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lowRISC Verilog Coding Style Guide

Basics

Summary

Verilog is the main logic design language for lowRISC Comportable IP.

Verilog and SystemVerilog (often generically referred to as just "Verilog" in this document) can be written in vastly different styles, which can lead to code conflicts and code review latency. This style guide aims to promote Verilog readability across groups. To quote the Google C++ style guide: "Creating common, required idioms and patterns makes code much easier to understand."

This guide defines the Comportable style for Verilog. The goals are to:

  • promote consistency across hardware development projects
  • promote best practices
  • increase code sharing and re-use

This style guide defines style for both Verilog-2001 and SystemVerilog compliant code. Additionally, this style guide defines style for both synthesizable and test bench code.

See the Appendix for a condensed tabular representation of this style guide.

Table of Contents

Terminology Conventions

Unless otherwise noted, the following terminology conventions apply to this style guide:

  • The word must indicates a mandatory requirement. Similarly, do not indicates a prohibition. Imperative and declarative statements correspond to must.
  • The word recommended indicates that a certain course of action is preferred or is most suitable. Similarly, not recommended indicates that a course of action is unsuitable, but not prohibited. There may be reasons to use other options, but the implications and reasons for doing so must be fully understood.
  • The word may indicates a course of action is permitted and optional.
  • The word can indicates a course of action is possible given material, physical, or causal constraints.

Default to C-like Formatting

Where appropriate, format code consistent with https://google.github.io/styleguide/cppguide.html

Verilog is a C-like language, and where appropriate, we default to being consistent with Google's C++ Style Guide.

In particular, we inherit these specific formatting guidelines:

  • Generally, names should be descriptive and avoid abbreviations.
  • Non-ASCII characters are forbidden.
  • Indentation uses spaces, no tabs. Indentation is two spaces for nesting, four spaces for line continuation.
  • Place a space between if and the parenthesis in conditional expressions.
  • Use horizontal whitespace around operators, and avoid trailing whitespace at the end of lines.
  • Maintain consistent and good punctuation, spelling, and grammar (within comments).
  • Use standard formatting for comments, including C-like formatting for TODO and deprecation.

Style Guide Exceptions

Justify all exceptions with a comment.

No style guide is perfect. There are times when the best path to a working design, or for working around a tool issue, is to simply cut the Gordian Knot and create code that is at variance with this style guide. It is always okay to deviate from the style guide by necessity, as long as that necessity is clearly justified by a brief comment, as well as a lint waiver pragma where appropriate.

Which Verilog to Use

Prefer SystemVerilog-2012.

All RTL and tests should be developed in SystemVerilog, following the SystemVerilog-2012 standard, except for prohibited features.

Verilog/SystemVerilog Conventions

Summary

This section addresses primarily aesthetic aspects of style: line length, indentation, spacing, etc.

File Extensions

Use the .sv extension for SystemVerilog files (or .svh for files that are included via the preprocessor).

File extensions have the following meanings:

  • .sv indicates a SystemVerilog file defining a module or package.
  • .svh indicates a SystemVerilog header file intended to be included in another file using a preprocessor `include directive.
  • .v indicates a Verilog-2001 file defining a module or package.
  • .vh indicates a Verilog-2001 header file.

Only .sv and .v files are intended to be compilation units. .svh and .vh files may only be `include-ed into other files.

With exceptions of netlist files, each .sv or .v file should contain only one module, and the name should be associated. For instance, file foo.sv should contain only the module foo.

General File Appearance

Characters

Use only ASCII characters with UNIX-style line endings("\n").

POSIX File Endings

All lines on non-empty files must end with a newline ("\n").

Line Length

Wrap the code at 100 characters per line.

The maximum line length for style-compliant Verilog code is 100 characters per line.

Exceptions:

  • Any place where line wraps are impossible (for example, an include path might extend past 100 characters).

Line-wrapping contains additional guidelines on how to wrap long lines.

No Tabs

Do not use tabs anywhere.

Use spaces to indent or align text. See Indentation for rules about indentation and wrapping.

To convert tabs to spaces on any file, you can use the UNIX expand utility.

No Trailing Spaces

Delete trailing whitespace at the end of lines.

Begin / End

Use begin and end unless the whole statement fits on a single line.

If a statement wraps at a block boundary, it must use begin and end. Only if a whole semicolon-terminated statement fits on a single line can begin and end be omitted.

👍

// Wrapped procedural block requires begin and end.
always_ff @(posedge clk) begin
  q <= d;
end

👍

// The exception case, where begin and end may be omitted as the entire
// structure fits on a single line.
always_ff @(posedge clk) q <= d;

👎

// Incorrect because a wrapped statement must have begin and end.
always_ff @(posedge clk)
  q <= d;

begin must be on the same line as the preceding keyword, and ends the line. end must start a new line. end else begin must be together on one line. The only exception is if end has a label, a following else should be on a new line.

👍

// "end else begin" are on the same line.
if (condition) begin
  foo = bar;
end else begin
  foo = bum;
end

👍

// begin/end are omitted because each semicolon-terminated statement fits on
// a single line.
if (condition) foo = bar;
else foo = bum;

👎

// Incorrect because "else" must be on the same line as "end".
if (condition) begin
  foo = bar;
end
else begin
  foo = bum;
end

👍

// An exception is made for labeled blocks.
if (condition) begin : a
  foo = bar;
end : a
else begin : b
  foo = bum;
end : b

The above style also applies to individual case items within a case statement. begin and end may be omitted if the entire case item (the case expression and the associated statement) fits on a single line. Otherwise, use the begin keyword on the same line as the case expression.

👍

// Consistent use of begin and end for each case item is good.
unique case (state)
  StIdle: begin
    next_state = StA;
  end
  StA: begin
    next_state = StB;
  end
  StB: begin
    next_state = StIdle;
    foo = bar;
  end
  default: begin
    next_state = StIdle;
  end
endcase

👍

// Case items that fit on a single line may omit begin and end.
unique case (state)
  StIdle: next_state = StA;
  StA: next_state = StB;
  StB: begin
    next_state = StIdle;
    foo = bar;
  end
  default: next_state = StIdle;
endcase

👎

unique case (state)
  StIdle:              // These lines are incorrect because we should not wrap
    next_state = StA;  // case items at a block boundary without using begin
  StA:                 // and end.  Case items should fit on a single line, or
    next_state = StB;  // else the procedural block must have begin and end.
  StB: begin
    foo = bar;
    next_state = StIdle;
  end
  default: begin
    next_state = StIdle;
  end
endcase

Indentation

Indentation is two spaces per level.

Use spaces for indentation. Do not use tabs. You should set your editor to emit spaces when you hit the tab key.

Indented Sections

Always add an additional level of indentation to the enclosed sections of all paired keywords. Examples of SystemVerilog keyword pairs: begin / end, module / endmodule, package / endpackage, class / endclass, function / endfunction.

Line Wrapping

When wrapping a long expression, indent the continued part of the expression by four spaces, like this:

👍

assign zulu = enabled && (
    alpha < bravo &&
    charlie < delta);

assign addr = addr_gen_function_with_many_params(
    thing, other_thing, long_parameter_name, x, y,
    extra_param1, extra_param2);

assign structure = '{
    src: src,
    dest: dest,
    default: '0};

Or, if it improves readability, align the continued part of the expression with a grouping open parenthesis or brace, like this:

assign zulu = enabled && (alpha < bravo &&
                          charlie < delta);

assign addr = addr_gen_function(thing, other_thing,
                                long_parameter_name,
                                x, y);

assign structure = '{src: src,
                     dest: dest,
                     default: '0};

Operators in a wrapped expression can be placed at either the end or the beginning of each line, but this must be done consistently within a file.

Preprocessor Directives

Keep branching preprocessor directives left-aligned and un-indented.

Keep branching preprocessor directives ( `ifdef, `ifndef, `else, `elsif, `endif) aligned to the left, even if they are nested. Indent the conditional branches of text as if the preprocessor directives were absent. Non-branching preprocessor directives must follow the same indentation rules as the regular code.

