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The Control and Status Registers (CSRs)

The RISC-V ISA defines a set of 4096 Control and Status Registers that can be accessed via special csr instructions with immediate operands identifying the register.

For performance reasons, the RISC-V microcontroller profile uses only a small number of core system registers via the CSR mechanism; the rest are available in the memory mapped system area.

Unless otherwise mentioned, write access to the CSRs is limited to machine/privileged mode.

Hart ID Register (hartid)

The hartid CSR is an xlen-bits read-only register containing the integer ID of the hart running the code. This register must be readable in any implementation. In single-hart devices, it always reads 0. In multi-hart devices, the hart IDs might not necessarily be numbered contiguously (although it is preferable), but at least one hart must have a hart ID of zero.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[N:0] hartid  ro   The integer ID of the hart.
[(xlen-1):(N+1)]     Reserved.

N is the number of bits required to store the maximum hart ID and is implementation specific.

This CSR is identical to mhartid in the RISC-V privileged profile.

Configuration and control (ctrl)

The ctrl CSR is an xlen-bits read/write register that controls several aspects of the hart functionality.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0] sptena  r  0 Thread stack enable:
- 0: always use spm as sp.
- 1: in application mode use spt as sp.
[1] stackalign  rw  1[1] The context stack alignment:
- 0: 4-bytes alignment guaranteed, no SP adjustment is performed.
- 1: 8-bytes alignment guaranteed, SP adjusted if necessary.
[2] spadjusted r 0 Reserved bit used during context push/pop to remember if the stack required an extra alignment word.
[7:3]   Reserved.
[8] fpena  rw  0 Floating point enable:
- 0: if the FP unit is disabled.
- 1: if the FP unit is enabled.
[9] fpcxs  rw  1 Floating point context save:
- 0: if the context stack should not save FP registers.
- 1: if the context stack should save FP registers.
[10] fplazy  rw  1 Floating point lazy context save:
- 0: disable automatic lazy context save.
- 1: enable automatic lazy context save.
[(xlen-1):11]   Reserved.

*1: The default value for the stackalign is implementation specific; the recommended default is 1.

TODO: decide if a reset bit (to reset the current hart) fits here, and where should be a sysreset to reset the entire device.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Mode and status (status)

The status CSR is an xlen-bits read/write register that identifies the current hart mode and status.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0] handler  r  0 Hart is running:
- 0: application code.
- 1: handler code.
[1] user  r  0 Application privileges:
- 0: machine/privileged mode.
- 1: user/unprivileged mode.
[7:2]   Reserved.
[8] interrupt 0 If handler is set, then
1 if in an interrupt, 0 if in an exception
[18:9] cause  r 0 The exception or interrupt cause code.
[(xlen-1):19]   Reserved.

The handler code is always running in machine/privileged mode.

TODO: the bits in this register, as the entire mechanism to enter/exit exceptions and traps, requires a thorough analysis.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Interrupt Enable (iena)

The iena CSR is an xlen-bits read/write register that controls whether the interrupt are enabled or not.

This register has a single bit on purpose. Access to the interrupt enable bit must be quite fast since masking all interrupts is one of the methods used to implement critical sections.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0] iena  rw  0 Interrupts Enable; 1 if interrupts are enabled.
[(xlen-1):1]   Reserved.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Interrupt Priority Threshold (iprioth)

The iprioth CSR is an xlen-bits read/write register that holds the interrupts threshold. Only interrupts requests that have a priority strictly greater than the threshold will cause an interrupt to become active. The threshold register must always be able to hold the value zero, in which case, no interrupts are masked. The threshold register must also be able to hold the maximum priority level, in which case all interrupts are masked (functionally equivalent to disabling interrupts).

This register is a CSR because handling the interrupts threshold is one of the methods used to implement critical sections, and this must be as fast as possible.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[N:0] iprioth  rw  0x00 The interrupt priority threshold.
[(xlen-1):(N+1)]   Reserved.

N is the number of bits required to store the maximum priority level, and is implementation specific. It must match the number of bits used by the prio register in the interrupt controller.

All reserved bits read back as 0. To find out N at runtime, an application can write an 'all-1' pattern and read back the register.

If the hart does not implement an interrupt controller, the whole register reads back as zero.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

[PA]: the truncation of priority bits should be done at the least-significant end, to avoid priority inversion. [ilg] this might be done for example by moving the bits to the high end of the register, but this requires later handling the priority as word/double word.

