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Devicetree bindings

A devicetree on its own is only half the story for describing hardware, as it is a relatively unstructured format. Devicetree bindings provide the other half.

A devicetree binding declares requirements on the contents of nodes, and provides semantic information about the contents of valid nodes. Zephyr devicetree bindings are YAML files in a custom format (Zephyr does not use the dt-schema tools used by the Linux kernel).

This page introduces bindings, describes what they do, notes where they are found, and explains their data format.

Note

See the Bindings index for reference information on bindings built in to Zephyr.

Introduction

Devicetree nodes are matched to bindings using their compatible properties.

During the Configuration Phase, the build system tries to match each node in the devicetree to a binding file. When this succeeds, the build system uses the information in the binding file both when validating the node’s contents and when generating macros for the node.

A simple example

Here is an example devicetree node:

/* Node in a DTS file */
bar-device {
     compatible = "foo-company,bar-device";
     num-foos = <3>;
};

Here is a minimal binding file which matches the node:

# A YAML binding matching the node

compatible: "foo-company,bar-device"

properties:
  num-foos:
    type: int
    required: true

The build system matches the bar-device node to its YAML binding because the node’s compatible property matches the binding’s compatible: line.

What the build system does with bindings

The build system uses bindings both to validate devicetree nodes and to convert the devicetree’s contents into the generated devicetree_unfixed.h header file.

For example, the build system would use the above binding to check that the required num-foos property is present in the bar-device node, and that its value, <3>, has the correct type.

The build system will then generate a macro for the bar-device node’s num-foos property, which will expand to the integer literal 3. This macro lets you get the value of the property in C code using the API which is discussed later in this guide in Devicetree access from C/C++.

For another example, the following node would cause a build error, because it has no num-foos property, and this property is marked required in the binding:

bad-node {
     compatible = "foo-company,bar-device";
};

Other ways nodes are matched to bindings

If a node has more than one string in its compatible property, the build system looks for compatible bindings in the listed order and uses the first match.

Take this node as an example:

baz-device {
     compatible = "foo-company,baz-device", "generic-baz-device";
};

The baz-device node would get matched to a binding with a compatible: "generic-baz-device" line if the build system can’t find a binding with a compatible: "foo-company,baz-device" line.

Nodes without compatible properties can be matched to bindings associated with their parent nodes. These are called “child bindings”. If a node describes hardware on a bus, like I2C or SPI, then the bus type is also taken into account when matching nodes to bindings. (The Bindings file syntax section below describes how to write child bindings and bus-specific bindings.)

Some special nodes without compatible properties are matched to Inferred bindings. For these nodes, the build system generates macros based on the properties in the final devicetree.

Where bindings are located

Binding file names usually match their compatible: lines. For example, the above example binding would be named foo-company,bar-device.yaml by convention.

The build system looks for bindings in dts/bindings subdirectories of the following places:

The build system will consider any YAML file in any of these, including in any subdirectories, when matching nodes to bindings.

Warning

The binding files must be located somewhere inside the dts/bindings subdirectory of the above places.

For example, if my-app is your application directory, then you must place application-specific bindings inside my-app/dts/bindings. So my-app/dts/bindings/serial/my-company,my-serial-port.yaml would be found, but my-app/my-company,my-serial-port.yaml would be ignored.

Bindings file syntax

Zephyr bindings files are YAML files. The top-level value in the file is a mapping. A simple example is given above.

The top-level keys in the mapping look like this:

# A high level description of the device the binding applies to:
description: |
   This is the Vendomatic company's foo-device.

   Descriptions which span multiple lines (like this) are OK,
   and are encouraged for complex bindings.

   See https://yaml-multiline.info/ for formatting help.

# You can include definitions from other bindings using this syntax:
include: other.yaml

# Used to match nodes to this binding as discussed above:
compatible: "manufacturer,foo-device"

properties:
  # Requirements for and descriptions of the properties that this
  # binding's nodes need to satisfy go here.

child-binding:
  # You can constrain the children of the nodes matching this binding
  # using this key.

# If the node describes bus hardware, like an SPI bus controller
# on an SoC, use 'bus:' to say which one, like this:
bus: spi

# If the node instead appears as a device on a bus, like an external
# SPI memory chip, use 'on-bus:' to say what type of bus, like this.
# Like 'compatible', this key also influences the way nodes match
# bindings.
on-bus: spi

foo-cells:
  # "Specifier" cell names for the 'foo' domain go here; example 'foo'
  # values are 'gpio', 'pwm', and 'dma'. See below for more information.