👍

package foo;
`ifdef FOO              // good: branching directive left-aligned
  `include "foo.sv";    // normal indentation for non-branching directives
  parameter bit A = 1;  // normal indentation for the regular code
`ifdef BAR              // good: branching directive left-aligned
  parameter bit A = 2;
`else
  parameter bit A = 3;
`endif
`endif
endpackage : foo

Un-indented branching preprocessor directives disrupt the flow of reading to emphasize that there is conditional text. Leaving conditional branch text un-indented will result in post-preprocessed text looking properly indented.

Spacing

Comma-delimited Lists

For multiple items on a line, one space must separate the comma and the next character.

Additional whitespace is allowed for readability.

👍

bus = {addr, parity, data};
a = myfunc(lorem, ipsum, dolor, sit, amet, consectetur, adipiscing, elit,
           rhoncus);
mymodule mymodule(.a(a), .b(b));

👎

{parity,data} = bus;
a = myfunc(a,b,c);
mymodule mymodule(.a(a),.b(b));

Tabular Alignment

Adding whitespace to cause related things to align is encouraged.

Where it is reasonable to do so, align a group of two or more similar lines so that the identical parts are directly above one another. This alignment makes it easy to see which characters are the same and which characters are different between lines.

Use spaces, not tabs.

For example:

logic [7:0]  my_interface_data;
logic [15:0] my_interface_address;
logic        my_interface_enable;

Expressions

Include whitespace on both sides of all binary operators.

Use spaces around binary operators. Add sufficient whitespace to aid readability.

For example:

👍

assign a = ((addr & mask) == My_addr) ? b[1] : ~b[0];  // good

is better than

👎

assign a=((addr&mask)==My_addr)?b[1]:~b[0];  // bad

Exception: when declaring a bit vector, it is acceptable to use the compact notation. For example:

👍

wire [WIDTH-1:0] foo;   // this is acceptable
wire [WIDTH - 1 : 0] foo;  // fine also, but not necessary

When splitting alternation expressions into multiple lines, use a format that is similar to an equivalent if-then-else line. For example:

👍

assign a = ((addr & mask) == `MY_ADDRESS) ?
           matches_value :
           doesnt_match_value;

Array Dimensions in Declarations

Add a space around packed dimensions.

Do not add a space:

  • between identifier and unpacked dimensions.
  • between multiple dimensions.

Applies to packed and unpacked arrays as well as dynamic arrays, associative arrays, and queues.

👍

logic [7:0][3:0] data[128][2];
typedef logic [31:0] word_t;
bit bit_array[512];
data_t some_array[];
data_t some_map[addr_t];
data_t some_q[$];

👎

// There must not be a space between dimensions.
logic [7:0] [3:0] data[128] [2];
// There must be a space around packed dimensions.
typedef logic[31:0]word_t;
// There must not be a space between identifier and unpacked dimension.
bit bit_array [512];
// Dynamic, associative, and queue "dimensions" are treated the same as unpacked
// dimensions.  There must not be a space.
data_t some_array [];
data_t some_map [addr_t];
data_t some_q [$];

Parameterized Types

Add one space before type parameters, except when the type is part of a qualified name.

A qualified name contains at least one scope :: operator connecting its segments. A space in a qualified name would break the continuity of a reference to one symbol, so it must not be added. Parameter lists must follow the space-after-comma rule.

👍

my_fifo #(.WIDTH(4), .DEPTH(2)) my_fifo_nibble ...

class foo extends bar #(32, 8);  // unqualified base class
  ...
endclass

foo_h = my_class#(.X(1), .Y(0))::type_id::create("foo_h");  // static method call

my_pkg::x_class#(8, 1) bar;  // package-qualified name

👎

my_fifo#(.WIDTH(4), .DEPTH(2)) my_fifo_2by4 ...

class foo extends bar#(32, 8);  // unqualified base class
  ...
endclass

foo_h = my_class #(.X(1), .Y(0))::type_id::create("foo_h");  // static method call

my_pkg::x_class #(8, 1) bar;  // package-qualified name

Labels

When labeling code blocks, add one space before and after the colon.

For example:

👍

begin : foo
end : foo

👎

end:bar            // There must be a space before and after the colon.
endmodule: foobar  // There must be a space before the colon.

Case items

There must be no whitespace before a case item's colon; there must be at least one space after the case item's colon.

The default case item must include a colon.

For example:

👍

unique case (my_state)
  StInit:   $display("Shall we begin");
  StError:  $display("Oh boy this is Bad");
  default: begin
    my_state = StInit;
    interrupt = 1;
  end
endcase

👎

unique case (1'b1)
  (my_state == StError)  : interrupt = 1; // Excess whitespace before colon
  default:begin end                       // Missing space after colon
endcase

Function And Task Calls

Function and task calls must not have any spaces between the function name or task name and the open parenthesis.

For example:

👍

process_packet(pkt);

👎

process_packet (pkt);  // There must not be a space before "("

Macro Calls

Macro calls must not have any spaces between the macro name and the open parenthesis.

For example:

👍

`uvm_error(ID, "you fail")
`ASSERT(name, a & b, clk, rst)

👎

`uvm_error (ID, "you fail")  // There must not be a space before "("
`ASSERT (name, a & b, clk, rst)

Line Continuation

It is mandatory to right-align line continuations.

Aligning line continuations ('\ ' character) helps visually mark the end of a multi-line macro. The position of alignment only needs to be beyond the rightmost extent of a multi-line macro by at least one space, when a space does not split a token, but should not exceed the maximum line length.

`define REALLY_LONG_MACRO(arg1, arg2, arg3) \
    do_something(arg1);                     \
    do_something_else(arg2);                \
    final_action(arg3);

Space Around Keywords

Include whitespace before and after SystemVerilog keywords.

Do not include a whitespace:

  • before keywords that immediately follow a group opening, such as an open parenthesis.
  • before a keyword at the beginning of a line.
  • after a keyword at the end of a line.

For example:

// Normal indentation before if.  Include a space after if.
if (foo) begin
end
// Include a space after always, but not before posedge.
always_ff @(posedge clk) begin
end

Parentheses

Use parentheses to make operations unambiguous.

In any instance where a reasonable human would need to expend thought or refer to an operator precedence chart, use parentheses instead to make the order of operations unambiguous.

Ternary Expressions

Ternary expressions nested in the true condition of another ternary expression must be enclosed in parentheses.

For example:

👍

assign foo = condition_a ? (condition_a_x ? x : y) : b;

While the following nested ternary has only one meaning to the compiler, the meaning can be unclear and error-prone to humans:

👎

assign foo = condition_a ? condition_a_x ? x : y : b;

Parentheses may be omitted if the code formatting conveys the same information, for example when describing a priority mux.

👍

assign foo = condition_a ? a :
             condition_b ? b : not_a_nor_b;

Comments

C++ style comments (// foo) are preferred. C style comments (/* bar */) can also be used.

A comment on its own line describes the code that follows. A comment on a line with code describes that line of code.

For example:

// This comment describes the following module.
module foo;
  ...
endmodule : foo

localparam bit ValBaz = 1;  // This comment describes the item to the left.

It can sometimes be useful to structure the code using header-style comments in order to separate different functional parts (like FSMs, the main datapath or registers) within a module. In that case, the preferred style is a single-line section name, framed with // C++ style comments as follows:

module foo;

  ////////////////
  // Controller //
  ////////////////
  ...

  ///////////////////////
  // Main ALU Datapath //
  ///////////////////////
  ...

endmodule : foo

If the designer would like to use comments to mark the beginning/end of a particular section for better readability (e.g. in nested for loop blocks), the preferred way is to use a single-line comment with no extra delineators, as shown in the examples below.

