of the input when fed with a regular train of clock pulses).
The use of flip-flop outputs as clocks leads to timing skew between the count data bits, making this ripple technique incompatible with normal synchronous circuit design styles.
A simple way of implementing the logic for each bit of an ascending counter (which is what is depicted in the image to the right) is for each bit to toggle when all of the less significant bits are at a logic high state. For example, bit 1 toggles when bit 0 is logic high; bit 2 toggles when both bit 1 and bit 0 are logic high; bit 3 toggles when bit 2, bit 1 and bit 0 are all high; and so on.
Synchronous counters can also be implemented with hardware finite state machines, which are more complex but allow for smoother, more stable transitions.
Hardware-based counters are of this type.
A decade counter is one that counts in decimal digits, rather than binary. A decade counter may have each digit...