The following sections describe these keys in more detail:

The include: key usually appears early in the binding file, but it is documented last here because you need to know how the other keys work before understanding include:.

Description

A free-form description of node hardware goes here. You can put links to datasheets or example nodes or properties as well.

Compatible

This key is used to match nodes to this binding as described above. It should look like this in a binding file:

# Note the comma-separated vendor prefix and device name
compatible: "manufacturer,device"

This devicetree node would match the above binding:

device {
     compatible = "manufacturer,device";
};

Assuming no binding has compatible: "manufacturer,device-v2", it would also match this node:

device-2 {
    compatible = "manufacturer,device-v2", "manufacturer,device";
};

Each node’s compatible property is tried in order. The first matching binding is used. The on-bus: key can be used to refine the search.

If more than one binding for a compatible is found, an error is raised.

The manufacturer prefix identifies the device vendor. See dts/bindings/vendor-prefixes.txt for a list of accepted vendor prefixes. The device part is usually from the datasheet.

Some bindings apply to a generic class of devices which do not have a specific vendor. In these cases, there is no vendor prefix. One example is the gpio-leds compatible which is commonly used to describe board LEDs connected to GPIOs.

If more than one binding for a compatible is found, an error is raised.

Properties

The properties: key describes the properties that nodes which match the binding can contain.

For example, a binding for a UART peripheral might look something like this:

compatible: "manufacturer,serial"

properties:
  reg:
    type: array
    description: UART peripheral MMIO register space
    required: true
  current-speed:
    type: int
    description: current baud rate
    required: true
  label:
    type: string
    description: human-readable name
    required: false

The properties in the following node would be validated by the above binding:

my-serial@deadbeef {
     compatible = "manufacturer,serial";
     reg = <0xdeadbeef 0x1000>;
     current-speed = <115200>;
     label = "UART_0";
};

This is used to check that required properties appear, and to control the format of output generated for them.

Except for some special properties, like reg, whose meaning is defined by the devicetree specification itself, only properties listed in the properties: key will have generated macros.

Example property definitions

Here are some more examples.

properties:
    # Describes a property like 'current-speed = <115200>;'. We pretend that
    # it's obligatory for the example node and set 'required: true'.
    current-speed:
        type: int
        required: true
        description: Initial baud rate for bar-device

    # Describes an optional property like 'keys = "foo", "bar";'
    keys:
        type: string-array
        required: false
        description: Keys for bar-device

    # Describes an optional property like 'maximum-speed = "full-speed";'
    # the enum specifies known values that the string property may take
    maximum-speed:
        type: string
        required: false
        description: Configures USB controllers to work up to a specific speed.
        enum:
           - "low-speed"
           - "full-speed"
           - "high-speed"
           - "super-speed"

    # Describes an optional property like 'resolution = <16>;'
    # the enum specifies known values that the int property may take
    resolution:
      type: int
      required: false
      enum:
       - 8
       - 16
       - 24
       - 32

    # Describes a required property '#address-cells = <1>';  the const
    # specifies that the value for the property is expected to be the value 1
    "#address-cells":
        type: int
        required: true
        const: 1

    int-with-default:
        type: int
        required: false
        default: 123
        description: Value for int register, default is power-up configuration.

    array-with-default:
        type: array
        required: false
        default: [1, 2, 3] # Same as 'array-with-default = <1 2 3>'

    string-with-default:
        type: string
        required: false
        default: "foo"

    string-array-with-default:
        type: string-array
        required: false
        default: ["foo", "bar"] # Same as 'string-array-with-default = "foo", "bar"'

    uint8-array-with-default:
        type: uint8-array
        required: false
        default: [0x12, 0x34] # Same as 'uint8-array-with-default = [12 34]'

Property entry syntax

As shown by the above examples, each property entry in a binding looks like this:

<property name>:
  required: <true | false>
  type: <string | int | boolean | array | uint8-array | string-array |
         phandle | phandles | phandle-array | path | compound>
  deprecated: <true | false>
  default: <default>
  description: <description of the property>
  enum:
    - <item1>
    - <item2>
    ...
    - <itemN>
  const: <string | int>

Required properties

If a node matches a binding but is missing any property which the binding defines with required: true, the build fails.

Property types

The type of a property constrains its values. The following types are available. See Writing property values for more details about writing values of each type in a DTS file.