👍

// begin: iterate over foobar
for (...) begin
...
end
// end: iterate over foobar

👍

for (...) begin // iterate over foobar
...
end // iterate over foobar

👎

//-------------------------- iterate over foobar -------------------------------
for (...) begin
...
end
//-------------------------- iterate over foobar -------------------------------

👎

///////////////////////////////
// begin iterate over foobar //
///////////////////////////////
for (...) begin
...
end
///////////////////////////////
// end iterate over foobar   //
///////////////////////////////

Declarations

Signals must be declared before they are used. This means that implicit net declarations must not be used.

Within modules, it is recommended that signals, types, enums, and localparams be declared close to their first use. This makes it easier for the reader to find the declaration and see the signal type.

Basic Template

A template that demonstrates many of the items is given below.

Template:

// Copyright lowRISC contributors.
// Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0, see LICENSE for details.
// SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0
//
// One line description of the module

module my_module #(
  parameter Width = 80,
  parameter Height = 24
) (
  input              clk_i,
  input              rst_ni,
  input              req_valid_i,
  input  [Width-1:0] req_data_i,
  output             req_ready_o,
  ...
);

  logic [Width-1:0] req_data_masked;

  submodule u_submodule (
    .clk_i,
    .rst_ni,
    .req_valid_i,
    .req_data_i    (req_data_masked),
    .req_ready_o,
    ...
  );

  always_comb begin
    req_data_masked = req_data_i;
    case (fsm_state_q)
      ST_IDLE: begin
        req_data_masked = req_data_i & MASK_IDLE;
        ...
  end

  ...

endmodule

Naming

Summary

Construct Style
Declarations (module, class, package, interface) lower_snake_case
Instance names lower_snake_case
Signals (nets and ports) lower_snake_case
Variables, functions, tasks lower_snake_case
Named code blocks lower_snake_case
`define macros ALL_CAPS
Tunable parameters for parameterized modules, classes, and interfaces UpperCamelCase
Constants ALL_CAPS or UpperCamelCase
Enumeration types lower_snake_case_e
Other typedef types lower_snake_case_t
Enumerated value names UpperCamelCase

Constants

Declare global constants using parameters in the project package file.

In this context, constants are distinct from tuneable parameters for objects such as parameterized modules, classes, etc.

Explicitly declare the type for constants.

When declaring a constant:

  • within a package use parameter.
  • within a module or class use localparam.

The preferred method of defining constants is to declare a package and declare all constants as a parameter within that package. If the constants are to be used in only one file, it is acceptable to keep them defined within that file rather than a separate package.

Define project-wide constants in the project's main package.

Other packages may also be declared with their own parameter constants to facilitate the creation of IP that may be re-used across many projects.

The preferred naming convention for all immutable constants is to use ALL_CAPS, but there are times when the use of UpperCamelCase might be considered more natural.

Constant Type Style Preference Conversation
`define ALL_CAPS Truly constant
module parameter UpperCamelCase truly modifiable by instantiation, not constant
derived localparam UpperCamelCase while not modified directly, still tracks module parameter
tuneable localparam UpperCamelCase while not expected to change upon final RTL version, is used by designer to explore the design space conveniently
true localparam constant ALL_CAPS Example localparam OP_JALR = 8'hA0;
enum member true constant ALL_CAPS Example typedef enum ... { OP_JALR = 8'hA0;
enum set member ALL_CAPS or UpperCamelCase Example typedef enum ... { ST_IDLE, ST_FRAME_START, ST_DYN_INSTR_READ ..., typedef enum ... { StIdle, StFrameStart, StDynInstrRead.... A collection of arbitrary values, could be either convention.

The units for a constant should be described in the symbol name, unless the constant is unitless or the units are "bits." For example, FooLengthBytes.

Example:

👍

// package-scope
package my_pkg;

  parameter int unsigned NUM_CPU_CORES = 64;
  // reference elsewhere as my_pkg::NUM_CPU_CORES

endpackage

Parameterized Objects (modules, etc.)

Use parameter to parameterize, and localparam to declare module-scoped constants.

You can create parameterized modules, classes, and interfaces to facilitate design re-use.

Use the keyword parameter within the module declaration of a parameterized module to indicate what parameters the user is expected to tune at instantiation. The preferred naming convention for all parameters is UpperCamelCase. Some projects may choose to use ALL_CAPS to differentiate tuneable parameters from constants.

Derived parameters within the module declaration should use localparam. An example is shown below.

module modname #(
  parameter  int Depth  = 2048,         // 8kB default
  localparam int Aw     = $clog2(Depth) // derived parameter
) (
  ...
);

endmodule

`define and defparam should never be used to parameterize a module.

Use package parameters to transmit global constants through a hierarchy instead of parameters. To declare a constant whose scope is internal to the module, use localparam instead.

Examples of when to use parameterized modules:

  • When multiple instances of a module will be instantiated, and need to be differentiated by a parameter.
  • As a means of specializing a module for a specific bus width.
  • As a means of documenting which global parameters are permitted to change within the module.

Explicitly declare the type for parameters.

Use the type of the parameter to help constrain the legal range. E.g. int unsigned for general non-negative integer values, bit for boolean values. Any further restrictions on tuneable parameter values must be documented with assertions.

Tuneable parameter values should always have reasonable defaults.

For additional reading, see New Verilog-2001 Techniques for Creating Parameterized Models.

Macro Definitions

Macros should be ALL_CAPITALS with underscores.

Macros should be all capitals with underscores.

A global define is a tick-defined macro in a header file that is shared by all source files in a project. To reduce namespace collisions, global defines should be prefixed by the name of a group of related macros, followed by a pair of underscores:

// The following two constants are in the FOO namespace of the
// SN chip.
`define SN_FOO__ALPHA_BETA  5
`define SN_FOO__GAMMA_OMEGA 6

A local define is a tick-defined macro that should only be used within the scope of a single local file. It must be explicitly undefined after use, to avoid polluting the global macro namespace. To indicate that a macro is only meant to be used in the local scope, the macro name should be prefixed with a single underscore.

To ensure that local defines stay local, be careful not to `include other files between the macro definition and `undef.

Example:

`define _MAKE_THING(_x) \
    thing i_thing_##_x (.clk(clk), .i(i##_x) .o(o##_x));
`_MAKE_THING(a)
`_MAKE_THING(b)
`_MAKE_THING(c)
`undef _MAKE_THING

Suffixes

Suffixes are used in several places to give guidance to intent. The following table lists the suffixes that have special meaning.

Suffix(es) Arena Intent
_e typedef Enumerated types
_t typedef Other typedefs, including signal clusters
_n signal name Active low signal
_n, _p signal name Differential pair, active low and active high
_d, _q signal name Input and output of register
_q2,_q3, etc signal name Pipelined versions of signals; _q is one cycle of latency, _q2 is two cycles, _q3 is three, etc
_i, _o, _io signal name Module inputs, outputs, and bidirectionals

When multiple suffixes are necessary use the following guidelines:

  • Guidance suffixes are added together and not separated by additional _ characters (_ni not _n_i)
  • If the signal is active low _n will be the first suffix
  • If the signal is a module input/output the letters will come last.
  • It is not mandatory to propagate _d and _q to module boundaries.

Example:

👍

module simple (
  input        clk_i,
  input        rst_ni,              // Active low reset

  // writer interface
  input [15:0] data_i,
  input        valid_i,
  output       ready_o,

  // bi-directional bus
  inout [7:0]  driver_io,         // Bi directional signal

  // Differential pair output
  output       lvds_po,           // Positive part of the differential signal
  output       lvds_no            // Negative part of the differential signal
);

  logic valid_d, valid_q, valid_q2, valid_q3;
  assign valid_d = valid_i; // next state assignment

  always_ff @(posedge clk or negedge rst_ni) begin
    if (!rst_ni) begin
      valid_q  <= '0;
      valid_q2 <= '0;
      valid_q3 <= '0;
    end else begin
      valid_q  <= valid_d;
      valid_q2 <= valid_q;
      valid_q3 <= valid_q2;
    end
  end

  assign ready_o = valid_q3; // three clock cycles delay

endmodule // simple

Enumerations

Name enumeration types snake_case_e. Name enumeration values ALL_CAPS or UpperCamelCase.

