Summary
In electronics and especially synchronous digital circuits, a clock signal (historically also known as logic beat) is an electronic logic signal (voltage or current) which oscillates between a high and a low state at a constant frequency and is used like a metronome to synchronize actions of digital circuits. In a synchronous logic circuit, the most common type of digital circuit, the clock signal is applied to all storage devices, flip-flops and latches, and causes them all to change state simultaneously, preventing race conditions. A clock signal is produced by an electronic oscillator called a clock generator. The most common clock signal is in the form of a square wave with a 50% duty cycle. Circuits using the clock signal for synchronization may become active at either the rising edge, falling edge, or, in the case of double data rate, both in the rising and in the falling edges of the clock cycle. Most integrated circuits (ICs) of sufficient complexity use a clock signal in order to synchronize different parts of the circuit, cycling at a rate slower than the worst-case internal propagation delays. In some cases, more than one clock cycle is required to perform a predictable action. As ICs become more complex, the problem of supplying accurate and synchronized clocks to all the circuits becomes increasingly difficult. The preeminent example of such complex chips is the microprocessor, the central component of modern computers, which relies on a clock from a crystal oscillator. The only exceptions are asynchronous circuits such as asynchronous CPUs. A clock signal might also be gated, that is, combined with a controlling signal that enables or disables the clock signal for a certain part of a circuit. This technique is often used to save power by effectively shutting down portions of a digital circuit when they are not in use, but comes at a cost of increased complexity in timing analysis. Most modern synchronous circuits use only a "single phase clock" – in other words, all clock signals are (effectively) transmitted on 1 wire.
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