Type

Description

Example in DTS

string

exactly one string

label = "UART_0";

int

exactly one 32-bit value (cell)

current-speed = <115200>;

boolean

flags that don’t take a value when true, and are absent if false

hw-flow-control;

array

zero or more 32-bit values (cells)

offsets = <0x100 0x200 0x300>;

uint8-array

zero or more bytes, in hex (‘bytestring’ in the Devicetree specification)

local-mac-address = [de ad be ef 12 34];

string-array

zero or more strings

dma-names = "tx", "rx";

phandle

exactly one phandle

interrupt-parent = <&gic>;

phandles

zero or more phandles

pinctrl-0 = <&usart2_tx_pd5 &usart2_rx_pd6>;

phandle-array

a list of phandles and 32-bit cells (usually specifiers)

dmas = <&dma0 2>, <&dma0 3>;

path

a path to a node as a phandle path reference or path string

zephyr,bt-c2h-uart = &uart0; or foo = "/path/to/some/node";

compound

a catch-all for more complex types (no macros will be generated)

foo = <&label>, [01 02];

Deprecated properties

A property with deprecated: true indicates to both the user and the tooling that the property is meant to be phased out.

The tooling will report a warning if the devicetree includes the property that is flagged as deprecated. (This warning is upgraded to an error in the Test Runner (Twister) for upstream pull requests.)

Default values for properties

The optional default: setting gives a value that will be used if the property is missing from the devicetree node.

For example, with this binding fragment:

properties:
  foo:
    type: int
    default: 3

If property foo is missing in a matching node, then the output will be as if foo = <3>; had appeared in the DTS (except YAML data types are used for the default value).

Note that it only makes sense to combine default: with required: false. Combining it with required: true will raise an error.

There is a risk in using default: when the value in the binding may be incorrect for a particular board or hardware configuration. For example, defaulting the capacity of the connected power cell in a charging IC binding is likely to be incorrect. For such properties it’s better to make the property required: true, forcing the devicetree maintainer into an explicit and witting choice.

Driver developers should use their best judgment as to whether a value can be safely defaulted. Candidates for default values include:

  • delays that would be different only under unusual conditions (such as intervening hardware)

  • configuration for devices that have a standard initial configuration (such as a USB audio headset)

  • defaults which match the vendor-specified power-on reset value (as long as they are independent from other properties)

Power-on reset values may be used for defaults as long as they’re independent. If changing one property would require changing another to create a consistent configuration, then those properties should be made required.

In any case where default: is used, the property documentation should explain why the value was selected and any conditions that would make it necessary to provide a different value. (This is mandatory for built-in bindings.)

See Example property definitions for examples. Putting default: on any property type besides those used in the examples will raise an error.

Enum values

The enum: line is followed by a list of values the property may contain. If a property value in DTS is not in the enum: list in the binding, an error is raised. See Example property definitions for examples.

Const

This specifies a constant value the property must take. It is mainly useful for constraining the values of common properties for a particular piece of hardware.

Child-binding

child-binding can be used when a node has children that all share the same properties. Each child gets the contents of child-binding as its binding, though an explicit compatible = ... on the child node takes precedence, if a binding is found for it.

Consider a binding for a PWM LED node like this one, where the child nodes are required to have a pwms property:

pwmleds {
        compatible = "pwm-leds";

        red_pwm_led {
                pwms = <&pwm3 4 15625000>;
        };
        green_pwm_led {
                pwms = <&pwm3 0 15625000>;
        };
        /* ... */
};

The binding would look like this:

compatible: "pwm-leds"

child-binding:
  description: LED that uses PWM

  properties:
    pwms:
      type: phandle-array
      required: true

child-binding also works recursively. For example, this binding:

compatible: foo

child-binding:
  child-binding:
    properties:
      my-property:
        type: int
        required: true

will apply to the grandchild node in this DTS:

parent {
        compatible = "foo";
        child {
                grandchild {
                        my-property = <123>;
                };
        };
};

Bus

If the node is a bus controller, use bus: in the binding to say what type of bus. For example, a binding for a SPI peripheral on an SoC would look like this:

compatible: "manufacturer,spi-peripheral"
bus: spi
# ...

The presence of this key in the binding informs the build system that the children of any node matching this binding appear on this type of bus.

This in turn influences the way on-bus: is used to match bindings for the child nodes.

On-bus

If the node appears as a device on a bus, use on-bus: in the binding to say what type of bus.