Always name enum types using typedef. The storage type of any enumerated type must be specified. For synthesizable enums, the storage type must be a 4-state data type (logic rather than bit).

Anonymous enum types are not allowed as they make it harder to use the type in other places throughout the project and across projects.

Enumeration type names should contain only lower-case alphanumeric characters and underscores. You must suffix enumeration type names with _e.

Enumeration value names (constants) should typically be ALL_CAPS, for example, READY_TO_SEND, to reflect their constant nature, especially for truly unchangeable values like defined opcode assignments. There are times when UpperCamelCase might be preferred, when the enumerated type's assigned value is effectively a don't care to the designer, like state machine values. See the conversation on constants for a discussion on how to think of this recommendation.

👍

typedef enum logic [7:0] {  // 8-bit opcodes
  OP_JALR = 8'hA0,
  OP_ADDI = 8'h47,
  OP_LDW  = 8'h0B
} opcode_e;
opcode_e op_val;

👍

typedef enum logic [1:0] {  // A 2-bit enumerated type
  ACC_WRITE,
  ACC_READ,
  ACC_PAUSE
} access_e; // new named type is created
access_e req_access, resp_access;

👍

typedef enum logic [1:0] {  // A 2-bit enumerated type
  AccWrite,
  AccRead,
  AccPause
} access_e; // new named type is created
access_e req_access, resp_access;

👎

enum {  // Typedef is missing, storage type is missing.
  Write,
  Read
} req_access, resp_access; // anonymous enum type

Signal Naming

Use lower_snake_case when naming signals.

In this context, a signal is meant to mean a net, variable, or port within a SystemVerilog design.

Signal names may contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores.

Signal names should never end with an underscore followed by a number (for example, foo_1, foo_2, etc.). Many synthesis tools map buses into nets using that naming convention, so similarly named nets can lead to confusion when examining a synthesized netlist.

Reserved Verilog or SystemVerilog-2012 standard keywords may never be used as names.

When interoperating with different languages, be mindful not to use keywords from other languages.

Use descriptive names

Names should describe what a signal's purpose is.

Use whole words. Avoid abbreviations and contractions except in the most common places. Favor descriptive signal names over brevity.

Prefixes

Use common prefixes to identify groups of signals that operate together. For example, all elements of an AXI-S interface would share a prefix: foo_valid, foo_ready, and foo_data.

Additionally, prefixes should be used to clearly label which signal is in which clock group for any module with multiple clocks. See the section on clock domains for more details.

Examples:

  • Signals associated with controlling a blockram might share a bram_ prefix.
  • Signals that are synchronous with clk_dram rather than clk should share a dram_ prefix.

Code example:

👍

module fifo_controller (
  input         clk_i,
  input         rst_ni,

  // writer interface
  input [15:0]  wr_data_i,
  input         wr_valid_i,
  output        wr_ready_o,

  // reader interface
  output [15:0] rd_data_o,
  output        rd_valid_o,
  output [7:0]  rd_fullness_o,
  input         rd_ack_i,

  // memory interface:
  output [7:0]  mem_addr_o,
  output [15:0] mem_wdata_o,
  output        mem_we_o,
  input  [15:0] mem_rdata_i
);

This naming convention makes it easier to map port names onto similar signal names using simple and consistent rules. See the section on Hierarchical Consistency for more information.

Hierarchical consistency

The same signal should have the same name at any level of the hierarchy.

A signal that connects to a port of an instance should have the same name as that port. By proceeding in this manner, signals that are directly connected should maintain the same name at any level of hierarchy.

Exceptions to this convention are expected, such as:

  • When connecting a port to an element of an array of signals.

  • When mapping a generic port name to something more specific to the design. For example, two generic blocks, one with a host_bus port and one with a device_bus port might be connected by a foo_bar_bus signal.

In each exceptional case, care should be taken to make the mapping of port names to signal names as unambiguous and consistent as possible.

Clocks

All clock signals must begin with clk.

The main system clock for a design must be named clk. It is acceptable to use clk to refer to the default clock that the majority of the logic in a module is synchronous with.

If a module contains multiple clocks, the clocks that are not the system clock should be named with a unique identifier, preceded by the clk_ prefix. For example: clk_dram, clk_axi, etc. Note that this prefix will be used to identify other signals in that clock domain.

Resets

Resets are active-low and asynchronous. The default name is rst_n.

Chip wide all resets are defined as active low and asynchronous. Thus they are defined as tied to the asynchronous reset input of the associated standard cell registers.

The default name is rst_n. If they must be distinguished by their clock, the clock name should be included in the reset name like rst_domain_n.

SystemVerilog allows either of the following syntax styles, but the style guide prefers the former.

// preferred
always_ff @(posedge clk or negedge rst_n) begin
  if (!rst_n) begin
    q <= 1'b0;
  end else begin
    q <= d;
  end
end

// legal but not preferred
always_ff @(posedge clk, negedge rst_n) begin
  if (!rst_n) begin
    q <= 1'b0;
  end else begin
    q <= d;
  end
end

Language Features

Preferred SystemVerilog Constructs

Use these SystemVerilog constructs instead of their Verilog-2001 equivalents:

  • always_comb is required over always @*.
  • logic is preferred over reg and wire.
  • Top-level parameter declarations are preferred over `define globals.

Package Dependencies

Packages must not have cyclic dependencies.

Package files may depend on constants and types in other package files, but there must not be any cyclic dependencies. That is: if package A depends on a constant from package B, package B must not depend on anything from package A. While cyclic dependencies are permitted by the SystemVerilog language specification, their use can break some tools.

For example:

package foo;

  // Package "bar" must not depend on anything in "foo":
  parameter int unsigned PageSizeBytes = 16 * bar::Kibi;

endpackage

Module Declaration

Use the Verilog-2001 full port declaration style, and use the format below.

Use the Verilog-2001 combined port and I/O declaration style. Do not use the Verilog-95 list style. The port declaration in the module statement should fully declare the port name, type, and direction.

The opening parenthesis should be on the same line as the module declaration, and the first port should be declared on the following line.

The closing parenthesis should be on its own line, in column zero.

Indentation for module declaration follows the standard indentation rule of two space indentation.

The clock port(s) must be declared first in the port list, followed by any and all reset inputs.

Example without parameters:

👍

module foo (
  input              clk_i,
  input              rst_ni,
  input [7:0]        d_i,
  output logic [7:0] q_o
);

Example with parameters:

👍

module foo #(
  parameter int unsigned Width = 8,
) (
  input                    clk_i,
  input                    rst_ni,
  input [Width-1:0]        d_i,
  output logic [Width-1:0] q_o
);

Do not use Verilog-95 style:

👎

// WRONG:
module foo(a, b, c d);
input wire [2:0] a;
output logic b;
...

Parameterized Module Instantiation

Use named parameters for all instantiations.

When parameterizing an instance, specify the parameter using the named parameter style. An exception is if there is only one parameter that is obvious such as register width, then the instantiation can be implicit.

Indentation for module instantiation follows the standard indentation rule of two space indentation.

my_module #(
  .Height(5),
  .Width(10)
) my_module (
  ...etc...

my_reg #(16) my_reg0 (.clk_i, .rst_ni, .d_i(data_in), .q_o(data_out));

Do not specify parameters positionally, unless there is only one parameter and the intent of that parameter is obvious, such as the width for a register instance.

Do not use defparam.

Use named ports to fully specify all instantiations.

When connecting signals to ports for an instantiation, use the named port style, like this:

my_module i_my_instance (
  .clk_i (clk_i),
  .rst_ni(rst_ni),
  .d_i   (from_here),
  .q_o   (to_there)
);

If the port and the connecting signal have the same name, you can use the .port syntax (without parentheses) to indicate connectivity. For example:

my_module i_my_instance (
  .clk_i,
  .rst_ni,
  .d_i   (from_here),
  .q_o   (to_there)
);

All declared ports must be present in the instantiation blocks. Unconnected outputs must be explicitly written as no-connects (for example: .output_port()), and unused inputs must be explicitly tied to ground (for example: .unused_input_port(8'd0))

.* is not permitted.

