6.3. Adding a custom core

You may want to integrate a custom RISC-V core into the Chipyard framework. This documentation page provides step-by-step instructions on how to achieve this.


RoCC is currently not supported by cores other than Rocket and BOOM. Please use Rocket or BOOM as the RoCC base core if you need to use RoCC.


This page contains links to the files that contains important definitions in the Rocket chip repository, which is maintained separately from Chipyard. If you find any discrepancy between the code on this page and the code in the source file, please report it through GitHub issues!

6.3.1. Wrap Verilog Module with Blackbox (Optional)

Since Chipyard uses Scala and Chisel, if the top module of your core is not in Chisel, you will first need to create a Verilog blackbox for it so that it can be processed by Chipyard. See Incorporating Verilog Blocks for instructions.

6.3.2. Create Parameter Case Classes

Chipyard will generate a core for every InstantiableTileParams object it discovered in the TilesLocated(InSubsystem) key. This object is derived from``TileParams``, a trait containing the information needed to create a tile. All cores must have their own implementation of InstantiableTileParams, as well as CoreParams which is passed as a field in TileParams.

TileParams holds the parameters for the tile, which include parameters for all components in the tile (e.g. core, cache, MMU, etc.), while CoreParams contains parameters specific to the core on the tile. They must be implemented as case classes with fields that can be overridden by other config fragments as the constructor parameters. See the appendix at the bottom of the page for a list of variable to be implemented. You can also add custom fields to them, but standard fields should always be preferred.

InstantiableTileParams[TileType] holds the constructor of TileType on top of the fields of TileParams, where TileType is the tile class (see the next section). All custom cores will also need to implement instantiate() in their tile parameter class to return a new instance of the tile class TileType.

TileParams (in the file BaseTile.scala) , InstantiableTileParams (in the file BaseTile.scala), CoreParams (in the file Core.scala), and FPUParams (in the file FPU.scala) contains the following fields:

trait TileParams {
  val core: CoreParams                  // Core parameters (see below)
  val icache: Option[ICacheParams]      // Rocket specific: I1 cache option
  val dcache: Option[DCacheParams]      // Rocket specific: D1 cache option
  val btb: Option[BTBParams]            // Rocket specific: BTB / branch predictor option
  val hartId: Int                       // Hart ID: Must be unique within a design config (This MUST be a case class parameter)
  val beuAddr: Option[BigInt]           // Rocket specific: Bus Error Unit for Rocket Core
  val blockerCtrlAddr: Option[BigInt]   // Rocket specific: Bus Blocker for Rocket Core
  val name: Option[String]              // Name of the core

abstract class InstantiableTileParams[TileType <: BaseTile] extends TileParams {
  def instantiate(crossing: TileCrossingParamsLike, lookup: LookupByHartIdImpl)
                (implicit p: Parameters): TileType

trait CoreParams {
  val bootFreqHz: BigInt              // Frequency
  val useVM: Boolean                  // Support virtual memory
  val useUser: Boolean                // Support user mode
  val useSupervisor: Boolean          // Support supervisor mode
  val useDebug: Boolean               // Support RISC-V debug specs
  val useAtomics: Boolean             // Support A extension
  val useAtomicsOnlyForIO: Boolean    // Support A extension for memory-mapped IO (may be true even if useAtomics is false)
  val useCompressed: Boolean          // Support C extension
  val useVector: Boolean = false      // Support V extension
  val useSCIE: Boolean                // Support custom instructions (in custom-0 and custom-1)
  val useRVE: Boolean                 // Use E base ISA
  val mulDiv: Option[MulDivParams]    // *Rocket specific: M extension related setting (Use Some(MulDivParams()) to indicate M extension supported)
  val fpu: Option[FPUParams]          // F and D extensions and related setting (see below)
  val fetchWidth: Int                 // Max # of insts fetched every cycle
  val decodeWidth: Int                // Max # of insts decoded every cycle
  val retireWidth: Int                // Max # of insts retired every cycle
  val instBits: Int                   // Instruction bits (if 32 bit and 64 bit are both supported, use 64)
  val nLocalInterrupts: Int           // # of local interrupts (see SiFive interrupt cookbook)
  val nPMPs: Int                      // # of Physical Memory Protection units
  val pmpGranularity: Int             // Size of the smallest unit of region for PMP unit (must be power of 2)
  val nBreakpoints: Int               // # of hardware breakpoints supported (in RISC-V debug specs)
  val useBPWatch: Boolean             // Support hardware breakpoints
  val nPerfCounters: Int              // # of supported performance counters
  val haveBasicCounters: Boolean      // Support basic counters defined in the RISC-V counter extension
  val haveFSDirty: Boolean            // If true, the core will set FS field in mstatus CSR to dirty when appropriate
  val misaWritable: Boolean           // Support writable misa CSR (like variable instruction bits)
  val haveCFlush: Boolean             // Rocket specific: enables Rocket's custom instruction extension to flush the cache
  val nL2TLBEntries: Int              // # of L2 TLB entries
  val mtvecInit: Option[BigInt]       // mtvec CSR (of V extension) initial value
  val mtvecWritable: Boolean          // If mtvec CSR is writable

