Chisel Developers Style Guide

This document describes the syle used within the chisel3 and related projects (firrtl, treadle, etc). It does not capture requirements for code which is written using these libraries, although projects may choose to adopt these guidelines.

The Chisel style guide reflects the Google Java style guide and the General Public Scala style guide. The specific rules below are to clarify the style used for the chisel3 repo and repos related to Chisel (Firrtl).

Goal: Readability and consistency are the main purposes of the style guide. Writing your code so someone else (or yourself) can grok it later is important to code health and quality.

Filenames

The source file name consists of the case-sensitive name of the top-level class it contains, plus “.scala”.

Packages

Package definitions must contain the full path to the package from scala. If you create a subpackage, it should go in a subdirectory.

package directory.name.to.get.you.to.your.source

As in Scala, packages follow the Java package naming convention. Note that these guidelines call for all lowercase, no underscores.

// Do this
package hardware.chips.topsecret.masterplan

// Not this
package hardware.chips.veryObvious.bad_style

We also suggest you do not use chisel3 as a package, and especially do not use it as the final (innermost) package.

// Don't do this
package hardware.chips.newchip.superfastcomponent.chisel3

// This will lead to instantiating package members like so:
val module = Module(new chisel3.FastModule)

// Which collides with the chisel namespace
import chisel3._

Imports

Avoid wildcard ( ._ ) imports, with the exception of chisel3._ All other imports must call out used methods. import chisel3._ must be first, and separated from remaining imports with an extra blank line.

Reason: This makes it clear where methods are defined.

Any remaining imports must be listed alphabetically.

import chisel3._

import the.other.thing.that.i.reference.inline
import the.other.things.that.i.reference.{ClassOne, ClassTwo}


val myInline = inline.MakeAnInline()
val myClassOne = new ClassOne

Tests

Test classes are named starting with the name of the class they are testing, and ending with “Test”. Test files must start with the name of the class you are testing and end with “Test.scala”. Test files should reside in a subdirectory called “tests”. The tests package should be composed of the package class you are testing.

package class.under.test.class
package tests

Comments

We use scaladoc to automatically generate documentation from the source code.

/** Multiple lines of ScalaDoc text are written here,
  * wrapped normally...
  */
public int method(String p1) { ... }

… or in this single-line example:

/** An especially short bit of Javadoc. */

Write documentation as if the person reading it knows more about Scala and Chisel than you. If you find comments in the code consider breaking them up into seperate methods.

Module Classes and Instances

Modules can take different forms in Chisel. The first form is similar to Verilog, where you instance the module and then hook it up. In this case Module(new MyMod()) is returning a reference to the module.

val myMod = Module(new MyMod())
myMod.io <> hookUp

The second form is a more programmatic inline style with factory methods. In this case, Queue is actually returning the part of the IO bundle representing the queue’s output. The factory method takes the input IO to the queue and an optional parameter for depth.

val queueOut = Queue(queueIn, depth=10)

The latter can be used for composing multiple functions into a single line.

val queueOut = Queue(
  Arbitrate.byRoundRobin(
    Queue(a), // depth assumed to be 1
    Queue(b, depth=3),
    Queue(c, depth=4)
  ),
  depth=10
)

Naming Conventions

Chisel follows the Scala Naming Conventions. In general, Chisel code should use lowerCamelCase for variable naming (ie. the first letter of each word is capitalized except for the first word) and UpperCamelCase for class names.

Using these guidelines can result in verilog which is noncompliant with common verilog coding standards, e.g. the lowRISC verilog coding style. Authors of Chisel code that translates to hardware constructs might therefore prefer to use snake_case. However, generated code can always be transformed to meet various emitted code requirements, so the official Chisel style guide follows the Scala convention.

Why CamelCase instead of Snake_Case?

The compiler inserts underscores when splitting Chisel/FIRRTL aggregate types into Verilog types. The compiler uses underscores to preserve the original structure of the data in the resulting Verilog. Because of the special meaning of underscores in Chisel-generated Verilog, their use in naming is strongly discouraged.

Consider the following Chisel code:

val msg = Wire(new Bundle {
  val valid = Bool()
  val addr = UInt(32)
  val data = UInt(64)
})
val msg_rec = Wire(Bool())

Which compiles to the Verilog:

wire  msg_valid;
wire [31:0] msg_addr;
wire [63:0] msg_data;
wire  msg_rec;

The Verilog maintains the structure of the original aggregate wire msg. However, because we named another variable msg_rec, it appears in the Verilog as if msg had 4 fields instead of its actual 3! If we instead follow the lowerCamelCase for values naming convention, the resulting Verilog makes more sense:

val msg = Wire(new Bundle {
  val valid = Bool()
  val addr = UInt(32)
  val data = UInt(64)
})
val msgRec = Wire(Bool())

And its resulting Verilog:

wire  msg_valid;
wire [31:0] msg_addr;
wire [63:0] msg_data;
wire  msgRec;

Much better.

Modules and Bundles (Classes, Traits, and Objects)

Modules are Scala classes and thus use UpperCamelCase.

class ModuleNamingExample extends Module {
  ...
}

Similarly, other classes (Chisel & Scala) should be UpperCamelCase as well.

trait UsefulScalaUtilities {
  def isEven(n: Int): Boolean = (n % 2) == 0
  def isOdd(n: Int): Boolean = !isEven(n)
}

class MyCustomBundle extends Bundle {
  ...
}
// Companion object to MyCustomBundle
object MyCustomBundle {
  ...
}

Values and Methods

Values and methods should use lowerCamelCase. (Unless the value is a constant.)

val mySuperReg = Reg(init = 0.asUInt(32))
def myImportantMethod(a: UInt): Bool = a < 23.asUInt

Constants

Unlike the Google Java style, constants use UpperCamelCase, which is in line with the official Scala Naming Conventions. Constants are final fields (val or object) whose contents are deeply immutable and belong to a package object or an object. Examples:

// Constants
object Constants {
  val Number = 5
  val Names = "Ed" :: "Ann" :: Nil
  val Ages = Map("Ed" -> 35, "Ann" -> 32)
}

// Not constants
class NonConstantsInClass {
  val inClass: String = "in-class"
}

object nonConstantsInObject {
  var varString = "var-string"
  val mutableCollection: scala.collection.mutable.Set[String]
  val mutableElements = Set(mutable)
}

UpperCamelCase vs. lowerCamelCase

There is more than one reasonable way to covert English prose into camel case. We follow the convention defined in the Google Java style guide. The potentially non-obvious rule being to treat acronymns as words for the purpose of camel case.

Note that the casing of the original words is almost entirely disregarded. Example:

Prose form UpperCamelCase lowerCamelCase Incorrect
find GCD FindGcd findGcd findGCD
state for FSM StateForFsm stateForFsm stateForFSM
mock dut MockDut mockDut MockDUT
FIFO Generator FifoGenerator fifoGenerator FIFOGenerator