Do not use positional arguments to connect signals to ports.

Instantiate ports in the same order as they are defined in the module.

Do not instantiate recursively.

Modules may not instantiate themselves recursively.

Constants

It is recommended to use symbolicly named constants instead of raw numbers.

Try to give commonly used constants symbolic names rather than repeatedly typing raw numbers.

Local constants should always be declared using localparam.

Global constants should always be declared in a separate .vh or .svh include file.

For SystemVerilog code, global constants should always be declared as package parameters. For Verilog-2001 compatible code, top-level parameters are not supported and `define macros must be used instead.

Include the units for a constant as a suffix in the constant's symbolic name. The exceptions to this rule are for constants that are inherently unitless, or if the constant is describing the default unit type, "bits."

Example:

localparam int unsigned INTERFACE_WIDTH = 64;  // Bits
localparam int unsigned INTERFACE_WIDTH_BYTES = (INTERFACE_WIDTH + 7) / 8;
localparam int unsigned INTERFACE_WIDTH_64B_WORDS = (INTERFACE_WIDTH + 63) / 64;
localparam int unsigned IMAGE_WIDTH_PIXELS = 640;
localparam int unsigned MEGA = 1000 * 1000;  // Unitless
localparam int unsigned MEBI = 1024 * 1024;  // Unitless
localparam int unsigned SYSTEM_CLOCK_HZ = 200 * MEGA;

Signal Widths

Be careful about signal widths.

Always be explicit about the widths of number literals.

Examples:

👍

localparam logic [3:0] bar = 4'd4;

assign foo = 8'd2;

👎

localparam logic [3:0] bar = 4;

assign foo = 2;

Exceptions:

  • When using parameterized widths, it is acceptable to simply use 1'b1 (e.g. when incrementing) rather than contrivances such as {{(Bus_width-1){1'b0}},1'b1}
  • It is acceptable to use the '0 construct to create an automatic correctly sized zero.
  • Literals assigned to integer variants (e.g. byte, shortint, int, integer, and longint) do not need an explicit width.

Port connections on module instances must always match widths correctly.

It is recommended to use explicit widths, rather than relying on Verilog's implicit zero-extension and truncation operations, whenever practical.

Examples:

👍

my_module i_module (
  .thirty_two_bit_input({16'd0, sixteen_bit_word})
);

👎

my_module i_module (
  // Incorrectly implicitly extends from 16 bit to 32 bit
  .thirty_two_bit_input(sixteen_bit_word)
);

Do not use multi-bit signals in a boolean context.

Rather than letting boolean operations and if expressions reduce a multi-bit signal to a single bit, explicitly compare the multi-bit signal to 0. The implicit conversion can hide subtle logic bugs.

Examples;

👍

logic [3:0] a, b;
logic out;

assign out = (a != '0) && (b == '0);

always_comb begin
  if (a != '0)
    ...
  else
    ...
end

👎

logic [3:0] a, b;
logic out;

// Incorrect because it implicitly converts 4-bit signals to 1-bit before AND.
// Also, !b is different from ~b and can be hard to catch.
assign out = a && !b;

// Incorrect use of a multi-bit signal in an if expression
always_comb begin
  if (a)
    ...
  else
    ...
end

Bit Slicing

Only use the bit slicing operator when the intent is to refer to a portion of a bit vector.

Examples:

👍

logic [7:0] a, b;
logic [6:0] c;

assign a = 8'd7;       // good

assign a[7:1] = 7'd5;  // good - it's partial assignment.
assign a = b;          // good - the parser would warn on width mismatch.

👎

logic [7:0] a, b;

assign a[7:0] = 8'd7;  // BAD - redundant and can mask linter warnings.
assign a = b[7:0];     // BAD - redundant and masks linter warnings.

Handling Width Overflow

Beware of shift operations, which can produce a result wider than the operand. Bit-selection and concatenation may be clearer than shifting by a constant amount.

Addition and negation operations produce a result one bit wider than the operands, due to carry. An allowable exception to the rule about matching widths is to silently drop the carry on assignment.

Example:

assign abc = abc + 4'h1;

Blocking and Non-blocking Assignments

Sequential logic must use non-blocking assignments. Combinational blocks must use blocking assignments.

Never mix assignment types within a block declaration.

A sequential block (a block that latches state on a clock edge) must exclusively use non-block assignments, as defined in the Sequential Logic section below.

Purely combinational blocks must exclusively use blocking assignments.

This is one of Cliff Cumming's Golden Rules of Verilog.

Delay Modeling

Do not use #delay in synthesizable design modules.

Synthesizable design modules must be designed around a zero-delay simulation methodology. All forms of #delay, including #0, are not permitted.

Sequential Logic (Latches)

The use of latches is discouraged - use flip-flops when possible.

Unless absolutely necessary, use flops/registers instead of latches.

If you must use a latch, use always_latch over always, and use non-blocking assignments (<=). Never use blocking assignments (=).

Sequential Logic (Registers)

Use the standard format for declaring sequential blocks.

In a sequential always block, only use non-blocking assignments (<=). Never use blocking assignments (=).

Designs that mix blocking and non-blocking assignments for registers simulate incorrectly because some simulators process some of the blocking assignments in an always block as occurring in a separate simulation event as the non-blocking assignment. This process makes some signals jump registers, potentially leading to total protonic reversal. That's bad.

Sequential statements for state assignments should only contain reset values and a next-state to state assignment, use a separate combinational-only block to generate that next-state value.

A correctly implemented 8-bit register with an initial value of "0xAB" would be implemented:

👍

logic foo_en;
logic [7:0] foo_q, foo_d;

always_ff @(posedge clk or negedge rst_ni) begin
  if (!rst_ni) begin
    foo_q <= 8'hab;
  end else if (foo_en) begin
    foo_q <= foo_d;
  end
end

Do not allow multiple non-blocking assignments to the same bit.

Example:

👎

if (cond1) begin
  abc <= 4'h1;
end

if (cond2) begin
  abc <= 4'h2;
end

If both cond1 and cond2 are true, the Verilog standard says that the second assignment will take effect, but this is a style violation.

Even if cond1 and cond2 are mutually exclusive, make the second if into an else if.

Exception: It is fine to set default values first, then specific values. However, it is preferred to do this work in a separate combinational block with explicit blocking assignments.

Example:

always_ff @(posedge clk or negedge rst_ni) begin
  if (!rst_ni) begin
    state_q <= StIdle;
  end else begin
    state_q <= state_d;
  end
end

always_comb begin
  state_d = state_q;    // default assignment next state is present state
  unique case (state_q)
    StIdle: state_d = StInit;       // Idle State move to Init
    StInit: begin                   // Initialize calculation
      if (conditional) begin
        state_d = StIdle;
      end else begin
        state_d = StCalc;
      end
    end
    StCalc: begin                   // Perform calculation
      if (conditional) begin
        state_d = StResult;
      end
    end
    StResult: state_d = Idle;
    default: ;
  endcase
end

Keep work in sequential blocks simple. If a sequential block becomes sufficiently complicated, consider splitting the combinational logic into a separate combinational (always_comb) block. Ideally, sequential blocks should contain only a register instantiation, with perhaps a load enable or an increment.

Don't Cares (X's)

The use of X literals in RTL code is strongly discouraged. RTL must not assert X to indicate "don't care" to synthesis in any case. In order to flag and detect invalid conditions, rather than assign and propagate X values, designs should fully define all signal values and make extensive use of SVAs to indicate the invalid conditions.

If not strictly controlled, the use of X assignments in RTL to flag invalid or don't care conditions can lead to simulation/synthesis mismatches.

