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A standalone parser for BSV (Bluespec SystemVerilog) written in Go

Copyright (c) 2016-2017 Rishiyur S. Nikhil. All Rights Reserved.

This is a pure parser, reading in source text file(s) and producing an AST (Abstract Syntax Tree). The parser is written in the Go programming language, and has been tested only with Go 1.7.4 under Linux.

This parser is intended to enable people to write different back-ends for BSV, for example to feed into formal verification tools, IDEs, cross-reference tools, dependency analyzers, etc.

Caution: It is a fairly substantial task to write an entirely new BSV compiler (BSV to Verilog) starting with this back end. In addition to adding remaining front-end tasks (import chasing, type-checking, static elaboration), one would have to write a "rule scheduler" that guarantees global rule atomicity. Note that this is a non-local (non-modular) property, i.e., not restricted to just the module containing a rule, but reaching through its method calls into neighboring modules and, transitively through those method calls, into more remote modules, and even into imported Verilog modules. Further, this non-modular property is necessary even in the face of separate compilation.

Example build-and-run

Let's assume you have cloned



In the goParseBSV/main directory, do:

    $ make

This will create an executable goParseBSV

    $ ./goParseBSV --help

will print a help message.

    $ ./goParseBSV --pp  Foo.bsv

will parse the BSV source file Foo.bsv and will either print an error message if it encounters a syntax error, or a pretty-printed version of the parse tree for the AST for the whole file.

    $ ./goParseBSV Foo.bsv

will parse the BSV source file Foo.bsv and just print 'ok' if there are or parse errors.


It covers most of the BSV language, except:

  • Does not cover import "BVI" construct for importing Verilog.

  • Does not cover old-fashioned long-form module instantiation.

  • Does not do preprocessor macro substitution.

  • Does not cover a few other small corner cases.

All these limitations are likely to be fixed as we continue development. It does handle include and ifdef macro constructs, recursively.

Note, it's a pure parser and does not do other front-end tasks that are arguably the job of a subsequent pass over the AST:

  • Does not do any desugaring (other than representing unary prefix and binary infix operators as ordinary function calls)

  • Does not do "import chasing"

  • Does not do scope analysis (proper def-use structure)

  • Does not do type-checking

It has been tested successfully on several dozen real BSV source files that constitute a small SoC: pipelined CPU, caches, interconnect, memory system, control fabric, UART model, memory model, etc.

Still, it is very preliminary. It is not very robust about syntax errors (a bit too liberal in some places) and is intended for now to be used only on programs that are acceptable to Bluespec's bsc compiler; the main purpose is supplementary processing of BSV programs, not as a front-line parser. It is likely to become more accurate and exact over time.

Code notes

grammar.txt describes the grammar being parsed.

ast_defs.go describes the ASTs (Abstract Syntax Trees) that are the output of the parser.

parser.go is the top-level file of the parser, and lexer.go is the entire lexical analyzer. The function TestParser() at the bottom of the file shows an example of creating a lexer from an input filename and a set of macro definitions, and passing it to ParsePackage(), the top-level function that parses a BSV package (in a file), returning its AST. TestParser() also calls AST_pp() to pretty-print the parser.

Each syntactic construct has a parsing function, and these are grouped into major syntactic categories in the other files: parse_types.go, parse_exprs.go, parse_patterns.go, parse_stmts.go and parse_FSM.go.

The parser is a classical, old-fashioned, hand-written, recursive-descent parser (no parser generators or any such automation).

backend_pp.go is an example back-end: a pretty-printer. You can use it as a reference for how to traverse an AST when writing new back-ends for other purposes.

General tip in understanding the code: Go does not have a 'union' or 'tagged union' type, to represent alternatives within a syntactic category. Instead, Go has a concept of an interface type on which one defines interface methods; we use this as a tagged union. The interface type AST is defined in ast_defs.go for the purposes of ASTs. The interface type ast_pp_ifc is defined in backend_pp.go for the purposes of the pretty-printer. We expect that each back-end can do something similar.


A standalone parser for BSV (Bluespec SystemVerilog) written in Go




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