  // Normally, you don't need to change these values (except lrscCycles)
  def customCSRs(implicit p: Parameters): CustomCSRs = new CustomCSRs

  def hasSupervisorMode: Boolean = useSupervisor || useVM
  def instBytes: Int = instBits / 8
  def fetchBytes: Int = fetchWidth * instBytes
  // Rocket specific: Longest possible latency of Rocket core D1 cache. Simply set it to the default value 80 if you don't use it.
  def lrscCycles: Int

  def dcacheReqTagBits: Int = 6

  def minFLen: Int = 32
  def vLen: Int = 0
  def sLen: Int = 0
  def eLen(xLen: Int, fLen: Int): Int = xLen max fLen
  def vMemDataBits: Int = 0

case class FPUParams(
  minFLen: Int = 32,          // Minimum floating point length (no need to change)
  fLen: Int = 64,             // Maximum floating point length, use 32 if only single precision is supported
  divSqrt: Boolean = true,    // Div/Sqrt operation supported
  sfmaLatency: Int = 3,       // Rocket specific: Fused multiply-add pipeline latency (single precision)
  dfmaLatency: Int = 4        // Rocket specific: Fused multiply-add pipeline latency (double precision)

Most of the fields here (marked “Rocket spcific”) are originally designed for the Rocket core and thus contain some implementation-specific details, but many of them are general enough to be useful for other cores. You may ignore any fields marked “Rocket specific” and use their default values; however, if you need to store additional information with meaning or usage similar to these “Rocket specific” fields, it is recommended to use these fields instead of creating your own custom fields.

You will also need a CanAttachTile class to add the tile config into the config system, with the following format:

case class MyTileAttachParams(
  tileParams: MyTileParams,
  crossingParams: RocketCrossingParams
) extends CanAttachTile {
  type TileType = MyTile
  val lookup = PriorityMuxHartIdFromSeq(Seq(tileParams))

During elaboration, Chipyard will look for subclasses of CanAttachTile in the config system and instantiate a tile from the parameters in this class for every such class it found.


Implementations may choose to ignore some fields here or use them in a non-standard way, but using an inaccurate value may break Chipyard components that rely on them (e.g. an inaccurate indication of supported ISA extension will result in an incorrect test suite being generated) as well as any custom modules that use them. ALWAYS document any fields you ignore or with altered usage in your core implementation, and if you are implementing other devices that would look up these config values, also document them. “Rocket specific” values are generally safe to ignore, but you should document them if you use them.

6.3.3. Create Tile Class

In Chipyard, all Tiles are diplomatically instantiated. In the first phase, diplomatic nodes which specify Tile-to-System interconnects are evaluated, while in the second “Module Implementation” phase, hardware is elaborated. See TileLink and Diplomacy Reference for more details. In this step, you will need to implement a tile class for your core, which specifies the constraints on the core’s parameters and the connections with other diplomatic nodes. This class usually contains Diplomacy/TileLink code only, and Chisel RTL code should not go here.