Instead of assigning and propagating X in order to flag and detect invalid conditions, it is encouraged to make extensive use of SVAs. The added benefits of this design practice are that:

  • No special code style is required to properly propagate X conditions,
  • The chance of accidentally introducing simulation/synthesis mismatches is systematically reduced,
  • Simulation fails quickly and less signal backtracking is needed to root-cause bugs,
  • In several cases, formal property verification (FPV) can be used to prove whether these SVAs can always be fulfilled,
  • In a security context, deterministic/defined behavior is desired, even for illegal/invalid/unreachable input combinations (sometimes stated more tersely as "for security-critical designs, there are no don't-cares").

The solution presented here has similarities with the approaches presented in "Being Assertive With Your X" by Don Mills.

Note that although don't cares can be used to indicate possible optimization opportunities to the synthesis tool, it is debatable whether the gains in logic reduction are significant enough to outweigh the possible synthesis mismatch issues that the use of X literals may entail (especially with the gate-counts available in today's technologies).

Specific Guidance on Case Statements and Ternaries

To comply with this style, RTL must place `ASSERT_KNOWN assertions on all module outputs, with the exception of signals that may implicitly be X at the beginning of the simulation, such as FIFO, SRAM or register file outputs.

module mymod (
  input        ina_i,
  input        inb_i,
  output logic out_o
);
  assign out_o = ina_i ^ inb_i;
  `ASSERT_KNOWN(OutKnown_A, out_o, clk_i, !rst_ni)
endmodule : mymod

Further, it is encouraged to add assertions to the signals forming conditions of case statements, ternaries or if/else statements. The assertion style is at the designer's discretion, and can range from simple `ASSERT_KNOWN to fully functional assertions, as shown in the following examples:

typedef enum logic [1:0] {mode0, mode1, mode2} state_e;
state_e sel;

// encouraged
`ASSERT_KNOWN(SelKnown_A, sel)
always_comb begin
  out0 = '0;
  out1 = '0;
  unique case (sel)
    mode1: out0 = foo;
    mode2: out1 = bar;
    default: ;
  endcase
end

// optional, but more explicit
// not always applicable
`ASSERT(MainFsmCase_A, sel inside {mode0, mode1, mode2}, clk_i, !rst_ni)
always_comb begin
  out0 = '0;
  out1 = '0;
  unique case (sel)
    mode1: out0 = foo;
    mode2: out1 = bar;
    default: ;
  endcase
end

In the context of ternary statements, the following are encouraged examples:

// encouraged
`ASSERT_KNOWN(ModeKnown_A, mode_i, clk_i, !rst_ni)
`ASSERT_KNOWN(LenKnown_A, len_i, clk_i, !rst_ni)
// assign '0 for all other combinations
assign val = (mode_i == ENC)                    ? 8'h01 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN128) ? 8'h36 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN192) ? 8'h80 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN256) ? 8'h40 : 8'h00;

// optional, but more explicit
`ASSERT(ValSelValid_A, mode_i == ENC || mode_i == DEC &&
    len_i inside {LEN128, LEN192, LEN256}, clk_i, !rst_ni)
// using one of the valid outputs for other combinations (saves logic)
assign val = (mode_i == ENC)                    ? 8'h01 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN128) ? 8'h36 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN192) ? 8'h80 :
             (mode_i == DEC && len_i == LEN256) ? 8'h40 : 8'h01;

Dynamic Array Indexing

It should be noted that dynamic array indexing operations can implicitly lead to X. This should be avoided if possible by either aligning indexed arrays to powers of 2 or by adding guarding if statements around the indexing operation. These solutions are illustrated in the following examples.

👎

logic selected;
logic [3:0] idx;
logic [11:0] foo; // problematic

assign foo = {12'b1010_1111_0000};
assign selected = foo[idx];

👍

logic selected;
logic [3:0] idx;
logic [15:0] foo; // aligned to powers of two

assign foo = {4'b0000, 12'b1010_1111_0000};
assign selected = foo[idx];

👍

logic selected;
logic [3:0] idx;
logic [11:0] foo;

assign foo = {12'b1010_1111_0000};

// guarding if statement
assign selected = (idx < $bits(foo)) ? foo[idx] : 1'b0;

Combinational Logic

Avoid sensitivity lists, and use a consistent assignment type.

Use always_comb for SystemVerilog combinational blocks. Use always @* if only Verilog-2001 is supported. Never explicitly declare sensitivity lists for combinational logic.

Prefer assign statements wherever practical.

Example:

assign final_value = xyz ? value_a : value_b;

Where a case statement is needed, enclose it in its own always_comb block.

Synthesizable combinational logic blocks should only use blocking assignments.

Do not use three-state logic (Z state) to accomplish on-chip logic such as muxing.

Do not infer a latch inside a function, as this may cause a simulation / synthesis mismatch.

Case Statements

Avoid case-modifying pragmas. unique case is the best practice. Always define a default case.

Never use either the full_case or parallel_case pragmas. These pragmas can easily cause synthesis-simulation mismatches.

Here is an example of a style-compliant full case statement:

always_comb begin
  unique casez (select)
    3'b000: operand = accum0 >> 0;
    3'b001: operand = accum0 >> 1;
    3'b010: operand = accum1 >> 0;
    3'b011: operand = accum1 >> 1;
    3'b1??: operand = regfile[select[1:0]];
    default: operand = '0; // assign a default
  endcase
end

The unique prefix is recommended before all case statements, as it creates simulation assertions that can catch certain mistakes. In some cases, priority may be used instead of unique, though in such cases, cascaded ternary structures should be the preferred way of representing priority encoders as they are a more readable representation for priority encoders.

Be sure to use unique case correctly. In particular, make sure that:

  • a default: statement is always included in order to avoid accidental inference of latches, even if all cases are covered. In simulation, a case expression that evaluates to X will not match any case and will behave as a latch, leading to different behavior than synthesis if no default is specified.

  • if no default assignments are given before the case statement as shown in the example above, any variables assigned in one case item must be assigned in all case items, including the default:. Failing to do this can lead to a simulation-synthesis mismatch as described in Don Mills' paper.

The following is a different example showing a style-compliant case statement variant that is frequently used for describing the next-state logic of a finite state machine. What is different from the previous example is that the default assignments are put before the unique case block, thus making it possible to omit common assignments in the individual cases further below. If it weren't for the common default assignments before the case statement, all variables would have to be assigned a value in all cases and in the default: in order to prevent simulation-synthesis mismatches.

always_comb begin
  // common default assignments
  state_d = state_q;
  outa = 1'b0;
  outb = 1'b0;
  outc = 1'b0;

  unique case (state_q)
    Idle: begin
      state_d = Work;
      outa = in0;
    end
    Work: begin
      state_d = Wait;
      outb = in1;
    end
    Wait: begin
      state_d = Idle;
      outc = in2;
    end
    // always include a default case
    // empty default permissible due to defaults before case block
    default: ;
  endcase
end
Wildcards in case items

Use case instead of casez whenever wildcard operator behavior is not required. When wildcard behavior is needed, use casez.

When expressing a wildcard in a case item, use the '?' character since it more clearly expresses the intent.

casex should not be used. casex implements a symmetric wildcard operator such that an X in the case expression may match one or more case items. casez only treats high-impedance states (Z or ?) as a wildcard, and performs exact matches for undriven X inputs. While this does not completely fix the problems with symmetric wildcard matching, it is harder to accidentally produce a Z input than an X input, so this form is preferred.

References:

Generate Constructs

Always name your generated blocks.

When using a generate construct, always explicitly name each block of generated code. Name each possible outcome of the generating if statement, and name the iterated block of a generating for statement.

This ensures that generated hierarchical signal names are consistent across different tools.

Generate and all named code blocks should use lower_snake_case. A space should be placed between begin and the code block name.

Example of a conditional generate construct:

👍

if (TypeIsPosedge) begin : posedge_type
  always_ff @(posedge clk) foo <= bar;
end else begin : negedge_type
  always_ff @(negedge clk) foo <= bar;
end

Example of a loop generate construct:

👍

for (genvar ii = 0; ii < NumberOfBuses; ii++) begin : my_buses
  my_bus #(.index(ii)) i_my_bus (.foo(foo), .bar(bar[ii]));
end

Do not wrap a generate construct with an additional begin block.