Interrupt Priority Threshold Increase (ipriothinc)

The ipriothinc CSR behaves like an xlen-bits read/write register, but in fact uses the same register as iprioth. The difference is that writes to this CSR are effective only if the new value is higher than the current value, in other words it guarantees that the interrupt threshold is not decreased.

This register is a CSR because handling the interrupts threshold is one of the methods used to implement critical sections, and this must be as fast as possible.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[N:0] ipriothinc  rw  0x00 The interrupt priority threshold.
[(xlen-1):(N+1)]   Reserved.

N is the number of bits required to store the maximum priority level, and is implementation specific.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

TODO: possibly find a better name. how about ipriothup?

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Main Stack Pointer (spm)

The spm CSR is an xlen-bits read-write register that holds the main stack pointer. It is always the default stack pointer after reset. Interrupts and exceptions always use this stack to store the exception frame.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0]    0 Reserved.
[(xlen-1):1] spm  rw  startup The main stack pointer.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

TODO: check if the stack has more strict alignment requirements.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Main Stack Pointer Limit (spmlimit)

The msplimit CSR is an xlen-bits read-write register that holds the lowest address the main stack can descend.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0]    0 Reserved.
[(xlen-1):1] spmlimit  rw  startup The main stack lower limit.

If an operation using the main stack pointer attempts to write to an address below the limit, an exception is triggered and the operation is not performed.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

The spmlimit CSR is optional for the ES (small) sub-profile; in this case it must always read zero.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Thread Stack Pointer (spt)

The spt CSR is an xlen-bits read-write register that holds the stack pointer used by the application current thread. It is intended to multi-threaded applications.

This register is a CSR because access to the stack pointer may occur in context switching routines and needs to be fast.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0]    0 Reserved.
[(xlen-1):1] spt  rw  Unknown The thread stack pointer.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

Thread Stack Pointer Limit (sptlimit)

The tsplimit CSR is an xlen-bits read-write register that holds the lowest address the thread stack can descend.

This register is a CSR because access to the stack pointer limit may occur in context switching routines and needs to be fast.

Bits Name Type Reset Description
[0]    0 Reserved.
[(xlen-1):1] sptplimit  rw  Unknown The thread stack lower limit.

If an operation using the thread stack pointer attempts to write to an address below the limit, an exception is triggered and the operation is not performed.

This CSR is specific to the RISC-V microcontroller profile.

The sptlimit CSR is optional for the ES (small) sub-profile; in this case it must always read zero.

TODO: allocate a number for it.

RISC-V compatibility CSRs

The RISC-V Volume I, Chapter 2.8, mentions two mandatory instructions, rdcycle and rdinstret; to implement them, two CSRs are required:

  • cycle: available as hcb.cyclecnt
  • instret: available as hcb.instcnt

The RISC-V Volume II, mentions other CSRs, but it is not clear which one are mandatory, if any:

  • mstatus: not needed, there is only one bit needed, mie, which is now n the iena CSR.

  • mcause: no longer needed, the cause is packed in the status CSR

  • mie: not needed, interrupts are enabled in the HIC registers

  • mip: not needed, interrupt pending bits are in the HIC registers

  • mtvec: not needed, there are two memory mapped registers, excvta and intvta

  • misa: can be safely migrated to memory mapped

  • mepc: not needed, pushed onto the stack

  • mtval: not decided; nested exceptions may override this. TODO: check thoroughly.

  • mscratch: not decided if needed

TODO: add MPU registers

Usage

Interrupt critical sections

In a single hart device, the simple ways to implement critical section is to fully disable interrupts, assuming the application does not need to keep any fast interrupts enabled.

void
f1(void)
{
  // ...
  {
    // Interrupts critical section.
    xlenreg_t status = riscv_csr_write_iena(0);
    // ...
    riscv_csr_write_iena(status);
  }
  // ...
}

Otherwise, if the application uses some fast interrupts, it can raise the interrupt threshold to a limit below the fast interrupts priority. Please note how entering the critical sections guarantees that the threshold is not lowered.

void
f2(void)
{
  // ...
  {
    // Interrupts critical section.
    xlenreg_t status = riscv_csr_write_ipriothinc(7);
    // ...
    riscv_csr_write_iprioth(status);
  }
  // ...
}