Preferred manner of supporting bus errors in RISC-V

Arjan Bink

Hi all,


We want to add support for ‘bus errors’ in our RISC-V design (e.g. signaled via AXI bresp/rresp signals). I studied a couple of different RISC-V architectures and I do not see a common approach for dealing with this.


Some examples:


  • SiFive uses a ‘bus error unit’ that converts bus errors into regular interrupts
  • Ibex implements precise bus errors and causes exceptions using RISC-V defined mcause exception codes (i.e. instruction access fault (exception code 1), load access fault (exception code 5), store/AMO access fault (exception code 7)
  • SweRV-EL2 maps imprecise bus errors onto custom NMIs (and they also have precise bus errors).


The RISC-V Privileged specification hardly mentions this topics, but has the following quotes that might be related:


“Non-maskable interrupts (NMIs) are only used for hardware error conditions”

“Precise PMA traps might not always be possible, for example, when probing a legacy bus architecture that uses access failures as part of the discovery mechanism. In this case, error responses from slave devices will be reported as imprecise bus-error interrupts.”


In our design we will have a PMP (so exception codes 1, 5, 7 are used to report precise PMP exceptions), precise instruction bus errors, and imprecise data bus errors. What is the intended manner of dealing with these precise instruction bus errors and imprecise data bus errors? Should we cause NMIs for them? Should we map them to a regular exception non-interrupt) with mcause exception codes 1, 5, 7 (which would be confusing as software can then not distinguish them from the PMP errors and also code 5 and 7 would be used for both precise PMP exceptions and imprecise data bus exceptions). Usage of an external ‘bus error unit’ does not seem appropriate as it could easily cause an interrupt on a speculative (and never actually executed) instruction fetch.


So, is there any common or recommended manner of dealing with bus errors?


Best regards,


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