For example, a binding for an external SPI memory chip should include this line:

on-bus: spi

And a binding for an I2C based temperature sensor should include this line:

on-bus: i2c

When looking for a binding for a node, the build system checks if the binding for the parent node contains bus: <bus type>. If it does, then only bindings with a matching on-bus: <bus type> and bindings without an explicit on-bus are considered. Bindings with an explicit on-bus: <bus type> are searched for first, before bindings without an explicit on-bus. The search repeats for each item in the node’s compatible property, in order.

This feature allows the same device to have different bindings depending on what bus it appears on. For example, consider a sensor device with compatible manufacturer,sensor which can be used via either I2C or SPI.

The sensor node may therefore appear in the devicetree as a child node of either an SPI or an I2C controller, like this:

spi-bus@0 {
   /* ... some compatible with 'bus: spi', etc. ... */

   sensor@0 {
       compatible = "manufacturer,sensor";
       reg = <0>;
       /* ... */
   };
};

i2c-bus@0 {
   /* ... some compatible with 'bus: i2c', etc. ... */

   sensor@79 {
       compatible = "manufacturer,sensor";
       reg = <79>;
       /* ... */
   };
};

You can write two separate binding files which match these individual sensor nodes, even though they have the same compatible:

# manufacturer,sensor-spi.yaml, which matches sensor@0 on the SPI bus:
compatible: "manufacturer,sensor"
on-bus: spi

# manufacturer,sensor-i2c.yaml, which matches sensor@79 on the I2C bus:
compatible: "manufacturer,sensor"
properties:
  uses-clock-stretching:
    type: boolean
    required: false
on-bus: i2c

Only sensor@79 can have a use-clock-stretching property. The bus-sensitive logic ignores manufacturer,sensor-i2c.yaml when searching for a binding for sensor@0.

Specifier cell names (*-cells)

Specifier cells are usually used with phandle-array type properties briefly introduced above.

To understand the purpose of *-cells, assume that some node has the following pwms property with type phandle-array:

my-device {
     pwms = <&pwm0 1 2>, <&pwm3 4>;
};

The tooling strips the final s from the property name of such properties, resulting in pwm. Then the value of the #pwm-cells property is looked up in each of the PWM controller nodes pwm0 and pwm3, like so:

pwm0: pwm@0 {
     compatible = "foo,pwm";
     #pwm-cells = <2>;
};

pwm3: pwm@3 {
     compatible = "bar,pwm";
     #pwm-cells = <1>;
};

The &pwm0 1 2 part of the property value has two cells, 1 and 2, which matches #pwm-cells = <2>;, so these cells are considered the specifier associated with pwm0 in the phandle array.

Similarly, the cell 4 is the specifier associated with pwm3.

The number of PWM cells in the specifiers in pwms must match the #pwm-cells values, as shown above. If there is a mismatch, an error is raised. For example, this node would result in an error:

my-bad-device {
     /* wrong: 2 cells given in the specifier, but #pwm-cells is 1 in pwm3. */
     pwms = <&pwm3 5 6>;
};

The binding for each PWM controller must also have a *-cells key, in this case pwm-cells, giving names to the cells in each specifier:

# foo,pwm.yaml
compatible: "foo,pwm"
...
pwm-cells:
  - channel
  - period

# bar,pwm.yaml
compatible: "bar,pwm"
...
pwm-cells:
  - period

A *-names (e.g. pwm-names) property can appear on the node as well, giving a name to each entry.

This allows the cells in the specifiers to be accessed by name, e.g. using APIs like DT_PWMS_CHANNEL_BY_NAME.

Because other property names are derived from the name of the property by removing the final s, the property name must end in s. An error is raised if it doesn’t.

*-gpios properties are special-cased so that e.g. foo-gpios resolves to #gpio-cells rather than #foo-gpio-cells.

If the specifier is empty (e.g. #clock-cells = <0>), then *-cells can either be omitted (recommended) or set to an empty array. Note that an empty array is specified as e.g. clock-cells: [] in YAML.

All phandle-array type properties support mapping through *-map properties, e.g. gpio-map, as defined by the Devicetree specification.

Include

Bindings can include other files, which can be used to share common property definitions between bindings. Use the include: key for this. Its value is either a string or a list.

In the simplest case, you can include another file by giving its name as a string, like this:

include: foo.yaml

If any file named foo.yaml is found (see Where bindings are located for the search process), it will be included into this binding.

Included files are merged into bindings with a simple recursive dictionary merge. The build system will check that the resulting merged binding is well-formed.

