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Memory Attributes

It is possible in the devicetree to mark the memory regions with attributes by using the zephyr,memory-attr property. This property and the related memory region can then be retrieved at run-time by leveraging a provided helper library.

The set of general attributes that can be specified in the property are defined and explained in include/zephyr/dt-bindings/memory-attr/memory-attr.h.

For example, to mark a memory region in the devicetree as non-volatile, cacheable, out-of-order:

mem: memory@10000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x10000000 0x1000>;
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_NON_VOLATILE | DT_MEM_CACHEABLE | DT_MEM_OOO )>;


The zephyr,memory-attr usage does not result in any memory region actually created. When it is needed to create an actual section out of the devicetree defined memory region, it is possible to use the compatible zephyr,memory-region that will result (only when supported by the architecture) in a new linker section and region.

The zephyr,memory-attr property can also be used to set architecture-specific and software-specific custom attributes that can be interpreted at run time. This is leveraged, among other things, to create MPU regions out of devicetree defined memory regions, for example:

mem: memory@10000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x10000000 0x1000>;
    zephyr,memory-region = "NOCACHE_REGION";
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_ARM(ATTR_MPU_RAM_NOCACHE) )>;

See include/zephyr/dt-bindings/memory-attr/memory-attr-arm.h and Arm Cortex-M Developer Guide for more details about MPU usage.

The conventional and recommended way to deal and manage with memory regions marked with attributes is by using the provided mem-attr helper library by enabling CONFIG_MEM_ATTR. When this option is enabled the list of memory regions and their attributes are compiled in a user-accessible array and a set of functions is made available that can be used to query, probe and act on regions and attributes (see next section for more details).


The zephyr,memory-attr property is only a descriptive property of the capabilities of the associated memory region, but it does not result in any actual setting for the memory to be set. The user, code or subsystem willing to use this information to do some work (for example creating an MPU region out of the property) must use either the provided mem-attr library or the usual devicetree helpers to perform the required work / setting.

A test for the mem-attr library and its usage is provided in tests/subsys/mem_mgmt/mem_attr/.

Migration guide from zephyr,memory-region-mpu

When the zephyr,memory-attr property was introduced, the zephyr,memory-region-mpu property was removed and deprecated.

The developers that are still using the deprecated property can move to the new one by renaming the property and changing its value according to the following list:

"RAM"         -> <( DT_ARM_MPU(ATTR_MPU_RAM) )>
"PPB"         -> <( DT_ARM_MPU(ATTR_MPU_PPB) )>
"IO"          -> <( DT_ARM_MPU(ATTR_MPU_IO) )>

Memory Attributes Heap Allocator

It is possible to leverage the memory attribute property zephyr,memory-attr to define and create a set of memory heaps from which the user can allocate memory from with certain attributes / capabilities.

When the CONFIG_MEM_ATTR_HEAP is set, every region marked with one of the memory attributes listed in in include/zephyr/dt-bindings/memory-attr/memory-attr-sw.h is added to a pool of memory heaps used for dynamic allocation of memory buffers with certain attributes.

Here a non exhaustive list of possible attributes:


For example we can define several memory regions with different attributes and use the appropriate attribute to indicate that it is possible to dynamically allocate memory from those regions:

mem_cacheable: memory@10000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x10000000 0x1000>;
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_CACHEABLE | DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE )>;

mem_non_cacheable: memory@20000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x20000000 0x1000>;
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_NON_CACHEABLE | ATTR_SW_ALLOC_NON_CACHE )>;

mem_cacheable_big: memory@30000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x30000000 0x10000>;
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_CACHEABLE | DT_MEM_OOO | DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE )>;

mem_cacheable_dma: memory@40000000 {
    compatible = "mmio-sram";
    reg = <0x40000000 0x10000>;
    zephyr,memory-attr = <( DT_MEM_CACHEABLE      | DT_MEM_DMA |
                            DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE | DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_DMA )>;

The user can then dynamically carve memory out of those regions using the provided functions, the library will take care of allocating memory from the correct heap depending on the provided attribute and size:

// Init the pool

// Allocate 0x100 bytes of cacheable memory from `mem_cacheable`
block = mem_attr_heap_alloc(DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE, 0x100);

// Allocate 0x200 bytes of non-cacheable memory aligned to 32 bytes
// from `mem_non_cacheable`
block = mem_attr_heap_aligned_alloc(ATTR_SW_ALLOC_NON_CACHE, 0x100, 32);

// Allocate 0x100 bytes of cacheable and dma-able memory from `mem_cacheable_dma`
block = mem_attr_heap_alloc(DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE | DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_DMA, 0x100);

When several regions are marked with the same attributes, the memory is allocated:

  1. From the regions where the zephyr,memory-attr property has the requested property (or properties).

  2. Among the regions as at point 1, from the smallest region if there is any unallocated space left for the requested size

  3. If there is not enough space, from the next bigger region able to accommodate the requested size

The following example shows the point 3:

// This memory is allocated from `mem_non_cacheable`
block = mem_attr_heap_alloc(DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE, 0x100);

// This memory is allocated from `mem_cacheable_big`
block = mem_attr_heap_alloc(DT_MEM_SW_ALLOC_CACHE, 0x5000);


The framework is assuming that the memory regions used to create the heaps are usable by the code and available at init time. The user must take of initializing and setting the memory area before calling mem_attr_heap_pool_init().