Do not use generate regions {generate, endgenerate}.

Signed Arithmetic

Use the available signed arithmetic constructs wherever signed arithmetic is used.

When it's necessary to convert from unsigned to signed, use the signed' cast operator ($signed in Verilog-2001).

If any operand in a calculation is unsigned, Verilog implicitly casts all operands to unsigned and generates a warning. There should not be any signed-to-unsigned warnings from either the simulation or synthesis tools if all unsigned variables are properly casted.

Example of implicit signed-to-unsigned casting:

logic signed [7:0]  a;
logic               incr;
logic signed [15:0] sum1, sum2;
initial begin
  a = 8'sh80;
  incr = 1'b1;
  sum1 = a + incr;                   // sum1 = 16'h0081
  sum2 = a + signed'({1'b0, incr});  // sum2 = 16'hFF81
end

In the above example, the fact that incr is unsigned causes a to be evaluated as unsigned as well. The sum1 evaluation is surprising and is flagged by a warning that should not be ignored.

Number Formatting

Prefix printed binary numbers with 0b. Prefix printed hexadecimal numbers with 0x. Do not use prefixes for decimal numbers.

When formatting text representations of numbers for log files, make it clear what data you are including.

Make the base of a printed number clear. Only print decimal numbers without modifiers. Use a 0x prefix for hexadecimal and 0b prefix for binary.

Decode individual fields of large structures individually, instead of expecting the user to manually decode raw values.

👍

$display("0x%0x", some_hex_value);
$display("0b%0b", some_binary_value);
$display("%0d",   some_decimal_value);

👎

$display("%0x",   some_hex_value);
$display("%0b",   some_binary_value);
$display("0d%0d", some_decimal_value);

When assigning constant values, it is preferred to use underscore notation for hex or binary bit strengths of length beyond 8 for better readability. Zero prepending is not required unless it improves readability. Declare constants in the format (binary, hex, decimal) they are typically displayed in.

👍

logic [15:0] val0, val1, val2;
logic [39:0] addr0, addr1;

always_comb begin
  val0 = 16'h0;
  if (condition1) begin
    val1  = 16'b0010_0011_0000_1101;
    val2  = 16'b0010_1100_0000_0000;
    addr1 = 40'h00_1fc0_0000;
    addr2 = 40'h00_efc0_0000;
  end else begin
    val0  = 16'hffff;
    val1  = 16'b1010_0011_0110_1001;
    val2  = 16'b1110_1100_1111_0110;
    addr1 = 40'h40_8000_0000;
    addr2 = 40'h41_c000_0000;
  end
end

Problematic Language Features and Constructs

These language features are considered problematic and their use is discouraged unless otherwise noted:

  • Interfaces.
  • The alias statement.

Floating begin-end blocks

The use of generate blocks other than for loop, if, or case generate constructs is not LRM compliant. While such usage might be accepted by some tools, this guide prohibits such "bare" generate blocks. Note that the similar "sequential block" construct is LRM compliant and allowed.

👎

module foo (
  input bar,
  output foo
);
  begin // illegal generate block
    assign foo = bar;
  end
endmodule

Design Conventions

Summary

The key ideas in this section include:

  • Declare all signals and use logic: logic foo;
  • Packed arrays are little-endian: logic [7:0] byte;
  • Unpacked arrays are big-endian: byte_t arr[0:N-1];
  • Prefer to register module outputs.
  • Declare FSMs consistently.

Declare all signals

Do not rely on inferred nets.

All signals must be explicitly declared before use. All declared signals must specify a data type. A correct design contains no inferred nets.

Use logic for synthesis

Use logic for synthesis. wire is allowed when necessary.

All signals in synthesizable RTL must be implemented in terms of 4-state data types. This means that all signals must ultimately be constructed of nets with the storage type of logic. While SystemVerilog does provide other data primitives with 4-state storage (ie. integer), those primitives are prone to misunderstandings and misuse.

For example:

👍

logic signed [31:0] x_velocity;  // say what you mean: a signed 32-bit integer.
typedef logic [7:0] byte_t;

👎

bit signed [63:0] stars_in_the_sky;  // 2-state logic doesn't belong in RTL
int grains_of_sand;  // Or wait, did I mean integer?  Easy to confuse!

It is permissible to use wire as a short-hand to both declare a net and perform continuous assignment. Take care not to confuse continuous assignment with initialization. For example:

👍

wire [7:0] sum = a + b;  // Continuous assignment

logic [7:0] acc = '0;  // Initialization

There are exceptions for places where logic is inappropriate. For example, nets that connect to bidirectional (inout) ports must be declared with wire. These exceptions should be justified with a short comment.

It is permissible for DV (Design Verification) to make use of 2-state logic, but all interfaces between 4-state and 2-state signals must assert a check for X on the 4-state net before resolving to a 2-state variable.

Logical vs. Bitwise

Use logical constructs for logical comparisons, bit-wise for data.

Logical constructs (!, ||, &&, ==, !=) should be used for all constructs that are evaluating logic (true or false) values, such as if clauses and ternary assignments. Use bit-wise constructs (~, |, &, ^) for all data constructs, even if scalar.

👍

always_ff @(posedge clk_i or negedge rst_ni) begin
  if (!rst_ni) begin
    reg_q <= '0;
  end else begin
    reg_q <= reg_d;
  end
end

always_comb begin
  if (bool_a || (bool_b && !bool_c) begin
    x = 1'b1;
  end else begin
    x = 1'b0;
end

assign z = ((bool_a != bool_b) || bool_c) ? a : b;
assign y = (a & ~b) | c;

👎

always_ff @(posedge clk_i or negedge rst_ni) begin
  if (~rst_ni) begin
    reg_q <= '0;
  end else begin
    reg_q <= reg_d;
  end
end

always_comb begin
  if (bool_a | (bool_b & ~bool_c) begin
    x = 1'b1;
  end else begin
    x = 1'b0;
end

assign z = ((bool_a ^ bool_b) | bool_c) ? a : b;
assign y = (a && !b) || c;

Packed Ordering

Bit vectors and packed arrays must be little-endian.

When declaring bit vectors and packed arrays, the index of the most-significant bound (left of the colon) must be greater than or equal to the least-significant bound (right of the colon).

This style of bit vector declaration keeps packed variables little-endian.

For example:

typedef logic [7:0] u8_t;
logic [31:0] u32_word;
u8_t [1:0] u16_word;
u8_t byte3, byte2, byte1, byte0;
assign u16_word = {byte1, byte0};
assign u32_word = {byte3, byte2, u16_word};

Unpacked Ordering

Unpacked arrays must be big-endian.

Declare unpacked arrays in big-endian fashion (for instance, [n:m] where n <= m). Never declare an unpacked array in little-endian order, such as [size-1:0].

Declare zero-based unpacked arrays using the shorter notation [size]. It is understood that [size] is equivalent to the big-endian declaration [0:size-1].

logic [15:0] word_array[3] = '{word0, word1, word2};

Finite State Machines

State machines use an enum to define states, and be implemented with two process blocks: a combinational block and a clocked block.

Every state machine description has three parts:

  1. An enum that declares and describes the states.
  2. A combinational process block that decodes state to produce next state and other combinational outputs.
  3. A clocked process block that updates state from next state.

Enumerating States

The enum statement for the state machine should list each state in the state machine. Comments describing the states should be deferred to case statement in the combinational process block, below.

States should be named in UpperCamelCase, like other enumeration constants.

Barring special circumstances, the initial idle state of the state machines will be named Idle or StIdle. (Alternate names are acceptable if they improve clarity.)

Ideally, each module should only contain one state machine. If your module needs more than one state machine, you will need to add a unique prefix (or suffix) to the states of each state machine, to distinguish which state is associated with which state machine. For example, a module with a "reader" machine and a "writer" machine might have a StRdIdle state and a StWrIdle state.

