Theory of Operation

Block Diagram

GPIO Block Diagram

The block diagram above shows the DATA_OUT and DATA_OE registers managed by hardware outside of the auto-generated register file. For reference, it also shows the assumed connections to pads in the top level netlist.

Design Details

GPIO Output logic

GPIO Output Diagram

The GPIO module maintains one 32-bit output register DATA_OUT with two ways to write to it. Direct write access uses DIRECT_OUT, and masked access uses MASKED_OUT_UPPER and MASKED_OUT_LOWER. Direct access provides full write and read access for all 32 bits in one register.

For masked access the bits to modify are given as a mask in the upper 16 bits of the MASKED_OUT_UPPER and MASKED_OUT_LOWER register write, while the data to write is provided in the lower 16 bits of the register write. The hardware updates DATA_OUT with the mask so that the modification is done without software requiring a Read-Modify-Write.

Reads of masked registers return the lower/upper 16 bits of the DATA_OUT contents. Zeros are returned in the upper 16 bits (mask field). To read what is on the pins, software should read the DATA_IN register. (See GPIO Input section below).

The same concept is duplicated for the output enable register DATA_OE. Direct access uses DIRECT_OE, and masked access is available using MASKED_OE_UPPER and MASKED_OE_LOWER.

The output enable is sent to the pad control block to determine if the pad should drive the DATA_OUT value to the associated pin or not.

A typical use pattern is for initialization and suspend/resume code to use the full access registers to set the output enables and current output values, then switch to masked access for both DATA_OUT and DATA_OE.

For GPIO outputs that are not used (either not wired to a pin output or not selected for pin multiplexing), the output values are disconnected and have no effect on the GPIO input, regardless of output enable values.

GPIO Input

The DATA_IN register returns the contents as seen on the peripheral input, typically from the pads connected to those inputs. In the presence of a pin-multiplexing unit, GPIO peripheral inputs that are not connected to a chip input will be tied to a constant zero input.

The GPIO module provides optional independent noise filter control for each of the 32 input signals. Each input can be independently enabled with the CTRL_EN_INPUT_FILTER (one bit per input). This 16-cycle filter is applied to both the DATA_IN register and the interrupt detection logic. The timing for DATA_IN is still not instantaneous if CTRL_EN_INPUT_FILTER is false as there is top-level routing involved, but no flops are between the chip input and the DATA_IN register.

The contents of DATA_IN are always readable and reflect the value seen at the chip input pad regardless of the output enable setting from DATA_OE. If the output enable is true (and the GPIO is connected to a chip-level pad), the value read from DATA_IN includes the effect of the peripheral’s driven output (so will only differ from DATA_OUT if the output driver is unable to switch the pin or during the delay imposed if the noise filter is enabled).


The GPIO module provides 32 interrupt signals to the main processor. Each interrupt can be independently enabled, tested, and configured. Following the standard interrupt guidelines in the Comportability Specification, the 32 bits of the INTR_ENABLE register determines whether the associated inputs are configured to detect interrupt events. If enabled via the various INTR_CTRL_EN registers, their current state can be read in the INTR_STATE register. Clearing is done by writing a 1 into the associated INTR_STATE bit field.

For configuration, there are 4 types of interrupts available per bit, controlled with four control registers. INTR_CTRL_EN_RISING configures the associated input for rising-edge detection. Similarly, INTR_CTRL_EN_FALLING detects falling edge inputs. INTR_CTRL_EN_LVLHIGH and INTR_CTRL_EN_LVLLOW allow the input to be level sensitive interrupts. In theory an input can be configured to detect both a rising and falling edge, but there is no hardware assistance to indicate which edge caused the output interrupt.

Note #1: The interrupt can only be triggered by GPIO input. Note #2: All inputs are sent through optional noise filtering before being sent into interrupt detection. Note #3: All interrupts to the processor are level interrupts as per the Comportability Specification guidelines. The GPIO module, if configured, converts an edge detection into a level interrupt to the processor core.