That means that the region must be correctly configured in terms of MPU / MMU (if needed) and that an actual heap can be created out of it, for example by leveraging the zephyr,memory-region property to create a proper linker section to accommodate the heap.

API Reference

group memory_attr_interface

Memory-Attr Interface.



Invokes fn for every status okay node in the tree with property zephyr,memory-attr

The macro fn must take one parameter, which will be a node identifier with the zephyr,memory-attr property. The macro is expanded once for each node in the tree with status okay. The order that nodes are visited in is not specified.

  • fn – macro to invoke


size_t mem_attr_get_regions(const struct mem_attr_region_t **region)

Get the list of memory regions.

Get the list of enabled memory regions with their memory-attribute as gathered by DT.

  • region – Pointer to pointer to the list of memory regions.

Return values:

Number – of memory regions returned in the parameter.

int mem_attr_check_buf(void *addr, size_t size, uint32_t attr)

Check if a buffer has correct size and attributes.

This function is used to check if a given buffer with a given set of attributes fully match a memory region in terms of size and attributes.

This is usually used to verify that a buffer has the expected attributes (for example the buffer is cacheable / non-cacheable or belongs to RAM / FLASH, etc…) and it has been correctly allocated.

The expected set of attributes for the buffer is and-matched against the full set of attributes for the memory region it belongs to (bitmask). So the buffer is considered matching when at least that set of attributes are valid for the memory region (but the region can be marked also with other attributes besides the one passed as parameter).

  • addr – Virtual address of the user buffer.

  • size – Size of the user buffer.

  • attr – Expected / desired attribute for the buffer.

Return values:
  • 0 – if the buffer has the correct size and attribute.

  • -ENOSYS – if the operation is not supported (for example if the MMU is enabled).

  • -ENOTSUP – if the wrong parameters were passed.

  • -EINVAL – if the buffer has the wrong set of attributes.

  • -ENOSPC – if the buffer is too big for the region it belongs to.

  • -ENOBUFS – if the buffer is entirely allocated outside a memory region.

struct mem_attr_region_t
#include <mem_attr.h>

memory-attr region structure.

This structure represents the data gathered from DT about a memory-region marked with memory attributes.

Public Members

const char *dt_name

Memory node full name.

uintptr_t dt_addr

Memory region physical address.

size_t dt_size

Memory region size.

uint32_t dt_attr

Memory region attributes.

group memory_attr_heap

Memory heaps based on memory attributes.


int mem_attr_heap_pool_init(void)

Init the memory pool.

This must be the first function to be called to initialize the memory pools from all the memory regions with the a software attribute.

Return values:
  • 0 – on success.

  • -EALREADY – if the pool was already initialized.

  • -ENOMEM – too many regions already allocated.

void *mem_attr_heap_alloc(uint32_t attr, size_t bytes)

Allocate memory with a specified attribute and size.

Allocates a block of memory of the specified size in bytes and with a specified capability / attribute. The attribute is used to select the correct memory heap to allocate memory from.

  • attr – capability / attribute requested for the memory block.

  • bytes – requested size of the allocation in bytes.

Return values:
  • ptr – a valid pointer to the allocated memory.

  • NULL – if no memory is available with that attribute and size.

void *mem_attr_heap_aligned_alloc(uint32_t attr, size_t align, size_t bytes)

Allocate aligned memory with a specified attribute, size and alignment.

Allocates a block of memory of the specified size in bytes and with a specified capability / attribute. Takes an additional parameter specifying a power of two alignment in bytes.

  • attr – capability / attribute requested for the memory block.

  • align – power of two alignment for the returned pointer in bytes.

  • bytes – requested size of the allocation in bytes.

Return values:
  • ptr – a valid pointer to the allocated memory.

  • NULL – if no memory is available with that attribute and size.

void mem_attr_heap_free(void *block)

Free the allocated memory.

Used to free the passed block of memory that must be the return value of a previously call to mem_attr_heap_alloc or mem_attr_heap_aligned_alloc.

const struct mem_attr_region_t *mem_attr_heap_get_region(void *addr)

Get a specific memory region descriptor for a provided address.

Finds the memory region descriptor struct controlling the provided pointer.

Return values:

str – pointer to a memory region structure the address belongs to.