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Dewey is intended to be a fast placer and router for Minecraft circuits. It is the C port of PERSHING. An external logic synthesis program, like yosys, is needed to synthesize Verilog into a Berkeley Logic Interchange File (BLIF). Dewey will take such a file and produce a compacted layout of logic cells and redstone wires needed to produce the corresponding circuit in Minecraft.


  • make
  • a C compiler (e.g., gcc or clang)
  • LibYAML
  • LibGD and libpng, for visualizing designs without opening them in Minecraft
  • Yosys to produce BLIF files from source Verilog
  • Python 2.7 and the PC version of Minecraft ("Java Edition"), to insert extracted designs and to interact with them in-game


First, install the required libraries (LibYAML, LibGD, libpng). As part of the process, Dewey produces PNG images to visualize the design without having to open Minecraft. However, we cannot redistribute Minecraft texture files -- so set the TEXTURES_FILE variable in the Makefile:

$ vim Makefile # edit TEXTURES_FILE

Then, build Dewey from source:

$ make


To run Dewey, you must first create a BLIF file that corresponds to your circuit. If you have an input Verilog file, use the convenience script to generate a BLIF file. If you want to use your own synthesis script, use the provided quan.lib file for standard cell mapping (abc -liberty quan.lib, for instance). If you do not have Yosys installed, we have provided a 4-bit counter BLIF file for your convenience (counter.blif). For this example, we will synthesize, place, and route a four-bit counter (source provided in counter.v):

$ scripts/ examples/counter.v

We now have a file called counter.blif. Run dewey:

$ dewey counter.blif

Dewey is split into, largely, three phases: placement, routing, and optimization. Each phase can be interrupted by sending SIGINT (by pressing Control-C). It's possible for a design to have no feasible routing -- Dewey cannot determine this, and may run forever. Do not leave Dewey running unattended. (Be aware that Dewey is still very experimental. See Hacking for details.)

Inserting your design into a Minecraft world

At this point, you should have a visual representation of the circuit you have placed-and-routed with Dewey as a PNG file. Also generated as part of running Dewey is a file called extraction.yaml, which is a file containing the grid of blocks to be placed in the Minecraft world. To place these blocks into the Minecraft world, follow these instructions:

To read/write Minecraft worlds folders, we use the NBT package. Initialize it with the git submodule command:

$ git submodule update --init

Find the world folder you want to place your design in. Make sure you back-up this world folder! As part of the insertion process, Dewey WILL overwrite your world data! On a Mac, you may find your world folders at ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves/.... Then, run the Python script:

$ scripts/ extraction.yaml path/to/your/world/folder
[inserter] reading in extraction
[inserter] done.
[inserter] starting insertion...
[inserter] placing bed of dirt...
[inserter] placing actual blocks...
Wrote 617 blocks to Minecraft world ... done.
[inserter] inserted extraction into path/to/your/world/folder

Your circuit has been placed in the Minecraft world! Open it up and see for yourself! By default, the design is placed at roughly (y, z, x) = (3, 0, 0). In Minecraft, use the /tp command to teleport yourself, taking care to note that coordinates for the command are given in <x> <y> <z>:

/tp 0 4 0


Dewey is experimental software. Here are some things that I have been meaning to improve.

  • Determine the best spacing between standard cells (see, in particular, the preprocessor macros MIN_MARGIN, EDGE_MARGIN, and definitions for minimum and maximum window height in placer.c). Also see the scoring functions.
  • Appropriately route in the presence of vertical signal transmission. In particular, a signal must approach a via in a special manner, or else the proper connection will not occur. See maze_router.c, especially the routines describing violations occurring near vias.
  • Implement better algorithms for detail routing, like the Mikami-Tabuchi algorithm.
  • Parallelize placement (the canneal benchmark in the PARSEC suite is essentially this) and routing in a manner that compiles nicely across as many platforms as possible.

Why is it called Dewey?

The previous incarnation of this work, PERSHING, is named after a ballistic missile system, the successor of the Redstone ballistic missile system. John Pershing held the rank of General of the Armies, the highest rank in the U.S. Army. George Dewey, who held the U.S. Navy equivalent rank of Admiral of the Navy in roughly the same period, could be considered Pershing's peer. As such, the name "Dewey" is especially fitting as Dewey can be seen as the "sea" ("C") version of Pershing.

Other Notes

A publication resulting from the creation of PERSHING, which is the original version of this project, appeared at the first annual conference on TBD (SIGTBD'16), a joke conference at MIT.

A publication describing the speed improvements gained through Dewey appeared at the third annual conference on TBD (SIGTBD'18).


C version of PERSHING, a place-and-route tool for Minecraft Redstone circuits




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