All tile classes implement BaseTile and will normally implement SinksExternalInterrupts and SourcesExternalNotifications, which allow the tile to accept external interrupt. A typical tile has the following form:

class MyTile(
  val myParams: MyTileParams,
  crossing: ClockCrossingType,
  lookup: LookupByHartIdImpl,
  q: Parameters)
  extends BaseTile(myParams, crossing, lookup, q)
  with SinksExternalInterrupts
  with SourcesExternalNotifications

  // Private constructor ensures altered LazyModule.p is used implicitly
  def this(params: MyTileParams, crossing: TileCrossingParamsLike, lookup: LookupByHartIdImpl)(implicit p: Parameters) =
    this(params, crossing.crossingType, lookup, p)

  // Require TileLink nodes
  val intOutwardNode = IntIdentityNode()
  val masterNode = visibilityNode
  val slaveNode = TLIdentityNode()

  // Implementation class (See below)
  override lazy val module = new MyTileModuleImp(this)

  // Required entry of CPU device in the device tree for interrupt purpose
  val cpuDevice: SimpleDevice = new SimpleDevice("cpu", Seq("my-organization,my-cpu", "riscv")) {
    override def parent = Some(ResourceAnchors.cpus)
    override def describe(resources: ResourceBindings): Description = {
      val Description(name, mapping) = super.describe(resources)
      Description(name, mapping ++
                        cpuProperties ++
                        nextLevelCacheProperty ++

  ResourceBinding {
    Resource(cpuDevice, "reg").bind(ResourceAddress(hartId))

  // TODO: Create TileLink nodes and connections here.

6.3.5. Create Implementation Class

The implementation class contains the parameterized, actual hardware that depends on the values resolved by the Diplomacy framework according to the info provided in the Tile class. This class will normally contains Chisel RTL code. If your core is in Verilog, you will need to instantiate the black box class that wraps your Verilog implementation and connect it with the buses and other components. No Diplomacy/TileLink code should be in this class; you should only connect the IO signals in TileLink interfaces or other diplomatically defined components, which are located in the tile class.

The implementation class for your core is of the following form:

class MyTileModuleImp(outer: MyTile) extends BaseTileModuleImp(outer){
  // annotate the parameters
  Annotated.params(this, outer.myParams)

  // TODO: Create the top module of the core and connect it with the ports in "outer"

  // If your core is in Verilog (assume your blackbox is called "MyCoreBlackbox"), instantiate it here like
  //   val core = Module(new MyCoreBlackbox(params...))
  // (as described in the blackbox tutorial) and connect appropriate signals. See the blackbox tutorial
  // (link on the top of the page) for more info.
  // You can look at https://github.com/ucb-bar/cva6-wrapper/blob/master/src/main/scala/CVA6Tile.scala
  // for a Verilog example.

  // If your core is in Chisel, you can simply instantiate the top module here like other Chisel module
  // and connect appropriate signal. You can even implement this class as your top module.
  // See https://github.com/riscv-boom/riscv-boom/blob/master/src/main/scala/common/tile.scala and
  // https://github.com/chipsalliance/rocket-chip/blob/master/src/main/scala/tile/RocketTile.scala for
  // Chisel example.

If you create an AXI4 node (or equivalents), you will need to connect them to your core. You can connect a port like this:

  outer.memAXI4Node.out foreach { case (out, edgeOut) =>
    // Connect your module IO port to "out"
    // The type of "out" here is AXI4Bundle, which is defined in generators/rocket-chip/src/main/scala/amba/axi4/Bundles.scala
    // Please refer to this file for the definition of the ports.
    // If you are using APB, check APBBundle in generators/rocket-chip/src/main/scala/amba/apb/Bundles.scala
    // If you are using AHB, check AHBSlaveBundle or AHBMasterBundle in generators/rocket-chip/src/main/scala/amba/ahb/Bundles.scala
    // (choose one depends on the type of AHB node you create)
    // If you are using AXIS, check AXISBundle and AXISBundleBits in generators/rocket-chip/src/main/scala/amba/axis/Bundles.scala