Combinational Decode of State

The combinational process block should contain:

  • A case statement that decodes state to produce next state and combinational outputs. For clarity, only cases where the output value deviates from the default should be coded.
  • Before the case statement should be a block of code that defines default values for every combinational output, including "next state."
  • The default value for the "next state" variable should be the current state. The case statement that decodes state will then only assign to "next state" when transitioning between states.
  • Within the case statement, each state alternative should be preceded with a comment that describes the function of that state within the state machine.

The State Register

No logic except for reset should be performed in this process. The state variable should latch the value of the "next state" variable.

Other Guidelines

When possible, try to choose state names that differ near the beginning of their name, to make them more readable when viewing waveform traces.

Example

👍

// Define the states
typedef enum {
  StIdle, StFrameStart, StDynInstrRead, StBandCorr, StAccStoreWrite, StBandEnd
} alcor_state_e;

alcor_state_e alcor_state_d, alcor_state_q;

// Combinational decode of the state
always_comb begin
  alcor_state_d = alcor_state_q;
  foo = 1'b0;
  bar = 1'b0;
  bum = 1'b0;
  unique case (alcor_state_q)
    // StIdle: waiting for frame_start
    StIdle:
      if (frame_start) begin
        foo = 1'b1;
        alcor_state_d = StFrameStart;
      end
    // StFrameStart: Reset accumulators
    StFrameStart: begin
      // ... etc ...
    end
    // may be empty or used to catch parasitic states
    default: alcor_state_d = StIdle;
  endcase
end

// Register the state
always_ff @(posedge clk or negedge rst_n) begin
  if (!rst_n) begin
    alcor_state_q <= StIdle;
  end else begin
    alcor_state_q <= alcor_state_d;
  end
end

Active-Low Signals

The _n suffix indicates an active-low signal.

If active-low signals are used, they must have the _n suffix in their name. Otherwise, all signals are assumed to be active-high.

Differential Pairs

Use the _p and _n suffixes to indicate a differential pair.

For example, in_p and in_n comprise a differential pair set.

Delays

Signals delayed by a single clock cycle should end in a _q suffix.

If one signal is only a delayed version of another signal, the _q suffix should be used to indicate this relationship.

If another signal is then delayed by another clock cycle, the next signal should be identifed with the _q2 suffix, and then _q3 and so on.

Example:

always_ff @(posedge clk) begin
  data_valid_q <= data_valid_d;
  data_valid_q2 <= data_valid_q;
  data_valid_q3 <= data_valid_q2;
end

Wildcard import of packages

The wildcard import syntax, e.g. import ip_pkg::*; is only allowed where the package is part of the same IP as the module that uses that package. Wildcard import statement must be placed in the module header or in the module body.

👍

// mod_a_pkg.sv and mod_a.sv are in the same IP.
// Packages can be imported in the module declaration if access to
// unqualified types is needed in the port list.

// mod_a_pkg.sv
package mod_a_pkg;

  typedef struct packed {
    ...
  } a_req_t;
endpackage

// mod_a.sv
module mod_a
  import mod_a_pkg::*;
(
  ...
  a_req_t a_req,
  ...
);

endmodule

👍

// mod_a
module mod_a ();

  // mod_a_pkg.sv and mod_a.sv are in the same IP.
  import mod_a_pkg::*;

  ...

  a_req_t a_req;

endmodule

Other than the cases above, wildcard imports are not allowed. For instance, the example below may create a name collision in the module following mod_a in the source list.

👎

// mod_a.sv
import mod_a_pkg::*; // not allowed: imported to $root scope.

module mod_a ();

endmodule

Other bad examples:

👎

// wildcard import for other packages outside of the IP
module mod_a import mod_b_pkg::*; ();

👎

module mod_a ();

  // not allowed: wildcard import of a package from a different IP
  import mod_b_pkg::*;

endmodule

Assertion Macros

It is encouraged to use SystemVerilog assertions (SVAs) throughout the design to check functional correctness and flag invalid conditions. In order to increase productivity and keep the assertions short and concise, the following assertion macros can be used:

// immediate assertion, to be placed within a process.
`ASSERT_I(<name>, <property>)
// immediate assertion wrapped within an initial block. can be used for things
// like parameter checking.
`ASSERT_INIT(<name>, <property>)
// concurrent assertion to be used for functional assertions.
`ASSERT(<name>, <property>, <clk>, <reset condition>)
// concurrent assertion that checks that a signal has a known value after reset
// (i.e. that the signal is not `X`).
`ASSERT_KNOWN(<name>, <signal>, <clk>, <reset condition>)

An implementation of these macros (including other useful variations thereof) can be found here: https://github.com/lowRISC/opentitan/blob/master/hw/ip/prim/rtl/prim_assert.sv

A Note on Security Critical Applications

For security critical applications, the names of the assertion macros involved in guarding case statements and ternaries shall be postfixed with _SEC. This enables security-specific post-processing of these statements at a later stage in the design process. In terms of functionality these macros should be identical to the original assertions, i.e.,

`define ASSERT_SEC `ASSERT
`define ASSERT_I_SEC `ASSERT_I
`define ASSERT_KNOWN_SEC `ASSERT_KNOWN

More security assertion and coding style guidance will be given in a separate document, soon.

Appendix - Condensed Style Guide

This is a short summary of the Comportable style guide. Refer to the main text body for explanations examples, and exceptions.

Basic Style Elements

  • Use SystemVerilog-2012 conventions, files named as module.sv, one file per module
  • Only ASCII, 100 chars per line, no tabs, two spaces per indent for all paired keywords.
  • C++ style comments //
  • For multiple items on a line, one space must separate the comma and the next character
  • Include whitespace around keywords and binary operators
  • No space between case item and colon, function/task/macro call and open parenthesis
  • Line wraps should indent by four spaces
  • begin must be on the same line as the preceding keyword and end the line
  • end must start a new line

Construct Naming

  • Use lower_snake_case for instance names, signals, declarations, variables, types
  • Use UpperCamelCase for tunable parameters, enumerated value names
  • Use ALL_CAPS for constants and define macros
  • Main clock signal is named clk. All clock signals must start with clk_
  • Reset signals are active-low and asynchronous, default name is rst_n
  • Signal names should be descriptive and be consistent throughout the hierarchy

Suffixes for signals and types

  • Add _i to module inputs, _o to module outputs or _io for bi-directional module signals
  • The input (next state) of a registered signal should have _d and the output _q as suffix
  • Pipelined versions of signals should be named _q2, _q3, etc. to reflect their latency
  • Active low signals should use _n. When using differential signals use _p for active high
  • Enumerated types should be suffixed with _e
  • Multiple suffixes will not be separated with _. n should come first i, o, or io last

Language features

  • Use full port declaration style for modules, any clock and reset declared first
  • Use named parameters for instantiation, all declared ports must be present, no .*
  • Top-level parameters is preferred over `define globals
  • Use symbolically named constants instead of raw numbers
  • Local constants should be declared localparam, globals in a separate .svh file.
  • logic is preferred over reg and wire, declare all signals explicitly
  • always_comb, always_ff and always_latch are preferred over always
  • Interfaces are discouraged
  • Sequential logic must use non-blocking assignments
  • Combinational blocks must use blocking assignments
  • Use of latches is discouraged, use flip-flops when possible
  • The use of X assignments in RTL is strongly discouraged, make use of SVAs to check invalid behavior instead.
  • Prefer assign statements wherever practical.
  • Use unique case and always define a default case
  • Use available signed arithmetic constructs wherever signed arithmetic is used
  • When printing use 0b and 0x as a prefix for binary and hex. Use _ for clarity
  • Use logical constructs (i.e ||) for logical comparison, bit-wise (i.e |) for data comparison
  • Bit vectors and packed arrays must be little-endian, unpacked arrays must be big-endian
  • FSMs: no logic except for reset should be performed in the process for the state register
  • A combinational process should first define default value of all outputs in the process
  • Default value for next state variable should be the current state
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