It is an error if a key appears with a different value in a binding and in a file it includes, with one exception: a binding can have required: true for a property definition for which the included file has required: false. The required: true takes precedence, allowing bindings to strengthen requirements from included files.

Note that weakening requirements by having required: false where the included file has required: true is an error. This is meant to keep the organization clean.

The file base.yaml contains definitions for many common properties. When writing a new binding, it is a good idea to check if base.yaml already defines some of the needed properties, and include it if it does.

Note that you can make a property defined in base.yaml obligatory like this, taking reg as an example:

reg:
  required: true

This relies on the dictionary merge to fill in the other keys for reg, like type.

To include multiple files, you can use a list of strings:

include:
  - foo.yaml
  - bar.yaml

This includes the files foo.yaml and bar.yaml. (You can write this list in a single line of YAML as include: [foo.yaml, bar.yaml].)

When including multiple files, any overlapping required keys on properties in the included files are ORed together. This makes sure that a required: true is always respected.

In some cases, you may want to include some property definitions from a file, but not all of them. In this case, include: should be a list, and you can filter out just the definitions you want by putting a mapping in the list, like this:

include:
  - name: foo.yaml
    property-allowlist:
      - i-want-this-one
      - and-this-one
  - name: bar.yaml
    property-blocklist:
      - do-not-include-this-one
      - or-this-one

Each map element must have a name key which is the filename to include, and may have property-allowlist and property-blocklist keys that filter which properties are included.

You cannot have a single map element with both property-allowlist and property-blocklist keys. A map element with neither property-allowlist nor property-blocklist is valid; no additional filtering is done.

You can freely intermix strings and mappings in a single include: list:

include:
  - foo.yaml
  - name: bar.yaml
    property-blocklist:
      - do-not-include-this-one
      - or-this-one

Finally, you can filter from a child binding like this:

include:
  - name: bar.yaml
    child-binding:
      property-allowlist:
        - child-prop-to-allow

Inferred bindings

Zephyr’s devicetree scripts can “infer” a binding for the special /zephyr,user node based on the values observed in its properties.

This node matches a binding which is dynamically created by the build system based on the values of its properties in the final devicetree. It does not have a compatible property.

This node is meant for sample code and applications. The devicetree API provides it as a convenient container when only a few simple properties are needed, such as storing a hardware-dependent value, phandle(s), or GPIO pin.

For example, with this DTS fragment:

#include <dt-bindings/gpio/gpio.h>

/ {
     zephyr,user {
             boolean;
             bytes = [81 82 83];
             number = <23>;
             numbers = <1>, <2>, <3>;
             string = "text";
             strings = "a", "b", "c";

             handle = <&gpio0>;
             handles = <&gpio0>, <&gpio1>;
             signal-gpios = <&gpio0 1 GPIO_ACTIVE_HIGH>;
     };
};

You can get the simple values like this:

#define ZEPHYR_USER_NODE DT_PATH(zephyr_user)

DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, boolean) // 1
DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, bytes)   // {0x81, 0x82, 0x83}
DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, number)  // 23
DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, numbers) // {1, 2, 3}
DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, string)  // "text"
DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, strings) // {"a", "b", "c"}

You can convert the phandles in the handle and handles properties to device pointers like this:

/*
 * Same thing as:
 *
 * ... my_dev = DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_NODELABEL(gpio0));
 */
const struct device *my_device =
     DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_PROP(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, handle));

#define PHANDLE_TO_DEVICE(node_id, prop, idx) \
     DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_PHANDLE_BY_IDX(node_id, prop, idx)),

/*
 * Same thing as:
 *
 * ... *my_devices[] = {
 *         DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_NODELABEL(gpio0)),
 *         DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_NODELABEL(gpio1)),
 * };
 */
const struct device *my_devices[] = {
     DT_FOREACH_PROP_ELEM(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, handles, PHANDLE_TO_DEVICE)
};

And you can convert the pin defined in signal-gpios to a struct gpio_dt_spec, then use it like this:

#include <drivers/gpio.h>

const struct gpio_dt_spec signal =
        GPIO_DT_SPEC_GET(ZEPHYR_USER_NODE, signal_gpios);

/* Configure the pin */
gpio_pin_configure_dt(&signal, GPIO_OUTPUT_INACTIVE);

/* Set the pin to its active level */
gpio_pin_set(signal.port, signal.pin, 1);

(See gpio_dt_spec, GPIO_DT_SPEC_GET, and gpio_pin_configure_dt() for details on these APIs.)