6.3.6. Connect Interrupt

Chipyard allows a tile to either receive interrupts from other devices or initiate interrupts to notify other cores/devices. In the tile that inherited SinksExternalInterrupts, one can create a TileInterrupts object (a Chisel bundle) and call decodeCoreInterrupts() with the object as the argument. Note that you should call this function in the implementation class since it returns a Chisel bundle used by RTL code. You can then read the interrupt bits from the TileInterrupts bundle we create above. The definition of TileInterrupts (in the file Interrupts.scala) is

class TileInterrupts(implicit p: Parameters) extends CoreBundle()(p) {
  val debug = Bool() // debug interrupt
  val mtip = Bool() // Machine level timer interrupt
  val msip = Bool() // Machine level software interrupt
  val meip = Bool() // Machine level external interrupt
  val seip = usingSupervisor.option(Bool()) // Valid only if supervisor mode is supported
  val lip = Vec(coreParams.nLocalInterrupts, Bool())  // Local interrupts

Here is an example on how to connect these signals in the implementation class:

  // For example, our core support debug interrupt and machine-level interrupt, and suppose the following two signals
  // are the interrupt inputs to the core. (DO NOT COPY this code - if your core treat each type of interrupt differently,
  // you need to connect them to different interrupt ports of your core)
  val debug_i = Wire(Bool())
  val mtip_i = Wire(Bool())
  // We create a bundle here and decode the interrupt.
  val int_bundle = new TileInterrupts()
  debug_i := int_bundle.debug
  mtip_i := int_bundle.meip & int_bundle.msip & int_bundle.mtip

Also, the tile can also notify other cores or devices for some events by calling following functions in SourcesExternalNotifications from the implementation class: (These functions can be found in in the trait SourcesExternalNotifications in the file Interrupts.scala)

def reportHalt(could_halt: Option[Bool]) // Triggered when there is an unrecoverable hardware error (halt the machine)
def reportHalt(errors: Seq[CanHaveErrors]) // Varient for standard error bundle (Rocket specific: used only by cache when there's an ECC error)
def reportCease(could_cease: Option[Bool], quiescenceCycles: Int = 8) // Triggered when the core stop retiring instructions (like clock gating)
def reportWFI(could_wfi: Option[Bool]) // Triggered when a WFI instruction is executed

Here is an example on how to use these functions to raise interrupt.

  // This is a demo. You should call these function according to your core
  // Suppose that the following signal is from the decoder indicating a WFI instruction is received.
  val wfi_o = Wire(Bool())
  // Suppose that the following signal indicate an unreconverable hardware error.
  val halt_o = Wire(Bool())
  // Suppose that our core never stall for a long time / stop retiring. Use None to indicate that this interrupt never fires.

6.3.7. Create Config Fragments to Integrate the Core

To use your core in a Chipyard config, you will need a config fragment that will create a TileParams object of your core in the current config. An example of such config will be like this:

class WithNMyCores(n: Int = 1, overrideIdOffset: Option[Int] = None) extends Config((site, here, up) => {
  case TilesLocated(InSubsystem) => {
    // Calculate the next available hart ID (since hart ID cannot be duplicated)
    val prev = up(TilesLocated(InSubsystem), site)
    val idOffset = overrideIdOffset.getOrElse(prev.size)
    // Create TileAttachParams for every core to be instantiated
    (0 until n).map { i =>
        tileParams = MyTileParams(hartId = i + idOffset),
        crossingParams = RocketCrossingParams()
    } ++ prev
  // Configurate # of bytes in one memory / IO transaction. For RV64, one load/store instruction can transfer 8 bytes at most.
  case SystemBusKey => up(SystemBusKey, site).copy(beatBytes = 8)
  // The # of instruction bits. Use maximum # of bits if your core supports both 32 and 64 bits.
  case XLen => 64

Chipyard looks up the tile parameters in the field TilesLocated(InSubsystem), whose type is a list of InstantiableTileParams. This config fragment simply appends new tile parameters to the end of this list.

Now you have finished all the steps to prepare your cores for Chipyard! To generate the custom core, simply follow the instructions in Integrating Custom Chisel Projects into the Generator Build System to add your project to the build system, then create a config by following the steps in Heterogeneous SoCs. You can now run most desired workflows for the new config just as you would for the built-in cores (depending on the functionality your core supports).

If you would like to see an example of a complete third-party Verilog core integrated into Chipyard, generators/ariane/src/main/scala/CVA6Tile.scala provides a concrete example of the CVA6 core. Note that this particular example includes additional nuances with respect to the interaction of the AXI interface with the memory coherency system.