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The Basic RS NOR Latch

While most of our demonstration circuits use NAND gates, the same functions can also be performed using NOR gates. A few adjustments must be made to allow for the difference in the logic function, but the logic involved is quite similar.

The circuit shown below is a basic NOR latch. The inputs are generally designated "S" and "R" for "Set" and "Reset" respectively. Because the NOR inputs must normally be logic 0 to avoid overriding the latching action, the inputs are not inverted in this circuit. The NOR-based latch circuit is:

RS NOR latch

For the NOR latch circuit, both inputs should normally be at a logic 0 level. Changing an input to a logic 1 level will force that output to a logic 0. The same logic 0 will also be applied to the second input of the other NOR gate, allowing that output to rise to a logic 1 level. This in turn feeds back to the second input of the original gate, forcing its output to remain at logic 0 even after the external input is removed.

Applying another logic 1 input to the same gate will have no further effect on this circuit. However, applying a logic 1 to the other gate will cause the same reaction in the other direction, thus changing the state of the latch circuit the other way.

Note that it is forbidden to have both inputs at a logic 1 level at the same time. That state will force both outputs to a logic 0, overriding the feedback latching action. In this condition, whichever input goes to logic 0 first will lose control, while the other input (still at logic 1) controls the resulting state of the latch. If both inputs go to logic 0 simultaneously, the result is a "race" condition, and the final state of the latch cannot be determined ahead of time.

One problem with the basic RS NOR latch is that the input signals actively drive their respective outputs to a logic 0, rather than to a logic 1. Thus, the S input signal is applied to the gate that produces the Q' output, while the R input signal is applied to the gate that produces the Q output. The circuit works fine, but this reversal of inputs can be confusing when you first try to deal with NOR-based circuits.

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