I've been studying mixed arrays. I ran the following code on vcs:

module tb;
  byte stack [2][4] ;
  initial begin
    foreach (stack[i])
    foreach (stack[i][j]) begin
      stack[i][j] = $random;
      $display("stack[%0d][%0d] = 0x%0h" , i, j, stack[i][j]);
    $display("stack = %p" , stack) ;
    $display("stack[0][0][2] = 0x%0h" , stack[0][0][2]);

The console gives the following output :

Compiler version S-2021.09; Runtime version S-2021.09;  Oct 21 11:42 2022

stack[0][0] = 0x24
stack[0][1] = 0x81
stack[0][2] = 0x9
stack[0][3] = 0x63
stack[1][0] = 0xd
stack[1][1] = 0x8d
stack[1][2] = 0x65
stack[1][3] = 0x12

stack = '{'{36, -127, 9, 99}, '{13, -115, 101, 18}} 

stack[0][0][2] = 0x1


  1. Why are there negative values in stack {} ?

  2. Why are the items arranged in a group of 4 in stack{} ?

  3. Does declaring the byte data type automatically create an 8-bit packed array?


2 Answers 2


The byte data type is signed. Refer to IEEE Std 1800-2017, section 6.11 Integer data types:

2-state data type, 8-bit signed integer

It is similar to the following declaration:

bit signed [7:0] stack [2][4] ;

The %p format specifier chooses to display some of the signed values as negative decimal. When I run your code on the Cadence simulator, it displays them in hex notation. Perhaps the behavior is not well defined:

stack = '{'{'h24, 'h81, 'h9, 'h63}, '{'hd, 'h8d, 'h65, 'h12}}

You get 2 groups of 4 because that is how you declared your array.


$random generate a 32-bit random value and you are assigning it to an 8-bit signed byte. It gets truncated--if the resulting bit pattern represents a negative number,, that's what you get.

%p is a pretty-print format that uses an assignment pattern as its format. It is using using a signed decimal format for each number. SystemVerilog has arrays-of-arrays. You have declared an array with two elements, and each element has an array with four elements.

%h is an unsigned radix format.


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